Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Divine Mercy

My faith journey has been filled with many curves, hills and valleys. I have tried and questioned many of the religions and non religions throughout the years.

I was born and raised in the Catholic tradition where Jesus Christ is the savior of the world.

He who believes in the Son will have eternal life. John 3:36

Through my growth and maturity I have come to know God as love. I can not imagine that love would leave anyone behind because they could not see Jesus Christ as the savior. And because the particular religion or non religion they were born and raised in does not have this teaching.

So I question this. And I ask, how come there are so many ways to get to God? It can be confusing.

I hear these same questions from my sons as they journey with their faith. And from others who are searching in their lives.

Do you have similar questions?

Well maybe I have an answer.

Let's see.

I attended the Women's Commission day of reflection several months ago. It was an all day retreat with speakers, food,vendors, Holy hour and Mass.

I enjoyed it very much and was left wondering about a Saint that was mentioned in one of the talks, Saint Maria Faustina.

Who is this woman who established and taught Divine Mercy?

What is Divine Mercy?

She danced in my subconscious until I searched for her on Amazon.com (the five and dime of the 21st century, where you can find anything! So, I figured I could find a Saint there, hehe).

And I did.

Her diary is published, in paperback. There was no kindle version to my disliking, because I want it instantly and I want to save the resources of paper and gas in the creation and distribution of a paperback book.


So I waited for Saint Faustina to arrive in her time!!



I am told that we don't pick the Saint, the Saint picks us. Then I waited with excitement after hearing this because of what I might learn from her.


Someone else told me that she read her diary and it is quit boring. I thought that that might be the case because it is her diary. It has meaning to her and without being her it is hard to really understand what she was going through. Hard to feel what she was feeling or know the surrounding circumstances.

So my excitement dwindled a bit and my trust in her, since she picked me, remained high.

Saint Faustina's diary arrived and I dove right into it. I started with the introduction to get a flavor for what was inside.

Fascinating!

She was born on August 25, 1905 and died on October 5, 1938. She lived for 33 years which is the age Jesus started his ministry, 33.

She is known as the Apostle of The Divine Mercy and is regarded as an outstanding mystic of the Church. Mysticism is the science or art of spiritual life. Mystics, those who practice mysticism, view their experience as a way of human transformation.

She was born into a poor family and spent most of her time working on her relationship with God. "She zealously went about her duties, she faithfully observed all religious rules, she was recollected and kept silent, all the while being natural, cheerful, full of kindness and of unselfish love of neighbor." 1

She states, "You know from my earliest years I have wanted to become a great saint; that is to say, I have wanted to love You with a love so great that there would be no soul who has hitherto Loved You so"( Diary 1372).

You = Jesus. And these types of conversations with Jesus are throughout the book. Most if not all of her diary entries are like prayers. Many of them are used in adoration of Jesus, in novenas and general prayers today.

I have constant conversation going on in my head with myself! Maybe I can make some good out of all that chatter by directing it toward Jesus?

Her diary is amazing and inspiring. Her devotion to Jesus is so beautiful.

The dedication page has this written:
My Daughter, be diligent in writing down every sentence I tell you concerning My Mercy, because this is meant for a great number of souls who will profit from it. (Diary 1142)

WOW! Jesus is talking back to her!!! And told her that many souls will profit from what he is going to tell her! I am HOOKED! I don't know if it is my soul or my Accountant brain that is more excited by the word profit.

I did not start reading from the beginning of the book because this passage captured my attention full stop! So I started with the diary passages that begin with the number 11 as the above passage.

Diary passages 1101- 1200 speak about how Jesus wants to save all souls. He asks Saint Faustina to teach about this desire and call it His Divine Mercy. He asked her to paint a picture of the image she saw of him. The image is in the picture above.

I moved to the beginning of the book and it contains passages about her devotions, faith struggles and conversations with Jesus.

Overall, this book tells me that Jesus is available to everyone, regardless of our birth religion. I invite you to speak with Jesus and St. Faustina in prayer. And pick up a copy of the Diary. We never know how it will speak to us and lead us in our lives!

I have a lot more of the Diary to read. I'm taking my time with it so I can ponder the words and listen for direction.


