Friday, March 29, 2013

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

          It was one year ago that I started this blog.  The first entry was the hardest to put out there, and then words just flowed for most of the other entries.  But it soon became more difficult to put into words what I felt in my heart.  I took this as a sign from God that I was done with my blog.  Last week, however, I felt a real pull to write about St. Joseph on his feast day, March 19th, but didn't.  Every day since, I have felt a pull to write again.  So, I guess God isn't quite finished with my blog yet.  So, here is my Holy Week offering for this year, and possibly my last entry.

          This Lent I have been meditating on the desire to become meek and gentle.  Jesus went to the cross for the salvation of His human family like a meek and gentle lamb going to be slaughtered.  He was obedient and silent unto death, death on a cross.  Many people simulate going to family functions for holidays as going to be slaughtered, and it makes me very sad.  I am blessed with a wonderful family where everyone gets along.  But being in Family Ministry for many years I know that our family is not the norm.

          The reality is that some families are estranged and there are some family members who spend holidays alone, depressed, and hurt. Some families that typically do not get along, still get together but there is an unspoken tension in the air. And then there's the fact that at most holiday family gatherings there are always murmurs of who didn't come, how someone looked/acted or how their food tasted, etc.   I am so guilty of this.

          Jesus paid the price for what I possess, my sinful human nature. Jesus bought it, but I still hang on to it. It reminds me of the Gospel story about the sad rich man who walked away from Jesus because he possessed many things and did not want to give them up in order to follow Jesus and inherit Heaven. Most families are stressed at get-togethers because we possess uncharitable thoughts, criticisms, hurtful memories, high standards, guilty consciences, grudges, a sense of being attacked and the need to be defensive, and we hold on to them.  How do we leave them at the cross this Good Friday so that we can ressurect in new life on Easter Sunday free of these "riches" to maintain?  Jesus says His burden is light and he carried the cross!  That's how heavy all of these possessions are.  Let's let them go and celebrate new life this Easter!  How can we do this?

           Blessed are the poor in spirit! We want to be rich with the ways of the Holy Spirit in virtues and poor in the ways of the world with self-concern.  St. Joseph and Blessed Mother were the poorest of the poor in worldly spirit.  They serve Jesus and their neighbors obediently and silently throughout scripture.  If only we could be obedient and love God and everyone else no matter what, and keep our mouth shut.  That's a tough one for me!  Thus, my prayer this Lent for the grace to become meek, gentle and silent even unto death!  Being like Jesus and following Him does not mean that we will not feel pain and be hurt by those we love. Jesus did feel pain at the crucifixion but remained silent because it was for a good cause -- the salvation of His family.  I am quite sure that if we do the same, we can win hearts and souls with Jesus.  It is truly worth it, for the poor in spirit will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven; not just for us but hopefully for our entire family!  How wonderful would that be???!!!! 

           The purpose that God gave us a family is for support, not for stress.  By the way, this includes in-laws too!  At Mass on Monday, the priest preached about the fact that Jesus did not come to condemn us, but to support us and lift us up. The priest then encouraged us to do the same with our family; do not condemn but support and lift one another up.  This will mean not giving in to any temptations to want to be "perfect" in a worldly sense of being critical and judgmental, but desire to be "perfect" as our Heavenly Father is perfect. If we give in to unkind thoughts, they are going to come out of the mouth or come out through our attitude which fills the environment with toxins rather than with the peace and unity that comes from the Holy Spirit.

          The love of the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit.  Their family love brings the life of the Holy Spirit.  So to be rich with the Holy Spirit, we must have family love; both divine family and human family.  If we do our part, the words we speak will be of the Holy Spirit and we will speak as Jesus spoke and His presence will be felt.  Jesus makes all things new!  I pray that all families will experience the joy of having one another to support and lift each other up.  Amen.



Saturday, October 20, 2012


          One of the reasons I think my generation does not really know Jesus is because we were given a fluffy, feel-good character to call upon whenever we wanted something.  There was a lot of, "Jesus loves you.  He died for you.  He wants you to be happy."  So, we went to church for the fluff of feeling good about ourselves and hoping to get whatever we wanted in return.  My parents' generation, in my opinion, went to church because of the fear of Hell that was instilled in them if they didn't go.  There must be a holy in-between that the Holy Spirit is guiding us to so that we can know, love and serve the real Jesus.

