“The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive”

“The glory of God is in man fully alive.”  — St. Irenaeus

That quote is from Saint Irenaeus whose obligatory memorial we celebrate today. It is a powerful reminder of what God wants for you.

God wants us (YOU) to be “fully alive!” He doesn’t want you to just get by or to live a reactive life. He wants you to live a life of joy, peace, and confidence. When you live a fulfilling, faith-filled, and joyful life, you give God glory! That doesn’t mean a life without difficulties or challenges, but it does mean that God is with us no matter what.

"The Glory of God is in Man Fully Alive"

Unfortunately, sin exists and robs us of living a life that is fully alive. When we sin or live a life of sin we rob ourselves of God and we rob God the opportunity to shower His grace on us.

Some people thing that the 10 Commandments and the precepts of the Church cramp their style or that they are “good people” so the rules that don’t apply to them. That is completely not true. God gives us the commandments and the precepts of the Church so that we can live in true freedom – not the “I can do whatever I want” kind of false freedom.

But guess what, God loves us so much that when we do sin, we can make things right with Him through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession the gift where we can confess our sins, receive forgiveness and grace and begin to life a life that is fully alive once more! You don’t have to wait for Advent or Lent to go to Confession either. You can receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation on any given Saturday (or by appointment).

I encourage you, if it has been a while since you have been to Confession (or have recently committed a mortal sin), to get to Confession. I promise you, you won’t regret it. 🙂

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P.S. If you are looking to live a fuller, more intentional life, and can use some accountability, let’s chat to see how I can help you.

Memorial Day

I want to thank all our troops (and their families!) who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. During your festivities, please take a moment to say a prayer for them. Don’t forget those who are still mission in action or prisoners of war. May God’s mercy be on them all.

Happy Memorial Day

Should Your Teen Watch “13 Reasons Why?”

13 Reason Why is a Netflix T.V. series based on the book by Jay Asher. It is about a teenager who commits suicide and leaves behind a series of tapes explaining  why she made the decision to end her life.

Should Your Teen Watch "13 Reasons Why?"

Talk about this series has been going on all over the place, online and offline. There has also been some questioning and debate as to whether it is appropriate for teens, and if so, how young is too young?

In full disclosure, I have not personally watched the show, nor do I plan to watch it. It is not the subject matter, per se, that is the problem; it is the graphic nature of the show that keeps me away. Still, I think I have read enough and talked to enough people to lay out some pros and cons so that you can come to you own conclusion as to whether the show is appropriate for your teen or not.

PROS

1. It Explores  Important Topics

Over the last few months, I have been hearing about suicide more and more. It feels like it is becoming an epidemic of sorts. In fact, I recently heard of an eight year old who took his own young life because of bullying. This is heartbreaking. It needs to be discussed and the underlying reasons behind the suicides needs to be addressed. People must learn the warning signs and get those in danger some help!

Each week of this series is centered on one tape and one reason why the young girl decided to kill herself. And in doing so, it touches on other important topics such as bullying, rape, etc. These are things that must be talked about and we must help our young people find ways to deal with them in healthy ways.

2. The Characters?

Truth be told, I had a hard time coming up with another positive, other than the fact that it covers important topics. I decided to add the characters as a “pro” because several people have told me that they found the characters to be relatable, if not stereotypical. Other people have told me that the characters are too stereotypical and not really relatable at all. Go figure. I guess you will have to make up your own mind with this one. 🙂

CONS

1. There is no mention of God

Yes, this world has become so very secularized that God is taken out of almost every area of life, especially T.V. Thus, it is no surprise that it is the same here. I mention it here, though, because faith (or lack thereof) colors a person’s perspective and that is particularly true for people who contemplate suicide.

Life with faith is still difficult but a life without faith is near impossible. God doesn’t promise a perfect, easy life, but He does promise us heaven. And He does promise us a life where He is with us every step of the way. When a person of faith faces difficulties, hopefully he or she can lean on God and get the help to work through those problems.

Therefore, when a person doesn’t have faith, they don’t have that layer of support. They don’t always know who to turn to for help because they feel alone. I know for myself, before I turned to the Lord, when things were hard, life became very, very dark. I turned in on myself and there were times when suicide was an attractive choice. (I do thank God I didn’t make that choice!)  For a person without faith, every little thing can get compounded in the mind and internalized by the person.

I get the sense, from people I’ve talked to, that this is similar to the girl in the show. Even when she went for help she felt misunderstood and there is  no faith baseline to guide the girl.