1 Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Social Norms

Authenticity
He not only felt a fraud as a lawyer, but in himself. He felt like a phoney husband, an artificial father, and a fraudulent worshiper in his parish church. 

He had memorized a schematic for living but felt a fraud because he was a facade; there was suppression of the person in favor of accommodation to social norms.  Patient of psychoanalyst Neville Symington

This man was not authentic. His exterior and interior were not aligned. He put on the required masks to play the part for the different scenes in his life. He suppressed his internal nature to satisfy what he thought others expected of him, the social norm.

How can we be authentic in our lives?
I think we can start by looking at our choices, having the courage to change so we can know who we are and accept the challenge to live these choices and make the necessary changes every moment of every day.


Choice
I love big faced watches. The largest face watch I could find is the Fossil brand. I bought their products for years! A friend invited me to go shopping at Michael Kors where she had a hefty 50% discount card. I am not a fashionista by any means but I love to save money so 50% off was I high motivator for me.

I found a pocketbook I liked and I spotted a bunch of HUGE faced watches which I assumed were for men. I asked the sales person if they had the same watches for women. She said they are unisex watches.

I could have been buying men's watches all these years! It took a brilliant designer to tell me it is okay to wear a man's watch!

Do you see how society influences us? And it is very subtle.
We have so many choices to make it often feels overwhelming. 

The most important choice for our lives is whether we believe God exists. Is God alive in our life? How do we know? How can others know?


I have been full circle with this topic several times in my life. It requires daily sometimes moment to moment vigilance. Especially with all of the distractions and challenges we face all day long.

I am reading the diary of Saint Maria Faustina and she had many struggles with her faith. A Saint! I am glad I have her diary to explore and use as support.  


And it deepens my fascination of the Catholic tradition's depth and breadth in its offerings.

The Saints
Daily Mass - and all of the components within the mass - fascinating!
Daily Communion
Reconciliation
Holy Hour /Adoration
Jesus
Mary
Holy Spirit
Various prayers
Various ways to pray

When you realize, like I did, that we are being fooled by society's norms, check out any one of the offerings of Catholic church.


Change
Generally when a recruiter calls because they see we are looking to hire I do not answer the phone. We do not use external hiring firms to find talent so I figure it is a waste of both of our time to have a conversation.

This time I picked up the phone and explained how our operation works. We decided to meet to discuss the recruiter's company and make a connection.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.
—Colossians 3:23

This scripture is the basis for making this change in my attitude and thought process. It grounds me in knowing who I am and who I work for. A great way to compliment God and thank Him for all he does is to welcome one of His own.

Is there a place in our life where we are not working with all of our heart for the Lord? Working on this question will help us know if we are living authentically.



Challenge
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
—John 15:5

The last part of this scripture is a challenge for me. 
What do you mean I can do nothing? I am doing something EVERYDAY! And sometimes that something has too many things in it and leaves me exhausted!  

Ok, let's start with Jesus because He is telling us to do that in the scripture.
The vine is how the nutrients get to the branches. It is the source. Jesus is telling us that He is the source of all things. He is in all things. There is no exception to this. He is the beginning and the end. We start with Him (our birth date) and we return to Him (our death date). What is in between? All the somethings we have been doing which in His eyes may be us doing nothing.

Then what am I to do? I gotta do something, right?

Start each day with gratitude that there is a day, our eyes open, our heart and lungs function, we got another shot at living for today. 

Ask God how to spend the moments that unfold, each one a gift after gift.

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
—Psalm 105:4

Society offers a lot of really interesting and fun things to do. Will these things help us return to God while we are alive and especially when we die?

Our lives are not purposed to conform to society norms. We are here to walk with God, hand in hand through the obstacles society (we built) provides so that we return to Him in the end.

Below is from an APP called Jesus calling. I read it at the start of the day and when I feel off course throughout the day. I hope you find it as helpful as I do.
Namaste

Jesus Calling April 1
I am calling you to a life of constant communion with Me. Basic training includes learning to live above your circumstances, even while interacting on that cluttered plane of life. You yearn for a simplified lifestyle, so that your communication with Me can be uninterrupted. But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all.

Talk with Me about every aspect of your day, including your feelings. Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me. A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day. Do not let your to-do list (written or mental) become an idol directing your life. Instead, ask My Spirit to guide you moment by moment. He will keep you close to Me.

