Daily Rosary Prayer Tip #3 – Take a Walk with Christ

We all need to exercise, and most of us feel closer to God when we’re outside revelling in the beauty of his creation. Some of my best Rosary prayer moments have been those times that I have combined my desires to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and exercise with my desire and need pray.  Taking a walk with Christ has been absolutely instrumental in maintaining my daily Rosary habit.

I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and I have a specific path that I follow from my house, which I know provides the perfect amount of time I need to pray the Rosary and have a little one-on-one prayer time with Jesus afterwards. Sometimes, I’ll pop my earbuds in and listen to chant music as I walk, especially when I’m walking in a more populated place where there are many distractions.

A while back, I heard author Peggy Bowes interviewed about her Book The Rosary WorkoutWhile I confess to not having actually read the book, it sounded like a great idea to me, and it’s on my list for future reads.  Our minds and our hearts become more involved when our bodies are involved in our prayer.  During the Mass, we make the sign of the cross at the beginning, and make a cross over our brows, lips, and hearts before hearing the Gospel. We stand and kneel, we hold our hands outstretched during the Our Father, we bow before the Body of Christ… The involvement of our bodies keeps our minds more fully engaged and adds depth to our worship.

So I don’t just walk the whole time I’m praying the Rosary. Every time I pray the Glory Be, I break into a jog. This makes me cognizant of the prayer I am saying. It adds an exclamation mark, and a true element of praise: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit!” Then, I go immediately into lunges or squats when I pray the Fatima Prayer, “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.” The lunges or squats put me into a penitential mood, physically bringing me a little lower, making me more humble before Christ.

Not every time, but sometimes, when I’m praying the sorrowful mysteries and really feeling it, I get still more fully involved.  At those times, it strikes me how comfortable I am walking down my peaceful suburban street, enjoying a brisk stroll.  It seems fitting to take myself out of my comfort zone and feel a little healthy discomfort.  At these times, I will either lunge or squat throughout the entire Carrying of the Cross.  Then, as I pray the Crucifixion, I hold my arms outstretched for the duration.  Both of these cause some serious burn by the end of the decade and help me to focus more fully on Christ’s suffering.

You may be wondering what my neighbors think, and I can assure you that I only do this late at night when no one is watching.  I can only distance myself from my vanity so much, and I don’t want anyone calling the sheriff to report that there’s a crazy lady walking down the street.

Another option for being more physically involved in the Glory Be is an idea that was passed to me from someone who prayed with the monks of St. Meinrad. When they pray the Glory Be, they bow through the beginning of the prayer – “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit”. When I’m tired and not up to running through the Glory Be, I take this approach.  It’s a wonderful reminder of the greatness of every person of the Trinity.

If you’ve enjoyed this daily Rosary tip, please share it with a friend.

You can see more tips for praying the Rosary every day at these links:

Daily Rosary Prayer Tip #1 – Make Mundane Tasks Spiritual

Daily Rosary Prayer Tip #2 – Pray with Purpose

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Daily Rosary Prayer Tip #2 – Pray with Purpose

I think its much easier to make time for something if you feel that you’re doing it for a purpose, especially when that purpose is something close to your heart.  A couple of years ago, I felt that I needed to add purpose and intention to my Rosary prayer, by having a specific intention for each Rosary.  As I started to do this, I realized that my prayer was too narrowly focused.  While I was praying for my husband, my children, myself and other close family and friends, I was rarely praying for the broader good.

In response, I wrote a list of daily Rosary intentions in the front of my prayer journal.  Two years later I am still praying for the same intentions, and I feel that it has been instrumental in helping me to maintain my daily Rosary habit.  There are days when I feel like being lazy and skipping my Rosary time, but then I think about the intention for that day, and realize, “how can I not pray for that today?  Is it not worthy of my twenty minutes?  Is it less important than the other things that I would do instead?”  And I go ahead and pray.

To give you some ideas, here are my daily intentions:

  • Monday – The Holy Souls in Purgatory
  • Tuesday- Conversions to Christianity and the Church (and, during RCIA season, I also pray for RCIA candidates).  I firmly believe that my husband’s conversion was largely thanks the many Rosaries I offered up for him.
  • Wednesday – my Godchildren (This works out nicely, since I have five – one for each decade)
  • Thursday – my husband and my children (also works out nicely with four kids and one husband :) )
  • Friday – Respect for life/End to abortion
  • Saturday – Our nation
  • Sunday – The Church, her leaders, religious and laypeople

There are days that I miss, and days where I only pray two or three decades, but by and large this idea of “praying with purpose” has really kept me on track.  In fact, very often, if I miss a day, I will make it up within the next couple of days.

