Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

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For the first time in recent memory, I ended a year on a Spiritual high note. I wasn’t running on fumes through Advent, I’ve enjoyed Christmas, and I’m excited to start 2012 and grow in our beautiful faith even more. So, as we’re less than a week into a new year, I thought I would share some ways to keep our spiritual “endurance” throughout the year.
What came to mind was a Homily that my husband and I heard while attending Saint William of York (Stafford, Virginia) in August. Father made some remarks about “Lapsed” Catholics, also called “C&E’s” (Christmas and Easter) sometimes. This (very large) group of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are not the ones that we see every Sunday. We likely won’t see them while they’re vacationing, and we also most likely won’t have many conversations with them about our Catholic faith. However, it never fails that come Christmas and Easter, they all show up. The parking lot is full, the pews are full, the Church is very warm. Father Magot made us all chuckle when he said, “why chose the busiest Masses of the year to go to? I’d rather go in August. There’s plenty of parking spaces, room to sit. Communion lines are shorter.”
Obviously the point he was trying to drive home is that EVERY Sunday Mass and Holy Day of Obligation are important. We are obligated to attend them all. And without a serious excuse, we are committing a mortal sin if we do not go.
And so we have begun 2012.
About ten years ago, I had a gym membership. It was a 24 hour gym and my regular workouts began around 10 PM. The following January, I think I witnessed fifty “New Years resolutions” happen before my eyes. Tredmills were all of a sudden full, weight machines had lines, and the classes in the room off to the side were full of energy. To be honest, the sudden surge of people was someone of a distraction as well as annoying. Not because I didn’t want these people to get into shape or to be healthy, it was because they didn’t stick around.
Come February and March, the New Years resolution crowd dwindled out in numbers. Few were left to continue on their mission. The rest had given up.
And after sharing these two stories, I can’t help but think of the similarities between the two. Just as a journey towards becoming physically fit and healthy takes a lot of work and dedication, so does growth,in our faith. It cannot and does not happen overnight. Any surge in energy or bursts of the Holy Spirit may only seem temporary, unless they are nourished.
Through,our Baptism, we are initiated into the Church and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through the Eucharist, we are nourished and strengthened, and through our Confirmation, we are sealed in the gift of the Holy Spirit, thus completing our initiation into the Church.
As we continue in this year, let us keep in mind the promises we made through our Confirmation, to grow in our faith and to share our faith with others.
I would like to end with some suggestions to keep the flame burning:
1. Make it a duty to attend Mass regularly. Every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation. While daily Mass is not an obligation, attending regularly can only help us grow in our faith.
2. Make time for prayer. I was recently gifted a book on The Family Rosary. How cliche to hear, “A family that prays together, stays together.” Say bedtime prayers with your children. Say a prayer at meal times. Pray when you wake up. Prayer is simply conversation with God, and the more we’re talking to him, the less likely we are to fall into sinful behavior. Also, drive around with a CD of the Rosary being recited, or religious music playing. It’s hard to be in a bad mood while listening to “How Great thou Art.”
3. Go to Confession regularly. If you haven’t been in a while- go! It will give you,the grace to sustain you and keep your soul in good shape.
4. Join a Catholic group or look for a Spiritual Advisor. Having someone to guide us along the journey is imperative to our growth. For me, I have a lovely group of women who I have become very close to. We talk every day. All things Catholic, and sometimes not.
5. Do something within your parish. Whether it’s volunteering as a CCD teacher or singing in the choir, assisting in a number of ministries or on the parish board….. whichever interests you. When you’re accountable to others for something, you’re more likely to follow through.
6. Wear our beautiful faith on your sleeve, figuratively speaking. Mention to others in conversation that you are Catholic. Invite friends to go to Mass. Find or answer questions friends may have about our faith.

We have a whole long year ahead of us. There is no doubt that it will fly by. But our job is to come out on the other end stronger in our faith than when we started last week. So, I challenge you all. Make it count!

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Prayer Changes Things

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Last week was a long week.  On Monday my oldest son had ear surgery, my second son left our homeschool for Catholic schools, my mother in law came to help out with both of those transitions, my husband started the second year of his PhD program, and we celebrated two birthdays.  It was a busy week!

Busy weeks are easy weeks to get lost in.  It is easy to steal a few more moments of sleep or get up early for more hours in the day for laundry, dishes, and household tasks.  It is easy to put prayer aside for more productive work.  (I also find it is sometimes easy to put children aside in the same way when we get busy, but that is a topic for another post.)

One thing I’ve noticed about prayer is that God will find us even when we aren’t looking for Him.  Even when we are lost in our thoughts and our hurried lives, the Holy Spirit will sneak into our everyday lives if we are accustomed to looking.