Pray continually.
—1 Thessalonians 5:17

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
—Proverbs 3:6






Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

My mom only had one eye. 
I hated her… 

She was such an embarrassment. 

She cooked for students and teachers to support the family.
There was this one day during elementary school where my mom came to say hello to
 me. 

I was so embarrassed.

How could she do this to me? 
I ignored her,
threw her a hateful look and ran out. 
The next
 day at school one of my classmates said, ‘EEEE,
your mom only has one eye!’
I wanted to bury myself. 
I also wanted my
 mom to just disappear. 
I confronted her that 
day and said, ‘ If you’re only gonna make me a
 laughing stock, why don’t you just die?’
My mom did not respond… 
I didn’t even stop 
to think for a second about what I had said, 
because I was full of anger. 
I was oblivious to
 her feelings.

I wanted out of that house, and have nothing
 to do with her. 
So I studied real hard, got a
 chance to go abroad to study.

Then, I got married. 
I bought a house of my
 own. 
I had kids of my own. 
I was happy with
 my life, my kids and the comforts. 
Then one
 day, my Mother came to visit me. 
She hadn’t 
seen me in years and she didn’t even meet
 her grandchildren.

When she stood by the door, my children 
laughed at her, and I yelled at her for coming
over uninvited. 
I screamed at her, ‘
'
How dare
 you come to my house and scare my
 children!’ 
GET OUT OFHERE! NOW!!!’

And to this, my mother quietly answered, ‘Oh, 
I’m so sorry. 
I may have gotten the wrong
 address,’ and she disappeared out of sight.

One day, a letter regarding a school reunion
 came to my house. 
So I lied to my wife that I
 was going on a business trip. 
After the re
union, I went to the old shack just out of
 curiosity.

My neighbours said that she died. 
I did not
 shed a single tear. 
They handed me a letter
 that she had wanted me to have.


‘My dearest son,
 I think of you all the time. 
I’m sorry that I
 came to your house and scared your children.

I was so glad when I heard you were coming
 for the reunion. 
But I may not be able to even 
get out of bed to see you. 
I’m sorry that I was 
a constant embarrassment to you when you
 were growing up.

You see……..when you were very little, you got
 into an accident, and lost your eye. 
As a
 mother, I couldn’t stand watching you having
 to grow up with one eye. 
So I gave you mine.

I was so proud of my son who was seeing a
 whole new world for me, in my place, with
that eye.

With all my love to you,
Your mother.

’

MORAL LESSON:

Always LOVE your parents. They are a blessing
to you.



NOTE:
We only have one mom, so love her, you will
come to cry when she's gone.
Rumi


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Tales from the Labyrinth

I attended noon mass on Monday and Friday during lent and scheduled myself to walk the labyrinth on the same days after lent. This time gives me a break from work and enables me to spend some one to one time with Jesus.

Yesterday, I debated with my self whether I should go to the labyrinth and decided to stick to my commitment.
I parked the car when I arrived at the church. It was a beautiful day. A little cloudy with a nice breeze. I wore a shawl over my shoulders which kept me from getting chilled. I got out of my car and started to walk toward the labyrinth. I saw three men standing in the middle of the labyrinth talking to one another and I wondered what they were doing. I noticed one man held a watering can and figured they were tending to the beautiful flowers that surround the labyrinth. I approached the entrance and one of the men greeted me. One of the two men in the center turned to face me and said, "we left some roses here for you" and at his feet was a flower pot with white and red roses in it. I said, "my mom died three years ago and roses are my symbol of her". The man who greeted me began a conversation with me. I introduced myself, we shook hands and he said his name is Jim. We shared wonderful stories about ourselves with a few tears and at the end of the conversation we said goodbye with a hug.

We became that close in the short time we spent together that started with a handshake and ended in a hug.

This is the power of the labyrinth and the warmth of the church community.

I walked the labyrinth thinking of and talking with my mom and Jesus. A few weeks earlier I met my dad at the center of the labyrinth through a disk that looked like a penny. And I wondered since then why I haven't met my mom there. I said to her as I walk, "so I guess you didn't want to be outdone by dad"? Well played mom, well played!

