Sunday, September 1, 2013

Spiritual Exercises

I have been on a journey. It has lasted nearly 38 years, but only a fraction of that time has been intentional. This summer, I began a certification program at a School of Spirituality. The program is intense. Intensely academic, but even more intensely healing. Part of the requirements for completion is working through the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.

If you know anything about these exercises, you may know it's a daunting task and demanding journey. Ignatius wrote the exercises to be completed in an intense 30 day secluded retreat or nineteenth annotation, for those unable to "escape" from daily life. As a mother of adolescent children, it's not practical for me to take off for thirty days, so a few weeks ago, I began the 19.

Today, just after my prayer time, I had a thought that I should jot down thoughts from my experiences. Though part of the journey involves journaling after each hour of prayer, I find myself having some reflections that are worth remembering outside of my prayer time.

The first thing of import: I am not holy. I am a woman with a sinful past who struggles daily with temptations and sins. I desire deeply to know, love and serve the Lord and am on a mission to transform myself, with His grace and mercy, into the creation He intended. This is going to require a great deal of healing and docility to the Spirit.

If you are so inclined, please pray for me.

Peace be with you.

Friday, February 25, 2011


I have let this blog become a wasted space on the internet. A chasm of emptiness - sure, there are shards of joy sprinkled into it - but I can clearly hear the crickets chirping here.
That has not what life has been like for me since I created this space. My life has been bustling, warp-speed changes with roller-coaster highs and lows. It's been great, though.
We moved to the Mid-Atlantic four years and one month ago. For our children, it's the longest they've lived consecutively in any state - and the longest time we've been in a single parish as a couple. The community here is blessed and we are blessed and so very grateful to be part of it.
Four years ago, my plan was to do my best to serve the community in whatever way I could, making friends and building a short-term life for us here. Short-term because we'd moved so many times - and we assumed that it would continue to be the case. But my plan was to embrace the people and the area for the time that we would be here. And I have.
When we were busy with the day-to-day, planting ourselves into our parish and community, I fell in love. Not with a person or the region, though I have fallen in love with our people here and really enjoy this region, but I have fallen in love in a new way with God. I wonder if this new love is because I have begun to realize that to better love God, I must live His command to love my neighbor? I find it no small coincidence that the more love I have for others, the closer I feel to my Father and Lord.
I realize how He has tried for years to reveal Himself to me in a profound way - a way that would cause me to tip back and say "Wow!" The past few weeks have me saying "Wow!" a lot. Not because of material blessings, though to be on the cusp of buying "the house" is a pretty big "wow" for us, but because we have felt strongly rooted here and really didn't want to lose this community of saints-in-the-making. I won't worry about the times I've missed those moments in the past when God was inviting me to see His awesome power and His abiding love for me, but instead I embrace the now and future moments.
We have come through an incredibly trying time, with a great loss and job uncertainty and instability. To be on the other side of what was a stressful time, I can see how my trust in the Lord's providence kept at bay most of the deepest lows. I can't say those around me were unscathed, as I still struggle with my sharp tongue at times, but I trusted that the Lord's plan was greater than any we could come up with on our own.
I'd like to break this open a bit, but for now, I need to read a couple chapters out of a textbook in order to have a class discussion this afternoon with my daughter.
Lord, please touch those in my heart and mind this day. Please give comfort and a peace that surpasses all human understanding to those in need, especially those who are dying this day. May Your love and mercy be a sign to all that Truth is worth living and fighting for. I ask all these things through the Precious Sacrifice and His willing and obedient Sacred Heart, Amen.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Second Friday of Lent: Running to the Father

