The Feast of Christ the King & New Year Resolutions

Christ the King

Celebrate the Feast of Christ the King

Yesterday, Catholics worldwide celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. It is a celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ as King of Heaven and Earth. It is the culmination of all that we learn and witness to through the year, from the coming Advent season to His death on the Cross, from His glorious Resurrection to His Ascension, from the works He inspired in the first disciples to those He continues to inspire in us in the present day.

The Solemnity of Christ as OUR King reminds us that, in this day of division and over-reaching governments, in this day of instant gratification and self-serving, me-first, I-DESERVE-to-be-happy lifestyles, in this day of anything goes and tomorrow has no consequences, the Feast of Christ the King reminds us that we are being watched over by someone greater than ourselves.

Lord Jesus Christ – King of All!

The Feast of Christ the King also marks the end of the church year, making today a day for new beginnings.

The new secular year, January 1st, is welcomed in with big parties and family celebrations, with fireworks and football games, and always somewhere, resolutions are made.

Aunt May wants to lose weight.

John is going to spend more time with his family.

Uncle Joe is going to quit smoking.

Jenny is going to exercise more.

Abbi is going to study harder and bring her grades up.

The list goes on and on…

But soon, the parties are over. The family celebrations have left warm feelings and happy memories that far outweigh stacks of dirty dishes and the red wine stain on the new carpet. The fireworks have turned to ash and drifted away, and the final football score is known by only a few diehard fans.

And very quickly those New Year Resolutions also dissolve leaving even less of a trace than the fireworks.

According to Forbes only 8% of people achieve their New Year resolutions, and the reasons given are somehow both many and common.

Is There More to It?

But maybe instead of looking at the reasons the resolutions fail, maybe we should look at what the resolutions are. Most New Year resolutions revolve around ME. They are about ME.

Not that that is all a bad thing at all! Some of those resolutions are important, lofty, and very needed.

Who could argue against resolving to quit smoking, spending time with family, getting better grades, or any number of things?

But those resolutions all revolve around ME. What can I do to make MY life better for ME and for those I have to face every day?

And 92% of people fail in that resolve, many blaming a lack of will power, but let’s look at the resolutions themselves as a reason the resolutions fail. What if instead of those ME goals, you set a goal to grow stronger in your faith and wrote down ways you could achieve that?

Perhaps this year, instead of waiting for New Year’s to make (and break) resolutions, you could make today, as the saying goes, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.” Why not begin thinking and writing down some simple, concrete, attainable goals you can achieve in building a better spiritual relationship with your King, Christ the King?

New Liturgical Year Resolution Ideas:

  1. Start the day with one minute of prayer before even getting out of bed.
  2. Read the Bible for 15 minutes every morning before starting my day.
  3. Pray for your friends and followers while checking social media.
  4. Download Laudate app and say the Rosary on the way to work.
  5. Start a Bible study or prayer reflection journal.
  6. Send a card to a friend once a week.
  7. Volunteer in the local soup kitchen once a month.

Think about it. There are so many things you can do now to bring you and your family closer to the Lord, to help build His peace, and to make the world a better place.

The best thing about resolving to live more for Christ is that it’s a resolution that never ends. It may have a beginning, but living for Christ never has an ending. It’s not a goal like, “lose 20 pounds,” that you check off next year’s list and say, “Yep, done with that one.”

When you resolve to strengthen your faith, you know it is a lifelong resolution. You know that whatever you do will not be enough, but you can also know that when you ask the Lord to help strengthen your faith, your faith is always strengthened.

You cannot fail when you ask repeatedly.

It is a resolve that is both unachievable and also impossible to fail.

Jesus Loves you too much to let you fail in faith when you seek it. There may be bumps in the road, but He may be using those bumps to test and prepare you for what lies ahead. Those bumps may be setbacks, but they are not failures. You don’t just quit on this resolution once you make it.

The resolution of strengthening your faith is a burden borne, not by your weak shoulders, but by the man who carried the Cross, the man who bore the sins of the world, the man who is Christ the King!

Surely, He can help you keep a resolution to grow closer to Him.

Don’t wait for New Year’s Day to make your resolutions.

Make those that matter most for eternity, today! Give your family something beyond even the great gift of quitting smoking or more exercise. Give them something that will shape them for generations.

Give them the resolve to strengthen your faith.

Yesterday was the Feast of Christ the King. Use today to strengthen your faith by making the resolutions that really matter.