          Jesus calls us friends.  If we ask a friend to tell us the truth regarding something about ourself, he or she will usually tell us the truth as they see it.  A lot of times, however, friends will tell us what it is we want to hear because they don't want to hurt our feelings.  Things like, "It's not your fault. Your husband is a jerk."   The only true friend we have who sees the real truth about us, is Jesus.  He is God and He is privy to everything about us and life.

          The truth of who we are is revealed in our relationship with our spouse.  Whenever my husband would drive me crazy, I'd always look to Jesus for consolation.  What I always got first, and still do, is chastisement!   To give you an example, recently during dinner, my husband was going on and on about politics, as he often does these days.  In my mind, I was calling upon God to make it stop.  Immediately, my thoughts changed to the truth that only God could see.  He made men to be the protector of families and Bob is responding to the impending dangers of family life in our current political arena.  I knew that thought had to come from God because whenever I think bad about someone, especially my husband, He always chastises ME.  I think that it can't always be ME, but it is!!

          If we look to Jesus as our very best friend to tell us the truth, He will.  It will never be about the other person, but will always be about ourself.  That's how much He loves us.  He desires for us to become His image, because that is how we were created to be.  God is all good, all loving, all merciful.  I have a very long way to go, but I know that once I become all kind, loving, and merciful to my spouse, the truth about me will be revealed; that I was made in the image and likeness of God!  If I can be Jesus to my spouse, who is the one that I am with the most and criticize the most, I can be Jesus out in the world for sure.

         Spending time with Jesus in church and in His Word, keeps our friendship close and beautiful.  I love being at church and in prayer.  Looking to Jesus as our very best friend to help us become the best we can be will result in husbands and wives becoming very best friends too.  Happy Chastisements!!  Amen!!!

"I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing.  I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father." (John 15:15)

 "Happy is the man whom God reproves!  The Almighty's chastening do not reject."  (Job 5:17)
"Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."  (Revelation 3:19-22) 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


         I haven't felt inspired of late to write.  However, today the Holy Spirit has reminded me of several other lessons I've learned about family life.  Today I'll disclose how my eyes were opened to my unattractiveness.  Attractive people, attract others to them.  That's why the most popular kids in school were usually the best looking.  I've always worked hard at trying to look good, both inside and out.  I would always receive compliments from friends and those I associated with, especially at my workplace. Then came a comment from our son that made me stop and take a look at how my family saw me, and how shallow the most popular kids were.

          The four years that our children were in high school, I worked in the counseling office of their school.  How's that for being controlling?!  And one day, our son came home from school and said something to the effect, "Everyone at school thinks you are so nice and cute, Mom, but they don't really know you."  OUCH!   I think I just laughed because I guess I figured that our teenagers usually don't think that their parents are nice or cute.  But later, his comment  revisited my mind and heart and I didn't feel very attractive.

          My children saw how kind I was to everyone at work, always helping, welcoming, caring, smiling.  It must have been confusing for them to then see me at home, tired and not jumping up instantly to help with something, or to welcome my spouse home with an attractive smile, complaining about this and that, etc.  I realized that I had always worked hard at trying to look good, both inside and out, to those I encountered outside of my home.

          Jesus attracted and still attracts countless people to Him because of His loving and merciful way.  I used to feel attractive when I had my nails done!  This lesson taught me that it doesn't matter how beautiful your hands and feet look after a manicure/pedicure, or if dressed in a gorgeous outfit and touting a new hairdo. If we take a look at how unhospitable we parents can be to one another and to our children, it is very unattractive.  People do not swarm around those who are unkind, unloving, unforgiving.  Teens don't normally want to be around their parents.  Spouses a lot of times do not want to be around each other.  Perhaps we should all try harder to be more attractive, like Jesus.

          Instead of spending time and money at a beauty spa, I started spending time praying, going to Mass and Eucharistic Adoration.  I work hard at practicing hospitality on my own family and then extending it to others.  It is by imitating Jesus that we become attractive.  At a weekly parish event at my former parish, we would have a great dinner together as a parish family and then I would lead a prayer service.  All of the children would swarm around me, and I felt the joy of attracting these little ones with holiness.  I would look out into the congregation and see manly men on their knees praying, and women with tears in their eyes, and they were all so beautiful, inside and out.  And even now, when my husband and I pray the rosary in the evenings, I look at my spouse and he is never more attractive to me than when he is praying to God.  Holiness is attractive!  We need to teach our children this valuable lesson.