2. It is Very (Too) Graphic

It shows everything. Many adults that I talked to had to turn their heads during the rape scene and the suicide scene in particular because they were just too “in your face.” One woman I talked to said she wasn’t sure if she was going to watch the last episode or not because she didn’t want to watch the suicide scene.

3. It is one-dimensional.

A couple of moms that I talked to mentioned that, although the show covers important topics, it is superficial. It doesn’t go in depth, especially in regards to the girl who killed herself. One mom in particular said that there is no discussion about the girl’s mental state or any kind of mental illness that came into play in regards to her decision. Apparently, this is also an issue with several mental illness and suicide prevention groups.

My Recommendations

1. Watch the Program Yourself First

Only you can decide whether or not your child is mature enough to handle the nature of this show (or the book). If you do decide to let your teen watch the show, feel free to fast forward during the graphic scenes or skip specific episodes altogether.

2. Watch the Program WITH Your Teen

Even if you think your teen can handle the show without you, please watch it with her. They may have questions, or they may not be able to handle some of the situations as much as you may think.

3. Talk about each episode

Don’t just watch the show and leave it at that. Ask questions. Go deep. Even if your teen is hesitant, don’t shy away from discussing what is going on and why they are going on. Talk about the characters’ reactions to various events. Talk about the mindset of the individuals, especially the young girl who committed the suicide.

One other note: be prepared to let your teen react the way she/he reacts. Your teen may open up and share things that may surprise or shock you. Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit and allow him to work/speak through you to your teen. Who knows, maybe this series – and the discussions that flow from it – may wind up being a time of growth for you and your teen (and strengthen your relationship with each other)!

Have you watched the series? What do you think about it? Have you let your teen watch the show? Why or why not? Please share in the comments. I am truly interested in other’s opinion about this series. More importantly, I am very interesting in learning how this series may (or may not) help our young people sort out the complicated issue of suicide.

P.S. For the record, my son is 12 so I won’t be letting him watch the show. Of course, that probably doesn’t surprise you. If I’m not going to watch it myself, I am not going to let him watch it. {smile}

What Are We Teaching Our Children?

I purposely do not get political online (or publicly) and I don’t plan to now; however, I feel called to share my heart. The events that have transpired since election day has been alarming and heartbreaking. It is also aggravating. (Warning: mini-rant below)

What are we Teaching Our Children?

What I am referring to is the rioting and violence that has erupted since Trump was elected. I am referring to the over-dramatic response by many, especially our young people – and not-so-young people. Over the weekend, I heard about someone who was verbally attacked just because she asked someone if they were okay (because the person looked upset and as if she had been crying).  I also read about a young boy who was bullied and yelled at by an adult because he voted for Trump in a mock election. On top of all this, you can’t go on Facebook or other social media site without being bombarded by anti-Trump news, protesting and riots.

So, I can’t help but wonder what we are teaching our kids. What is going on when college classes are being canceled and counseling services are being offered for those “adversely affected” by the election? Seriously? Are we really raising a generation of infantile, indoctrinated people with an entitlement mentality?

How about teaching our children about how democracy works? Or, how about we teach them that they can’t always have what they want when they want it? How about teaching them that there is disappointment in life and give them tools for dealing with it more maturely? How about we teach them how to accept defeat graciously. I see what’s going on and it looks like a bunch of babies having temper tantrums just like my son sometimes does when he doesn’t get his way!

Now, don’t misconstrue me. The disappointments and anger of Clinton’s supporters are real. They have a right to their opinions, and feelings. They have a right to be respected and their feelings are valid. And, they have a right to express those feelings. Just like anyone else. At the same time, however, those feelings need to be expressed in better and healthier ways. How is rioting and destroying property helping anyone? How does beating up people or ridiculing people with different opinions (especially those who voted for Trump) make a difference? Those actions will not change the results of the election.

If the Republicans or conservatives did half of what is being done, there would be no media coverage. Or if there is, it would be to bash them for not accepting the results. There is a huge double standard here.  But our young people! They have witnessed some the worse anti-Christian behavior, including Christian against Christian.

What example are we giving our children and young people when we slam each other (with our words, and sometimes fists)? What are we doing by allowing our schools to indoctrinate our children with anti-democratic (and revisionist) rhetoric? Why aren’t we teaching our children to have a strong work ethic and empower them to become productive members of society who can think for themselves? Why aren’t we helping them to learn to listen to and respect perspectives and opinions different than their own?  We owe them that much. We owe ourselves and our future that much.

