June 23, 2016

Work the Lock, Don't Look at the Dogs

If you're a Child Of The 80's like me, then you might remember watching episodes of Magnum, P.I., a television series in which Tom Selleck provides private security at a wealthy Hawaiian estate.  Additional security measures at the estate include two guard dogs.  Two nasty, slavering, hungry guard dogs.  Doberman Pinschers.  Named Zeus and Apollo.

In the pilot episode, one of Magnum's initial security tests is to see if he can steal the estate's Ferrari.  As he attempts quickly to pick the lock, the ever vigilant Zeus and Apollo are seen in the background, rapidly sprinting around the corner, intent on eating Magnum alive.  Magnum forces himself to focus on the task at hand (breaking into the Ferrari) by murmuring to himself,

"Don't look at the dogs; work the lock.
Work the lock.  Work the lock!
Don't look at the dogs!"

You can watch the clip here:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjuQX2g8uNo

At the last moment, however, unable to resist the lure of temptation, Magnum glances at the snarling dogs racing toward him.

"You looked at the dogs!" he exclaims, just as he springs the lock and jumps into the safety of the car, slamming the Ferrari's door closed behind him.

Whew!  That was close!

Think about it.  How often have WE done that?  Has this ever happened to you?

(No, no, no.  Not breaking into a Ferrari in Hawaii while being chased by Dobermans.  ...well, I don't know, maybe Heather?)

Have you ever been focusing so intently on a task that God has given you, but then, in spite of your absolute best determination to stay focused, you take your eye off your purpose.  You let your glance slide away, just for a second.

Only a second.

You look at the dogs.

Ever heard of the Hounds of Hell?

When God has given you a purpose, a task, a job, an assignment, no matter how small or how large, Satan would love nothing more than for you to loose your focus, stumble off track, and subsequently (yay, Satan!) abandon God's task altogether.

Look at the dogs, the deceiver says.
Go ahead, glance at them.
Just for a minute.
Take your eyes off your task and look.
Now you are focused on the horrible prospects threatening your success.

Have you ever done this?  Allowed negativity, nay-sayers, and challenges to dissuade you from staying the course and trusting resolutely in God's will?

Sometimes, in the face of everyday challenges or overwhelming odds (the rapidly approaching dogs), we have to remind ourselves to remain on task, to stay the course, and to renew our determination to fill our vision with God's will, not ours, nor the obstacles to fulfilling His.

We have to remember to work the lock.  Don't look at the dogs.

Work the lock.
Stay on task.
Remain focused on God's will.


Don't look at the dogs.
Don't panic at your own limitations.
Don't let your focus slip from seeking God's will to worrying about your own inability to fulfill it.

My dear friend has a plaque in her house, which reads,
"God doesn't call the qualified.  He qualifies the called."

You can do this.
God.  Picked.  You!
He is here for you.

Focus.  On.  Him.

Remember Peter, when he saw the Lord walking on water during the storm on the Sea of Galilee?  He asked the Lord to call to him, to prove His Presence by enabling Peter to walk to Him across the water.

And he did it!  Peter walked on water!

For a minute.

But then, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus.  He took his eyes off his task, his goal, his Lord.  He looked at the dogs.  Peter glanced down at the roiling water, let the Lord slide out of his field of vision, and suddenly could remember nothing greater than his 3rd Grade science lesson about buoyancy and density and will it sink or float.

Then, Peter began to sink.

Fortunately, Christ was there to save him.  Christ stretched out His hand (when Peter called to Him, but that's a post for another day) and grasped Peter's hand and hauled the panicked fisherman back to safety.

Christ is here to save you, too.
In any instance.
He is here even in the worst storms of life, stretching out His hand to you, to keep you focused, on task, with your eyes on Him.

On Him.

I'm not saying be oblivious and don't consider all reasonable aspects of accomplishing something God has put before you.

But.

I am saying it does you no good to stray from His way and scatter your focus to stare instead in horrified fascination at the theoretical Doberman Pinschers gnashing their teeth and threatening to tear you apart.

Because if you do, they will.

Stop it.

Focus.  On.  Him.

He is stretching out His hand to you!

Why?

Because He loves you.

He loves you so much that He made you in His own image and likeness to know, love, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

And THAT's what it's all about!

So, the next time you have a task at hand (to work the lock), and you suddenly are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds (don't look at the dogs), remain resolute and focus on the task at hand.  Do not be distracted.  Seek God's will.  Call out to Him!  And you will find that you ARE strong enough, quick enough, clever enough, and able enough to elude perceived threats and ultimately leap for joy in the success of God's plan for you and the surety of Heaven.

Believe me.  It'll be even better than a Ferrari!