          Attractiveness begins with being attracted to Jesus.  Let's swarm around His Word and Sacrament and learn hospitality from the one that welcomes everyone into His heart and life forever and ever and ever.  Amen.

"Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality."  (Romans 12:13)
"Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another."  (1 Peter 4:9)
"Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him."  (Luke 10:38) 



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Smell the Flowers

          It has been said that flowers are smiles from God.  I think of that every time I enjoy the beauty and scent of flowers.  With the month of October starting next week, this blog is about the Rosary, as October is proclaimed in the Catholic Church as the month of the Rosary.  The word 'Rosary' means, "Crown of Roses."  Each Hail Mary prayed in the Rosary represents a rose given to Blessed Mother and upon the completion of the Rosary, she has a crown of roses from us.  The rose is the queen of flowers, so the Rosary is the rose of all devotions.

          One thing we did at every family retreat, was pray the Rosary together with each family.  The children were delighted to lead the different mysteries and we would light a candle with each new contemplation on the life of Jesus.  We would encourage every family to pray this powerful prayer every day in their homes as their after-meal prayer.  Catholics are quite good at praying the prayer before meals, but not so good at praying an after-meal prayer.  And it is a very healthy habit to adopt as resting for awhile after we eat, aids in the digestion process.  The rosary only takes 15-20 minutes and it packs a powerful punch to the evil one.  I quote from a recent e-mail I received about the power of praying the rosary:

"Father Gabriel Amorth, Chief Exorcist of the Vatican writes:  One day a colleague of mine heard the devil say during an exorcism:  'Every Hail Mary is like a blow on my head. If Christians knew how powerful the Rosary was, it would by my end.'
The secret that makes this prayer so effective is that the Rosary is both prayer and meditation.  It is addressed to the Father, to the Blessed Virgin, and to the Holy Trinity, and is a meditation centered on Christ."
          Blessed Mother appeared to the three children at Fatima and requested that they pray the Rosary every day for the conversion of Russia.  The Rosary is a prayer of peace and love.  It should be prayed for the conversion of sinners with the intent to be filled with love of God and all people.  What could we do as a family that is more beautiful, more needed, and more noble?

          Many people complain that praying the Rosary is boring and they get distracted with all of the repetition.  When I pray the Rosary, I imagine Blessed Mother turning the pages of her scrapbook featuring Jesus' life, and calling to my mind the scriptures that describe each event.  I know people who have related to me that they have smelled roses when they pray the Rosary.  That's not to say that my mind never wanders while I pray the Rosary, because it does.  But I know that God honors every small attempt we make in love to do what is right and just.  To pray for the conversion of all sinners, especially for ourselves and our family members, is definitely the right and just thing to do, whether we do it perfectly or not.

          Praying the Rosary individually is wonderful, but to pray it with our spouse and children is that many times more wonderful.  When friends call me with marital and family problems, I always recommend that they start to pray the Rosary together as it is the prayer of peace.  Every home should be filled with peace, so I believe every family should be praying this prayer, whether there is a crisis or not. I find that people are usually more willing to spend a lot of money and time at counseling sessions rather than take the 15 minutes to pray the Rosary.  Counseling is beneficial and I'm a huge advocate of Christian counseling, but I would incorporate the Rosary first and foremost as the most advantageous thing all families can do.

          With the November election in the United States approaching very fast, I would like to challenge everyone who is reading this blog to pray the Rosary with your family, or alone, for the conversion of the United States of America.  Meditating on the life of Christ can save souls!

          If it has been a long time since you have prayed the Rosary, or if you have never prayed it, there are many websites that provide the details.  Here's one that is a beginner's guide to the Rosary: .  Please know that the Rosary is not solely a Catholic prayer.  It is a Christian prayer that takes us on a journey with the Prince of Peace narrated by the Queen of Heaven and Earth. 

          There's a saying, "Take time to smell the flowers."  It is a great way to appreciate smiles from God.  There's another saying attributed to Fr. Payton, "A family that prays together, stays together."  Taking the time to smell flowers and pray, especially the Rosary, is a great way to smile back at God.  I pray that we all pray the Rosary throughout the month of October and beyond, to give Blessed Mother a Crown of Roses and defeat the evil one who is attacking families and our country.  Amen.

