Thursday, October 1, 2015

St. Thérèse

Today is one of my favorite feast day's St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus also known as St Thérèse the little flower.

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus lived from 1873-1897. She was just 24 when she died. Later this month Pope Francis will canonize her parents Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin.

I love getting out my copy of Story of a Soul, her autobiography and reading it from it this day each year. Additionally, here are a few great other resources to learn more about this "Little" Doctor of the Church.

Olivia and the Little Way by Nancy Carabio Belanger Great book for school age children 5-8th grades.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

My newest hobby, gardening

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,--
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

I've known this gardening verse for many, many years. It is often engraved on plaques or stepping stones in gardens. However, I've not been very interested in gardening until this spring. Sure, I've always pulled weeds, and I love buying 10-20 bags of mulch and spreading them around, but this year, I started creating a couple of garden areas that I hope will give beauty through the years and become places of reflection and prayer.

I put together this Pentecost Garden in May 24. The azaleas were already there, but totally overgrown. I pruned them back and added the red caladiums. Caladiums, I learned are perfect for a shady spot. 

This garden is anchored by 2 oak trees, so it is in the shade almost all day. The pavers around the garden have been there for a long time. I had to clean them off and straighten them out. Then I took red paint and lettered them with this prayer:

Come Holy Spirit
Fill the Hearts of your Faithful
Enkindle in us the fire of your love
Send Forth your Spirit and we shall be created
And you shall renew the face of the earth.

 Last touch was to put the red lawn chairs around the garden to highlight the color!
Musselman Family in front of the Pentecost Garden. 
 Next project started on Father's Day weekend when we purchased a stone statue of St Joseph holding the baby Jesus. It became very obvious that we needed to put it near the outside workbench Bob and Will built at the barn.

By clearing a LOT of weeds and pruning the over grown viburnum a nice St Joseph garden was created, using pine straw as the mulch. This garden has 3 pine trees and the pine straw is constantly falling, so all I needed to do was rake it up in a circle to encompass the garden.

Next I will make a plaque with the prayer of St Joseph the Worker:

Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in a spirit of penance for the expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my inclinations; to work with gratitude and joy, considering it an honor to employ and develop, by means of labor, the gifts received from God; to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, without ever recoiling before weariness or difficulties; to work, above all, with purity of intention, and with detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account which I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all after your example, O Patriarch Joseph. Such shall be my watchword in life and in death.
I treated myself to a new book on gardening that I am really enjoying A Catholic Gardener's Spiritual Almanac by Margaret Rose Realy. Ms Realy takes each month of the year and share our beautiful Catholic Faith through:

  • Theme of the Month
  • Traditions and Saints of the Month
  • Gardening/Planting for the Month
  • Biblical Reflection for the Month
  • and Prayer Focus for the Month

Whether or not you actually garden, or are an "armchair gardener" you will really enjoy this book!

The Gardening prayer in full is:

     God's Garden

      by: Dorothy Frances Gurney
      THE Lord God planted a garden
      In the first white days of the world,
      And He set there an angel warden
      In a garment of light enfurled.
      So near to the peace of Heaven,
      That the hawk might nest with the wren,
      For there in the cool of the even
      God walked with the first of men.
      And I dream that these garden-closes
      With their shade and their sun-flecked sod
      And their lilies and bowers of roses,
      Were laid by the hand of God.
      The kiss of the sun for pardon,
      The song of the birds for mirth,--
      One is nearer God's heart in a garden
      Than anywhere else on earth.
      For He broke it for us in a garden
      Under the olive-trees
      Where the angel of strength was the warden
      And the soul of the world found ease.
      7-19-15 Reader comment: Your blog post was tremendous you have inspired me to do a humility garden with constant attention to weeding the deep roots of pride
      Right now it is so overgrown that I'm almost fearful of the bees that are lurking as I try to prune it 🌷🌷🌷
      Detachment from all forms of pride is what the Lord has said to me is what I am must focus on for myself and to lead others.
      He gives me no less than 100 opportunities to practice it every day. The 33 Days to Morning Glory Consecration is the best fertilizer and training ground for this virtue
      -Marybeth, St Pete FL

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Encouragement to go to Confession

One sacrament we all need more of is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We can try all we want to "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps" but the reality is we can't become the person God created us to be in our own strength. We can't save ourselves. We need a savior, we need to grace. We need forgiveness of our sins.