What can you do to strengthen your faith? What specific goals can you Hope to achieve this year with your King’s help?

For more on the Feast of Christ the King, please go to Catholic Online

God Bless…

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Life’s “If Onlys”…

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If only this warty pumpkin could be turned into a magical coach and sweep me away to the ball…or at least get some cute, magical, little cartoon critters to clean my house for me, then Life would be Good!

If only I was thinner…

smarter…

more like her…

If only my parents…

my spouse…

my children…

If only I had more money, more time, the right car, a better home,…

“If onlys…” can take up much of our time and energy and trick us into believing “If only this happened, life would be so much better.”

And sometimes we’re right,

 But often times we aren’t.

I too have fallen for believing, “If only something would happen….

I’d have more time.

I’d have more money.

Everything would fall into place.

But when my particular most anticipated, “if only” did happen, it didn’t miraculously fix everything.

Which opened the doors for those other thoughts.

Why did I want this?

 I’m not smart enough.

I’m not good enough!

I Discovered my, “If only…” hadn’t magically perfected our lives after all. 

“If onlys” can be great when we’re dreaming and role playing and having fun, but when life stops or waits or rests on the granting of our “if onlys” or when we think achieving our “if onlys” will drastically change our lives we may be setting ourselves up for disappointment.

So often life is wasted hoping for our “If onlys…” that we forget

Real Hope does not lie in the arms of the “If only.”

Real Hope lies in the arms of the Only One who never said,

If only the people Loved the Father more, I wouldn’t have to be born in a stable.

Real Hope lies in the arms of the Only One who never said,

If only the people didn’t sin, I wouldn’t have to die on a Cross.

Jesus saw a need, heard the Father’s Command, embraced the Strength of the Holy Spirit, and took action, trusting in His Father even in His darkest hours.

How Can We Be More Like Jesus when we are Disappointed in What Life Brings?

Achieving an “if only” does not magically erase any doubt, fear, or concern.

When our “If onlys” don’t come true exactly as we’d hoped, we can remember where Real Hope comes from and take a moment to pray first and foremost.

Periodically taking time to reflect and rest, revive and rejuvenate helps us find Peace despite the outcome of our “If onlys…”

And we can act no matter where we are. God doesn’t need or want perfection from us. He wants us to stop getting caught up in waiting and bemoaning our “If onlys” and act where we are. Jesus didn’t say,

If only I could hurry up and die, my Life will be perfect again.

Instead, at each step of Jesus’ life, He used where He was and who He was with to do His part, great and small, to bring people to the Father.

God understands but never accepts our “If onlys…” as excuses for waiting to do what is right or for giving less than our best.”

He didn’t accept the If only from Moses when He said, “If only I was a more eloquent speaker…”

He didn’t accept the If only from Jeremiah when he said “If only I was older…”

He didn’t accept Saint Paul’s If only when he said, “If only I hadn’t persecuted so many Christians…”

God the Father used each of them in their current positions and situations and skill levels and pasts to do His work – and what amazing results they had!

Imagine what He can do for you and with you!

What “If only…” is holding you up? What do you believe you could you achieve if you only had…? How can you concentrate more on being successfully faithful where you are rather than concentrating on where you would be if things were different?

You are where you are for a reason, a mixture of your choices, the choices of those around you, and the sieve God filters your experiences through. Use where you are and who you are to do the best you can and let the rest lie in the arms of the one who never utters the words, “If only…” even though He has every right to.

God Bless…

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Thank You to America’s Veterans

American Flag

Freedom is not free. Take time to thank our Military and the Lord for keeping us Safe. Never take our Blessings for granted.

In most other countries of the world, the life of a single mom of five children would be very different from the life my children and I lead.

Here in the Great United States of America, my family’s struggles come in many forms. I don’t know how to get my kids to their different activities. I don’t have time to sit and do schoolwork and college applications and scholarship searches. My heart breaks when my boys miss having a full time dad to throw a baseball around, to watch the big football game with, or to look up to as a strong, faith-filled, loving, loyal, and present role model. Our struggles involve not being able to buy a good car, cutting back on family vacations, and hand-me-down clothing.

Wow! Are my struggles nothing when I sit and think of how they match up to the struggles of those desperate to work for any amount of money, those struggling to find food in garbage dumps, those dying unattended from curable diseases, those scared, afraid, hurting for no reason other than that they were born in a part of the world we’d rather not recognize.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the very real struggles we face that we forget how much more magnified those struggles would be if we lived somewhere, almost anywhere, else in the world.

