Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Joy! Week 2

St. Teresa of Avila, a 16th Century Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church, said, “A sad nun is a bad nun. I am more afraid of one unhappy sister than a crowd of evil spirits. What would happen if we hid what little sense of humor we had? Let each of us humbly use this to cheer others.”

As I was discovering this quote from St. Teresa, I was struggling with being happy.  Life was really hitting some big old bull’s-eye on my back lately.  I felt like the target of so many arrows, all of them minor things, but after so many punctures to your back it kind of gets you a little down!

I wasn’t being happy and I am generally a happy person.  But ask anyone in my family and in my workplace and they would have to say that lately, I have not been very happy.  One by one, those little stinging arrows were really getting to me and I was slowly becoming a person I didn’t like being with. I was depressed, feeling selfish and put upon, tired, and definitely not happy. 

“If you feel sad and depressed, call on the name of God and the joy of the Lord will be your strength to carry on. His inner peace will overflow your soul and joy will bubble up on your inmost being.”

This quote is true, but it just wasn’t happening to me. I was trying, dragging myself to Mass each day praying for the strength to move on to happier times.  But it wasn’t working. I was feeling further and further apart.  Then I was hit with the “golden 2x4’’ as my husband calls it.

Last night, as I was praying desperately to the Blessed Mother for the thousandth time, a thought came to me. Or rather I should say, “Mom” planted this thought in my head:   Mary had it tough when she found out she was pregnant with Jesus.  In all those pictures, she looks so gentle and serene, but though she was without sin, she was still human after all, and people back then were just like people now, there were the gossips,  there were people whispering behind her back, ‘what, pregnant and not married yet?”  “She thinks she’s so holy and look what happened.”

Here she was doing God’s will, making her fiat to God when the rest of us would probably have questioned His methods, but she was firm in her reply, “Yes.”   Despite what other people may have been whispering or even saying to her face about a perceived ‘wrong’ because if Joseph noticed, so did the neighbors, yet she was so very trusting in God that even these negative comments did not ruffle her gentleness.

Why did I let other’s ruffle my gentleness?  Why could I not be the person God had created me to be and ignore the naysayers, the hurtful comments or requests and move on?

Hmmm…finally after years of praying for Mary’s gentleness and calm and knowing I was more like Joan of Arc and more warrior-like, I had found my relationship with Mary change.  She did understand what I was going through, she had suffered through the gossip, the whisperings, the hurtful words and remained a gentle, forgiving, loving mother to our Savior.

“Joy makes your heart lighter.”

Yes, it does and so did our mother in heaven who I now know always understands me even if I think we are so very different!  She didn’t have it easy just because she was born without sin. She didn’t have it easy because Jesus was her son.  It all came flooding through me at that moment how very alike we were and how I could always ask her for her understanding and help in reacting to negative comments and hurtful things.

And now, I can joyfully say, “Yes, okay, Lord.” I know I have to withstand the slings and arrows in my life which are nothing like your own son or mother had to endure during life. 

“Joy is prayer, joy is strength, joy is love, joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. She gives most who gives with joy.”  St Teresa of Calcutta

And I find joy again…



Thursday, October 16, 2014

People will always love you to be afraid, but instead teach them the joy of having courage!

In This of All Things, Be Joyful!

  I am struggling with being joyful. Not only joyful, but joy-filled.  Everyone's life is a struggle, mine, yours, those we work with. But to let ourselves be dragged down by the dirty things in life is not being joyful or joy-filled.  So we must drag ourselves out of the muck into the sunshine again.
  I begin...
   Like I have so many times but can't seem to keep it going every day, through all the muckiness...but I must keep trying.
  I began several years ago a journal of Joy Quotes. I ran across my file again and decided I really needed to review it because I've forgotten...once again...how to embrace joy in my life instead of the muck.  So I thought maybe you could use a reminder too!

