Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gotta Love the Little Guy

I couldn't help but think about my children this morning as the story about Zacchaeus was read. My eldest and second child late in their college years, small in this world, headed toward their life choices, their careers, their callings. My 6ft2 high school sophomore playing lacrosse for the first time, getting his feet wet, learning new skills and headed quickly toward ACTs and SATs and college decisions. My 7th grader struggling against the importance of popularity, her parents trying to keep her from rushing into growing up too quickly. My 5th grader, one of the smaller ones in the class, wanting to play every sport, wanting to make the best grades, always pushing himself. And the youngest, trying to keep up with it all, not letting anything get past her. I prayed as I heard Jesus speak to Zacchaeus, the least popular guy in the town and one of the smallest as well. I prayed that these children would seek Jesus no matter how difficult the challenge. I prayed that they would answer "yes" to His invitation to come to them, to dwell in their hearts. I prayed that no matter how much smaller they felt that they would do everything in their power to stick to their beliefs. Ya just gotta love the little guy. He doesn't just receive the invite and accept the forgiveness, but he promises to undo all the wrong he's bestowed on others. He works hard to get a glimpse of Jesus and all his hard work pays off. May all our children accept, repair, work hard and say "yes" to Jesus as they journey through this life.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

To the Mountain

Today we find Jesus choosing His twelve Apostles after spending the night on a mountain in prayer to His Father. This is a blatant reminder for us to pray before we make decisions, especially decisions that will effect many people all over the world for many years. In the first reading, we see that we are members of this family where He is the Head and the Apostles and Prophets are the foundation. These twelve men chosen by Jesus through prayer are the ones who laid the foundation for the Church. I say "thank goodness" He prayed all night and sought the help of His Father. When we read the Gospels, we learn that Jesus not only taught us to pray but He was a great example of the importance of prayer. I was fortunate enough to have the same teaching and example from my parents. As I look around at who we have for leaders today, I'm wishing there was much more "going to the mountain" and praying before decisions. We can teach prayer. We can be examples of prayer. As we make our choices each day, as we casts our votes, as we pick teams, as we decide who will be our friends and co-workers, as we listen to others, as we gather as family, as we work, as we learn and as we play may we all take time to go first to the mountain.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Relationships

"In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33
Most of the time I have a great relationship with my husband but I have to admit, it's not easy. I don't think God meant for our relationships to be easy. I think He wanted us to work at relationships just as we have to work at everything else in this world. I think He wants us to pray about our relationships. My husband and I work together every day. We are raising six children and running the local Catholic bookstore and in this economy, trust me, it ain't easy. When it's just he and I, all is well. But, there's all these other issues from the outside world that creep in and mess things up. We have to constantly push the ways of the world outside our relationship.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Website

My awesome brother-in-law put together my new website and I must say, he did a wonderful job. I need to get on board and learn more about working on it to keep it up to date but he has done all the work to get it this far. It is beautiful.
Let me just say this. Monty came to us from off the beaten path so to speak and fits into our family perfectly. When my brother Phillip died many years ago, I hoped my sister-in-law would still come to all our family gatherings and bring my niece and nephew, and she did. She never missed a beat. After she married Monty, I hoped for the same. They come to everything, together or separate, and are as much a part of our family as when my brother was here. These two people are incredible and Monty is as talented on the computer as Amy is in the classroom. I thank God for our family.
Check out my new site

juliecragon

His cool website is

metro to mountain

Monday, October 18, 2010

Support in Prayer

I loved yesterday's first reading about Moses. Good ole Moses simply raised his hands and Israel was able to have the better of the battle against Amalek but as his hands dropped due to exhaustion, Amalek would begin to win against Israel. So, they prop Moses on a rock and Aaron and Hur support his hands and Israel wins the battle.

In this reading we receive a wonderful message about the power of prayer. When we are exhausted, when we are sick, when we can just no longer make it on our own, God gives us one another for support. On this Monday, on this first day of a brand new week, while we feel refreshed and renewed, may we say a prayer for all who have ever supported us when we have been exhausted or sick. If you are well, prayer for the sick. If you are employed, pray for the unemployed. If you have a home, pray for the homeless. Today, at some point, envision yourself holding up the hands of another and praying for them so that together we can defeat anything or anyone that stands between us and God.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nothing Concealed

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops."

