Daybook 77 and A Saint for All Times

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Outside my window::

Overcast and chilly. It’s definitely fall! But that’s OK! I have a lovely bouquet of red roses in a mason jar on my counter and they make all my mornings better. (My parents gave them to me for opening night of Dolly! They’re really gorgeous.)

Wearing::

PJs, and drinking Mystic Monk coffee. 🙂 My body has been demanding lots of extra sleep lately so I’m trying to obey it, even though it makes me grumpy, because I’d much rather get up at like 8, and not 10. But….the body wants what it wants.

Reading::

I just won a book from Goodreads, so I’ll be starting that today (It arrived yesterday) and then blogging about it, so look for a review soon! Reading Benedict XVI’s general audiences on prayer as well. Really, I have a bunch of books I want to start/finish but I just haven’t yet, which is inexcusably lazy on my part.

Pondering::

The pontificate of St. John Paul II.

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I was so, so lucky to spend the majority of my life under his pontificate, which also meant, sadly, that I didn’t really appreciate it until he had already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. (Well, one doesn’t really appreciate the pope when one is a small child, to be sure!) He was elected pope on October 22, 1979, just a few months after my parents were married. My siblings and I were all born during his reign. I received all my sacraments while he was pope. His writings, so rich in so many genres (he wrote plays and poetry), and his life, so rich in so many ways, are a source of inspiration and constant study for me.

I vividly remember feeling like I was losing a father when he was dying. My father is still alive–praise Jesus–but I thought this is what it would feel like. He had always been there, always faithful shepherding the church. He had done so much to bring Christ to the world, to “open wide the doors to Christ”, and he did so much to change the world! A pope from a Communist country, who helped bring about the defeat of Communism? Prayer works, indeed. It was unimaginable for so many people. I remember the night the Berlin Wall came down. We watched it on TV in our family room. But I really didn’t understand what was happening–I was only seven and a half. But as I studied history and became more mature, I marveled at it.

For me, personally, I have only admired him more as I’ve gotten older. I ask for his help before auditions, since he was an actor. I ask for his help when writing, since he was a writer (yeah, I ask St. Francis De Sales too, but John Paul II is more immediate for me). His fearless attitude, his call to “be not afraid!”, echoes all the time in my heart. And of course, his great devotion to Our Lady, as he entrusted his entire papacy to her.

I don’t think theologians have even begun to mine the brilliance of his writings, and what they mean for us. I’ll really always consider him “my” pope, like so many other people in my generation. It wasn’t just the length of his pontificate, but the way he spoke so intensely to young people, and even remembered them on his death bed: “I have looked for you. Now you have come to me, and I thank you.” I was a young person during his papacy; I was about to turn 23 when he died.

Watching him in prayer was an intense experience. I never got to see it, personally, but I’ve read accounts and seen video. He had such intense communion with God, such a deep prayer life. You could see how it imbued his mission, how vital it was to him.

And of course–his suffering, the idea of redemptive suffering which is so unique to Catholicism–was on display for everyone to see. As a sick person, this also inspired me. He showed us that life has worth always, even when fragile and failing. His spirit never faltered.

There’s so much that could be said about him. If you want to learn more, I suggest George Weigel’s monumental Witness to Hope. 

Around the house::

(I really need to reorder these when I have such a long pondering!)

Sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor today, and dusting the furniture in my bedroom.

Creativity::

Working on my NaNo2014 novel–getting the prep done before it starts up November 1!–and also it’s the last weekend of Dolly. Come see it!

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Grace will lead me Home

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There’s been a lot of talk lately about Brittany, the girl in Oregon who is 29 and has decided to end her life in a few weeks, because she has cancer.

I was going to write about this. But then Ann Voskamp put this on her blog, and…all I can say is yes.

Yes, five thousand times yes.

Suffering is pain. Suffering is darkness and doubt and horrible things, and there are times when in that suffering and pain we want to end it all, to end in on our terms.

I know. I’ve been there. I’ve almost said no so many times. So many times I wanted to close my hands, like Ann says in her book, and say no, God! No God, I will not take this from your hand! 

No, no, no. I will not.

But the thing is…..that’s where the pain all comes from. From saying no.

What kicked Lucifer out of heaven?

Saying, no, God. No, God, I will not do this. I will not serve. 

And finally….

Thousands of years later….the world was healed and saved with yes.

Yes, God. Yes, I will do your will. 

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

–John 6: 38

I have laid in the bed, in the dark nights, with tubes in my body and pain in my mind and thought I can’t.

I have fought against that will. I have wanted to stop.

But then I realized that God is in all those details. He knows when I sit and when I stand, and He has marked out my day aright.

There is a plan…it’s just not one I know, all the way to the end. But to end the story before it’s really over? To deny myself, and others, any of the precious days that God gives?

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I can’t.

We have to–all of us have to–trust in the plan. Open our hands and say “yes” to whatever is placed in it.

God is always good. Always. No matter what is happening.

In the suffering is the good, the glory…its beauty.

And I say that as someone who knows it, and who has wanted to run away from it and deny it and has wished for something that would be easier.