Perhaps “magnified” isn’t even the right word. Most of our struggles would not be possible in most other areas of the world.

Despite the US’s recent decline, we are still among the wealthiest people in the world, even the poorest of US citizens are wealthier than so much of the rest of the world, and that wealth is not just in the form of material possessions.

We are rich in ways the rest of the world cannot fathom, rich in freedom and opportunity, rich in our ability to defend ourselves and to gather and speak and worship.

We are rich in intangible ways, and suddenly, when we look beyond ourselves, we see that our little struggles, as real and as difficult as they are – and they ARE! – are nothing compared to what the rest of the world is facing, and we must ask who is to thank for our riches?

 For me, there are two that come to mind.

The Lord who created our land

and the Military Personnel who,

with God’s help, defend our land.

Our lives would be very different without the Brave men and women who defend our nation and who help give us our freedoms and opportunities. Sadly, what they have been given is often taken for granted by those who fail to educate themselves, by those who are too busy to vote, and by those who forget to say thank you.

Today, on Veteran’s Day, let us each remember these men and women dan their families and remember to say thank you to them and to the Lord for them. Let us not take them or the wealth they give us for granted.

In Matthew, Chapter 19 The Rich Young Man, Jesus tells his disciples,

 Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

We must not forget that riches, do not necessarily mean material possessions, but also intangible gifts. We, in America, have been given amazing gifts. Use your gifts to build others and take the time, on Veteran’s Day and every day, to thank our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guard and their families for all they have given us.

Please, take a moment out of your evening to stop and pray for those who defend our country, for those who have died and been wounded, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically because of the scars caused by our desire for freedom and opportunity, for the families who often suffer in silence, and for those who are not as fortunate as we are, for those in lands without Brave Heroes to protect, honor, and defend.

Thank you to all who have served and to their families. You are needed. You are appreciated. You are Loved.

God Bless…

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Even Jesus Got Angry

money, wedding rings, shot glass

Jesus got angry because man had turned His temple into a place of greed. How does your anger compare?

Did you ever get that feeling that you just want to throw something?

My brother and I have a good relationship for the most part, but, as all siblings do  on occasion, we’ve had our skirmishes, and one time I remember in particular, for whatever reason, he threw the phone at me.

Luckily for me, it was still attached to the wall by that long curled leash – remember the good old days when teenagers could only talk on the family phone within a few feet of the kitchen, those bygone days when socializing didn’t invade every waking (and sleeping!) hour???

I can’t remember what the fight was about, but I probably deserved to have something thrown at me a few times growing up! I love my brothers, but we fought over some pretty stupid things as kids – still do sometimes. I’m sure it’s more my fault than theirs though! ;)

Even now, as an adult, I’ll be forced to admit there are times, thankfully few and far between, that I can feel my blood boil, my muscles clench, and I force myself to bite my tongue – some days more successfully than others.

Whether it is an x, our children, or even a random driver cutting us off, sometimes we all feel anger rise up inside. Despite how even tempered we try to be, despite how even tempered we know we SHOULD be, despite a general ability to laugh off life’s little aggravations, there are times when that anger boils up and we want to blow our tops.

Jesus must have felt the same way as He entered the temple and saw the gaming tables.

In Sunday’s Gospel reading, we can visualize Jesus entering the heavy, ornate doors, doors opened for those turning a profit for the temple rather than for those entering to pray.

We can wonder if He was going there to pray

or if He already knew the state He would find the temple in.

Maybe He was hoping against hope that He was wrong, that things weren’t as bad as He believed.

We have all been in that situation at some point, hoping what we know to be true isn’t really true.

But it was as bad as He knew it would be.

Gambling, trade, money making, animals – both four-legged and two – roamed within.

And Jesus blew His top.

He made a whip of cords, and we can only wonder how quickly he could have done this and what thoughts crossed His mind as He did so, and He used that whip to drive out the animals, to flip over the gaming tables, and to spill the coins.

To me, it sounds like Our Lord had a temper tantrum.

But there are a few important differences between the temper tantrums human beings throw and that temper our Savior displayed that day.

When people have temper tantrums, we tend to do so because we want more for ourselves – more attention, more material possessions, more justice when we feel wronged.

Jesus wanted less of these things and more of others – less attention to people, more attention to God, fewer material possessions, more worship, less judgment by the wealthy Pharisees, more acceptance of the poor Widow and her meager offering.