June 11, 2016

I Am

"Christ said, 'I am the Truth;' He did not say, 'I am the custom.' "
(St. Turibius de Mongrovejo)

May 12, 2016

On Laundry

The achievement of laundry depends upon WHEN you want it accomplished.  When I asked this exact same question of our homeschool group (72 families), these are the leading answers I received:

1).  WEEKLY - All dirty laundry gets sorted (e.g. - whites vs. darks) into the appropriate laundry cart or receptacle as it is discarded by the user, so it is ready to toss in the Magical Washing Machine on Laundry Day.  The loads then are run endlessly in the background on Laundry Day, say Wednesday (or whichever day), every week by whomever is available at that moment or a different assigned kid each week.  (Hint: Use timers so you don't loose track of loads being accomplished!)  Then, the NEXT day, the entire family gathers for one hour in the family room, the parents' bedroom, or wherever to dump ALL the clean laundry, sort, fold, and put it all away.  Voila!

BENEFIT:  "Laundry doesn't rule our lives.  Every.  Single.  Day.  It's only once a week and we actually talk and laugh a lot doing it together."

2).  DAILY - All dirty laundry (regardless of color .... let's be honest, it IS just mostly kid clothes) gets tossed directly into The Magical Washing Machine at bedtime at night.  In the morning, the washer and dryer are run by an assigned kid per day before and after breakfast.  After school, the assigned kid removes, sorts, folds, and puts away everyone's laundry.  Since this is done daily, it's only just one load.  (You also could have each person retrieve his or her own folded laundry and put it away.)

BENEFIT: "Laundry doesn't become a huge, looming 'To Do' mountain.  Once the kids get used to this pattern, it really is a quick and easy task.  The littlest ones apprentice and 'help' whichever older kid has been assigned to the task that day."

3).  LAUNDRY NIRVANA - Each child is assigned a day that is his or her Laundry Day.  That is the day on which s/he has the machines completely to his or herself to launder clothing.  If you snooze, you lose.  Feel free to barter with your siblings.  (This mom had seven kids, so each kid had the same day each week.  She also didn't implement this with each kid until the child reached second grade, so she still had the littlest ones help her do theirs.)

BENEFIT:  "The kids are doing their own laundry!  Helloooo!?  Ta-da!!!"

May 6, 2016

Mary's May Crowning

Here's a link to The Great Adventure series of (short!) articles on Mary, for your meditation during the month of May.  There are eight.  Maybe try reading and praying on two per week!  Enjoy!  😊


http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/category/mary/

April 30, 2016

Spiritual Life is a Journey


"Denigrating the 'before' is common in the spiritual life.  After a conversion experience, one is tempted to set aside, downplay, or reject one's past.  In Thomas Merton's biography The Seven Storey Mountain, the former dissolute student turned Trappist monk largely characterizes his former life as bad, and his life in the monastery as good.  Of the 'old' Thomas Merton, he said ruefully, 'I can't get rid of him.'

"In time, Merton would realize how misguided a quest that is: there is no post-conversion person and pre-conversion person.  There is one person in a variety of times, the past informing and forming the present.  God is at work at all times."

(Jesus: A Pilgrimage, by James Martin, S.J.)

April 24, 2016

High Five for Mass

At our church, when the offertory gifts are brought up, the deacon receives them at the foot of the steps to the altar.   Usually, he raises both hands similar to an orans posture, but with his palms facing the family, and invokes God's blessing upon the family who brought up the gifts.  He then accepts the gifts and passes them on to an altar server.

But, last week was different.

When our (rather short in stature) deacon raised his hands to bless the family, the little girl at the front of the group -- she couldn't have been more than six years old -- broke into a grin, jumped up in the air, and enthusiastically slapped the deacon a high five.

God bless the deacon, he just smiled and kept praying.

Wow.

Awesome!

I'd never seen that.  A child who was SO utterly excited to be participating in Mass that she simply burst with joy and high five'd the minister of God at the altar.

Superb!

Thankfully, my first and most humbling thought was, "Wow.  Shouldn't we all be THAT thrilled to be here!?"

I take the faith formation of my children very, very seriously.  So, it sometimes is equally distressing to me to see an ostensibly Catholic child be oblivious of how to participate correctly in his or her faith, especially the Mass.

But, last week was different.

Last week, this exuberant kid taught me that sometimes you bend rules and leap for joy because... because... because God loves you!  And because you're here.  And because He lets you approach His altar with your humble gifts, often enough just the gift of your lil' ole self.

Wow.

Awesome!

Shouldn't we all be THAT excited to be there!?

April 2, 2016

Divine Mercy Novena - Ninth Day

Intention: Today bring to Me SOULS WHO HAVE BECOME LUKEWARM, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’ For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy.

Novena Prayers: Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls, who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy.  Amen.

