Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Monday, October 29, 2012

All Souls Family Prayer Candle

I'm sharing this very easy liturgical craft to remember all of our loved ones who have gone before us, especially those in the last year.
With All Souls Day coming up this week and November being the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in purgatory, how about making an All Souls Family Prayer Candle?

The idea is to write the names of all of your loved ones on the candle to remember all through the month (and beyond) in your family's prayers.  Each time you light the candle during family prayer time, or just keep it burning, you offer your remembrance.
Materials needed, plus stickers (optional):
I found that the gold paint pen did not show up very well...We used the black sharpie for the names to stand out. 

 Even the children can help write the names!...
There's plenty of room to include several names all the way around the candle and you may choose to add names to it each year.
I like that it's easy to move around the house!
You can place it on a mantel or a prayer table/home altar if you have one:)
It would also make an appropriate center piece for your dinner table to include in your meal time prayers.
+May all of your prayers fly to greet the souls of your loved ones on the wings of peace and guide you and your family to consolation, healing and strength+
~Lord, please hear our prayers~

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Be A Blessing!

Boy, I'm mentally drained between reading all of the election stuff flying around on social media, our Giants going to the World Series, (for the 2nd time in a row:) and lots to reflect upon for this newly declared Year of Faith.  What do all of these things have in common, I've asked myself?  
Maybe they don't really have much in common 
except that in the end they're all just good...  
Even though my mind is cloudy, much like the photo above,
there is still light and things are still good...
Good only because God ultimately makes everything good.
"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28.
But I just can't help but wonder whose going to win?
It can be a little bit stressful, don't you think?
Ultimately the way I see it, regardless of whether you win or lose a game or an election..
 in the end, 
God still prevails and He is good.  
I don't mean to diminish the precious lives and freedoms that are at stake during this election (by clumping it with the World Series;) but if I'm honest with myself as a person of faith, 
I must believe that
God has a plan...
He has a plan for everything.
From the littlest things to the big things, 
He's got the wheel.
 And despite how much we think we have control over any of His plans, we have none, nada.  
"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.~Romans 8:18
I know this with all of my heart
yet somehow I still struggle...
When I see things through my own lens of faith, for example, it's very difficult to understand how others can't see things the way I do.  In terms of the election and voting with a Catholic Christian conscience, it's really a no-brainer, it's clear-as-a-bell for me...
How can the average human person not see, very clearly, that the unborn child is the most vulnerable in our society?  How can fellow Catholics not clearly see how we should vote?  There's plenty of articles, like the one (linked) above and this one from Catholic News Agency, to help shed the light, for goodness sakes!
*Stop* How quickly I forget 
that this has not always been the case for me. 
Being a revert to the Catholic faith has been one-step-in-front-of-the-other, a process, a work in progress.  
I have not always known or seen things the way I do now...
Amazing grace saved a wretch like me, 
I was blind and now I see.
"Blessed be God who lives forever, because his kingdom lasts for all ages. For he scourges and then has mercy; he casts down to the depths of the nether world, and he brings up from the great abyss"~Tobit 13:1-2
*Stop* How quickly I am reminded how turned off I was by people who made me feel inadequate on my walk of faith, who were condemning by the way they spoke or looked down at me in judgement...
Their legalistic lingo lacked love.
How quickly I remember those who were kind and gentle with their teachings. 
The most receptive were those who shared stories...
Wisdom spoke to me through their mistakes...
 as they came out on the other side, the side for good.
The truth shined through...
Truth shot through the heart.
I want to be like them...
The ones who lead me by example...
The ones who practice their faith completely,
though not perfectly.
Those who spoke the truth confidently to me, mostly by their actions...
They live for God alone.
They are a blessing by their love.
"Do everything for God, uniting yourself to him in word and deed." ~St. Francis de Sales
I want to be a blessing
to my family, friends and strangers alike...
It's my new motto for the Year of Faith,
a time when Catholics are called to renew their faith and educate themselves more so that they may encounter Christ more deeply.  In turn, it is hoped that we will discover the joy of living and practicing our faith more fully.
This last line struck me.
Archbishop Chaput recently said that "Catholics who take their faith seriously vote as if there's much more than a cultural affliliation; Instead there's a very personal affiliation with Jesus Christ and his community."
What if all Catholics were serious about their faith?
What if all Catholics practiced their faith more fully?
What if?
Why not give it a try...
In this year as we are called to a new evangelization,
What might this mean and what do we have to offer?
Marc Cardaronella from Evangelizing Catechesis has a great article to consider.
Let us take a good look at ourselves...
Let's share the love of Christ...
Let's Be A Blessing!
After all, what have we got to lose?
"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8: 38-39
Go Giants!
Me and 2 of my sisters:)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Month of the Holy Rosary~A Centerpiece Project