When people have temper tantrums, we tend to hurt others. We lash out from either self-protection or pure aggression. We seldom think of the effects of our anger on those around us. Our anger is about us, although we blame it on others.

Jesus recognized that by turning the temple into a money market, people would use phrases like, “The church just cares about money,” that still do damage today. Jesus used His temper to show what the church should look like, not what it actually looked like. He used it to clean out what was wrong in the “faithful” and draw Good people, who would have been turned off by the fakeness of the temple, back to the faith.

When people have temper tantrums, we tend to forget that God has the power to take our situations and use them for amazing Good. The phrase, “blinded by rage” is not a made up phrase. Too often, people get caught up in their situations, thinking they are their situations and they are in control while forgetting the Lord is really in control.

Jesus ended His argument by giving insight into the power of God. By saying,

Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.

Jesus shows the power of God despite His anger. He never loses focus on what God is capable of or of the reason the temple will need to be destroyed and raised. He never desires to quit His battle against evil or live for Himself rather than for the Father.

Anger is a very human reaction. While we may not be immune to the emotion, we can learn a lot by studying Jesus and His display and use of anger.

When you feel anger rise up within yourself, stop and reflect (as I believe Jesus did as He made that cord).Before blowing your top, stop and ask yourself that quaint little question, “What Would Jesus Do?” Pause to decide whether your anger can be used to build or destroy the temple the Lord is building.

For a complete list of Sunday, November 9, 2014’s readings, please click here.

God Bless…

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Who is the Hardest Person To Love?

John 3:16 inscribed in sidewalk at Lubbock University - Texas

For God so Loved the World (the whole world!) that He gave His only Son. What small bit are you willing to contribute to Love?

Sunday’s Gospel reading from Matthew 22: 34-40, The Greatest Commandment, tells us to Love one Another, but that’s not always easy to do. Some are easy to Love. I Love my Children, My Grandfather, Mother, Aunt, my Friends, my brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, coworkers, several people who have passed on before me…

I could go on and on with a very long list of people I Love, people I believe I will always Love, no matter what, and almost every day I mentally add names of those I meet or those I haven’t consciously thought of in a long time.

The list of people I don’t like, on the other hand, is very short: A boss I had over a decade ago, the parent of a student (yes, teachers do have parents they don’t particularly like), my x and his girlfriend, Hillary Clinton, maybe a handful of others. I honestly can’t think of too many people I sincerely don’t like.

But those who I dislike are not the hardest to Love.

I can act in a Loving way even toward those I dislike. They have names. They have faces. I can act Lovingly toward them by not acting unlovingly and by praying for their Wisdom and their Salvation.

Those I dislike, for better or for worse, are real to me.

And real is Loveable.

So Who is the Hardest to Love?

It might take me a while, but I could write a list of those I Love easily and another of those I struggle to Love, but there’s another list I’d have difficulty writing.

How can I make a list of those I am indifferent too? I don’t even know most of them by name. Most of those people I put myself in front of, people I think I am better than – although I would find a nicer way to say that when I justify my actions to others and even more so to myself.

Think of all the people we are indifferent to through the course of our day.

the driver we cut off on the way to work,

the colleague we put down,

the Boy Scouts selling popcorn door to door,

the bum on the street corner holding that sign “Will work for food,”

the Veteran returning from duty – scarred internally and externally for our freedom,

the child abused, neglected, abandoned who lives just down the road but who we never really see.

What about those masses of suffering people to whom we are indifferent to on a global scale:

victims of sex slavery (the average age of victims is about 11),

Christian persecution in places like Iraq, China, and North Korea just to name a few,

kidnapped children forced to foreign lands to work chocolate beans so we can have Mars and Nestle and Hershey and…

What is our excuse? We can’t change anything? One person can never make a difference? You couldn’t live without chocolate? The guy’s just a bum on the corner? We live too far away?

How lame will those excuses sound when we stand before our Lord? How will we one day in Heaven look into the eyes of those same children, children who suffer so greatly on Earth in part due to our indifference? How will we look into their big, round eyes as they are being gently cradled, held lovingly in their Father’s embrace while He asks us how we let these things happen?

Jesus calls on us to Love our neighbor. In the Good Samaritan, we learn our neighbor is not those near us or those who look like us or talk like us or think like us, but all God’s children.

It is easy to Love those we hold near and dear to our heart. It is more challenging to Love those we don’t like, but it is possible.

