A Cyrano de Bergerac Moment

When i was about 19 yrs old, I started running a couple miles a day, and celebrating the result, I was going to buy my first dress, with my own money.  I had a wedding to go to, and I was “adulting”.  I didn’t own a dress.  I borrowed the last one I wore, so this was a bit of an event for me.  I walked into the dress shop, a little excited, which was unusual for me, since I was neither interested in fashion or shopping.  The clerk greeted me, and I told her what I was looking for.  As she was assessing the project in front of her, me, she said, “Well let’s see what we can do.  You have shoulders like a football player.”  I was crest fallen.  Yes,I had inherited my father”s broad shoulders.  The envy of my brothers, and apparently not a positive feature, when buying a dress.  I had my mother”s big feet and my father’s linebacker shoulders…. not an ideal self image for a young woman.  

This is the thing though, I really had no idea that these features were something undesirable, until somebody told me they were.  So now getting a dress became about identifying as a football player…I already had been told that big feet were not ideal. 

Why do we do this to ourselves and each other.  My shoulders  were God’s idea, not mine, they are something of my Dad’s that I will have forever.  A gift, a memento of sorts.  

I have so many blessings, why focus on this trait that someone, somewhere decided should be scoffed at. 

A Priest once said, if you feel envious, ask God to help you see your own gifts…. hmmm…it kind of makes my big feet and broad shoulders seem like an ungrateful complaint. Like when children say they’re bored, and Mom says, “Well I guess these toys can go to Goodwill then if they bore you.”   Maybe it’s just perspective  I lack.  

Inspiring Thoughts

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
St. Francis de Sales

“Keep your soul at peace, in order to be able to be attentive and very faithful to the inner movement of the Holy Spirit.”
Saint Peter Julian Eymard

The Sound Of Silence

If you’ve ever been in a quiet neighborhood, or even more so in the woods, after a heavy snow, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.  When blankets of white, grace the branches of the trees, and cover the ground.  It feels almost sacred, like the snow shouldn’t be disrupted by man, and there is a tangible silence.  The world is still spinning, nature still moves, but it feels like time has stopped for just that moment.  It is a magnificently beautiful experience that I cherish.  

In reality snow is actually a natural sound insulator, because of the pockets of air trapped between the flakes.  God, in His wisdom, gave us this gift of contrast to our modern world   It can be a little disappointing that the snow plows come, and the salt is dispersed, and we have to pull ourselves away from this pause, for work and school.  

Coming home from the March for life one year, traffic was stopped on Interstates and marchers were trapped in buses and cars.  Food, water, and gasoline were brought to the stranded, and several Masses were celebrated.  How tremendous that must have been, in the silent winter oasis that God prepared for them.

I’ve also experienced this same sort of thing, in a way, at convents.  If you’ve never been to one think about “The Sound of Music”, Maria didn’t fit in, because she was too loud, in voice and movement.  They moved quietly and slowly.  It’s beautiful, this constraint, the purposeful spirit of calm, it seems almost contemplative, and leaves one with a feeling of peace, just like the snow.  A void of noise to be filled with the silence of God.

Living silence in a very busy and loud world, takes effort.  Rushing and hurrying is loud, not to our ears maybe, but to our souls, and the souls around us. Retreats offer us this silence, but maybe we should take a look again at the religious communities. Maybe we should make silence for ourselves…just walking from the chapel to and through our task for the day…in search of that sound of Silence.

Bless Us Oh Lord

“Mom, it’s kind of hard, when I’m helping the younger kids, and you hug me in church,” said my 9 year old son.  I replied, “It’s ok, you don’t have to hug me back”.  Then came the daggers to my heart.  “Well, actually, it’s kind of embarrassing.”  Noooooooo, I knew this day would come.  I will certainly comply with his wishes, and not hug him at school, but I am sad about it.  I’m sad that my expression of love, has negative entanglements for him.

When we eat at home, we pray, and being Catholic, make the sign of the cross. When we go out to eat, we do the same, but there is an element of feeling a little awkward about it sometimes.  Our server has come to the table, while we are praying, and although they have always been respectful, at times, they get uncomfortable and don’t know what to do.  Is this uneasiness what my son feels at school?

Do I get uncomfortable expressing my Love for God, when I pray in public?  Does my Father feel that tiny sting that I felt from my son’s remarks.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with discreetly praying a blessing at mealtime in public, so why my feeling of uneasiness?  I have a pretty good idea, where it comes from.  I think its time that I dismiss it.

A Week of Saints

Sunday, February 10:  St Scholastica, Religious, Founder (480-543)

St. Scholastica, and St. Benedict were twins.  They lived very near each other, and met once a year to pray and visit each other.  The last year they met, St Benedict was preparing to leave, but St Scholastica begged him to stay.  He was insistent upon leaving, when his sister turned to prayer for him to stay, and a violent storm came, and he couldn’t leave,  Benedict cried out, “God forgive you, Sister. What have you done?” Scholastica replied, “I asked a favor of you and you refused. I asked it of God and he granted it.”  She died three days later.  St Scholastica founded a Benedictine Monastery five miles from her brother.