If you have children, imagine this: (I'd tell you to close your eyes and picture it, but if you close your eyes, you can't read what I'm about to type.) Think of little children... I don't know if this happens or happened in your home, but even at 9 1/2 and 8, my girls still behave this way... Think of the late afternoon time, early evening, there's anticipation and waiting and an underlying excitement - Daddy's coming home! "Has he called yet? How much longer?" Glances out the windows, looking for his car. Finally, they scatter and get involved in reading a book or practicing piano or coloring.
But when footsteps are heard on the porch and the scrape of the key enters the lock - maybe the distraction keeps them other-focused until the door opens, but then! They run! They squeal, "Daddy's home!" And they throw themselves at him, eager for his embrace and attention...
Maybe they're younger, still a baby, and Daddy's on the other side of a room, talking or singing. And her eyes are on him, watching, smiling, filled with joy to see her Daddy...
Sitting on the floor, on his legs, chubby little arms holding his forearms while he reads a book or sings a song with her... she relaxes back against him, completely safe, completely adored and in complete adoration! Daddy is the best!
This is how the Lord wants us to anticipate being with Him. This is how He wants us to come to Him. That we would let go of anything that's blocking us from experiencing this childlike joy in just being with Him.
I find it interesting and such an amazing grace that the Lord reveals Himself to me in the quiet. One of the things I've realized in the past week, is that while I appreciate all that the Lord has done for me, and I am so so grateful for His love and mercy, I haven't experienced that kind of joy in Him. Whether it is because my own father let me down in some ways or made me feel less than in others, or maybe it's some other reason I'm blocked, I realized that there is so much more for me to experience with the Lord.
And one of the things I'm most looking forward for the rest of this incredible season of Lent is learning to let things go that prevent my heart from running to the Lord in joy and unfettered love. I want to sit at His feet and rest my head in His lap and just revel in the love of a perfect Father.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ashes, Ashes, we all fall Down!

Ash Wednesday, 2010. The Lord wants so much for us to turn to Him in bigger ways - and He uses the season of Lent to pull us closer to Him in many smaller ways.

This morning, as I prayed, I was called with great conviction to serve Him in a new way. He wants me to be consistent in a way that I haven't before - to use all of my words more carefully, especially. This could mean a lot of things, but for me it was two-fold.

First, He wants me to carefully speak with my children. When they interrupt, He wants me to gently redirect them to do the right thing, rather than snap out "try that again". He wants me to express myself with sweetness and love, as He does with us. In other words, He is asking me to let go of my tendency toward sharpness.

And I gotta be honest, my knee-jerk reaction is to say "Lord, I can't do that! I always try hard! Those behaviors are just part of who I am." And guess what? He whispered sweetly to me, "Let ME be the change inside of you. I can do all things." Okay, so I didn't hear a 'voice' inside my head, or even outside my head - but I did feel strongly that the Lord wants me not only to KNOW this truth, but to completely embrace it. No, I can't eliminate my tendency toward sharp, but HE can! What an awesome God!

Second, He wants me to evangelize in a new way. I don't know if it's His plan that it be through this internet space, but I know He is calling me loudly to share His truth and love. I am not an expert, I have no special training, but I do know the transforming power of His love and mercy and I think I can at least try better to share it with others.

So, this Ash Wednesday, my hope is that I spend the next 40 days, truly resting at the feet of Jesus. I know if I do this more and more, I will better understand His will for me. And I want to do it. I want to be the child He created me to be and I want nothing more than to be close to the One who made me. And it'd be amazing if He used me to help my family and friends get there too.

God bless you and keep you!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

To Yankee Stadium! We're going to see the Pope!!!!

Sometimes, when I am excited, I have a hard time falling asleep. I'm a bit like a child, I suppose. This morning, I have risen at about 4 am, after getting less than 6 hours of slumber - and now I must pack our breakfast and supper and shower to get ready to head to New York City for the day. We have been looking forward to this day for weeks, since we got word that we won the lottery. The ticket lottery, so we will be blessed to celebrate mass with Pope Benedict XVI this afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
I am so amazed at how God has blessed us since we came to this part of the country. We knew He wanted us here, and it is pretty cool that we get to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event. I'm bringing a little notebook, so maybe I'll take a few moments throughout the day to record my immediate thoughts and feelings and come back here and share them with you tomorrow.
I'll pray for you today - and your intentions.