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Pope Francis gave us Homework

Happy Feast of the Baptism of the Lord!

This New Year Pope Francis is going to be offering Catecheses on the sacraments. Since today is the feast of Jesus’ baptism, and baptism has been on my mind as we await the arrival of our second little baby (which could technically be any day now that I am 37 weeks!) I was really struck by what he said this past Wednesday (January 8th)  at his general audience:

 I have asked this question two or three times already, here, in this square: who among you knows the date of your Baptism, raise your hands. It is important to know the day on which I was immersed in that current of Jesus’ salvation. And I will allow myself to give you some advice… but, more than advice, a task for today. Today, at home, go look, ask about the date of your Baptism and that way you will keep in mind that most beautiful day of Baptism. To know the date of our Baptism is to know a blessed day.

cBaptismSo that’s a pretty reasonable request, eh? I know I have looked it up before, I think when I needed to request a copy of my baptism certificate for our wedding, but do I remember? Not exactly. I want to say it was January 25th? But maybe not… maybe February 25? Yeah I guess I need to look it up again. I remember Clara’s, does that count? August 12 (almost the feast of St. Clare! Double special day, totally unplanned, but a neat coincidence) and I do intend to make her baptism day a special day we celebrate every year, but maybe I need to do something special myself (after finding out for sure which date is right!) to remember the huge gift of Baptism that I received 27 years ago.

I leave you to think about this: (also from the January 8th audience)

We must reawaken the memory of our Baptism. We are called to live out our Baptism every day as the present reality of our lives. If we manage to follow Jesus and to remain in the Church, despite our limitations and with our weaknesses and our sins, it is precisely in the Sacrament whereby we have become new creatures and have been clothed in Christ. It is by the power of Baptism, in fact, that, freed of original sin, we are inserted into Jesus’ relation to God the Father; that we are bearers of a new hope, for Baptism gives us this new hope: the hope of going on the path of salvation our whole life long. And this hope nothing and no one can extinguish, for it is a hope that does not disappoint. Remember, hope in the Lord never disappoints.

Back in the Saddle

With the important interview with Pope Francis that was published this week, I have been reminded of how much I want to keep on track with this blog.
If you haven’t read the whole interview yourself, (no summaries really do it justice!) I encourage you to please do so. I am still praying and processing how I am to live it in my daily life, using what Pope Francis talked so much about to help me; discernment! (He mentions it 21 times!)

 Discernment is always done in the presence of the Lord, looking at the signs, listening to the things that happen, the feeling of the people, especially the poor.

Pray for me as I work on figuring out exactly how to live these beautiful priorities of our Holy Father in my daily life. My initial reaction is to volunteer for another ministry in my parish, but these lines from Pope Francis are ringing in my ears:

“But I am always wary of decisions made hastily. I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision. This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess, looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time. The wisdom of discernment redeems the necessary ambiguity of life and helps us find the most appropriate means, which do not always coincide with what looks great and strong.”

So lets pray and see where and how to implement these words in my life!

God Bless

Enjoy your Sundays!

Resting yesterday left me with only time for a quick post today, as I scramble around, but I had to quickly share this NY Times article that brings forth a beautiful point of Pope Francis, and one hopefully we can start to put into practice, maybe even this weekend

“Together with a culture of work, there must be a culture of leisure as gratification. To put it another way: people who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play a sport. But this is being destroyed, in large part, by the elimination of the Sabbath rest day. More and more people work on Sundays as a consequence of the competitiveness imposed by a consumer society.” In such cases, he concludes, “work ends up dehumanizing people.

My parents always made a point of not shopping on Sundays, not only so that we would rest as a family, but also so that there wasn’t as much consumer pressure that all shops and businesses need to be open on Sundays, maybe that way more people wouldn’t have to work on Sundays too.

This will be something good to remember this weekend as I am hosting a baby shower for my best friend on Sunday, and that leaves me only Monday to pack and prepare to bring this little girl

to California on Tuesday…

Well the best way to get ready will be heeding the words of the Holy Father!

God Bless and have a good week everyone!

Who’s your Daddy?

When I went on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land I had a interesting experience that came right back to mind today when I was reading some words from Pope Francis’ audience on April 10,  he said:

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“It is the Holy Spirit that we received in baptism that teaches us, leads us to say to God, “Father.” Or rather, Abba Father.”

Why the “rather”?

One day during our pilgrimage, when we were in Galilee, we started the day walking down to the shores of the sea and doing our meditation gazing at the very Lake that Jesus walked on and Peter Fished on. Some people had picturesque spots from which to ponder, but I was somewhere more like this:

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A more crowded piece of beach front  and not totally silent, which at first was really bothering me. Between scolding myself for getting distracted when I “should have” been in profound prayer, (after all, this was the Holy Land I was in!), I noticed that there was a Jewish man a few yards down the dock with his two young boys. The dad was fishing, and the young boys were “fishing,” the younger one with a toy fishing rod, that had a short line, which had apparently gotten tangled. My ears jumped with I heard this young boy (maybe 3 or 4) call out, exasperatedly, to his dad: “Abba! לתקן את החכה שלי”

(I am guessing a little bit on the Hebrew part, but I am pretty sure it was along the lines of “fix my fishing pole!”)