The world isn’t going to implode or explode because of the outcome of the election like the over-dramatic babble would like us to believe. We owe it to Trump as our new President to give him a chance, as we had to do with Obama. And guess what? Many of the events and problems which the left / Clinton and Obama supports are so afraid of have existed long before Trump ran for President. Division, discrimination, economic problems, and other issues shamefully existed before Trump and some things even got worse in Obama’s administration (Obamacare has crushed my family financially & coverage-wise). So, for our kids’ sake, we need to take a deep breath and start thinking with our heads. We can’t let fear control our lives.

Besides, we may not know what the next four years (and beyond) will bring but we know that God is control. Therefore, I have hope. I have faith in the power of God. I know that no matter what happens we are in His hands. Our children are also in His hands. So, I will continue to pray. I will pray for President-elect Trump, all our leaders, for our children, and for those with whom I differ. I will pray for those who have rioted and have caused havoc this past week and I will pray for their victims. I will even pray for the media and Hollywood elite who are so far misguided and out-of-touch with common America it isn’t funny.

So, I will pray, pray, pray. Will you pray with me?

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You are Loved

Are you going through a difficult time right now? YOU are LOVED.
Are you feeling lost, abandoned or confused? YOU are LOVED.
Are you feeling angry, rejected, or lonely? YOU are LOVED.

You are Loved

Even when others reject you, neglect you, or disappoint you, YOU are Loved beyond measure.

Truly, you are loved more than you know. You have not been abandoned. You are not alone. In your darkest days, God is with you, even if it doesn’t seem like it. As St. Paul writes, nothing can separate us from God.

We may separate ourselves from God through sin or by ignoring Him but He NEVER separates Himself from us.

So, if you are struggling or going through a difficult time, take courage. Trust in God. Believe He is there. Know that He loves you.

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And, yes, if all is going well for you, if you are happy and “living the good life,” God loves you too! Remember Him, thank Him, and know that he shares your joys as well as your sorrows!

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Is God’s Love Enough?

Has God ever punched you in the face? Not in the literal sense, of course, but in the way that you hear something and it just changes everything for you?

Is God's Love Enough?

Image by brunoabdon (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Well, He “punched” me about a month ago. I went to confession and when I was done telling my sins the priest says (among other things), “When we sin we are, in effect, telling God that His love isn’t enough for us.”

BOOM!

For some reason, those words rocked me to the core. “Of course, God’s love is enough! I go to Mass, I pray, I go to Confession regularly. I profess Jesus as my Lord and Savior and try to do right by him. Heck, I even have a blog to encourage other women with their walk with the Lord! Of course, His love is enough!”

BUT, is it? Really?

By definition, sin is a rejection of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125 (1850)

Thus, when I sin, I choose self-love, self-wants, and self-desires over God’s love. So, yes, when I sin I am telling God that His love isn’t enough. I am telling Him that my immediate self-gratification and my self-will is more important than His Holy and loving Will for me.

Thankfully, God’s love and mercy is bigger than my self-love. He knows my hearts, all of our hearts. He knows that we are small and petty and foolish and yet He loves anyway. He knows that we will reject Him – are sins nailed Jesus to the Cross! – and He continues to choose us anyway.

Since that confession, I’ve tried to remember those words. When I am tempted to impatience, anger or other sin, I try to remind myself that God’s love is enough. I don’t have to choose impatience or bitterness, or whatever. It hasn’t been perfect. I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded. But, guess what? That’s okay! His love is even enough for my failures!

God’s love is enough for you, too.

Whatever you are going through right now, try to think of those words. Are you suffering or in pain? God’s love is enough. Are you struggling with bitterness, anger or hatred? God’s love is enough. Are you lonely? God’s love is enough. Are you out of work or facing financial problems? God’s love is enough. I promise, no matter what you are going through, God’s love is enough.

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P.S. Know that I pray for my blog readers daily! If you have a specific intention you want me to pray for, don’t hesitate to let me know.

ALL Lives Matter

The senseless tragedies of last week are weighing on my heart. It feels like our world is going crazier by the second. When will we realize that every person is created in the image and likeness of God and should be treated with respect? When will we start to “judge” people by their character and not by the color of their skin, or race, or how they walk, talk, or dress or any other external attribute?

All Lives Matter

Image by Passagere (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

And where is God in all this? Honestly, I have no easy answer. I wish there was no evil. Heck, there are times when I wish there wasn’t free will so a person could never choose to harm another person. However, I choose to trust. I choose to believe that God will bring good out of these horrible events.

Of course, it is easy for me to do that. I’m not the one directly affected by the shootings. I’m not mourning the loss of a loved  one. I’m not the one who was shot and killed. So, I’m praying. I’m praying for the repose of the souls of all who died last week. I am praying for the families who are mourning and demanding answers (rightly so). And yes, I am praying for the shooters and their families. I am praying for all who are affected by harmful actions of others.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You for the Prayers and an Update

Well, I didn’t plan on having a mini blogging break, especially so soon after Easter but I guess it was God’s will. It has certainly been a crazy couple of weeks! First of all, thank you for the prayers while my husband was in the hospital. He is home and doing much better, thankfully. He has to change his diet and get more exercise (don’t we all!) and follow up with a specialist.