I don’t mean for this in any way to sound like a chore, or something I feel I have to do.  Sure, there are days when I’m just not “feeling it”, when the inspiration and spirituality seems to be lacking.  At those times I remember that someone once said (maybe Pope JPII?) that the prayers we pray when we don’t feel like praying are the ones that God loves the most.

For the most part, though, praying the Rosary is something I want to do, and something that I’ve received tremendous graces from.  I find blessing in knowing that my prayers can bless the lives of others, and make a difference in the world, in addition to changing my own life.  I pray that you will experience the same blessing in your life  as well.

 

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Daily Rosary Prayer Tip #1 – Make Mundane Tasks Spiritual

It’s May, the month of Mary.  What better time to begin a habit of praying the Rosary daily?  Yet, given the hectic schedule most people maintain these days, this can seem like an impossible goal.  So, I thought I’d share a few of my secrets for finding time to pray the Rosary every day, and will post several tips over the next few days, in celebration of the month of May.

Of course, the very best way to pray the Rosary is before the Blessed Sacrament, on your knees, giving full attention to Christ as his Mother walks with you through the mysteries of his life.  Our parish is blessed to have a Blessed Sacrament chapel that is open almost 24/7, and whenever I’m out running errands without the children, I stop in to spend a few minutes with Jesus and Mary in the Rosary.  Unfortunately, I only find myself out, about, and childless every couple of weeks.

In the absence of the Blessed Sacrament chapel, a nice, quiet room, on your knees, and with candles burning does quite nicely, even better if you can read scripture in between Hail Mary’s.  But reality sets in and it can be exceedingly difficult to find those twenty  minutes (or forty, if you’re adding scripture) in the midst of a busy life, especially when you’re also undertaking other spiritual practices, such as scripture reading, praying the Divine Office, prayer journaling, etc.

Some people may scorn my methods, but I live in the real world and am only human.  So here’s…

Daily Rosary Prayer Tip #1: Make Mundane Tasks Spiritual

I actually got this idea from Ann Winkle, founder of Mary’s WAY. She spoke at my parish’s Mary’s WAY dinner in October, and talked about her mother, who prayed a decade every day for each of her eleven children. Ann joked about the fact that her mom somehow seemed to fold clothes one handed, while the other hand held her Rosary.

Turn that mound of laundry into your Mount of Olives...

After hearing this, I was inspired to try to pray a decade every day for my own children, and I knew that the only way I could do it was by perfecting Ann’s mother’s methodology. I tried it the next day, but found that I am not that dextrous. So I came up with a different trick. At the beginning of each decade, I count out ten peices of clothing, which stand in for my Rosary beads. This works quite beautifully, and allows me to make a mundane task very prayerful.

I have also been known to do this while cleaning the dishes.  I have ten river rocks that I keep on the window sill above my sink.  For each Hail Mary, I move a rock.  This can be modified for mopping or vacuuming the floor, by moving the rocks from one pocket to the other.

In the beginning, I found it hard to really focus on my prayer as I was multi-tasking.  However, I persisted, and I have had some wonderful, deep meditations, which would not have happened if I had waited until I was able to spend time in focused prayer.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

If you like this tip, please share it with your friends.  If you’d like to read more,

Daily Rosary Prayer Tip #2 – Pray with Purpose

Daily Rosary Prayer Tip #3 – Take a Walk with Christ

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Why I’m a Member of the “Single Issue Party”

Recently, an acquaintance accused me of being a member of the “single issue party” because I refuse to donate to Susan G. Komen due to their link to Planned Parenthood.  I put together a response to her email accusation, and having put a good deal of time into it, thought I’d share it here.

“Friend,”

It is clear that this is a very personal issue for you.  I don’t believe that there is a single person out there whose life hasn’t been touched by breast cancer in some way.  Let’s start off with highlighting that we are in complete agreement on one thing – there needs to be more research done on cancer prevention and treatment. 

With that said, since you have identified me as a member of the “single issue party,” I will provide you with a few reasons why preventing abortions is my number one issue.