Is it impossible for us to hold our hearts open to Love for those those far away and silently pleading. Are there just too many of them? Is there a limit to our ability to Love? Do we need to save our Love for those near us? How can we Love all without spreading ourselves too thin?

It is easy to turn our backs, to pretend these issues don’t exist, to get caught up in our own problems and struggles and downfalls, but it is not Loving to do so.

Jesus calls on us all to be Loving to All. The opposite of Love is not Hate. The opposite of Love is Indifference, emptiness, nonexistence. God Loved You into existence. Can you do the same for those you will never meet, for those who don’t matter to you? How will you treat those you are indifferent to. God will not be indifferent to your treatment. He will be judge and jury, and He will be Just as we are often not.

Please, take a moment today to pray for those the world overlooks, those in shadows, those we cannot see. While praying, make a commitment to Love them in a physical way, a way requiring action on your part, not merely the donation of funds although please do that too if you are able, but a donation of time and of pride. How will you put yourself on the line for a silently suffering child of God? What are you willing to sacrifice, risk, or do for those whom you are indifferent to?

Bible Readings from Sunday, October 25, 2014

God Bless…

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The Greatest Commandment – A Challenge to the Divorced & Separated

angry-woman

Love God. Love your neighbor. No exceptions.

Sunday’s Gospel  is pretty clear. That’s what I like about Jesus (Well, it’s one of the things I like about Him anyway! ;) ) With Jesus, when He wants to get His point across quickly there’s no beating around the bush, no wiggle room to change things later, and no way to make His words fit my life.

I must make my Life fit His Words.

The Pharisees were very different in their use of language and, hoping to use skilled wording to counter Jesus’ Good name and growing popularity, they asked which of the Commandments is greatest.

Jesus, in His Wisdom, didn’t choose one, but took two unstated Commandments and used them to embrace the rest.

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Matt 22: 34-40

Love God. Love your neighbor.

Simple, yet SO difficult.

I Love my children, even when they exhaust me, aggravate me, disappoint me, embarrass me, and anger me.

I will always Love them.

I Love my Mother. Although we are very different people and she drives me crazy sometimes (sorry Mom! ;) ) there is so much Good in her that I know the other stuff is just surface stuff.

I Love my friends though sometimes  cringe over things they do, I LOVE them and can never express my full gratitude for how they’ve been there for me, even at times when I didn’t deserve them.

But there are people who are more challenging to Love.

If you have suffered at the hands of another, you know what that means. Those treated wrongly at work by a supervisor or unjustly accused of wrongdoing by a colleague, those bullied in school or in activities, those left out, unnoticed, and seemingly unwanted, those suffering in the home where they should feel safest through abandonment, divorce, neglect, or abuse, those people and more know how hard it is to Love someone who is wrong, who has let Satan take over his heart and mind, someone who, unbeknownst to him, is losing the battle for his soul as well.

But that is what we are called to do.

Love All God’s children.

While going through my divorce, I read Sunday’s Gospel over and over many times, “But God…do you know what he did today??? Surely God, you’re on my side in this right! Did you see that text message he sent? Did you see them together? Do you know what he did to my children? You don’t want those children being treated this way do you God???”

When I was feeling brave or reckless or when I just figured God knew my every thought anyway so what difference did it make to put my thoughts into words, I’d voice these kinds of questions. It was a lame effort to justify acting in an unloving manner, to explain away the text message I just sent, to let God know x deserved what he got – and more.

And each time, later, in a quiet moment, I’d hear God whisper…

Did that make you happy?

Part of my body would clench and I would sometimes laugh. When I had a good comeback or a great punchline, I was proud of those moments (Sometimes I still am. I am not particularly good at comebacks so I tend to get a little thrill when I have a good one! :) ).

But the truth is, even that pride, that little thrill, and that little bit of “happiness” for lack of a better word for it, that I got after a great response did not compare to the Joy I got when I turned the other cheek. It didn’t compare to the Strength I found in myself while my x used his derogatory comments to show weakness yet again.

True Joy comes from the Strength of the Holy Spirit showing us how to act in a Loving manner sometimes simply by not acting in a nonLoving manner.

One of the things I like most about the passage from Sunday’s Gospel is that Jesus never tells us to LIKE our neighbor. He tells us to Love our neighbor.

For better or for worse,

for richer or for poorer,

in sickness and in health,

till death do us part.

Our vows do not tell us to Like one another.

Nor do they tell us to Love till divorce do us part.

When one spouse makes a bad decision, he leaves a mark on his soul.