"You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you; Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God."  (Micah 6:8)

"For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed."  (Luke 1:48) 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Words of Wisdom

          I have not been motivated lately to post any new blogs.  Perhaps it is because I have already shared a lot of my life lessons on marriage and family life. I really can't remember what lessons I have already written and I don't want to be repetitive.  Or maybe it's because I get tired of repeating the same words of encouragement over and over and over again:  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  And yet, I am drawn back to blogging today by today's liturgical reading of the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians on, you guessed it, LOVE.

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It is not  jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrong-doing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.  So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love."  (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13) 
          This is the scripture reading used at most Christian weddings, including mine.  It had the most impact on me when at a seminar we were asked to read the first two sentences of this passage, replacing the words "love" and "it" with our own name:  Linda is patient, Linda is kind.  Linda is not jealous, Linda is not pompous, etc. Try it with your name.

          Prior to St. Paul giving us this beautiful description of love, he writes that we can have great faith and many spiritual gifts, but if we do not love, we gain nothing.  I used to think that I was holier than my husband because I prayed more, knew the faith more, cared about others more, and on and on.  Linda was pompous.  And then I realized that I was not love. 

          St. Therese of Liseaux shares in her autobiography that she always wanted to be a martyr for the faith and she was very sad that she was not going to die a martyr's death.  She looked to this letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians for words of wisdom and was inspired by Chapters 12 and 13 that her calling was to be love. It brought her great joy.

          Jesus commands us to love one another, and yet so many husbands and wives do not love each other and it makes everything so much harder, in an already challenging world.  The solution for all troubled marriages is not divorce, but love.  "Love never fails."   Being love brings great joy! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


          Music is magical.  It can lift lowly spirits to soar, or calm a raging soul.  Families that have musical talent have a special gift, in my opinion.  Everyone who has ever heard me sing, knows that I cannot carry a tune and not gifted in that area.  But thank God that the gift of music is available to all families and it can enhance family life.  Like everything though, there is good music and there is bad music. 

          Once I realized that my husband was not going to play the guitar after dinner and we all sing, "Kumbaya," I started to introduce feel-good types of music in our home utilizing our stereo.  Of course then it was albums and cassettes.  It was so surprising to me how many praise and worship albums there were, as I had never purchased one as a teenager or young adult.  Singing about the love of God just took place in church, or so I thought.

          Music that inspires a love that is pure and beautiful, fills a home with peace.  There are a lot of pop culture songs that are fun, lively, filled with good messages, and great to enjoy together as a family.  There are also a lot of pop culture songs that contain lyrics that convey darkness, impurity, and are filled with bad messages.  Whenever my husband and I sing along with some of the "oldies" we listened to in high school, we are amazed at the messages of some of them.  We always sang the words as we thought they were, and they really weren't the correct words at all.  I'm sure many can relate!  It comes as a surprise to no one, I'm sure, that a lot of those songs were not good music.  Good music is kind-hearted.

          Whenever our children would speak kind words to one another, it was music to my ears.  I'm sure it is the same with God whenever we speak kindly to one another.  Now imagine a musical tribute.  My children have never sang a song to honor me, but if they did, my tear ducts would need a dam to stop the water flow.  That's how I picture God whenever we sing or play praise and worship songs to Him.  I so appreciate all the Christian artists who create beautiful songs in praise and worship of our Lord.  As Christian parents, it is our duty to instill in our children an appreciation of this good music and the joy it brings to our Heavenly Father.

          My heart is filled with the love of music today, as I am having our piano tuned and looking forward to taking piano lessons.  Perhaps my vision of Bob playing the guitar, and me at the piano, entertaining our grandchildren with kind-hearted music filled with the love of God, is a miracle waiting to happen.  As long as I don't sing, it will be music to God's ears.  In the meantime, I always have all of my c.d.s to sing along with.

          I have several favorite c.d.s, but right now my favorite that relaxes me and lifts me up closer to God is entitled, Hidden in My Heart, a lullaby journey through Scripture.  I highly recommend this work to be incorporated into your marriage and family life.  Check it out online.  If anyone else has some great recommendations for music that brings peace to their family life, please share with us.

"addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father."  (Ephesians 5:19-20)

"Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song, sing praise.  Sing praise to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and melodious song.  With trumpets and the sound of the horn sing joyfully before the King, the Lord."  (Psalm 98:4-6)


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


          A difficult part for me in writing this blog is knowing that it is easier for me to live these lessons because I am no longer in the throes of a young family.  I realize that it is hard to be in a loving state of mind when there is chaos and constant needs to address all around you.  It's hard enough to love everyone when there's peace and quiet and time for much prayer!  But the temptation to get depressed, to feel overwhelmed and all alone is always lurking, no matter what stage of our life's vocation we are in.

          Once I learned about the power of our Baptismal graces, it has forever helped me to fight temptations, at least when I remember to call upon them.  When Blessed Virgin Mary said, Yes to being the Mother of God, she was plunged into a death of life as she knew it and began a new life with Christ.  In our Baptism, we are plunged into the water as a sign of dying to sin, and coming forth from the water into new and resurrected life with Christ.  At the Incarnation, Blessed Virgin Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and Jesus was conceived in her womb.  At Baptism, we are overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and become one with the Holy Trinity.  As members of the holy family of God, we are adopted children of the Father, sisters and brothers to the only begotten Son of God, and filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

          Whether we were just a baby when our parents decided for us to be baptized, or if baptism took place later in life, it can never be undone, or redone.  There is an indelible mark on our soul and we are branded to return to the Father in Heaven.  We renew our baptismal vows every Easter and profess our faith that we belong to God and we reject Satan and all of his empty promises.  Our supernatural life, the life of grace, which makes us holy, begins at Baptism.  All baptized Christians have the same mission:   die to sin with Christ in order to resurrect to eternal life with Christ.

          Here's a beautiful story of the power of our Baptism graces that is told by Sr. Briege McKenna in her book, The Power of the Sacraments.   

"I recall a beautiful testimony of a mother in Florida whose son had renounced the Church.  He had turned away, and for years she never heard from him.  One day a priest asked this mother, "Is your son baptized?"
She said, "Yes, certainly he's baptized."
"So do you know what I want you to do?"  He told her, "Get the formula of Baptism, the whole baptismal ceremony.  Go through it, and renew the baptismal promises in your son's name.  Renew the promises to renounce Satan and all his evil works.  Do that for your son every time you pray for him.  Claim the power of the Sacrament of his Baptism.  Ask Christ, who sees your son wherever he is in the world, to stir up within him the grace of his Baptism."
Three weeks later, in the middle of the night, this boy phoned his mother.  He sobbed, "Mum, I don't know how to describe what has happened to me."  Then he related that he had met someone in a store who had invited him to a prayer meeting.  In that atmosphere he had rediscovered his faith.  She realized that this had happened at the time that she claimed him into the family of God again."
Too often we abort God's life in us for the things of this world.  This makes it easy to abort children in the womb, or other human beings from our heart because we don't "need" them and their potential problems/demands.  But God never abandons us or leaves us orphaned.  He always upholds His promise He made to us at our Baptism, that He will be our God and Father.  It is up to us to keep our vow to Him, to be His children and heirs to the Kingdom.  Whenever we are tempted to separate from God and His commandments, let's call upon our Baptism graces!  But when we give in to sin, it is never too late while we are in this world to reconcile with God and let His life of grace flow anew within us.

          Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it happens to be my Baptism anniversary.  We always celebrated birthdays, of course, in our home, but didn't pay any attention to the day we were reborn into God's life of grace, our Baptismal day.  My husband and I do now, and our oldest son was baptized on the feast day of St. Francis deSales who is the patron saint of writers, and our son is a writer.  It is all very interesting when we are open to the life of grace that begins at Baptism, and it should be celebrated.  I pray that all families make this a tradition in their homes.  Check out the date you and your loved ones were baptized and celebrate it.

          Another very difficult thing for me in writing this blog is keeping it short because there is so much to say about each topic.  But I would be remiss if I did not say more about this feast day.  I renewed my consecration to Our Blessed Mother today.  She is full of grace and has been given to us to be our spiritual mother; to nourish us with Jesus.  She was taken up into Heaven and I believe she will be our mid-wife when our time comes to be born into eternal life, just as she helped Elizabeth birth St. John the Baptist into this life.  And just as St. John the Baptist proclaimed about Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30), no one is more humble and constant in pointing to Jesus and away from herself than Our Blessed Mother.  Everyone should want an intimate relationship with this loving mother full of grace who will help us live our Baptismal vows and be born into Heaven.  Amen.

"Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.'  And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.'  So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.  And they held steadfastly to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers."  (Acts 2:37-42)