  • Abortion is the leading cause of deaths in the United States.  In 2002, 1.3 Million babies were killed by abortion.  In the same year, 553,000 people died from cancer – all types.  So, well over twice as many lives were lost to abortion than to cancer.
  • But the 1.3 Million lives taken by abortion doesn’t begin to capture the lives that are ruined by it.  Abortion is actually the number one predictor of whether or not a woman will get breast cancer.  There are many research studies done on this.  I will give you one – A study of more than 1,800 women appearing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1994 found that overall, women having abortions increased their risk of getting breast cancer before age 45 by 50%. For women under 18 with no previous pregnancies, having an abortion after the 8th week increased the risk of breast cancer 800%. Women with a family history of breast cancer fared even worse. All 12 women participating in the study who had abortions before 18 and had a family history of breast cancer themselves got cancer before age 45.
  • A woman who has had an abortion is at twice the risk for fertility difficulties in the future.  If she does conceive, she is at 72% greater risk for low birth weight babies and 93% increased risk of premature delivery.   
  • There are also serious emotional consequences for the woman who has chosen abortion.  56% of women reported feeling guilty about their abortions, and 26% regret their abortions.  Thank God for wonderful organizations, like Rachel’s Vineyard, that reach out to women to offer them healing and support.

 I also feel compelled to share some of what I have learned about Planned Parenthood.

  • First of all, any of the services that they offer can be obtained for free at alternative clinics.  In fact, in Indianapolis, there is a First Choice for Women clinic just down the street from the PP abortion center on Georgetown Road. 
  • Planned Parenthood likes to tout that abortion only comprises 3% of the services they provide.  That figure is misleading, however.  When you look at their financials, you will see that abortion accounts for 1/3 of their total income.  It is “big business,” and reading Abby Johnson’s book, Unplanned, was very enlightening for me.  Ms. Johnson used to be a PP clinic director, and she reveals that, behind closed doors, they called on their clinic directors to find ways to increase the number of abortions, in order to increase revenues.  Sadly, they have been successful in this, with a steady increase from 2006 (289,750 abortions performed) to 2010 (329,445 abortions performed).  
  • Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the country, and 9% of their clients receive an abortion.  That’s nearly 1 out of 10. Prenatal care makes up a negligible percentage of their services, and in 2006, PP reported only one adoption referral for every 180 abortions. 

OK, so I’m sorry to inundate you with facts, but I can’t, in good conscience, know all of this about PP and then support an organization that would give money to them.  I also can’t support an organization who seemingly goes against their core principles in the relationships they maintain.  For example, I would not support a Catholic or Christian organization that had a relationship with an atheist organization that was actively promoting Godlessness.  Likewise, I will not support a cancer research organization that has a relationship with an organization that performs services which significantly increase women’s risks for cancer. 

 If Komen were the only breast cancer researcher out there, I would understand why some would feel compelled to give to them.  However, they are not they only option.  The American Institute of Philanthropy and Charity Navigator list many options for breast cancer researchers who have high rankings with these charity watch groups.  

 I know that we are both on missions to raise our children to be loving children of God.   I encourage my children to focus on the positive, but I also want to raise them as critical thinkers, who will go to a variety of sources to search out the facts, and then make a decision as to right and wrong based on all they have found, not just what is promoted by the main stream media.  While I want them to be positive, I also don’t want them to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that we live in a perfect world.  Jesus told us, “blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  I want my children to mourn every life that is lost, especially those of the innocent unborn, who never even had an opportunity to see life.  Jesus also said, “blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”  I hope that my children’s thirst for righteousness will lead them to seek out opportunities to right the wrongs in this world, and that, in so doing, they will leave this world a better place for their having been in it.

 

So, that’s it.  I hope that, in some small way, this will help to change her position, which was in support not only of Komen but also of Planned Parenthood due to the cancer screenings that they perform.

As a side note… I was all over the Internet getting the facts and figures mentioned, and unfortunately didn’t keep track of where I got everything, as I did not originally intend to send it any further than my single friend.  Much of the information came from www.lifenews.com, www.nrlc.org, and  www.whyprolife.com.  Many thanks!