Well, today's reading can be a little scary for those of us who love to keep up on the "scoop" and for those of us who complain "in secret" about what others do and don't do. It's going to be said and evidently not just said but shouted. Great! My constant and continual, "I know every priest is tired of hearing", confession is that I talk about others. I can justify this all I want and say we're just joking around, no one gets hurt, I just vent, blah blah blah, but truth of the matter is that no matter what, it's wrong and it's an awful example to my children. I'm constantly on my girls about not talking about others. Well I wonder where they get that from? So, as I type this it seems familiar that I have had a similar post but I am going to continue to work on this because guess what? He's going to tell everyone eventually anyway so if I have something to say about someone, I might as well just tell them now. Save these priests some time and energy. As my mother would always say, "Keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them." "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

I have to give one shout out to St Teresa of Avila on her feast day, a great woman, great writer and great reformer. We could use her today with all the reform that needs done around here. "Oh, my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Daughters of Charity

I learned quite a few things from the Daughters of Charity today. Sr. Sally and Sr. Naomi spoke at Colonna (Catholic Book Club in Nashville, my first day) and they were delightful and insightful. I had no idea that they renewed their vows each year. I had no idea that Sr. Naomi who I have waited on in the bookstore many times in the past had gone from house to house in North Nashville in the late 80's and reported back to the State about the poor and their life situations. (Could be East Nashville, I wasn't taking notes). Sr. Sally shared that this is the 350th anniversary of St. Vincent de Paul's death. In giving us 5 sayings of St. Vincent, she shared their mission.
1. The Poor are your Lords and Masters.
Sr. Sally told the story of a young man who came for a lunch and asked one of the people serving if he could have fruit instead of chips (or some substitute). The server answered, "Be grateful for what you get." Sr. Sally answered, "Of course, you may have a choice. What would you like?" We are given choices every day in our lives. Why can the poor not have a choice? We should give them what they want. We assume that we know what they need and oftentimes should just listen to what they want.
2. Leave God for God
Sr. Sally explained that their day is filled with Mass, Christian Prayer, rosary, etc. etc. but they are told to stop everything to serve another in need. In the middle of prayers, when someone knocks on the door for help, she sets aside her prayer to help. She leaves God for God.
***3. Be inventive unto infinity. Marked as my favorite story. They do not have a place to store furniture, only food and clothing and household supplies. They had a family with six children who had no furniture. One of the priest found them some furniture and connected the two groups for a smooth transition but on that day, no truck. So the priest went to his house and strapped his rowboat on the back of his car and transferred all of the furniture, in trips, via boat. Whatever it takes. Be inventive.
4. We hurt the poor more by our lack of organization than by our lack of charity.
Sr. Sally told the story of St. Vincent vesting for mass one day and hearing of a large family with many sick children and no food. Changing his plan for Mass, he spoke to the people about the needs of the family. After Mass, he gathered all he could and went to the home of the ones in need. When he arrived, he found that he couldn't even get to the door because of all the people who had come with baskets of food. That very day, he gathered the women and organized groups that would take charge of the needs of the poor so that food would not go bad or certain people would not have their specific needs go unmet.
5. "It is only because of your love, only your love, that the poor will forgive you the bread you give them."
Probably the hardest to understand, Sr. Sally explained that the poor are bitter that they have to be fed by others. St. Vincent says, "You will find that charity is a heavy burden to carry, heavier than the kettle of soup or the basket of bread. But you must keep your gentleness and your smile. Giving soup and bread isn't all that the rich can do. You are the little servant of the poor, the maid of charity, always smiling and in good humor. They are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting as you will see, but the uglier and dirtier they are, the more unjust and bitter, the more you must give them your love."

I sat in awe listening to the fact that they care for about 9,000 people. I listened as she explained the wearing out of tires and lack of funding sometimes and the donations and the needs and the work. All the huge amounts of tireless work! God bless these women and all of the many, many groups and societies that help them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thank You Catholic Mom . Com

Thank you to Lisa Hendey at Catholicmom.com for recognizing my 2 new books and for the kind words here
Lisa Hendey at Catholic mom books

Our Lady of the Rosary


As I was looking for something I wrote on Our Lady of the Rosary, I found this that I had written a while back for a group prayer application. Sort of like it so...

The Rosary

Reflect: Lord, You call us to this place to learn more about praying the rosary. Through these meditations on the mysteries of Your life, fill us with Your graces and Your protection. As we further our devotion to the rosary and Your Mother leads us closer to You, help us in our daily lives and grant us peace.

Introduction: In the early Church, lay people were attracted to the 150 Psalms prayed and chanted by the monks. Because the Psalms were not readily available to everyone and many of the laity were unable to read, the practice began of praying 150 Our Fathers and eventually 150 Hail Mary’s in place of the Psalms. In 1214, Our Lady appeared to St. Dominic as he prayed for the conversion of the Albigensians in the chapel at Prouille. She taught him the complete rosary and attached the fifteen promises for those who prayed it faithfully. In 1460, the rosary was re-established by Blessed Alan, a Dominican Father, upon Our Lady’s request. In 1569, Pius V officially recommended praying an Our Father between each set of ten of the 150 Hail Mary’s after meditating on a mystery in the Life of Christ. In 1917, Our Lady appeared in Fatima, Portugal and during the sixth apparition told the three children, Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia, that she wanted people to pray the rosary daily. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries to include the public life of Jesus.