Do not allow that mark to spread to your soul, to your children’s soul, and do not be responsible for that black mark spreading like spilled ink across the page of your x’s soul, across the page on which the rest of his story is yet to be discovered.

Treating the other person with Love, a person you don’t like, whether you are in a struggling marriage or a dead one, whether it is a overbearing supervisor at work or an obnoxious customer at the local deli, has less to do with their worthiness of your Love than it does with your ability to Give Love and the Lord’s ability to let that Love Grow.

Love the Lord your God.

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.

The whole law and the prophets

depend on these two commandments.

And so does your Peace and True Joy.

When Jesus calls you to Love your neighbor, not the neighbor who is easy to Love, but the one who is impossible to like, what excuses do you give? What do you say to yourself and to others that makes unloving actions acceptable and even praiseworthy?  

What will you tell Jesus when He asks why you should receive His Love, but x should not receive your Love? What will you say when He asks why you were too good to Love x when Jesus does not feel He is not too good to Love him?

Be just a bit more like Jesus today. How can you act in a Loving manner toward someone you don’t like today?

photo credit

God Bless…

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Confession After Annulment

Stained Glass church window with Light streaming through

Freedom is offered through the Blood of our Savior.

It wasn’t until writing the “final” post on the annulment – My Chains ARE Gone – that I realized how free I was. Not in the sense of free to date as much as that I was free to reinvent myself, free be anything, free to start again.

The old me could be replaced with a better, updated version and, with that new me, even bad habits could be erased.

A future spouse would never have to know my pet peeves, like how aggravated I get when I put a “left” sock on my right foot and vice versa (Sometimes it’s the little things that get you!)

Or that I always smell my food before I eat it (As a mom of 5 boys, smell is one of my more acute senses!)

Or that I always eat my pizza crust first (a story for another time).

Or that…

But all of those Or thats were beside the point.

Bad habits could be erased, but, as I was enjoying my newfound freedom, I realized with even greater conviction that bad habits were not what most needed to be erased.

I knew as I wrote that post that there was only one thing holding me back from a truly new start, that my chains were not exactly gone. They had been loosened. I’d been put on a longer leash, but I was still chained.

Chained by the sins I had made leading up to my marriage.

Chained by the sins I had committed during my marriage.

Chained by the sins I had committed after the man I’d lived with had left.

To Be Truly Free, I Needed Confession.

I sat in the church waiting for my turn. I don’t enjoy Confession the way some Good Catholics do. I am not a big fan of exposing the evil, meanness, selfishness, or even just plain stupidness inside of me. I find Confession just a bit humiliating and a whole lot nerve wracking, and so I was glad to see there were other people ahead of me but also concerned that I might be too late, Mass might start, and I’d miss the opportunity.

I sat on the hard pew, knowing my pride was keeping me from sporting a Good Catholic attitude (something else I’d have to Confess – again!) and wondering, if Mass started before I got my turn, how long it would be before I got up the nerve to come back.

But I shouldn’t have worried.

God is Good, and my turn did come.

I went in to the Confessional and asked for forgiveness. The priest is a kindly man who spoke at length about starting over and being strong, taking a stand and not faltering, and about forgiveness, forgiving all those involved in the failure of the relationship I had with “the man whose bed (I) shared.”

I listened carefully hoping this Good Priest would give insight on what to call the man I’d lived with, but referring to him as the man whose bed I shared probably wouldn’t go over well in most of my social circles. I continue to pray for God to give me a better name for him.

And, then I was offered absolution

For my penance, I was told to read Psalm 51, and then I was given 10 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Marys. Ten! I don’t think I’d ever been given more than 5.

Ten Our Fathers.

Ten Hail Marys.

In exchange for a lifetime of sin, a lifetime of turning my back time and time again, not just on the man I’d thought of as my Husband, but on the one who Saves,

Ten Our Fathers and ten Hail Mary’s – in exchange for a future washed clean in the Blood of Christ.

It wasn’t 10 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Marys.

It was a few short prayers and the Blood of a Man who died 2000 years ago – for me.

Suddenly, those few Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s didn’t seem like so much. I should have been given many more prayers, many more acts of service. I didn’t deserve to exchange the few minutes of prayer for the Freedom and Release my Lord was offering me.

And yet, that is the amazing Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are Forgiven. We are set free from our sin, free from our past.

My chains truly were broken.

I left the church knowing I had been forgiven.

And now I was ready to begin life anew.