But that’s not His plan for me. His plan is for me, right here, and right now, with this body.

When He calls me, I’ll go. But until then….He’s the author of my story.

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The Guardian Angels

The Guardian Angels

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Today is the Feast of the Guardian Angels.

Yup, Angels are real, and yes, you have a Guardian Angel. And no, people do not become angels when they die. Angels are completely separate from human beings and aren’t interchangeable. We become saints, not angels. (everyone in Heaven is a saint, they just might not be a canonized saint.)

You should pray to your guardian angel. Do you? Last week in CCD we taught the kids about angels, and we’re teaching them the Guardian Angel prayer. (Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits thee here, ever this day/night be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide.)

The Feast of the Archangels was Monday, so it’s a pretty “angelic” week, this week (rim shot).  But seriously, you might want to pay attention to your guardian angel, if you haven’t. You have an incredibly powerful protector with you all the time, whose only job is to watch you. Take advantage of that.

Daybook No. 75

Daybook No. 75

St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Happy Michaelmas–the feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the three Archangels. 

“And I do not have you married by Michaelmas, it will not be my fault.”

Sense and Sensibility

Outside my window::

Another lovely fall day, it looks like. On the warm side; I wouldn’t mind some fall temperatures!

Wearing::

PJs. I was doing my Morning Pages, and after this it’ll be time for Morning Prayer, and then I’ll get dressed.

Reading::

Voyager (yes I am working my way through the Outlander series again, duh); Love Does, and whatever I bring back from today’s library trip. Monday is my new “library day”, I’ve decided. I’m returning what I got last week and have finished, and checking out whatever strikes me.

In the CD player::

Dolly, of course. It’s all off-book now, but practice makes perfect!

Theater::

Speaking of Dolly, massive rehearsals start this weekend as we get ever closer to opening! You can get tickets here.

Liturgy::

It’s a busy week for it! Today is Michaelmas, one of my feast days, because my middle name is a derivative of Michael; St. Therese’s Feast Day is on Wednesday, and she’s my Confirmation Patron, and Friday is the First Friday of October. Whew!

St. Therese

St. Therese of Lisieux 

I’m going to get to Mass on Wednesday and hopefully on Friday, too. Today I didn’t get up early enough to get things done before Mass, but I hope St. Michael will understand. 🙂 October and November are so chock-full of saints’ days and feasts, and then we’re into Advent again. Can you believe it?

CCD funny::

(In class this week, we discussed the creation story in Genesis and had the kids draw pictures of what they thought it looked like.)

Me: (looking at student’s drawing) Oh, what’s that?

Student: (gleefully) It’s a tidal wave!!!

These kids, they kill me.

Pondering::

It is a repeated observation of St. John of the Cross that God prostrates souls in a preliminary trial when he intends to draw closer in love. Here a pattern is noted, calling for our insight. No doubt we need to understand the providence of God differently.

Trials do not reflect a sign of disfavor with God. Rather, the reverse is indicated. God is offering an invitation, even if it hardly seems so. He is teaching, even if it seems a harsh lesson. It may be a hard truth to accept that God’s greater love is proven by the prevalence of trials we could not foresee, and by their lingering despite every plea for their removal. It is a rare soul that learns to take no surprise at this.

There are indeed many shocks in what can seem God’s rough treatment. Perhaps it is not unusual that we attempt to persuade God to be more gentle in his manner. It appears sometimes that nothing moves him in this regard. More love for God, for example, rather than overcoming a trial, will seem on occasion to extend the duration of a time of trial. But at the end of the day we face always the same question. Would we prefer to love less if it meant not to suffer?

–Father Donald Haggerty

Fitness::

I lost two pounds last week! This week it’s gym and I want to work in a yoga workout as well, possibly on Thursday. We’ll see how the schedule unfolds.

Around the house::

Working on cleaning out my closet as well as purging books and magazines from the first floor rooms. My pile of things to take to Half Price Books is growing, as is the pile in the recycling bag. (Trader Joe’s bags are excellent for paper recycling, because you can just throw everything in, including the bag. 🙂 )

From the kitchen::

Working on The Chew cookbooks this week; I’ve got some salads, chili recipes, and tonight’s meal, General Tso’s Chicken, in the works.

Big Fat Catholic Book Review!

And RIGHT before Lent! See how nice I am?

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These are all books I purchased at the Catholic Women’s Conference last weekend. I haven’t read all of them yet, but for the ones I have read, book reviews are there!

Therese, Faustina and Bernadette: Three Saints Who Challenged My Faith, Gave Me Hope, and Taught Me How To Love, by Elizabeth Ficocelli. There are several books by Ficocelli in this list (all following this one), for the big reason that I used to go to the same parish and often watched her kids in the nursery or at church functions. 🙂 She’s a really lovely woman with a great family, and she’s also a rather prolific writer. This is her newest book. I haven’t read it yet, but the conference’s emphasis on St. Faustina and Divine Mercy made it a “must pick up” for me.