I sat down by the roses when I reached the center and cried. The tears were not of mourning or sadness. They were of JOY  in the reality of the connection. They were tears of AWE at the power of our GOD. They were tears of EXCITEMENT that my mom and dad are experiencing what I am experiencing and they are supporting it by showing up! Their spirit is with me! They are teaching me and guiding me in ways they could never have done if they were still in their bodies. Oh! Let the tears FLOW! They are tears of LOVE for God, mom, dad and the Christ filled and Christ sharing people of this church community.

As I began my walk out of the labyrinth, I did not want to leave, I took my time. I sat on the bench near the entrance of the labyrinth to talk some more with mom and Jesus. There were more of the tears. The sun shone strong and felt like it was only on me at times. The warm hug of a mom and a saviour. The breeze blew ever so lightly. The lucious kiss of a mom and a saviour.

I did not want to leave. And I did. Grateful.

This morning I attended centering prayer. Centering prayer starts with a song as a means to move our mind and heart into the presence of God. Then there is a period of silence where we quiet ourselves to be with God. When thoughts come to mind we use a word, like Jesus, to bring us back to our center, our "God Zone", as a friend calls it. Jesus is my centering word but today it was replaced with "I am the living water". I had a hard time centering this morning. My mind was 'chatty cathy'. And I repeated the words, I am the living water. Then I heard a cardinal outside the window and another one in the distance. I smiled. Cardinals symbolize Jesus, another friend taught me this. She has cardinals all over her home. It is a delight! The next part of centering pray is to share your centering experience. The leader mentioned that the scripture which was going to be read next mentions water.

I said, 'Thank you Jesus. You are so amazing'.

John 21:1-14
After this, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons,* and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.

This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

We share again on what came to us when we heard the scripture being read.  

I related the labyrinth story above with Jesus sitting by the campfire. He is always sitting with us.

We end centering prayer with prayers of intentions and the our father.

The centering prayer leader used a book called Abide by Marcina Wiederkehr OSB.
Marcina interprets scripture from a personal feminine perspective. It is very powerful. There are prayers in the book too. I highly recommend it. It can be used for your own centering prayer group or personal centering practice.

On my way home from centering prayer a song came on the radio. The healing hand of God.

I listened to the song and then turned the radio off. I wanted to be with the song in silence to allow it to sink deep within my being while I continued my drive home. The  radio view in this picture stayed on the car's display screen until I got home and could take a picture of it.

I thought that I was healed from the loss of my parents. I thought I was ready to take on the next chapter of my life.

Jesus  tells me in the experiences that I share in this blog post, "Hold on, I gotcha. Your wings have formed and now I am strengthening them. Be patient and be still my child. Sit with me, hold on to me and listen for my will".

How does Jesus speak with you through your experiences?
What does he want you to know, to hear, to see in your life?
Ask him. He delights in you.

JEREMY CAMP
Healing Hand Of God Lyrics
Songwriters: Camp, Jeremy;

I have seen the many faces of fear and of pain
I have watched the tears fall plenty from heartache and strain
So if life's journey has you weary and afraid
There's rest in the shadow of His wings

I have walked through the valleys, the mountains, and plains
I have held the hand of freedom that washes all my stains
If you feel weight of many trials and burdens from this world
There's freedom in the shelter of the Lord

And I have seen the healing hand of God
Reaching out and mending broken hearts
Taste and see the fullness of His peace
And hold on to what's being held out
The healing hand of God

And I have touched the scars upon His hands to see if they were real
He has walked the road before me, he knows just how I feel
When you feel that there's not anyone, who understands your pain
Just remember all of Jesus's suffering

'Cause I have seen the healing hand of God
Reaching out and mending broken hearts
Taste and see the fullness of His peace
And hold on to what's being held out

Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you
He's near to the broken and confused
By His stripes our spirit is renewed
So enter in the joy prepared for you

I have seen the healing hand of God
Reaching out and mending broken hearts
Taste and see the fullness of His peace
And hold on to what's being held out

The healing hand of God
The healing hand of God
The healing hand of God

And hold on to what's being held out
(Hold on)
And hold on to what's being held out
(Hold on)

The healing hand of God, oh, oh