Building a Kingdom of Love

As Pope Pius XII wrote in his encyclical Haurietis Aquas,

Moved by an earnest desire to set strong bulwarks against the wicked designs of those who hate God and the Church and, at the same time, to lead men back again, in their private and public life, to a love of God and their neighbor, We do not hesitate to declare that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the most effective school of the love of God; the love of God, We say, which must be the foundation on which to build the kingdom of God in the hearts of individuals, families, and nations” (123)

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Reflection on Today’s Readings

Readings for Sunday, July 27, 2014

When reading the first reading, I was struck by Solomon’s unselfishness – his genuine concern for the people in his charge.  I thought of a mother’s prayers.  Most moms are really selfless and spend a good part of their prayer time imploring God’s graces and help for their children.  On the other hand, sometimes, we treat God like a fairy God father.  Gimme this, I wish that…   There is a really simple, sweet prayer that our teachers at school teach the little people.  It the five-finger prayer.  This helps us to remember to keep our prayers on the more selfless side.  I also like the ACTS prayer: Adoration first, Contrition, Thanksgiving and (lastly) Supplication.  Unknown

In the second reading, I was stumped by that controversial word, “predestination.”  I knew that this was something that Calvinists believed. This is a really good article on the Catholic view of the word predestination and the Catholic understanding of Romans 8.

Finally, reading the gospel about the pearl of great price/hidden treasure brought a few things to mind.  In a movie put out by the USCCB called “Fishers of Men,” a priest interviewed called the priesthood the “pearl of great price.”  I suppose as a happily married person, I could call my marriage – my spouse – a pearl of great price.  When we live our vocations – be it as a priest, religious, consecrated or married person – faithfully putting God at the center, we can experience a foretaste of heaven.  Our vocations, when faithfully lived can lead us to the kingdom of heaven!

Secondly, Jesus is our Pearl of Great Price.  It is only through Him that we may be redeemed.  Are we willing to give up all of these earthly trappings and luxuries – to live in communion with our Pearl of Great Price, or are we too caught up in the trappings?  Do we rightfully, fully appreciate the gift of our redemption, or is that something we plan to think about when we get older and (seemingly) closer to our death?  What if we don’t grow old?  If we don’t walk with the Lord throughout our whole life, what will we be missing?

Lastly, I thought of something totally random.  Pearl is the birthstone for the month of June.  June is the month that we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I was born in June.  I have developed a great devotion to the Sacred Heart.  Coincidence?  (I know – random:)

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Microchip Birth Control

UnknownContraceptive Microchip article

About a year and a half ago, our family adopted a dog who happens to have been micro-chipped.  I’ve thought about that being under her skin – how that must feel – if she feels anything.  I’m not sure how I feel about it.  I get that it would help us to locate her if she got lost.  That would be good, I suppose.   She’s a dog, however, not a human.

I am GREATLY disturbed by the thought of micro-chipping human beings for various reasons.  I tried to find a credible article about a rumor I had heard stating that European babies were going to be required to be micro-chipped in the near future.  Some websites said it was a rumor – a hoax.  My fear is that it is close to the truth – if it is not happening already.  If micro-chipping human beings comes to pass, we will be able to be controlled and kept track of on so many levels – even more so than is already happening through cell phones, credit cards and technology.  Scary, Scary stuff!

On the evening news last night, there was a story about a new contraceptive microchip that is being developed with the encouragement/help of Bill Gates.   It can prevent pregnancy for up to 16 years.  When a woman decides that she wants to become pregnant, she can simply go to her doctor.  The doctor will scan the chip, deactivating it, and she’s all set to go!

I suppose there will be many women who will think this is great – an improvement – an ADVANCE in women’s healthcare.  Please!  Women have been reduced to objects by the whole birth control mentality.  Women and men are free to be used “simply” for pleasure.  People think that they have been set free by birth control, when they have really become more unfree and unhappy than ever.  Statistics show that adultery and divorce rates have steadily gone up with the invention of artificial birth control methods.

Natural Family Planning is so beautiful and very, very effective.  It helps couples space their children as well as achieve pregnancy.  It requires both the man and woman to take responsibility and to put the needs of the other before his/her own.  It requires the virtues of patience, honesty & temperance – all virtues that help love to grow, not to diminish.  Most of all, it honors God’s plan for marriage and family.  It works with the body and the fertility cycle that God created.  It invites God into the bedroom and family planning instead of locking Him selfishly out.