When we are baptized, we are made a son or daughter of God, After that initial infusion of grace, we have to depend on God regularly, in the Eucharist and when we fall, in Reconciliation. 

A new friend of mine, Tom Andry had a profound impact on me this week when he was sharing about how much God loves him. I was caught off guard. Could anyone really feel the love of God so personally? Then Tom shared with me that he had had a very powerful experience, in all places...the confessional booth, where he knew without a doubt the extravagant love of the Father.

Do yourself a favor- get in "the booth" today. Make a good confession, lay down the burdens you have been carrying and know without doubt, the Father's love of YOU.
CLICK HERE for an audio interview with Tom Andry.

The Booth
by Tom Andry

A day that started like so many others

Dragging myself to confession to uncover

The same old sins this time as last

I’m sure to God, this is a blast

How bored He must be of me

Wondering why I can’t have the victory

He promised over death and sin

And I can’t even fix this funk I’m in

As Father quietly listened and began to share

His words were powerful and we both became aware

The Spirit came down and to this Priest was saying

I have honored the prayer time you’ve been paying

Get out the way and let Me speak

I can take over if you both are meek

As I listened to the wisdom that came from on high

I knew that the power He could supply

As tears began rolling down both our cheeks

We knew that this could be a typical week

That Catholics could take advantage of the truth

That is only present in that quiet little booth

If you have been away from the sacrament, need some encouragement to go or need to learn more about Reconciliation?
 CLICK HERE for some amazing talks about Confession on MP3 or CD.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Blessings and Graces from Surgery and Illness

View from my sickbed
During the last 30 days I have had the privilege, and I do mean privilege, of having a little outpatient surgery and feeling really, really down, bad and sick.Throughout that time I have been on an incredible journey with our Lord and He is not let me down one step of the way.

April 10 I had small surgery on my leg to remove a melanoma and what was supposed to be a quick outpatient thing went on for 10 days. Ten days where I never even put on shoes or drove a car due to the narcotics to keep away the pain. This is from a person who has never had surgery, never broken a bone, doesn't take ANY medicine at all and has probably been sick in bed for a total of 10 days in my entire life. So this rocked my world!

During this time I had some wonderful things happen to me and some amazing graces poured down on me, thank you Jesus! Because the surgery was on the Friday before  Divine Mercy Sunday, I was able to immerse myself in the mercy of our Lord and the way I had never before done.

So here are some of the blessings and graces I've received:

The grace of a wonderful husband who has laid down his life for me during the last 29 years but especially these last 30 days. The grace of the four children living in my home bearing with me and being patient and helping as much as they can. The grace of the two children living outside the home contacting me and being concerned about me in the way they've never had to be before.

Faithful friends who have stopped by and brought the Lord to me in Holy Communion and brought themselves to me to visit when I was lonely or sad.

Jesus'word from Diary of St Faustina, 1385: I desire to unite myself with human souls: My great delight is to unite Myself with souls. Know, My daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul.

A clean bathroom and beautiful flowers to look at as I recuperated.

A sister who came up to watch the kids, make pork chops, do laundry and clean up.

The grace of becoming a little, small, weak and chicken so that others may be strong. Many days I felt as if I was rolled over by a steamroller. I learned that in flattening out myself, I have allowed room for Jesus to completely fill me.

Jesus' words from the Diary of St. Faustina 1486 "What joy fills My Heart when you return to me. Because you are weak, I take you in My arms and carry you to the home of My Father."

Laying down 49 years of carrying heavy burdens and beginning to walk in the peaceful love of Jesus knowing that all He wants of me is to love Him.

Having the gift of the retreat series Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr.  Michael Gaitley  as I suffered. This is been a book and a DVD set gave me practical tips to persevere and suffering. The grace of God taking me through the school of trust in a very gentle and easy way as I cling to my donut and yet hold the hand of Jesus and I rely on him alone for only needs. (Donut image from the book Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley)

A new friend named Barbara who is prayed with me repeatedly and has given me outstanding joy and consolation when I had some of my darkest days.

An amazing friend who brought me soup is throwing a birthday party for me next month.

The grace of slowing down my work schedule which I so badly needed to do and would have never done on my own.