How about a liturgical project for October?
Being the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary, we made this super easy centerpiece for our kitchen table.
Items needed:
White pumpkin
Liquid gold paint marker
Orange sharpie (or other colors of choice)
Glitter spray (opt.)
Easy Instructions:
Gently tape on a rosary to use as a guide for drawing on the beads.
We drew the decade markers first and filled in each set of 10 beads after that.
*The end result*
Another option is to spray the final product with gold glitter spray for a sparkling after effect...
Which one do you like better?
Hmmm, kind of a tough choice...
I do like the sparkles but I think I like the plain white best:)
The Rosary is a gospel prayer where Mary invites us to join her on a journey through the life, death, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As we gather with our family or friends to pray the rosary, the mysteries bring us to unite with Jesus through the heart of our Blessed Mother Mary.
Have a blessed month:)

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Mom Is Always A Mom

I just returned from Parent's Weekend at my son's college.  I must say, the university did a fabulous job planning many fun activities. For me, however, it was more about the hugs.  
It was all about checking on in and spending time with my son, rather than running around to all of the special events. (Though we did attend a few:) Let's face it, Moms worry about their kids and we never stop wanting the best for them, even when they leave home as adults.  I'd be the first to admit that sometimes I cling too tight...Especially when the distance is incredibly long!  I know in my head heart that Jesus has the wheel on this one but I still need an occasional visual check and tangible reassurance that my child is o.k., all these miles away. (Even if he's almost 19 years old)!  
I just had a few simple questions that I needed answers to.  Is that really too much for a Mom to ask?
1. Is my son really o.k., alive and well?
2. Is my son happy?
3. Is my son healthy?
At first glance, he looked really tired.  I heard about the tough academics and I saw, first hand, the physical effects.  Yet all the answers came out with a yes. Yes, he is alive and well.  Yes, he is healthy (though a bit thin) and YES, he is happy.  Best of all, I saw that he is not just artificially happy on the outside but deeply fulfilled on the inside.  In return, this makes a Mom unequivocally happy, right?  
I must say that I observed that this joy seems to be a common experience at a university that digs deep, beyond the surface of our shallow humanity.
This begins with the campus.....

It's a beautiful campus, don't get me wrong.  But it's not immediately pleasing to the visual expectations that the world might have. Although it does have this strong tower...
I found that exploring this particular university is a process of discovery.  Obviously, one does not come here for the beach or the mountain scenery...there is none of that. 

But there's something else that you find here, something beyond the beach and the mountains.  There's just something about being here that you can't put your finger on...something about peace...
...And there's something about the trees that help deliver it.
As I meandered down the lush green paths, framed by an assortment of branches, I felt protected.
If you really pay attention to the silence in your heart, it might seem that these woods have arms begging to embrace you...At the same time gently nudging you down mysterious walkways, leading you beyond yourself.  I wondered if the students here feel the same way...?
The students call the campus a "bubble" and I found it rightly so.

Maybe it's just me but despite the mystery, I found simple and purposeful beauty everywhere I looked...