Clarification: The Rosary combines prayer and meditation which center on the events in Christ’s life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that we pray in communion with Mary to “magnify” the greatness of the Lord. As we repeat the Hail Mary’s, we are led to rest in the gentle presence of the One who’s mystery we contemplate.
The Fifteen Promises to those who recite the rosary:
1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
3. The Rosary will be a powerful armor against hell. It will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies.
4. It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5. Those who recommend themselves to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.
6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred Mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just, he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death, the light of God and the plentitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in heaven.
11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
12. All those who propagate the holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons, and brothers of my only son, Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

Meditation: As we meditate on the Joyful Mysteries, let us contemplate the joys in our own lives.
The Annunciation - In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the
house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and
pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. Luke1:26-38

Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, Glory Be
"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Your Mercy".

The Visitation - During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill
country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted
Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped
in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to
you by the Lord would be fulfilled." And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Luke 1:39-49
Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, Glory Be
"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Your Mercy".

The Nativity - While they were there, the time came for her to have her
child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold,
I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." Luke 2:6-12

Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, Glory Be
"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Your Mercy".

The Presentation - When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord," and to offer the sacrifice of "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons," in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of
Israel, * and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel." The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many
in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Luke 2:22-35
Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, Glory Be
"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Your Mercy".

Finding in the Temple - Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. Luke 2:41-51
Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, Glory Be
"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Your Mercy".

Discussion:
1. How are some of the ways we can relate to the Joyful Mysteries today?
2. What are some of the other appearances of Mary where she has asked us to pray the rosary? What were some of the other messages?
3. Are there any personal experiences you have had praying the rosary you would like to share? Are there any suggestions of incorporating the rosary into our daily lives?

Further Study: The Mysteries of Christ: A Scriptural Rosary, The Rosary Handbook,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Maggie Valley, NC


Well this week I am in Maggie Valley, NC at a Diocesan priest retreat. Each year the Charlotte Diocese invites me to set up shop at the Living Waters Retreat Center (to reflect the Son deep in the heart of a mountain) and each year after setting up for 4 hours I am greeted and welcomed by a wonderful group of men, dedicated to their call to be priests. I have to admit that last night I was worn out and I sat down to blog about how cold it is up here on the mountain and how tiresome it is sitting all day waiting for customers between walks and talks and prayer. Then I realized, this blog is about hand me downs and my parents didn't pass on whining. Plus, it's awesome here and I should be grateful to have this opportunity and so I am...grateful. I recognize most of the guys from years past and I'd like to mention this one in particular. This priest seems to always be happy. He walks over to greet me, thanks me for being here each year and converses with me for some time about life. Actually, there are quite a few of the guys like this. This is not a business transaction, although that happens. It is a relationship. I love a good relationship. This entire experience has become a part of my life and their lives and we have formed a relationship. God has brought me to this place and has blessed me with this encounter and I am grateful. Hopefully, my husband will bring 4 of my children up today (fall break, I don't ever remember fall break as a kid) and they will help me break down tonight and we can travel to Chattanooga and visit daughter Sarah at UTC. God is good.

Friday, October 1, 2010

St. Therese of Lisieux

Life offers many reasons for unceasing prayer and many reasons for constant thanks. Life is both a challenge and a joy. God has sent us so many ways to offer prayer and thanksgiving. And we know that He finds importance in both because He has sent His Son and His mother and many others to teach us to pray. He also sends us the occasional sign that our prayer is answered and it seems the more answers we receive, the more apt we are to continue the prayers. God knows our very being. He knows how to get us back on our knees.

When I was younger, my mother would often, out of nowhere, ask, “Can you smell that?” We knew that meant mom had been praying a novena to St. Theresa and her plea had been answered. St. Theresa must have planted a garden of roses each year just for my mother. Mom always shared when prayers worked with outward physical signs we could understand. She knew if she had proof, there was a chance we’d try them ourselves in our deepest needs.

My grandmother, Rose Reginald Mary Claire Dalton Dortch, was an amazing woman. Another person in our lives who loved and lived her Catholic faith. My grandfather had a Baptist upbringing and my grandmother told me how she never pushed Catholicism on him. She invited but never pushed and eventually he joined the Catholic Church. She was gentle and kind and incredibly intelligent. Always offering but never unloading. Her pleasure in giving to anyone around her made her a constant joy to be around. We rarely went to her house that we did not leave with something from her cedar chest. “Come back in my room and let’s see if I have anything you want.” She’d open that big chest, always at the end of her bed, and offer us whatever treasure she happened to have at the time. The huge wooden box was always filled with surprises. She was constantly giving.

At the age of one hundred and two, with my grandfather long since gone, my grandmother moved to a place where she could have round the clock help if she needed. As I left Mass one day, a young woman approached me and introduced herself as one of the nurses taking care of my grandmother, Rose. She felt compelled to share that she had prayed a novena to St. Theresa for a desperate need and after the nine days was distraught not to have received a confirmation that all would be well. On that day, she was assigned my grandmother as a patient. So focused in search of a long stemmed flower or the scent of such, it took her some time to realize that St. Theresa had sent her Rose in a different way.

Life offers many reasons for unceasing prayer and many reasons for constant thanks.

"St. Therese, the Little Flower, please pick me a rose from the heavenly garden and send it to me with a message of love. Ask God to grant me the favor I thee implore and tell him I will love him each day more and more."