April 1, 2016

Divine Mercy Novena - Eighth Day

Intention: Today bring to Me THE SOULS WHO ARE DETAINED IN PURGATORY, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice.

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion.  Amen.

March 31, 2016

Divine Mercy Novena - Seventh Day

Intention: Today bring to Me THE SOULS WHO ESPECIALLY VENERATE AND GLORIFY MY MERCY, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory.  Amen.

March 30, 2016

Phonics

It's not rocket science and I'm sure I'm not the first to use it, but here's a helpful little hint we just utilized for one of our homeschool student's phonics work.

To target the student's attention on the exact line on which we were working, I quickly snipped out of a simple 8.5"x11", plain, white sheet of paper a "window" that covered the entire page except for the item at hand.

Ta-da!  Instant clarity of focus!  Our student's performance thereafter for this assignment improved dramatically.

Please feel free to steal this idea!  :-)

Divine Mercy Novena - Sixth Day

Intention: Today bring to Me THE MEEK AND HUMBLE SOULS AND THE SOULS OF LITTLE CHILDREN, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. Only the humble soul is capable of receiving My grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart.” Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father’s favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages.  Amen.

March 29, 2016

Mother Angelica

Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation
Foundress of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration
and the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN)
b. 20 April 1923 - d. 27 March 2016

Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday.  Her work on Earth will have a ripple effect for Jesus for generations to come.  Here is a moving article by Father Joseph Wolfe, who was with her at the last:

Mother Angelica's Last Days

Another excellent commentary and lesson for us all comes from Jeff Cavins, a Catholic convert and founder of The Great Adventure Bible Study.

"I learned from Mother that all the glory goes to Jesus. She told me one time that if anyone says anything good about you or praises you, point them to Jesus right away. I saw her do this time after time and I have tried to imitate her in this practice.

"A lesson we can all learn from Mother [Angelica] is that God can do amazing things with the five loaves and two fish that we have. She didn’t have much when it comes to TV experience, but what she had, she gave to Jesus and He did amazing things with it. Every time I hear the story of the feeding of the five thousand, I think of Mother Angelica and the five loaves and two fish that she gave Jesus. If you have been blessed by EWTN, then you have benefited from her gift to the Lord." (Jeff Cavins)

I think that's going to be my goal from now on.  To see myself as the child who trustingly handed over to Jesus his simple lunch of five loaves and two fish.  Because remember, He made us.  God made us.  Jesus.  God.  He made us to know, love, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

He also made our five loaves and the two fish.  Everything we have and everything we are was made by Him, comes from Him, is through Him, by His grace.

Thanks to Jeff Cavins' remarks, thanks to Mother Angelica's life, I'm going (to try!) to remember more often in the future to hand everything I have, am, do, or am struggling with over to Jesus.

Not with reservations ("Um, but Jesus, is that going to be enough to feed everyone?").

Not with stipulations ("Um, but Jesus, are you sure you know how to gut 'n cook fish just right?").

Not with instructions ("Um, but Jesus, why don't we just send James and John over to the market for some more sandwiches?")

Not with questions ("Um, but Jesus, are you sure you want all these people to sit down and stay?  Here?  With us?  Expecting to be fed!?")

Nike had the right idea.

Just Do It.

Stop telling the Lord how to manage your things or how your life oughta be and just let Him drive your life.  He even says so explicitly in the Bible:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life .... Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? .... If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? .... Instead, seek His kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides."  (from Luke 12:22-31)



(....really, just go and read ALL of Luke Chapter 12.  Would you believe that chapter just randomly leapt out at me during my Bible reading in Adoration today!?  No, seriously!  Really!  It did!  Isn't that great!?)

Mother Angelica's life, above all, was dedicated to the fervent belief that God made YOU and wants YOU -- every, single, one of you! -- to know, love, and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

Just ask her!  She's already there.  And as she spent her life, now she's pullin' for YOU from Heaven, too.  "Rest In Peace" is real nice 'n all, but let's keep Mother Angelica busy with our petitions.  I think she'd be rather glad to hear them.  And immediately point us to Jesus!

Vive Jesu!

Divine Mercy Novena - Fifth Day

Intention:  Today bring to Me THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAVE SEPARATED THEMSELVES FROM MY CHURCH, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church, My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion.

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son’s Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages.  Amen.

March 28, 2016

Divine Mercy Novena - Fourth Day

Intention: Today bring to Me THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD AND THOSE WHO DO NOT YET KNOW ME. I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.

Novena Prayers: Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages.  Amen.

March 27, 2016

Divine Mercy Novena - Third Day



Intention: Today bring to Me ALL DEVOUT AND FAITHFUL SOULS, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. The souls brought Me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were that drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness.

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wonderous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages.  Amen.