You know, when we choose to do things our own way because we think it’s better, or because of fear, we miss out on experiencing God’s Will for us.  When we surrender to God’s plan for our lives, what we receive is something infinitely better than we could have ever imagined.  Can He be trusted with something as important as our fertility?  Absolutely!

 

 

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This Week is NFP week. What’s that?

A friend of mine is an award winning author and expert on the subject of NFP.  She has a great post on the subject today at Plot, Line and Sinker.  Please take a moment to read.

If you happen to be still on the fence about NFP, you can read about how my husband and I came (over time) to embrace the Church’s teaching on contraception – and NFP in my first book, God Messaging…Will You Accept the Friend Request? 

Frankly, natural is always better.  God’s way is always infinitely better than our way, and YES, He can be trusted with your fertility.

I wasn’t always convicted about this.  It was a journey – one that I’m very glad God took me on:)  (Sorry, I ended in a preposition – Yikes!)

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Reflections for Today’s Readings, Sunday, July 20, 2014

Today’s Readings

In the first reading, we learn all about the immensity of God’s mercy.  My concern in these modern times is that we depend too much on God’s mercy.  God is merciful when we are repentant – key word – repentant.  In today’s world, it seems as though wrong has been made right and sin just doesn’t exist in the minds of so many.  It is presumptuous – to say the least – that God will overlook all of our shortcomings and even “in your face” sinfulness if we are not sorry for what we have done.

In the second reading, I was struck by this –  I thought of how under employed the Holy Spirit is in my own faith life.  Here, Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit can make up for what is lacking in our own prayers if we but ask for His assistance.  I know that I pray a lot, but I surely have not perfected the art of prayer.  I am often lacking in discipline, concentration or even words.  I simply need to utter, “Come Holy Spirit,” and He comes.   We have a God who comes to us.  How great is our King!

In the gospel, the picture Jesus paints of the weed and the good seed is vivid.  Before we start thinking to ourselves, “Darn those weeds in our lives,” we should remember that at times, we can all be weedy.  When we let the vices within us squeeze out the virtues – If we can just keep trying – each time we fall off of the wagon, ask forgiveness, and then get back right back on that wagon – the wagon that will eventually take us to our heavenly reward.  The graces of the sacraments can help us!  I love the last line : “Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”   Won’t it be cool to shine like the sun??

Oh, this is how it starts, lightning strikes the heart
It goes off like a gun, brighter than the sun….:)

 

 

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Mozarella Stuffed Meatloaf

IMG_6120  IMG_6121 IMG_6122As a kid, I was never a big fan of meatloaf.  But that all changed when I discovered a recipe for mozzarella stuffed meatloaf.  I like to call it meatloaf surprise!

Mix

1 pound of ground meat, 1 1/2 – 2 cups of Italian bread crumbs, one chopped onion, one minced garlic clove, one egg, 1/2  – 3/4 cup pizza sauce (depending on the amount of bread crumbs you like)

Press the ground meat mixture out on a cutting board.  In the center of the rectangle, put 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.  Sprinkle parmesan and parsley flakes on top of that.  Roll the edges of the rectangle toward the center and pinch the ends shut enclosing the cheese in the center.    Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  After 50 minutes, you can drizzle a bit of pizza sauce and sprinkle a bit of cheese on top and run in the oven for the last 10 min – for a bit of pizzaz!  Enjoy!

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Finding Our Desert Place

Please read my latest post at NOLA CATHOLIC EXPERIENCE entitled “Finding our desert place.” Thanks!!

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Reflection for Sunday’s Gospel, July 13, 2014

Readings for Sunday, July 13, 2014

UnknownAs a gardener, today’s gospel – the parable of the seed – speaks to me.  I view this parable from two standpoints – one of the seed sower and one of the soil, receiving the seed.

In my job as a teacher, and in my interactions with people out in the world, I try to be that seed planter – someone who tries to live and to teach the messages of the gospel.  It is sometimes hard to accept that when you speak God’s Truth to others, it seems to have no obvious sign of effect at all – as though it bounces right off of the person and back to you.

We have to remember that we are not the Harvester.  Our job is simply to plant the seeds of God’s Word in our world, and to nurture them when possible.  The rest we must leave us to the Master Gardener.  We must always speak the Truth fearlessly, unapologetically, but do so with kindness, compassion and surrender – leaving the end results up to God.  We must respect a person’s free will, as the Lord does out of love for us.  We cannot force – but simply plant, and pray, and wait.  Sometimes the wait is LONG, but that’s o.k.  God is in control.