My chains were not broken by the annulment. The annulment provided the key to help turn the lock. The annulment prevented me from being bound by future chains if I were to meet someone and want to experience Love again one day.

But I realized now that the annulment did not break my chains.

Jesus Christ and His infinite Love and Mercy and Forgiveness truly did save a wretched soul like me through His death and His gift of Confession.

I’d long ago learned forgiving doesn’t mean liking the person or wanting to spend time with him and it certainly doesn’t mean having to approve the things another does, but it does mean not dwelling on the wrong doing and realizing the person is Loved even in his sinfulness.

I have forgiven the man I lived with for many things; I must keep working on forgiving him for more.

But now, hearing God had forgiven me, I could forgive myself too.

I had not been perfect in my marriage and good enough is almost never really good enough, but I didn’t have to be good enough. I didn’t have to be better. I was Loved where I was.

I am Loved now. We all are.

I was forgiven, born again, ready to start Life anew.

And I needed to thank one man,

a man on a Cross 2000 years ago,

a man who still lives today.

And now, I can truly say with understanding and Gratitude,

My chains are gone! I’ve been set free

Thank you my God and Savior, for ransoming Me!

Divorce is a terrible thing, a tragedy affecting our country and our world. It tears apart children and women and men and our society, schools, government, and churches, and as much as some want to believe that divorce is no big deal today or that there is justice in our courts, they are wrong.

There is no freedom in child support or visitation rights or orders of protection. Freedom only comes from God. If you have been abandoned, abused, divorced, do not give up Hope. You are Loved. Offer up your pain and hurt and the little pride you rely on to confess the sins you have committed to contribute to where you are whether it was seeking the wrong spouse before marriage or something that happened during or after the marriage.

Seek the annulment, go to confession. Start anew each day. Freedom is possible.

God Bless…

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Strength for the Divorced & Hurting Psalm 23

Big Horn Sheep

Let Jesus be Your Shepherd.

I often post about the Sunday’s Gospel Bible reading on Monday morning, but this week’s readings were so intent and struck me so hard, each offering something for so many families of divorce and in crisis, that I wanted to devote a day to each.

This is Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm. It has long been one of my favorites, and I hope you find it comforting and strengthening as have I.

Responsorial Psalm PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R/ (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

Right away, this Psalm takes away our arguments. The marriage, the family, the car, the health insurance, the dreams of the house with the white picket fence…all of it are gone, and yet, the Lord tells us not to want. This verse reminds me of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. When the Good Son asked his father why he hadn’t received the good the sinful brother had, the father replied, “all that I have is already yours.”

All that God has he gives to us: plans for your welfare, not your woe! plans to give you a future full of Hope (Jer 29:11), forgiveness for which we are not worthy, the Love we seek from human sources now comes undyingly from the Divine; through Him we receive Peace and Freedom and Strength.

What more could we ask for that God does not give us when we turn to Him?

R/ I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

God is our guide. He will not force us down the right path. We must choose to follow Him, to walk beside Him when things are going well. We must never run ahead, wordlessly but meaningfully criticizing the Father’s pace or His timing because we wish things moved faster, because we are anxious to move beyond this uphill stretch of road, because we want to see the view on the other side.

We must, with humility, let Him pick us up and carry us when we fall, when feel we are too tired to move any farther, and when distractions cause us to want to stop and wander off the trail others have blazened for us or when He asks us to forge ahead into the wilderness away from the path our friends and family would prefer we travel, the way “normal” people are headed.

We must remember that whatever we meet, God is at our sides, and with Him all things are possible, that with Him, even the greatest agonies of this life are temporary. We must remember that the dark valleys of this life are nothing compared to the dark valleys of the next if we fail in our following of His ways, if we fail to ask for His mercy, if we accept only the doctrine that makes us feel good. We must remember that even in today’s deepest darkness, the Holy Spirit is ever present, providing our Light.

R/ I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Our enemies keep watch on us. Although they would like to pretend indifference, they are ever watchful, waiting not only for us to slip and fall, but, at times, hoping for our complete and utter destruction. When we walk in peace with God, in the Light of the Holy Spirit, those watchful eyes see the battles we face, conflicts, worries, troubles and a small part of them must admit that those battles would destroy them, while we handle them with Grace and Dignity. Even to our enemies, it appears that we are Blessed, not so much with our actions or with the ease of our lifestyle, but with those around us, those helping to share the burden. Our enemies might say we are manipulative or lucky or be critical of those standing nearby calling them gullible for being misled by who we “really” are, but even in those moments God helps them see the success we are learning to handle. Even in those moments, God may be using our challenges to help unblind our enemies to what is accomplishable with His power. Even in those momennts, God is hoping to turn their hearts as well.