At the heart of the campus, I found what I believe is the source of peace, the energy behind it, delivered by the trees of course...
The Lord of heaven and earth is exposed here every day, all day.
How can this place not be a bubble? 
Or a canopy of love?
That's my motherly opinion, anyway.
I'm also not naive enough to believe that it's a perfect fairy tale, here in this place.  Don't get me wrong, I understand that college kids are having all kinds of fun, day in and day out.  Yet a mighty force is still there, I just know it is.  It's boldly watching and waiting, strategically exposed by the trees.
And back to that strong tower...Oh how I've fallen in love with the tower.  Surely I'm one in a million who have done the same thing!

Seen from almost every nook and cranny of the campus, it is the beacon of light that shines over the heart.

It is there for all to see.
"...the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."~1 John 1:5
I'll admit there were moments when I forgot where I was...You could be anywhere, really.  Especially when it poured buckets of rain.
Take your pick...Texas or anywhere...Near a lamp post or lantern waste, maybe?
It doesn't really matter when you have a strong tower.
Some dear friends, whose daughter is now an alum from here, asked me to give the strong tower a hug for them.  I was happy to do as they wished!
Greeted by new friends and smiling faces, an army of angels encamped me!
I got to meet a dear bloggy friend for the 2nd time...This time around was super special as I got to meet her lovely children!  Patty, who blogs at Reasons for Chocolate, met me on campus and whisked me away for an authentic Texan lunch...Stuffed, fried, avocados, with tortilla soup:)  YUM!
Patty is a dear, just like you would imagine, and her children reminded me so much of my own.  They (all of them) truly blessed my whole afternoon!
Looking back on my trip, it's hard to believe that I fretted so much about coming back to Texas.  Traveling alone is what stressed me out.  I had been to campus once before in the secure company of a dear friend.  But I knew this time was meant to be different.  I needed to face things on my own, once and for all.  I have often wondered why the good Lord has brought our family full circle...Back to a large state that holds very traumatic memories, a place where my late, dear, husband was killed.  Texas state prisons hold the robbers who committed this horribly, random, crime.  The whole circle, bringing our son back here for college, is so mind boggling that only God could have designed such a plan...a plan for His peace.
Peace came right along, right here, in spite of my fretting, in spite of myself.  I give full credit to my local prayer warrior friends that I called upon before my departure.  I know, without a doubt, that I was carried on the wings of their prayers.  Truly, not an ounce of fear beheld me, not once! This is a miracle as I'm one who struggles with anxiety and PTSD. It was certainly amazing grace.

This statue of St. Michael stands at the entry to the Church of the Incarnation on campus.  On Saturday, the Feast of the Archangels, I found it fitting to pray in thanksgiving.
(September Magnificat, pg. 386)
"Give thanks to the Lord, all his hosts
his servants who do his will.
Give thanks to the Lord, all his works,
in every place where he rules.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord!"
In my last hours at the university, I strolled around campus while my son did some studying.  Popping into the Adoration Chapel,  I offered my prayers for all those who have prayed for me.  Last but not least, I entrusted my son to the great I Am.  In my foolishness, of course.  After all, it is I who had been the borrower all these years.  Our children are never ours to keep, they are His and we are the entrusted ones.  
Kneeling there, I left them there, all of my prayers.
College boy might just think he's the one that's "free"...but guess what?  So am I.  Not free of being a Mom, of course. (That job is never done) But free of the things that keep me from trust...Trust in the one who trusted me in the first place, the One who entrusts all Mothers (and Fathers) with His children.

One thing's for sure, I'll carry that strong tower in my heart, until we meet again.
I'll carry the mystery and possibilities of a future filled with promise.
I'll carry the little things in life that really matter, the things unseen by the human eye.
The treasures of blessed moments and time well spent.

There among the roses, kneels Our Lady, Queen of Angels, Mother of God.  Peeking through the branches, of the trees that deliver me, I smile.
No words spoken, no words needed.
A statue remains but a mother's heart still beats in us all...
She more than anyone else surely knows that a Mom is always a Mom.

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