Divine Mercy Flood My SoulMarian Grace
Having three amazing musical "guests" in my bedroom via my iPod:Colleen Nixon and Marian Grace,  John Michael Talbot and particularly Annie Karto who's album "Divine Mercy Flood My Soul" I must have played 100 times as I offered up my suffering for souls

The graces of remembering many scriptures and reading many scriptures and knowing for sure that God has given us every love letter we ever need through the holy Bible.

Phl 2

2 Cor 12:9-10
Col 1:24
Ps 23
Ps 62
Romans 8:18

The grace of reconciliation in my work life when a company policy was put into place that I could never have guessed would happen that has helped me tremendously.

Faustina's words from Diary of St. Faustina 786 
"As I continued with Vespers meditating on this mixture of suffering and grace, I heard the voice of Our Lady: Know, my Daughter, that although I was raised to the dignity of Mother of God,  seven swords of pain pierced My heart. Don't do anything to defend yourself; bear everything with humility: God Himself will defend you."

Superhero saints who accompanied me on the journey, along with Jesus: Mary, St. Joseph, who adopted me as his own April 21, Saint John Paul II, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalski, St Maximillian Mary Kolbe, St. Therese of Lisiuex, St Benedict, St. Teresa of Avila,  blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

My amazing mother-in-law who has "taken me in" as her own daughter. She has quite a gift for listening and has been patiently listening to me all month.

And most importantly, entering the "school of trust." I am learning to praise and thank Jesus in every situation.

Blessed be the Lord, Blessed be the Lord, the God of Mercy, the God who saves, I shall not fear the dark of night nor the arrow that flies by day. Ps 91

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holy Thursday

Helen Danis
Holy Thursday is the day we celebrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood.  I praise God that I have had a great desire for the Holy Eucharist and the mass for almost all of my life.

I woke up this morning thinking of Helen Danis, the mother of my best friend in grade school. Helen was a daily communicant, although when I first met her, I didn't know the language of "daily communicant." I just knew that Mrs. Danis came to mass every day at 12:30 pm when her daughter Susie and I were playing on the playground of St. Albert the Great Catholic Church and School in Kettering, Ohio.

Seeing Mrs. Danis pull up in the parking lot each day for mass, sparked something within me. I remember several times, following her in and sitting in the back of church. Funny to think of that now, I just wandered off the playground and into church. No teacher knew or missed me. Mass was shorter than our playground time I guess, so I just went back to the playground when mass was over.

Of course my beloved parents took us to mass every single Sunday of our lives. We sat in the front row so we could "see what was going on." Those were deep, deep seeds planted in my heart. The witness of both my Father and Mother dressed up and happy to go to mass.
Playground at St. Albert circa 1970s, school building to left, church to right
In 1978 I began attending Archbishop Alter High School. Fr. "T" Meyer offered a really early morning 15 minute mass. I remember going occasionally and thinking 'how could he get a whole mass in in such a short time?' If I remember correctly school started at 8 am and the mass was before that.

In 1985-86, my college roommate Peggy Duffy invited me to go to noon mass at the University of Dayton chapel. It was such a great respite in the middle of classes and my part time job.

In my early 20s I lost my love of the mass, or should I say, I found a love of sleep. Sunday mornings seemed like a better time to sleep that go to mass. What a shame. I regret those wasted years.
St. Raphael Catholic Church, St. Petersburg, FL

Our first child, Bobby re-enkindled that desire for the Mass. As a 6 month old infant, I felt compelled to take him to daily mass during Lent. Then when he started kindergarten at St. Raphael Catholic School in 1997, I noticed they had a daily 8 am mass, just 10 minutes after the start of his school day at 7:50.  I made the best confession of my life and confessed the mortal sin of all those masses missed and have, through God's grace experienced Jesus's real presence, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion almost every day since. Praise God.

And so as we reflect on the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood (without whom no mass could be offered) I thank God for His mercy and grace on this Holy Thursday. I also thank Him for my parents, Mrs. Danis, Peggy Duffy, my children and all those who throughout the years gave me a good example, invited me to join them and acted as conduits of God's merciful love. 

Please go to mass on these high holy days. If you've been away, make a good confession and Go. Your Creator, Master, Sanctifier and Lord are waiting for you.