From the other perspective – that of the receiver of the seed – I see myself in each example given by Jesus today at different times during my life – or even on different days.  Of course, I want to be that fertile soil, nourished by scripture reading, prayer, and frequent reception of the sacraments.  Sometimes I do make my “dirt” a haven for the seed that is deposited there.  Regretfully, at other times, I am less receptive – more rocky or thorny – choked by anxiety or fear.

In the times that we are living in – a time when things often seem so uncertain, disheartening, scary or disturbing – it is especially important to be diligent about prayer and the reception of the sacraments.  We need all of the grace we can get.  When we come to the Master Gardener, He fills us with the grace needed to be receptive to the seed that He wishes to plant within us.  He wants to use us to bring others out of the darkness of this world and into His glorious light.  If we do our best to remain rooted in Him, He promises that our lives will bear fruit “a hundred or sixty or thirty fold.”  Now that’s something to be excited about!!

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Daily Gospel Reflection Link

Someone directed me to a daily gospel reflection site at Notre Dame University.  I have thoroughly enjoyed it and benefitted from it, so I’d like to share it with you.  It provides the gospel reading of the day, a brief reflection, a short related prayer and a link to the saint of the day.  Today is the feast of the great St. Benedict!   I hope that you will subscribe and enjoy it too!

Have a blessed day!

Notre Dame Daily Gospel Reflection

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Reflections on Today’s Readings, Sunday, July 6th, 2014

I don’t know if this kind of reflection will be helpful to anyone.  If it is not, I apologize.  I’ve been feeling under the weather, and it’s the best I can muster.  I will highlight the verses that struck me in the readings today and tell you what I thought or questioned when I came upon them.

Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion,
shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king shall come to you;

Our King did not summon us and demand our presence in His court.  He is an amazing, wonderful King who deigned to come into the world as a human – a poor baby – cold and frail.  Our King came to us in Bethlehem, and continues to come to us today in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar – the Eucharist.  Words cannot express the greatness of such a loving & humble – yet oh so majestic King.

His dominion shall be from sea to sea.

The Lord is in control.  He reigns from one end of the earth to the other.  There is nothing that escapes His notice.  There is nothing that happens to us that He does not allow. In the uncertainty of the world we live in today, it is such a comforting thought to remember that God is in control at all times and everywhere!

I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.

In the Old Testament, God’s name was considered so holy that His name could not be spoken, and even had to be “abbreviated” by a symbol in order to be written down.  In 2014, God’s precious name is used as a curse word on a daily basis in the entertainment industry, in the workplace and in many homes.  If it is not used to curse, it is often used very carelessly or casually.  We so need a healthy fear of the Lord these days – a want for His blessing.  We need to Love Him and treat His name with respect.  Keeping His name Holy is a commandment!  When did we become complacent about keeping the commandments – as if they were optional?

The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.

I’m counting on it!  I’m excited to be reminded that the Lord lifts up the falling.  It says that He lifts up those who are bowed down – Humility being an important precursor to the rescue.  Hm.

…but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.

It is so hard to live in this world and at the same time to keep our eyes on the things of heaven.  We are constantly being called to conquer our temptations, our passions, our greed, our pride – those 7 deadly sins.  The good news is that we do not have to do it alone.  The sacraments can give us the grace to grow in virtue and “put to death the deeds of the body.”

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.

I have been blessed to be a teacher for 25 years.  When I read this passage, I always think of the really little ones we have at school – the ones who are innocent, wide-eyed, open, affectionate, trusting, compassionate – before the world has the chance to really “educate” them.   Often the responsibilities of life weigh me down.  I have to take a walk with my camera and spend some time in awe of God’s creation.  Sometimes, I have to play with my youngest in order to get in touch with my inner child.  I know that there have been instances when my kids were babies that they looked up and smiled repeatedly, focusing on a particular spot.  They may have been seeing angels – who knows – their heavenly eyes had not been clouded yet.  The Lord wants us to be that open to Him – trusting and wide-eyed like a child.

No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

This last part always fascinates me – and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him - Who might that be?  Were those the people He healed back then?  Now?  Is He speaking of people who have visions and hear voices?

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Rest – yes!  I need that.  I suppose I have more learning to do, however in the school of meekness and humbleness of heart, because I often do not find the yolk easy or the burden light.  I guess that is where more prayer and more frequent reception of the sacraments comes in – aids in lightning that load called life!?

May God Bless You and Yours!

 

 

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