With him out of the hospital, I was able to enjoy a trip to Virginia that was planned a long time ago. I went two of my friends and it was wonderful. However, with all that was going on, blogging fell by the wayside, but I think I can now get back on track. I will be posting the saints and feasts for May early next week, as well as the bible study. I also have lots of ideas for posts and I am hoping to start a Periscope series soon! Of course, all of this will be according to God’s will.

Jesus, I trust in you! So thank you again for the prayers, they mean so much!

Mercy Bible Study: Session 2 Reflection

Happy Easter! I can’t believe that Lent is over and we are already into Easter but it was so early this year. And, it’s not very often that Andrew’s birthday comes after Lent since his birthday is March 31!

Mercy Bible Study Session 2 Reflection

Image by ToniaD (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Now, what did you think of the session 2 bible study? It wrestles with why/how God withholds or grants mercy. This is tough to answer because we certainly cannot understand the mind of God. Father Mitch points out how many people and cities were slaughtered while the Israelites took possession of the Promised Land.

In talking about the judgement against Israel’s former rulers, Father Mitch says that their judgement comes from “the lack of mercy shown to the Lord’s heritage, Israel” (pg 38). He goes on to say, “the nation that does not show mercy to the defeated Israel will find no mercy from God” (pg 39).

Those are strong words and they brought to mind the words from the Gospel, “For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you” (Matthew 7:2)

Of course, God is not a tit-for-tat God who keeps nitpicking track of every action and word we say and do against another person. However, how we treat others does matter. It matters a great deal and the scriptures that we read for this session show us that in a big way.

When Israel was held captive by the Babylonians and others, they were treated cruelly and mercilessly. Their rules showed no mercy and thus received no mercy when they were finally conquered. From the lens of our world view, it seems so harsh and it is hard to understand why God would not only allow, but demand the destruction of those people. However, the world was (obviously) very different back then. The society was a physically violent one and the only think I can think of to reconcile this is that God accepted them where they were at, used it to bring them forward.

We see a progression in the bible, and in our own lives. The understanding of God, and of His mercy, had to grow, albeit, slowly until Jesus shows us the true mercy and love of God. And, we are still growing in that understanding.

This was a tough session to work though. What about you? What struck you about this lesson? Do share in the comments.

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The Secret to Holiness

(Repost but still relevant!)

Catchy title, eh? 😉 I don’t claim to truly have the secret to holiness, obviously. However, I think that as I’ve been The Secret to Holinessgetting older, I’ve discovered the secret of holiness for me.

In reality, holiness is nothing more than growing into a deep, living and personal relationship with God. We get to know God through liturgical and personal prayer, frequenting the sacraments, practicing virtue, reading scripture and studying our faith. It is living our lives in Jesus, and through Jesus, with the power of the Holy Spirit, with the Father. It is having our hearts aligned with God.

Isn’t that what the saints did (do)? They have an abiding prayer life – even when it is dry and difficult for them. They receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession, regularly. They practice virtue, often to an heroic degree, daily. They often have a great understanding of scripture and the precepts of our faith, as well. (FYI, knowledge of scripture doesn’t always mean being “learned.” There were, and are, many “uneducated” people who have great knowledge of the ways of God!)

The saints make no excuses. They are consistent in following the ways of the Lord. Instead of falling into complacency they actively seek God and work to serve Him. And, therein, for me, lies the secret to holiness: consistency. Consistency is key.

I don’t know about you, but I make excuses. It is just SO EASY to make excuses or to put other things first. I make resolutions and fail to keep them. I justify myself when I fail in virtue (he “made” me be impatient, because he won’t do what I want!). Sometimes I feel like I am the seed that was choked among the thorns (Matthew 13:1-23). I start out promising to be patient or pray more or go to daily mass or whatever; then, life gets in the way. Or, rather, I let life get in the way. I don’t manage my time properly or get my priorities mixed up. I’m inconsistent in living my faith, not only the way I “should” live it but the way I ultimately WANT to live it.

Is it a lack of faith? Maybe. I’m not sure. Maybe, if I had the faith of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), all the excuses, justifications, and inconsistencies would disappear. I don’t know. I do know that I need to work at being more consistent and focused.

How about you? What do you think about this? what does holiness mean to you? What do you think is the secret of holiness to you?

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