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That experience of the young Jewish boy calling out to his dad has stayed with me in a powerful way. That’s what God wants to be for us. I suppose it depends a lot on each persons life experience, but to me the word “father” brings to mind a more formal relationship. I never called out “father!” when I was about to fall out of the tree I was climbing, or when I was after I hammered my thumb when I was helping with one of my dads many projects. Thats when “daddy!!” escaped my lips, just like when I was a small child, and that’s what I think God wants us to know. He wants to help us with the daunting, God-worthy needs, but also with the silly tangles of our life that we just cant, or don’t want to, handle all by ourselves.

Pope Francis goes on to say:

This is our God, He is a father to us. The Holy Spirit produces in us this new status as children of God, and this is the greatest gift we receive from the Paschal Mystery of Jesus. And God treats us as His children, He understands us, forgives us, embraces us, loves us even when we make mistakes .

Just like a good daddy would.

Now that my husband and I are experiencing parenthood from the other side of the relationship, we are both learning a lot. The day our small daughter first made the sounds “da-da” were probably the happiest of my husbands life. Whether she knows what she is saying or not, her calling out “daaa-daa!” has him running from across the room, but lately its just been because shes lonely in the fort he made for her.

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and he’s all to happy to rescue her from her little fort, as he would be to bail her out of more serious situations.

So let’s try to call out to our daddy in heaven with the same trusting faith of a little child who knows no matter how silly the situation might seem, God is all to happy to reach down and help us!

Happy Easter Everyone!

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It was our little daughter’s first Easter! She did quite well as Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, but it was long, and Easter Vigil was even longer and even later, so we opted for the Sunday morning Mass which was much better!

Easter always comes at the perfect time, just when you can take no more Lent! Holy week is the last, intense burst of Lenten effort, but by the time Good Friday rolls around, I am pretty sure I speak for more than just myself when I admit its been enough. But this year, like a handful of years in the past, I think God might want me to keep up some of what I was trying to do during Lent through the upcoming year (or forever?) It happened once before that I remember, I decided to go to daily mass during Lent when I was 14, and I kept it up for nearly 8 years!

This year I had a hard time deciding what to “give up.” I purposely tried to avoid something would be easy to have mixed motivations for (aka Candy…sacrifice and unnecessary calories… I have a mighty sweet tooth!) so I gave up always choosing the best, when ever there is the opportunity, and trust me, there are LOTS of opportunities when you start looking for them. What looks like the best entrée when we are going out to eat? What is the best brand of diapers to buy for my baby? What is the best seat to sit on? I want the best best best! 

The second best, no name, choice so far always worked just as well, but it is such a sacrifice to choose it!! (store brand cookies instead of Oreos! oh No!) But let me tell you, it was a transformational lent! All those little moments when my preference got trimmed for the sake of Christ made more room in my heart to hear Him and respond to Him. Sometimes the sacrifices led to saving some extra money on groceries, (unintentional I promise!) but that helped with the sponsorship of a second child.  And as always, a tough lent always leads to the Best Easter!

The last 9 days of Lent my husband and I also decided to pray together a novena to Our Lady of Knots, which has been such a great experience! It is always powerful to pray together, it strengthens us as a couple, and its helped us identify the “knots” in our life that we need God’s help to address.

I wanted to share some words from our Holy Father this Easter, I found them inspiring, and I hope you do too. Pope Francis also spoke about how the God action can be surprising (like the women who went to anoint Jesus’ body in the tomb and were surprised by the angels) but we can’t be afraid of God’s surprises and prefer our own predictable boring life, He has such wonderful things in store if we just open up and let Him in our life! Even though, yes, it will at times be a surprise!

Why do you look for the living among the dead? Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness… and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.

Said Pope Francis at Easter Vigil in Rome (Full Text Here)

Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious!…let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.

from the Popes Urbi et Orbi Message (Full Text Here)

I hope you all have a Holy and Blessed Easter. Remember to keep celebrating for all 50 days!

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I saw something like this a few days ago:

And I must have read the explanation that Pope Francis would rather we use our money helping the poor than spend it on spontaneous trips on a whim, even if they are to see him, the Vicar of Christ on Earth! Well there goes my idea of dragging my little girl to Brazil for her first birthday…

Then I thought about my whims, the things I spend money on that I don’t need, money that could quite easily go to the poor, and I realized my little indulgences are way, WAY, more frivolous than trips to see the pope… think pretzels and Cinnamon Dolce Lattes with way more whipping cream than I need… so ever since it has been on my heart to try to sponsor another Child.

I already have one beautiful little boy in Haiti who I sponsor through Chalice, I have been donating the $33 each month for more than 3 years now! (I know this because his adorable 5 year old face stares at me from three pictures around my house, the annual update on his health and well being always includes and updated picture! and the little emaciated 2 year old I first chose to sponsor is now a strong healthy little boy!)

To me, changing one little child’s life through giving them the opportunity to go to school, have healthy meals, and access to health care is SO worth the little sacrifices it takes to free up $33 each month! It is a long term commitment, but completely worth it, and not really even as hard as I thought it was going to be! I chose little Kert when I was single and now I would love to take on the responsibility of helping one more child, as a whole family…. so as I am thinking about all this, I did that one thing you have to be very very careful about…

Going to the website and seeing the faces of all the beautiful hungry children just waiting to be picked!

Sarah McLaughlin started playing in my head,

and after I saw him:

there was really no going back!

So welcome, little Marian, to our family!

and THANK YOU, Pope Francis, for the reminder to put first things first in my life, and help others before I worry about my coffee needs…

Plus I am done with Starbucks, so that frees up $33 each month for this precious little boy!