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Our Lady of Good Counsel Coloring Page

As I was planning to start a novena to Our Lady of Good Counsel, I thought it would be appropriate to do a little craft with the kids involving the miraculous fresco.  So, I traced the image to create a coloring page, which I copied to white linen card stock in order to create more of a fresco look.  The children then painted it with water colors, supplementing with acrylics where needed to achieve the right colors.  I attached the image to cardboard, placing a small box in between, to illustrate the fact that the actual fresco hovers in the air, in front of the wall of the chapel.

We’ve had a lot of fun with this craft, and I love any activity that makes miraculous events more “real” to the children.  Morgan is even painting a second one to send to our seminarian friend at St. Meinrad.  Four-year-old Isaac has painted two, one of which is below.  Clearly, I should have been a little more attentive to his color selections, but I think it’s lovely, nonetheless!

Sound like a fun activity for your kids?  The good news is, I’ve done the hard part and would love to share the fruits with you!  Here’s the coloring page for you to print:

Our Lady of Good Counsel Coloring Page

Enjoy!

 

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Gotta Love Those God-incidences

God is great!  I have been struggling with a very important decision for my family for the past week or so.  A friend gave me a book to read to help with this decision (sorry, Author-of-Book, I would give you a plug here, but I’m not ready to share what I’m considering with the world, so it will have to wait).  The author chose the image of Our Lady of Good Counsel for the front of her book, to help people seek Our Lady’s guidance for the very important decisions that they are making in reading this book.  I had heard the story of Our Lady of Good Counsel before – how the image had miraculously ascended from a town in Albania and landed in Genazzano, Italy, where it has remained suspended essentially in mid-air for five centuries - but had forgotten all about it, and I didn’t know her name – Good Counsel – at the time I heard it.

This morning I heard a story on Catholic Radio about a new re-convert to the faith who had a prayer for guidance answered in a very obvious way (a bumper sticker on a car that drove past as she was praying).  I laughed and told God that he was going to have to give me something like that so that I would know how to proceed.  Then the idea popped into my head that I needed to pray a novena to Our Lady of Good Counsel.

When I got home, I searched the internet for a novena, and guess what???  The official novena starts tomorrow, ending on her feast day of April 25th!  I had heard the story of the image once before, but didn’t even know that “Our Lady of Good Counsel” existed until a week ago!  And now I’m searching for a novena to her the day before the official novena begins, the idea having popped into my head during prayer for a clear sign?  As we alway say, this is not a “coincidence,” it’s a “God-incidence”!  I love it!

I’m looking forward to what Our Lady will show me in the coming nine days!!  Please keep my family in your prayers – that we will be open to the Lord’s guidance and doing what he wants us to do, even if it is not what we want to do.  Thank you!

 

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Answered Prayers

Saturday night, at the Easter Vigil, my husband Ray was received into the Catholic Church.  With that event, one of my most fervent prayers was answered.

Seven years ago, at my own confirmation, I remember feeling such joy that I couldn’t stop grinning.  Yet, that evening was bittersweet.  With my entry into the Church, I knew that I was taking a firm step towards Christ.  However, I also knew that as I stepped toward Christ, I stepped away from the path that my husband was following; the same path that I had been following up until a year prior to my confirmation.

You see, my husband and I had been firmly united in our lukewarm Christianity.  We were wed in a Methodist church, and were careful to select all of the shortest readings and phrasology for the ceremony, so that the wedding itself would be as short as possible.  We wanted to get the “boring” church stuff over with so that we could get to the party afterwards!  We were careful to steer clear of any overly “Jesus-y” statements, so as to avoid making anyone uncomfortable – most of all ourselves.  Not surprisingly, the marriage that followed was one largely devoid of Christ, though each of us professed to occasional prayer.  We attended church once or twice a year, said grace before the major holiday meals, and otherwise relegated Jesus to the corners of our life together.

Another time, I will regail you with the full story of my conversion.  Suffice it to say that I had never felt God calling me to do anything until I felt his call to enter the Catholic Church.  When I heeded that calling, a whole new world blossomed before me, and I suddenly became a “Bible thumping Jesus freak”, just like the ones I had once ridiculed… and my husband still did.

Over the next seven years, I prayed countless prayers for my husband’s conversion, and asked my friends to pray for him as well.  The transformation didn’t come overnight – and most assuredly is not complete, as it is not complete in any of us – but Ray gradually started going to Mass more and more frequently.  Finally, two years ago, he conceded that he would go through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), if only it wasn’t such a big time commitment.  For the past year, he’s attended Mass regularly, but  when RCIA started last September, he still wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge and missed the first meeting.  A week later, following more prayer by myself and my friends, he changed his mind, and has been an avid participant in the process ever since.

