Sunday, August 13, 2017

At the Register this Weekend

I think the world could use a few more of us going to have a heart to heart with God, so we could better read each others hearts and heal whatever it is that hurts.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Grace Can Pierce Stone

Driving my daughters to an appointment, we began a discussion about an article I read about a course where the students studied hate crimes, and in the process, encountered someone who had begun to repent, and who had from some, received the gift of forgiveness.  As my friend who sent me the article said, "No matter what we think about other people, change is amazingly possible."

The thoughts, "Grace can pierce stone. Grace can pierce the emptiness of years.  Grace, like water can seep through the tiniest cracks in the armor of the soul. Grace, like air, comes unseen, and we discover how necessary it is for life." kept running through my mind as I drove, and I repeated the thoughts as images in my head so I wouldn't forget.

The girls sat discussing how they'd write to someone who was incarcerated for hate crimes, and what they would say.   They weren't sure it would be just to be generous or forgiving to people who committed such grave offense, when those who were injured by the offenses still might bear scars from the events.  But God gives mercy to Cain, marking Him with a sign to all the world, this son I love, this son I will protect.  Despite Cain's sin against his brother and God, God offers him not merely mercy, but ongoing mercy for his life.  Grace is in essence, God's limitless love, manifested as mercy, upon us, His limited creatures.

Mercy remains, as Pope Francis constantly reminds us, amazingly possible for all who seek for it.  This does not mean the grace is won in an instant, for always, God wants us to go deeper and deeper into relationship with Him.  For that to happen, sometimes, we need the cross of time, so as to lean more solidly on God than ourselves.  We do not receive mercy via anything but God's generosity.  It reflects both God's heart, and the extent to which the soul of the person extending forgiveness or forbearance, is molded by God's heart.

Mercy manifested in this world by one person to another, remains to those who lack faith, hope and/or mercy, a mystery that amounts to foolishness.  Mercy manifested in this world from one person to another, viewed by the outsider who knows love, hope, and/or faith, remains a mystery, but a celebrated luminous joyful wondrous one,  It makes more sense than the sensible response the world would "understand," and thus is both impossible to explain, and more normal, more natural, more magnificent than what might be deemed just, fair or appropriate.

So today, as it is August 11th, the day I asked Catholic bloggers to offer penance and prayer for peace, both in their homes and hearts, and in the world both online and out there, I am praying for peace, for the whole world to be bathed in mercy, so that it might become more real and more natural, more what it was always intended to be.   Such a reality would be amazing, all the more so, because it is possible.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Plea for All of Us to Pray for All of Us

The Catholic blogosphere is as diverse as the Church itself, with people who wrestle earnestly with issues both big and small, but who try always to be Catholic in their response to life and all the people living in it.  We aren't always successful.  Being like any family, we have fights, we fail, we forgive, we pull away, we mess up.  However only when we have our right and left hands together, can we be fully in prayer, fully seamless, fully the Universal Church we are all called to be.

Above all, we want this world which is God's gift to all of us, to go on, allowing future generations to discover Christ both in the sacraments and in each other, in service and in prayer.  That can only happen if the people here now, work for peace, both in our own hearts, and in the world.   As part of the overly talkative patient wing of the hospital for sinners, who believe part of our vocation, is both to learn and educate about the Catholic faith, it is time we came together in prayer. In the core of each Catholic, I know there is more than a mustard seed of faith, waiting for us to ask. I also know, harder things require more than mere prayer and faith, but atonement, for some demons do not go out except by prayer and fasting. We have a world full of unrest even absent the current sabre rattling in North Korea, and we need to get to the work of being the Body of Christ to others.  We can only do that by being deliberate in seeking grace.  Who doesn't want more genuine peace and grace in the friendships in their lives, both online and in real life?

How?

We do not have worldly power, but we have something much greater.  We have the King of Peace, and we have His blessed mother, the sacraments and the saints. So I am asking all Catholic bloggers everywhere, at the Reporter and the Register, at Aleteia and Crux, Catholicmom and Catholic Digest, Catholic columnists both independent and syndicated, new and established.  Calling all writers from America and the Catholic Stand, at Patheos, New Advent, Big Pulpit and the Catholic Conspiracy, Church Militant and anywhere they may be found, to ask their readers to consider praying and fasting this Friday, August 11th, for peace in this world, on the internet, in families, and between nations. Joyce said of the Catholic Church, "Here comes everybody." Well, we need everybody.

 Jesus told us to ask and we shall receive, seek and we shall find, and that collectively, we should be able to mustard up a mustard seed, and maybe transform a mountain of problems into molehills.  

How to participate:
1) Decide you will dedicate this Friday to penance and prayer and fasting for peace in our hearts and across the world.
2) Offer a fasting of a particular kind for the whole day; something which you either treasure, or which you know is a barrier to your own prayer life. It can be something as familiar as diet coke or Facebook, it can be refraining from snark, it can be meat, it can be your phone or television or anything which you surrender for 24 hours, as a gift in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
3) Invite others, both in real life and online to do the same, and write your own post of why and what.  We are all small. We are all at the very least, half of mustard seeds, but together, we can move mountains.

If you don't know what to do, here are a few ideas:
30. Pray for all our leaders, and all those in power.  Spend time with the Blessed Mother, asking her intercession in their hearts.
29.  Figure out what you cling to, what you have made an idol or an addiction, and ask all of Heaven to help you let go.
28. Read the life of a saint.
27.  Review and renew your baptismal vows and confirmation promises.
26. Read the daily readings to your family at the dinner table.
25. Make a gift of yourself to your family today. Following the wisdom of Saint Therese of Lisieux, picking up pins for love.
24. Watch or listen to a podcast on Forgiveness.  Fr. John Ricardo's talks on this matter are excellent.
23. Call your pastor, ask what the Parish needs you to do.
22. Do an examination of conscience from your earliest memory to now, and ask for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
21. Pray for the souls in purgatory, arrange to offer a mass.
20.  Fast.  Pray for peace each time you remember, you're hungry.
19.  Smile at each person you encounter, and whisper a prayer in your heart for each person you see.
18.  Spend time with your children, playing on their level.
17.  Invite someone to join you for mass.
16.  Offer your unique talents as a gift to your local pregnancy center or soup kitchen or parish, or a neighbor in need.  Set it up as an ongoing
15.  Invite someone you know could use a friend, out to lunch. Listen.
14.  Read the catechism on Just War.
13.  Venerate a relic. Ask for the saint's intercession.
12. Make a pilgrimage to a local chapel or shrine.
11. Begin the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.
10. Go to adoration for an hour.
9. Divine Mercy Chaplet
8. Spend some time reading the Psalms.
7. Donate clothing to a local shelter.
6. Go to mass.
5. Pray a family rosary.
4. Give alms.
3. Make a confession.
2. Read some of the writings of the Doctors of the Church.
1. Perform one of the Spiritual or Corporeal Acts of Mercy.

There are as many ways to fast or give alms or make atonement as there are saints, and with all of us, we should hit all of them.   The goal is peace, of the kind we can only ask for, the only kind worth receiving.   Let's get to work.

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