 So, we begin at Week 1:   Joy Is A Gift From God!
Psalm 65:
You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; The river of God is full of water you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year wit   your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Kids

   I love my kids! I realize I've probably said that here already, but it's worth repeating! I love my kids! They are now 28, 26 and 22, so they are not little any more but all grown up and exploring the world.
   My main goal as a mom has been to raise them to love and honor God. I really didn't have any other plans...oh of course I want them to be happy, healthy, joyful and good, but I figure if they love and honor God they will get all that too!
  This week our youngest moved into her own place...cricket...cricket...yes, it's a little different home now. It's been a fun week of moving, cleaning and helping her get there and thankfully it's only a couple blocks from our house.  While there have been moments of tears and sadness, I'm also happy for her exploring the world. And even though she isn't right at home all the time, we will still have fun, interesting conversations like we did a couple of years ago while she was in college and was having one of those days. She texted me a comment and I replied and the rest of the conversation went like this:

Cait: So during algebra I got up to pass  around the attendance sheet. My backpack fell down and unbeknown to me the lid popped off my water bottle. It made Lake Superior!!! It took 6 trips to the bathroom to get enough paper towels but I’m starting to recover from this traumatization!

Mom: Momma said there would be days like this!!!  Aaaeeiii you poor thing!!! I love you. Good luck! Bring an umbrella!

Cait:  Love you too J

Mom: Did anyone call out for noah and the ark?

Mom: I bet those are big bottles

Mom: I forgot the comma! I bet, those are big bottles!

Cait: yup and awful paper towels

Cait: Yeah they are!

Cait: no-the red ones you bought. My water bottle

Mom: I think we’re getting our texts mixed up. Big red bottles and crappy brown paper towels like at the center!!

Cait: Yes yes!! The paper towels were crappy like the center ones. Whew now we’re good!!!

Mom: So now I’m on the floor laughing again at our conversation! What a day! Love you! Good Luck!

Cait: Bahaha!  Me too! Or I would be on the floor if I had room. These desks are close together!

Always enjoy any time you have with your kids and your parents!  That time is priceless! And don't forget to write each other or text...then read over those things at a later time too!


Monday, September 15, 2014

A Blessing For You

May nothing disturb you,
nothing frighten you.

All things pass;

God does not leave.

Patient endurance

attains all things.

Whoever has God

lacks nothing:

God alone is enough.

 St. Teresa of Avila

Friday, September 12, 2014

Slayer of Dragons

  I have to admit, as a martial artist whose patron saints are Michael the Archangel and Joan of Arc, the article in the October, 2014 Word Among Us about St. Teresa of Avila really caught my eye.  It is written by Leopold Glueckert, a Carmelite friar.

  In his article, entitled, 'Teresa of Avila: Slayer of Dragons' he refers to her as a spiritual dragon slayer because of her casual but confident approach to overturning powerful and common spiritual obstacles that we all face. 

  Having had many spiritual obstacles off and on throughout my life, I was interested in learning what this saintly female 'dragon slayer' had to say about deterrents in her life that led her to becoming a nun and teaching others to love the Lord.  I was especially interested in Teresa because she taught with joy.  She never took herself too seriously and was able to find joy and humor in problems she faced in her life.

  It reminded me that despite really trying times in my life, I've always felt a pull back to wanting to be a joyful Christian. I just couldn't see the point of being a sad faced, pessimistic Catholic. What's the point of being Catholic if we don't always try to see God's goodness in everything?

  I was especially happy that I found this article just as I was wallowing in a blue funk over a remark someone made to me.  Though not intended to hurt my feelings, I let it happen and boy did I wallow in the mud! 

  While reading Glueckert's article, I realized I had found a new friend and ally in the day-to-day struggle to be a happy Catholic.  Being joyful is really important to me in my ministry because I think it's by your example you help others to God, not just by your disciplines and rules.  St. Teresa really helped me see that I was wrong in being mad and hurt by someone who was questioning my methods. She says if someone questions you or speaks disparagingly about your faith, you can always find a way to reply humbly but point out how much your prayer has helped in your daily life.

  She also reminds us that even when we get upset with our adversaries, we owe them a smile. Why? Because, she says, "It was a loving, warm smile from God that had filled her with so much love in the first place!"

  I agree!  I will follow God's call in my ministry and as the author says, "Take up the shield of humility and the sword of good humor!"

Friday, September 5, 2014

You Know What?

There's a clue to our troubled society in Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. It devotes 62 column inches to the definition of "take" and only 22 column inches to the word, "give."