Saturday night, as I knelt beside my husband after receiving the Eucharist, I felt a unity that I had not known possible.  For the first time ever, we had both received the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.  No words were necessary.  No physical touch required.  We were joined together in a whole new way, deeper and more meaningful than anything we had ever experienced.   The moment brought “communion” to a whole new pinnacle for me.

I thank all of my friends who have prayed for us over the years, and I praise God for the great gift of this answered prayer.  I rejoice in anticipation of all the future Masses our family will celebrate together.

Please join me in praying for the conversion of hearts to Christ, and to his one, true, catholic and apostolic Church.  Pray especially for those husbands and wives who are divided in their faith, that they may know the peace and unity of Christ.

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Scriptural Bookends (Just Open the Book, Pt. II)

I promised in a post a couple of weeks ago that I would provide some tips that have helped me in my scripture study.  Once I started writing, I realized I’d better break it into several posts.  So, I’m going to start with what has been most foundational in my personal scripture study – the idea of surrounding my day with what I call “scriptural bookends” – starting and ending every day with at least a few moments with God and His Word.

Please keep in mind that I am by no means putting myself out there as some great authority on scripture study.  If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know that I had “fallen off the wagon” until recently!  But, I am putting myself out there as a wife and mother of four young children who knows how difficult it is to make time for scripture study.   I know what’s worked for me and what hasn’t worked.  I’ve also had lots of people give me lots of excuses as to why it’s OK when I don’t make time for the Bible and prayer.  I appreciate their efforts to make me feel better about myself, but I think it’s important to recognize what’s most important in life, and to make time for it.  How can I be the woman God made me to be when I’m not turning to him every day?  How can I be a great wife, or a great mother, if I don’t seek the guidance of the one who made me?  How can I hope to become a saint, if I’m not turning to the book that outlines the path?

Unfortunately, life gets in the way.  The alarm clock goes off, I hit snooze, and twenty minutes later I jump out of bed.  I race downstairs to make coffee and pack lunches before running upstairs to shower and dress.  I attempt to wake the kids before I feed and walk the dog.  Inevitably, there’s some clothing mishap – someone can’t find their belt or doesn’t have a clean pair of pants.  Once that’s ironed out, I throw breakfast at the kids before bundling them into the car, only to realize that the baby has a leaky diaper.   I get the kids to school with seconds to spare before the tardy bell.   When I get home, its time to clean up the kitchen, dress the little ones, and rush off to the day’s planned activity.  Oh, and by the way, there are four loads of laundry to do, the bathrooms need cleaned, bills are waiting to get paid, and the dog just pottied on the floor.

My days aren’t much different from the average mom, and I know that I, for one, rarely think to stop in the middle of all that craziness to say, “What would God like to say to me today?”  Instead, it’s more likely that, as I snuggle into bed at night and get ready to say all my “thank you’s” to God, I’ll realize with horror that this is the first time I’ve talked to him all day.  If I have talked to him, it’s been an entirely one-sided conversation – “Lord, please give me patience.”  “Father, help me to not throw this toy, that I’ve picked up five times today, across the room.”  “God, forgive me for wanting to run into the guy that Just. Cut. Me. Off.”

“In the Morning, Lord, You Hear My Voice” (Psa 5:3)

Mark 1 shows us a Jesus whose life was at least as busy as mine or any other person’s.  He’s been traveling across Galilee, calling disciples, teaching in the synagogue, rebuking evil spirits, and healing his friend’s mother-in-law, among many others.

“The whole town was gathered at the door,” Mark 1:33 records.  That makes me think of the times when  everyone in my house is lined up, each with his or her own request.

“Mom, Isaac hit me!”

“Mom, my ear hurts!”

“Mom, I’m hungry!”

“Honey, have you seen my phone?”

At times, it makes me want to go in my room, close the door on it all, and scream, “Calgon, take me away!!!!!!”

