Thursday, August 27, 2009

To know, to love, to serve

Yesterday afternoon I took my three younger children to the store so my son, Nicholas, could decide on some gift ideas for his birthday today. Needless to say, I went ahead and purchased the few items he chose. On the way home, he asked why the guy who checked us out had those big holes in his ears with the rings in them. I first explained that I think he had to start with small holes and continually put larger rings in them to make his skin stretch that way. Then I proceeded to give the opinion that not everyone we meet really has the same concepts about what our time on earth is all about. I shared that I think many people do different things to try to get attention drawn to themselves while others believe that we should give the attention to one another and draw and give attention to God. He commented more on the many tatoos and agreed with the idea of the need for attention by saying, "He certainly got my attention!" My sixth grade daughter piped in that we are here to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this life and be happy forever with Him in the next. I spun my head around and said, "Hey that was my blog this morning." We both agreed how cool it is when things like that happen and how great it feels to be in sinc. She proceeded to ask if her picture was on that blog from yesterday as if I knew she would share the subject with me that afternoon. So, today I wish my 10 year old son happy birthday but I picture my daughter because her words prompted the text. I love to be in sinc. I also realize that it is somewhat comical that my daughter who shared her lesson of Faith is wearing a Bourbon Street t-shirt.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Catechism

Instruction on living a Christ-centered life is written clearly in the Word of God and impressed upon further in the writings of the many saints, theologians, doctors and other holy men and women of the Church. In our formal lessons of the Catholic faith, whether as youth in religious education or as adults in faith formation classes, we are all given that same opportunity to share in a Catholic faith rich in tradition handed down through the centuries. But to maintain and practice that faith, we must continue to share and live the life Christ passed down. What we choose to read, to learn, to accept and to be open to is how we choose our walk with Christ.
“God made me to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this life and be happy with Him forever in the next.” When I was in catholic grade school and high school I heard some form, if not the exact same words, of this message every year. Twelve years of Catholic schools for us kids and for our parents kept us in sync with the teachings of the Church. We knew that life was different for our mom and dad then it was for us and yet the catechism we learned was filled with the same teachings, the same commandments and the same message of a God who loves us so much that He sent His Son as our hope and salvation.
When I graduated from college, a friend and I decided to backpack through Europe for a couple of months. We had no set plans, just a Eurorail card, some cash, a credit card and a backpack. We landed in Amsterdam with not a clue about a place to stay but wandered around enough to find other Americans in our similar situation. Together , we managed. We traveled through Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, France, and Belgium. I found myself homesick most every day of the journey. The only relief I could find was in the Mass. Although I could not understand a word that was spoken except parts of the Our Father, I instantly recognized the same Jesus Christ in the Consecration. At the sign of peace and as we joined to receive the Eucharist, I recognized a familiar people who were taught to know and to love and to serve. In my heart, with these people, I was home.

Lord, help me to continue to hunger for Your Word and to grow in wisdom. Strengthen my heart by Your grace that I may be an example of Your love. Guide my path today and every day to know You, to serve You and to love You.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Purpose Driven Life

Again I take this moment to share the flip calendar verse from Rick Warren for today. "When you grasp the eternal consequences of your character development, you'll pray fewer 'Comfort me' prayers (Help me feel good) and more 'Conform me' prayers (Use this to make me more like you). If you are facing trouble right now, don't ask, 'Why me?' Instead ask, 'What do you want me to learn?' Then trust God and keep on doing what's right."

I took one of my daughters to college this weekend and coming home from dinner Friday night witnessed a bad wreck. All air bags were deployed when a car running a stop sign at full speed plowed into another coming through the intersection we were approaching. I saw what was about to happen and screamed for my daughter to stop as the incident unfolded before us. My daughter backed up the van into a parking lot and went to check on the family with two young boys who were in the car hit by a man and a woman headed to the hospital to see her mother who was expected to die. I watched as my young daughter comforted the young boys who we found out were visiting from another city. She talked to them about nothing and about everything. She spent an hour of her time that she wanted to be working on her dorm room, caring for a family she had no connection to and yet for that hour became connected. She did not pass on one thought of the "why me?" but shared everything she could think of to help them get through a scary time and move on trusting that there was nothing that they did to be at fault, we were all lucky not to be seriously hurt and all would be okay.
After the entire deal, as we drove back to the dorm, we talked about the importance of her being there at that time for those kids and what we have to learn from the situations we encounter. God is good to give us those times of confirmations where we can watch our children act and react in situations beyond their control and be great. She was used to be something more to someone totally unknown to her.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Character

"Every problem is a character-building opportunity, and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fiber. What happens outwardly in your life is not as important as what happens inside you. Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever."
Each morning I read a small daily flip calendar that my goddaughter gave me last Christmas based on the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I always get something quite insightful from the small messages and oftentimes they hit square in the target of my life. Today's reflection was for me not necessarily about problems but more about my crazy schedule getting my children in school, two colleges, one new high school and three to grade school, running the bookstore and training five new employees, while setting up off-site book tables for a workshop in the Diocese for three days. Here's where my lack of organizational skills puts me in a panic. Here's when I have to stop and take each day as an opportunity to build character not just within myself but within my family. They are the ones highly affected by my schedule. Around them I try to demonstrate patience. While my brains screams "let's move along", my heart tells me to relax. These days are so temporary. The time I have with these children and co-workers and customers passes so quickly. Opportunities disappear before us. In our hectic lives, may we all take the time to build a little character by simply handling the craziness well.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mustard Seeds

“Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
The readings today hit me right in the face with my lack of trust in God and my lack of example to my little ones around me. This past week especially I have been unable to write and barely able to concentrate on anything except getting my children back to school. My son started high school this week and my anxiety level was over the top. My two older girls and myself went to an all girls high school and had 50 and 60 girls in each class. My son is in a co-ed high school with 270 in just his class, more than in our entire school. It's nerve racking and yet as I sat in the parent's night Monday I felt a huge sense of community. My dad and my brothers and my uncles went to this high school. I knew many of the teachers and the principal and the president because of St. Marys Bookstore or from high school or through my brothers. I should be one of the calmest parents in the school and yet, each day I wonder and I worry. If I truly just had faith the size of that tiny little mustard seed! How hard could this be? I have worked the beads on my rosary every day and stormed more Saints in heaven for help this week than maybe ever before and I should know, He's right here with me. I've talked to Mary about her understanding of sending a son out into a crowd and I should know, she's right here with me. I send the three little ones to grade school and take one to college this week as the boy goes full days to high school and all I'm asked to bank on is faith the size of a mustard seed! I'd like six please but if You say one's enough, I'll try to trust in my fair share. This week maybe I could be a tiny example of His love and His trust, but this world sure tests my faith.