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

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Journey Through A New Lens~Taking Prayer Requests!

It's almost time to go!  
My Rome pilgrimage is just on the other side of this week…I can hardly believe it…So many emotions are stirring inside of me.
I'm beyond excited, yet never eager to leave the kids for any number of days.  There's always a bit of guilt lurking around but at the same time, I just can't ignore the way things fell in place at just the right time.  Though undeserving, I have to believe it was meant to be…It was definitely a plan that was not my own.  And besides, I know there will be all kinds of Daddy-fun going on while I'm gone so that definitely makes a happy {Mama} heart. 

Meanwhile, my soul is settling into the driver's seat as I set out on this journey, looking through a new lens...
Yesterday, we took a little family adventure to Yosemite National Park.  It was a great opportunity to practice using one kind of new point-and-shoot-camera!  Rod got me a Samsung with a great zoom for Christmas…A good ZOOM in hopes of a good Papa Francis paparazzi shot;)  I practiced quite a bit and found the zoom worked great for Half Dome!

I really liked the vignette setting (below)…

and the oil painting setting was an interesting effect.

It seemed to take pretty good people-photos too:)

I think the clarity can be practiced a little more by the operator;)

Overall, I was just really thrilled with the zoom.  After having my iPhone as my only camera for years, I have really missed having a good zoom.  Capturing wild life was super fun!

Hello there...Isn't he so cute?

Ultimately, it was a fabulous day to practice my New Year wonder through a new lens, that of my camera and that of a wondrous heart.  The glory and beauty of God's creation never ceases to amaze me.
That being said, I'm going to try really hard not to be stuck behind a camera lens during my pilgrimage…I want to take it all in and savor each blessed moment! I hope and pray it will be a journey seen through the lens of my soul.

"Pilgrims are not tourists. They have come, quietly and humbly, to seek the holy and enter more deeply into God's blessedness."
~Sr. Wendy Beckett~

Amen.  I am looking forward to being a pilgrim!  In thanksgiving for this great blessing, I would love to take the gift of prayer for anyone who wants or needs it.  If you have a special prayer intention or prayers of the heart that you would like me to take, I would be honored to do so.  If you have any special connection to the following places that contain remains and relics of the saints that are special to you, please let me know and I will bring your prayer intentions to that specific place.  

The title of our pilgrimage is Walking in the Footsteps of the Early Christians…It's going to be amazing!  Our pilgrimage leader is a theology professor and I think he said he holds 3 degrees in Theology.  Did I already say amazing?  My goodness, it most certainly will be a wonderful journey!  A few of the places we will be attending daily Mass will be St. Peters Basilica at The Vatican, the Basilica dedicated to St. Agnes on her feast day, St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Clement, St. Mary Major, and the Catacombs of St. Sebastian.  I also hope to make it to the Basilica dedicated to St. Augustine that hold the remains of his mother, St. Monica and the church that holds the remains of St. Catherine of Siena.  We will also be making a day trip to Assisi to walk in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi.  Wow, I can hardly believe it, myself!

+Please send me a private email with your prayer intention and I would love to take it with me+

*Can't wait to share fruits of the journey upon our return!*

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year *Wonder*

+Happy and Blessed New Year to All+
We ventured out to brunch with my parents today after Mass where we found these festive balloons to mark the New Year!  
Duty called so dear husband had to work at the Fire Department on Christmas Day, New Years Eve AND New Years Day this year:( We don't ever get used to him working holidays and we miss him but we manage try to make the best of things when we can.  I'll admit, sometimes it's very difficult to stay cheerful…Though I'm smiling here, aren't I?  Mass and the balloons definitely made me smile:)  I was also very happy for our future firefighter that he got to ride-along with Dad for the New Year.

 My parents are good sports.  They come a long with us when they can.  They were gone out of town for Christmas so it was just me and the kids. Having college boy home definitely made things more complete!
We've had some really nice days doing this kind of thing…
Christmas Day brought glorious weather…and wonder!  

In some of my Advent reading, author Anthony Esolen describes wonder in an Italian grotto where St. Francis orchestrated the first live Nativity.  It was an experience where people forgot themselves for a time in order to witness and wonder in the birth of a little child who was God humbled.  Esolen comments that when people "forget to be great they may return to childhood themselves, their eyes bright with delight and their lips parted in that happy look that children have when they are all wonder and no self."  If only we could make ourselves small enough more often…Forget trying to be great…Just maybe we would find ourselves in the womb of wonder.  I have no doubt that we would certainly be happy there.
Its become my new word and goal for 2014…I want to live in radical wonder this year…To marvel, be amazed and have deep admiration for God's wondrous works.  Keeping the virtues of charity and humility in mind, I want to be smaller…Less of me (figuratively).  Though less of me physically would be nice too:)  Can you tell that I might "need it" from the start of this post?  One of my favorite Saints, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, says that "we should always, even to the very last moments of our life, question our own strength and place all our confidence in God, always begging Him to give us humility."
Well, kind of an interesting story …
On New Year's Eve, I was out for a walk, praying the Rosary.  Part way into the Sorrowful mysteries, a little scene started playing in my blind's eye.  It was me, crawling on my hands and knees through a very small and dark space, much like an attic.  I was crawling towards a tiny bright light to get out.  It dawned on me that I was too big to fit through the small opening…I needed to be smaller in order to get out of the darkness and reach the light.  With each Hail Mary, I began to shrink until I was small enough to break through.

Hmmm, I think I'll take that as a big hint, even a sign, that less of me is definitely in order… In fact I think I may need to just quietly slip out of sight after that one!  So if you see less of me around these parts of the woods, you'll know why…. 
It's all good and I am grateful to be reminded that less of ourselves is definitely more if we are to be humble in the eyes of God.  Unplugging from social media distraction has always been a healthy break for me.  I'm just not sure where God wants me to go from here…Keep blogging or not? I can hardly keep up anymore as it is.  Hmmm, what to do?

Providentially, this scripture verse, discovered during Advent, is my new favorite!  I'm pondering things with it in mind...
"If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.  Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others." ~Philippians 2:1-4

In the meantime, I'm off to wonder and shrink…:) God willing!

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