“I asked you and you would not listen. So I asked my God and he did listen.”

Patron:  school, books, reading, convulsive children, nuns, against storms and rain

Monday, February 11:  Our Lady Of Lourdes

On February 11, 1858, Our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. The Virgin Mary identified herself as the Immaculate Conception.”  Bernadette was sickly as a youth and her family was not particularly devout.  Bernadette described the Immaculate Conception thusly: “a pretty young girl with a rosary over her arm.” Her white robe was encircled by a blue girdle. She wore a white veil. There was a yellow rose on each foot. A rosary was in her hand. Through that humble girl, Mary renewed the faith of millions of people. People began to flock to Lourdes from other parts of France and from all over the world. The Church confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862 and the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes became worldwide in 1907.

Tuesday, February 12:  St Saturninus, Priest, Bishop (d 304)

St. Saturninus was the first bishop of Toulouse.  He walked in front of the capitol to get to his church everyday.  One day the pagan priest had him seized.  He was tied to a bull, and drug through the streets for hours, until he died.  A church was built, where the bull stopped. The church of St Sernin is one of the most beautiful and ancient churches in Southern France

Wednesday, February 13: St Catherine De Ricci, Religious (1522-1590).

Catherine was born in Florence and baptized Alexandrina. Her father took her to the convent at 6 yrs old, because of her great  love of prayer.  She took the name of Catherine upon entering a convent of Dominican nuns at fourteen. by the age of twenty five yrs old she became the perpetual prioress.  She is famous for the “Ecstacy of the Passion” which she experienced every Thursday from noon until Friday at 4:00 p.m. for twelve years.

“I adore one only God, and to him I am ready to offer a sacrifice of praise. Your gods are devils, and are more delighted with the sacrifice of your souls than with those of your bullocks. How can I fear them who, as you acknowledge, tremble before a Christian?”

“Think how much he has suffered for you! And he has done everything out of the great love he bears to his creatures, so that we may be prompted to strive to love him more”

Patron: sick

Thursday, February 14: Sts Cyril, monk (826-869) and Methodius (815-847)

These two Greek brothers became missionaries, teachers, and patrons of the Slavic people. Cyril refused the governorship of a district like his brother had accepted. Cyril withdrew to a monastery where his brother Methodius had become a monk, after several years in a governmental post. The bishop refused to consecrate Slavic bishops and priests, and Cyril was forced to appeal to Rome. On the visit to Rome, he and Methodius had the joy of seeing their new Slovakian liturgy approved by Pope Adrian II. Cyril, long an invalid, died in Rome 50 days after taking the monastic habit.  Methodius continued mission work for 16 more years and then as a bishop.

“That anyone could doubt the right of the holy Virgin to be called the Mother of God fills me with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and she gave birth to him! Our Lord’s disciples may not have used those exact words, but they delivered to us the belief those words enshrine, and this has also been taught us by the holy fathers.”  St Cyril

“You Yourself, O Christ are my all. For you I keep myself chaste, and holding aloft my shining lamp I run to meet You, my Spouse,” St Methodius

Patron: Europe

Friday, February 15:  Bl Jordan of Saxony, Priest (1190-1237)

Blessed Jordan of Saxony, while a student met St Dominic.  Inspired by the Dominicans he took the habit.  Upon the death of Dominic, Jordan was elected the Master General of the Order of Preachers.   Like Saint Dominic, Jordan was famed as a strict disciplinarian whose commitment to the Rule was tempered with kindness. To bring peace to the brothers who were being annoyed by the devil, Jordan established the beautiful custom of singing the Salve Regina after Compline each night.  Jordan was a gifted speaker, mothers would hide their sons as his zeal drew hundreds to the order.  He was spiritual director to his dear friend, Bl Diana, and much of his writing is preserved in correspondence to Diana.

“Enter into the joy of the Lord,” … “Then will all your sorrow be turned into joy and your joy no one will take from you,” for we shall rejoice eternally with Jesus Christ.”

 Patron: Vocations to the Dominican Order , against drowning

 Saturday, February 16: Juliana of Nicomedia, Martyr (d 304)

Because she was a Christian convert, Juliana refused to marry a pagan. She was thereupon imprisoned, tortured, and beheaded. While in prison, she was tormented by an evil spirit pretending to be an angel. Recognizing the deception, Juliana cried out, “Lord God of heaven and earth, do not desert me, nor permit your handmaid to perish.” She got rid of the demon, but it admitted to her that devils particularly suffer when Christians attend Mass.

Patron:  delivery of women in labor, against fever and contagious disease

Inspiring Thoughts

“He was in love with you before you ever came to be.  If He had not so fallen in love with you, He would never had created you, but because of the love He had for you, as He saw you within Himself, He was moved to grant you life”.

Catherine of Siena

Lucky Me

Today, I am a bit under the weather, so I have only a brief thought, and I’m lucky that I can get away with only that. I honor and pray for our priests, who celebrate Mass, anoint the Sick, hear confessions, council the sheep etc, when they are not feeling well. I am grateful, I pray for their health, and admire their servitude to God’s will and their vocation.

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