For me this last week two such reminders snuck their way into a frantic Friday trip to the store for school supplies lost or forgotten.  Surrounded by four little ones who weren’t interested in anything more than finishing as quickly as possible, I took an extra moment to browse through the clearance section in case there was anything begging for a new home.  Suddenly my 8 year old pointed up at a small statue tipped over on its side and said, “Hey, Mom!  That looks like a saint!”

Sure enough, Saint Francis of Assisi had been knocked on his side between cast off vases and bath towels.  Moments later we found a small green wall hanging with the words, “Prayer Changes Things” scripted across a simple wooden plaque.

In that moment I had to pause.  At the end of a busy week, mom needed to take a break and get on her knees.  (Figuratively in this case, I was in the middle of a department store…)  All week I had been chasing a never ended to-do list and here it turns out the Holy Spirit was chasing me.  God had my week under control if I could take a moment to offer it to Him and look for opportunities to serve my family instead of check one more thing off of my list.

All around me were four little ones, all of whom desperately needed a snack.  One of whom hadn’t had the chance to go home after school and take a rest.  Reevaluation of a plan was in order.  An earlier than normal dinner and deciding to skip a few of our stops didn’t completely solve the problem, but those two little changes definitely made a difference.  Our busy week had ended in different, unmet needs for each of my children but I wasn’t noticing because I was too busy trying to “finish”.
Prayer does change things and the thing I believe it changes most is me.  Taking the time for prayer helps me say no to my to-do list and yes to the extra snuggles and comfort that my children need in an unusually busy time.  Taking the time for prayer grants me confidence that I’m on the right path and a renewed dedication to work through my tasks when it is hard.  Prayer also pushes the pause button in activities that may not be the best use of my time.
St. Francis found his way to the top of my piano and a small green plaque found it’s way to the wall above my kitchen stove.   Reminders of the day the Holy Spirit tracked me down in the department store to remind me what number one on my to-do list needs to be even…maybe especially… during the most busy of weeks.

Who Am I?

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This past Saturday, my husband & I were sitting on the couch just having a general day. I can’t remember what started the conversation, except that I KNOW it was him (fist pump & bump from me to the Holy Spirit). He asked about when the Church started. Since I tend to blather on & on (& on & on & on…), I concentrated on brevity. I said, “Oh, somewhere in the New Testament before Easter, Jesus told Simon Peter that ‘… on this rock I shall build my Church…'” I further added that He (Jesus) also told Simon Peter that He (Jesus) would give Simon Peter the keys to Heaven and the Church. My husband’s reply was a simple “Oh” or grunt of acknowledgement. Regardless of his response, I was tremendously pleased that he broached the subject.

Imagine my absolute SHOCK when, at Mass Sunday, the Gospel was that *very* reading. Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” followed by “Who do *you* say that I am?” Simon Peter was the only one brave enough (or lacking the edit function of his brain like me) to say, “You’re the Christ”. Then followed my above mentioned quote from that same chapter. As the reading began I looked over and was dismayed to see that our children looked to be thoroughly distracting my baptized (but not confirmed) husband. I said a silent prayer to the Holy Spirit to allow him (my husband) to hear the words of the reading AND the homily. Then I tried to divide my attention between the children, Mass, & my husband’s demeanor; therefore I completely forgot about the revelation during Mass. Later at home, amid the chaos that is life with a 3 year old & 21 month old, my husband said something about it being funny that the reading at Mass was exactly what we’d talked about. Again, I internally fist pumped & bumped the Holy Spirit, but kept my answer non-chalant & brief.

That got me to thinking. Who am I that God should listen to my all-too brief prayers? Who am I that others should look at me & find encouragement, inspiration, and happiness? Who am I that God has blessed me with the family (and friends) I have? Who am I that God has given the struggles to overcome and therefore become an inspiration to others around me. The answer is, basically, I am who God made me.

It is often bandied about that God works in mysterious ways and that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. Well, I am the personification of the latter of these as well as the former (but mostly the latter). Too often I get caught up in the little things and forget or dismiss my prayer-life, the sacraments, or the blessings that I have been given. To be honest, sometimes the struggles God has given me are actually the biggest blessings I have. Obviously, I don’t see that at the time, but upon reflection later (sometimes MUCH MUCH MUCH later) my struggles have been times when I have developed certain traits that make me a better person. This better person  God is molding is who He wants me to be. The comfortable, vague-minded, obsessive, defiant, anxious person is the anthema of God’s plan for me.  It is up to me, and EVERYONE, to become the person God means us to be through His means, not our own.