R/ I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

Only gododness and kindness follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.

That bares repeating. Is there anything more peaceful, more restful to a Mother than to have goodness and kindness in her household for years to come? To picture her house as the house of the Lord, to know her children will grow up in God’s Grace and that the chaos of this world is easily overcome by God’s Goodness and Grace?

What more could we ask for?

R/ I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Ask God to give you strength, Post the Psalm somewhere where everyone can see if, from the small child struggling with nightmares to the teenager struggling with peer pressure and self esteem and sexual  and material distractions, to the spouse who struggles with abandonment, neglect, worthlessness, and all the pressures of being the sole provider. The Father is Shepherd of All. Invite Him to Live in your house, so you may Live in His.

The Lord is your shepherd. Let Him guide you.

photo credit

God Bless…

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Dating After Divorce Lessons from Isaiah 25

Dating After Divorce

Is it the frog’s fault if you look for him to be your savior?

Sunday’s first reading from the Book of Isaiah, spoke of God saving His people from death, of wiping the tears from every face, and yesterday, I showed how death compared to divorce, but the passage is so rich in meaning for those searching for more in this life. Simply to not die, is no way to truly Live! As human beings, we were made to seek out companionship, comfort and Love in one another

But too many of us take this seeking too far. Too many of us search, not for someone to walk by our side through the trials of this life, but to save us from the trials of this life. When they fail to do so, as they must since they are human too, we become disillusioned, disappointed, and disavowed, but this is often less their fault than ours. We sought expected things in them no mere person can give or be.

Isaiah 25 tells us:

Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!

This is a reminder to question who we look to for salvation. When the marriage ends and bills pile up and children are forced to adjust, when life seems to crash down around you and there seems no relief in sight, there is a great temptation to find someone (anyone!) to replace the abandoned spouse, to fill the hole, to take up the side of the bed left empty months after the spouse departed, but it is especially vital in those times to look to God for Salvation, not another human being.

This verse is a message for all to beware of jumping too quickly into the arms of another. The divorce rate among second marriages is high. If you are fortunate enough to find Love again, be sure you and your mate are centered on the Lord first, that you are stable and established and not dating out of loneliness or fear or pure sexual desire. Make no compromises when it comes to finding a man of faith. Hold yourself and your future spouse to a higher standard. Ask yourself and him tough questions and look for evidence to support your answers.

Is this truly someone you see being with for an eternity? Will he help you attain your ultimate goal, not of finding a good job or getting a clean house or helping your kids get into the right colleges or any other worldly aspirations, but will he help you and your children get into Heaven? Will he support you when you tumble? Will he push you when you backslide? Will he hold your hand and sprint with you when you’re motivated to do more, to be more? Will he accept your hand up when he falls? Will you kindly offer your hand when he falls because he, like you, will fall? Will he be the leader, showing you and your children the best path to follow? Will you always find something to Love in this man? Is he capable of always finding something in you to Love? Is this truly someone your God, with His high standards, will accept at his table?

The message from Isaiah 25 is that it is God who has the power to rescue you from death and divorce when you depend on Him and His timing. If you are considering getting involved with someone again, this time, be sure that if something goes wrong, you already know your own true value, that your foundation is built on God, not on man. For it is only God who truly saves.

If God has plans for you to be married again, He is already working on your future spouse too. Pray for that spouse, for his health, for his body, his mind, his emotional and spiritual strength, for his overall well being. Pray for his family, for his success, for his Goodness. Pray for his eternity. Do not wait until he is in your life and you “get something out of it.” Believe and Pray even today! 

God Bless…

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Death vs. Divorce – Lessons from Isaiah 25

Cross - grave stone with light beaming through!

The Lord heals wounds caused by death & by divorce.

On a “normal” Monday (I’m a single Mom of five boys. Nothing in our lives is “normal!” ;) ) I’d talk about Sunday’s Gospel reading and how it applies to hurting families. Today, I couldn’t look at just the Gospel. Today, every reading struck me as so applicable to what so many of us are facing, so this week, I’m taking separate looks at the first reading, the responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel.

Today, we start with first message I got from reading: Isaiah 25: 6-10.

Is Divorce Worse Than Death?

The 1st Reading – Isaiah 25:6-10

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