The Child’s Guide to the Seven Sacraments and The Child’s Guide to the Rosary: I bought these books for my first grade CCD class, since these are things we definitely talk about during the year. They are beautifully illustrated and the text is first rate.

The Fruits of Medjugorje: Stories of True and Lasting Conversion: This book is made up of individual stories, the chapters broken down by themes. Ficocelli compiled the stories and wrote a foreword. If you’re interested in Medjugorje, this is a good book for you.

Mass Start: Toeing the Line for Faith, Family and Fitness with U.S. Olympian Rebecca Dussault, by Bill Howard. This book just came out, and there’s not an Amazon link for it, so this link takes you to her personal website. Mass Start is what happens at the beginning of a race ( everyone crowding at the starting line), but Dussault also calls her new website Mass start, because the Mass is really the start of our faith, right? Everything builds from that. The book is a biography of Dussault, who spoke at the conference, and is well-written and includes a great color photo inset. Dussault has a compelling story and infectious enthusiasm, and you will too after reading the book.

God’s Bucket List: Heaven’s Surefire Ways to Happiness in This Life and Beyond, by Teresa Tomeo. Tomeo’s first book Extreme Makeover, is a must-read for all Catholic women. This is her second book following that one. I enjoy Tomeo’s conversational writing style, but I think I should note that this is pretty basic stuff she’s talking about–being still to be able to listen to God, prayer, reading the Bible. It’s not that I didn’t like it, it’s that I wanted more from the book, sort of something a bit more abstract.

The other books I purchased, but haven’t read yet, are Seven Secrets of Confession by Vinny Flynn; Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom by Father Thomas Dubay (who also wrote the excellent Prayer Primer and Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer), and St. Faustina’s Diary, which I’m currently reading.

 

 

Seven Quick Takes Friday No. 39

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I.

I’m going to my first Diocesan Catholic Women’s Conference tomorrow! I am crazy excited to hear the wonderful speakers and hang out with great ladies. 🙂 I’ll have a recap here.

II.

The conference is well-timed, because Lent is coming….it’s coming…have you thought about it? Well if you haven’t:

* Read this.

*My “seven posts in seven days”, which starts tomorrow, is all about Lent! Lent-y goodness, folks! So get ready. 🙂

III.

I started watching The White Queen miniseries–it’s finally out on DVD and I missed it last summer because I don’t have Starz (I might need to get it before Outlander comes on this summer, though). The series is based on Philippa Gregory’s Cousins War series, which goes through the Wars of the Roses from the women’s perspective, so our main characters are: Jacquetta Rivers; her daughter, Queen Elizabeth, who married King Edward; Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry Tudor (to be Henry VII); Anne Neville, daughter of King Edward’s closest confidant; and Queen Elizabeth’s daughter, also named Elizabeth, who became Henry Tudor’s Queen Elizabeth and is the mother of Henry VIII.

Yeah, that’s a lot of women. I’ve only seen the first episode so far but I love it. I loved the books, too, so that helps. Civil Wars are always complicated (which is what the Wars of the Roses were), especially when they’re long, so this is a great way to make sense of that period of British history without trying to make your own genealogy and battle charts.

If you haven’t read the books, they are: The Lady of the Rivers (Jacquetta/Elizabeth), The White Queen (Elizabeth), The Red Queen (Margaret), The Kingmaker’s Daughter (Anne), The White Princess (Elizabeth Tudor). The last book in the series comes out in August.

IV.

The Olympics are drawing to a close–I’m sad about how the women’s skating turned out, because I don’t think the Russian girl deserved to win the gold over Carolina from Italy, but whatever…worlds are next month so maybe we’ll get on the podium then!

glad the Russians are out in hockey, glad that Jason Brown had a strong skate in the men’s figure skating final (he finished 9th, but he’s only 19, so I’m hoping to see him again in 2018 in South Korea).

V.
Ladies, have you signed up for the Restore Workshop? It’s being done by one of my favorite bloggers/people, Elizabeth Foss, and it promises to be divine! Six weeks of goodness! What a great Lenten project, girls. Check it out here.

VI.

People-it’s WARM. It really is. Snow is melting. There’s grass! and sunshine!

On Wednesday, I did not wear a coat to work. I felt…..subversive. 🙂

VII.

A further weather note: You know it’s been a cold winter when you appreciate being able to take out the trash without it requiring coat, hat, gloves, and boots.

Pondering the Mysteries: The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery

So far in His Passion, Jesus has experience emotional, physical, and spiritual pain—and yet His work isn’t done. He has to take His own cross, the instrument of His death, to the place of execution, where he will be stripped of His garments, nailed to the wood, and then left to die.

Along the way, Jesus will fall, tradition tells us, three times. He will be comforted by His mother; He will meet St. Veronica, who will wipe his face with a cloth in an attempt to give Him some relief. The women of Jerusalem will watch his tortured walk, sobbing behind the soldiers who stand guard with their horses and lances. And an innocent stranger will be drafted into service to help Jesus.

Can you imagine helping God? God being so weak that do simply walk, He needs your help?…

Read the rest at Plain Grace.