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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Feast of St. Ignatius

+Happy Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola+
We love this saint and his story!
I shared our celebration over at Catholic Cuisine:)
Be sure to pop over there for a visit.
This would also be a great idea to celebrate the Holy Father, Pope Francis, as he is of the Jesuit order that St. Ignatius founded!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Is It Possible To Age With Grace?

This topic is heavy on my mind and heart lately. As I inch closer to the half century mark, I see the physical changes and I feel them more than ever.  Aging is not for wimps.  Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in a passing mirror and I barely recognize the woman I see.  Who is that stranger in my reflection, being pulled down by gravity?  Then there's the aches and pains that markedly increase and good health is a consuming prayer. I certainly can't keep up with the myriad of activity that I used to.  I'm forgetful.  Now, where was I?  Need I say more?  Heaven help me, I don't want to be one of those who complains, I just want to learn how to age with grace...Is this possible?  How do I come to terms with myself and live in this strange skin that is quickly consuming me?  Lord, please teach me.
One of our family outings this summer was a beautiful hike to the resting place of some of the largest trees in the world, hence the name Big Trees State Park:) Visitors can't help but be fascinated by the majestic size of these ancient beasts.  These giant sequoias stand out, yes, because of their age.  They stretch up to lengths of 300 feet high and 25-30 feet around in diameter. They increase in beauty and character, all the more seasoned with age. They are said to be thousands of years old, by the way!
I want to be like that!  I know it might be silly to say that I want to age like a tree but what a good example that God gives us, right?  It reminds me not to conform but to be transformed...
Deeply rooted in the dignity of who we are, strengthening and stretching our souls for heaven, we can find peace among His wise wonders. The natural world reigns grace, unlike the media and the images that consume us in the unnatural world.
  We can learn so much from His marvelous works.
If trees can age gracefully, how can we not? We, who were made in His image and likeness...Were we not created to receive grace?  Bloom where we are planted?
You are God's handiwork and you are beautiful, especially the closer you get to Him a long the way,
with each passing day.
And so the journey continues and I'm reminded to keep my face to the Son.  The fresh air is the best aging serum I can find on the outside.  Together with the Eucharist, the bread of life that strengthens the inside, I am feeling hopeful, inspired, renewed in spirit, ready to age as God calls me to.
Yes, I do believe it's possible:)

"With God, all things are possible."
~Matthew 19:26~

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel~Graham Scapulars Anyone?

Hello there, Happy Summer...And Happy
+Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel+
I'm popping in for a few minutes for this special occasion.
July 16th marks a special feast day in the church where we celebrate the gift of a Sacramental...The brown scapular.  It's one of my favorite stories and traditions of the church:) 
These new brown scapulars our children are wearing were hand embroidered by a dear Catholic blogger and tucked inside this year's Easter baskets:) Though not our originals, they are just beautiful treasures and they support Barbara's lovely apostolate!

When talking to our children, we remind them that Sacramentals are not some "good luck charm" to be worn in such fashion, nor do they surround superstitions. 

*Disclaimer* I'm no expert but I do my best to share what I've learned in simple terms. It's how I learn myself and it's how we teach our children. In turn, I've cited as many sources/resources as I can since I know for non-Catholics, these things can be hard to understand. 
Sacramentals are simply holy objects, radiating the Sacraments, approved by the church, that can be used or worn to ask for God's blessings. i.e.) Holy water, statues, rosary beads, etc. They are sacred signs that may bring about greater good and also help put us in right position to receive grace, ALL through prayer. (CCC 1670) In other words, it's nothing short of an honor to wear or handle these things and we should not take them lightly.  For non-Catholics, I once heard that Sacramentals can be equated to wearing wedding rings.  Just as wedding rings are outward signs of fidelity in a marriage, Sacramentals are outward signs of our fidelity to Christ.
More about Sacramentals here.

What I love about the scapular is that it is a simple piece of cloth, coming from a long apron that was slung over the shoulder and worn over the robe of ancient monks. (Scapular is Latin for shoulder) These simple brown aprons were later worn to form the shape of a Cross, symbolizing the wearer's readiness to work and serve God.  I love the photo and further explanation written in this article.  

View from my bedroom corner;)
The story of the brown scapular comes from Our dear Mother Mary.  That awesome Mother that Jesus gave us at the foot of the Cross...One of his final gifts to us before leaving earth. (John 19:26-27)

It is for this reason that we Catholics honor Mary, Mother of God, who bore Him in her womb, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  For in this way, she cooperated with her Son Jesus in the Salvation of the world. Wow.  I remember the first time I learned this.  What if Mary had said No?  Hmmm, No Mary, No Jesus, No Salvation...No gates of heaven opened!  Instead we can know Mary, can know Jesus, can know Salvation. Praise God!  Of course we Catholics do not worship anyone but God, that's right.  But boy, does Mary ever help us out.  Like any good mother, she holds our hand and leads us swiftly to the arms of her Son. Like I tell my kids, she's a "fast pass" to Jesus:) More here.

OH, I almost forgot where I was...Back to the story of the scapular!

Pious legend tells how in the thirteenth century (approximately 1251, the age of Faith) the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in a vision to a holy Carmelite priest named St. Simon Stock.  She gave him the first brown scapular, a long with this Scapular Promise that became known: "Whoever dies clothed in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire." (The Catholic Source Book)  Soon, ordinary people wanted to wear the Scapular also.  So a smaller Scapular was made, like the one we have today.  It can be worn (after a vestment ceremony) under one's regular clothes and is considered a badge of devotion. Many children receive this vestment at their First Communion. Read more about the story and get a free scapular here:)  We still must be pleasing to God and this devotion helps strengthen us to do so.
Along with the story it's a good (sneaky) summer history and geography lesson:) I always like to remind my children that the Carmelite order of monks originated from Mount Carmel, a mountain in the Holy Land where the first Carmelite servants of God lived.  
And finally...
An easy snack to celebrate the occasion--
Chocolate Graham Scapulars!
Chocolate graham crackers, spread with marshmallow creme and decorated with colored icing...That's all!
We made a couple of different patterns and shared them over at Catholic Cuisine too:)


Even the mistakes taste good!
O Mary, Queen of all Saints,
Lead me to Your Son Jesus,
my King and Savior,
through your most holy heart!
Amen.
This little booklet is excellent!  
Garment of Grace: The Brown Scapular
Other good sources: Catholic Answers:)
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