So, what did Jesus do to cope with his crazy life?  “Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

And that, to me, is the key to coping with craziness.  Rising early in the morning to spend time in reflection and prayer ensures that my day is founded on what’s most important.  The rest of the day may get completely away from me, but I can at least control those first moments of my day by getting up before anyone else in the house is awake, and taking advantage of the peace and quiet to spend some time with Jesus.

So what does this look like for me?  Ideally, I like to have at least a half hour for my “Jesus time”.  I try to wake at 5:30, which gives me a good half hour before I have to start making lunches and getting showered and dressed.  I don’t always achieve this – I’m a night owl and tend to stay up too late – but I try to alter my morning routine to still get in my time with God.  Maybe the kids will eat hot lunch that day, or I skip washing my hair, or I wait till the kids are in school to take my shower.

How I spend that time changes depending on what’s going on in life.  Since my scriptural smack in the head, I make sure that I spend at least a few minutes looking at the daily Mass readings.  I often pray using the scripture, and when time allows love to practice Lectio Divina.  Sometimes, I’ll pray the Divine Office using the iBreviary App on my iPhone. I try to round it out every day with a short journal entry on what I read that struck me, and anything that is sitting on my heart that morning.  I don’t think it’s important exactly what I do, so long as I have a true dialogue with God – not just talking at him, but also listening for what he may be trying to say to me through his Word.

Do I do it every day?  No.  Are my days better when I do?  A resounding “Yes!”

If your days seem crazy, follow Christ’s example.  Start your days with prayer and peace.

“Night Holds No Terrors for Me Sleeping Under God’s Wings” (from LoH Compline)

My nighttime scriptural bookend is easier for me.  I usually grab my iPhone and pray the  Divine Office compline, again using that iBreviary app.  If you don’t have a smart phone, you can buy the book “Christian Prayer” at a reasonable price, or use a website like http://divineoffice.org/.

My favorite part of doing this prayer right before I fall asleep is having the antiphon for the Gospel Canticle running through my head as I fall asleep: “Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; and watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep rest in his peace.”  Ah!  I love it!   If not those words, I might have, “Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit” stuck in my head.  Good words to go to sleep by as well!

The Divine Office (AKA the Liturgy of the Hours) is entirely scripturally based, with scripture readings and prayers comprised mostly of the Psalms.  Priests, nuns, and deacons vow to pray the Liturgy every day.  I love knowing that, when I pray it, I am joining my prayer with millions of religious and lay faithful all around the globe.

Before I fall asleep, I do try to say “Thank you” to God for the good things that day, listing at least three.  Some days this is easy, and others I find that I must recognize my crosses as blessings, and as such, thank him for those.  Those thank yous often get my mind racing again about what seems to be my favorite topic – me.  So, to get my mind off of myself, I repeat those beloved prayers I previously mentioned, or I begin to pray the Rosary.   I rarely get far before I am off in la-la land, sleeping in peace under God’s wings.

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Well Trained Dogs

My kids really enjoyed this video, and I’ve had fun using it as an example at mealtimes when they start eating before we’ve said grace.  Thought I’d share…

Well Trained Dogs

P.S. After I saw this, I decided to train my own dog to do the same.  Easy-peasy, and the kids love it!

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Brother

Paul’s conversion story (Acts 9:1-19) is one of my very favorites, and one that I could spend hours mining for Biblical wisdom, insights, and inspiration.

Today I was particularly drawn to Ananias’s role in the story.   Following Saul’s encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, which left him blind, the Lord appeared to Ananias, instructing him to go to Saul and lay hands on him, so that he could regain his sight.  Saul was a good and faithful Jew, whose reputation preceded him, and Ananias knew that this was the man who had come to Damascus to persecute the Christians, having authority to imprison any Christians he found there.  Acts 9:1 says that Saul had been “breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord.”

Acts 9:17 tells us, “So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit.”

As I look at Ananias, his obedience, his bravery, and his trust in God are what first strike me.  When I look at the words he spoke to Saul, I am awed to see him call the man “brother.”  Here, he is speaking to the man who supported the stoning of Stephen, the first martyr, by holding the coats of those who threw the stones.  A man who only recently was “trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, [and handing] them over for imprisonment.” (Acts 8:3) Yet, Ananias touches the man, and calls him brother.

What openness!  What forgiveness!

In our own Christian world, we experience persecution ourselves, both by our own Christian brothers and sisters, and by non-Christians.  Can we love those who persecute us?  Can we call them “brother“?

 

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