I Cheated

Readings for Sunday, June 28, 2015

Unknown-1I cheated.  This week I had a conversation with a wonderful priest who gave me his insightful observations regarding this Sunday’s gospel from Mark.  I will try to share those with you, though I’m certain that I won’t be able to do so as eloquently.  Here goes:

First of all, the priest asked me if I noticed how the gospel was kind of segmented – It begins with Jarius, cuts to the bleeding woman, then goes back to Jarius.  I told him that I did find that odd – like the bleeding woman was almost an after thought in Mark’s retelling of these miracles.  Father said that he thought that the events occurred (and were retold) in this order for a reason.

We are like Jarius.  We want (at one time or another) help from Jesus – a miracle!  Jesus doesn’t cure Jarius’ daughter right away, though He certainly could have.  He invites Jarius to JOURNEY with Him – to walk the walk.  While on the journey, they come upon the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years.

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Her faith was so great that she KNEW that if only she could touch the hem of Jesus’ tunic she would be healed – and she was healed immediately.  The purpose of this (perhaps) was to show Jarius (and us) what is possible through faith and through total trust and reliance upon Jesus.  Jarius (likely) was awed by the scene, and this filled him with hope for what Jesus could do for his own daughter.

THEN the synagogue official  (or in our lives – the devil) swoops in to annihilate all hope – to tempt us to despair.  This happens in life, doesn’t it? – a lot!!  The official tells Jarius “not to trouble the teacher any longer.”  The devil tells US not to persevere in prayer – to give up.   Jesus says, “DO NOT BE AFRAID! Just have faith!” He travels to Jarius’ house.  He puts out all of the nay sayers.  Then Jesus takes the little girl by the hand and tells her to arise. Unknown-2

I find it interesting that the woman bled for 12 years and that the little girl was 12 years old.  Do you know that the #12 is used at least 187 times in the bible?  Theologians believe that the use of the #12 in the bible meant completeness, authority or perfection.  I’m not really sure how this applies here???

Fast forward to 2015:

All one has to do is turn on the television to see example after example of tremendous violence in our world today…  There are many opportunities for temptations to “go with the crowd” and to live life “the easy way…”  Our Church is divided…  Our world is divided with nay sayers shouting opposition to our Christian beliefs.  All of this can become quite overwhelming and gravely discouraging sometimes.  We must put ourselves in the place of the 12-year-old girl in Mark’s gospel and allow Jesus to take us by the hand.  Hear Him say to you, “Do not be afraid.  Just have faith!”  Remember that this is not our permanent home.  Everything is passing.  Everything and everyone.  Just lift your eyes toward heaven and MARCH ON!

This reminds me of a song my momma used to play when I was a little girl –  WALK ON by Tammy Wynette.  I knew Tammy had to be singing about Jesus when she said, “Walk on with hope in your heart …and you’ll never walk alone.”

Here’s another beautiful version of “Walk On” by Susan Boyle.

 

 

 

 

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Our Favorites from NOMA’s Sculpture Garden

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Reflections on the Readings for Sunday, June 21, 2015

Readings for Sunday, June 21

He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

As a parent, this passage reminds me of how my life changed wonderfully and profoundly when I became a momma.  I thought I knew what love was – After all, only a couple of years before, I had pledged my love and my entire life to my husband in marriage.  When I had a child, I learned a very important dimension to true love – and that is the self gift.  A good parent says, “No” to selfishness, and puts the needs of his/her child before his own.  We work, we sacrifice for the sake of our children.  Are we willing to do work and to sacrifice for Christ – or do we put limits on our love?

St. Paul reminds us today that Jesus died for all.  It is His will that ALL be saved because of His great sacrifice on the cross.  True love is not manipulative or controlling, however.  With true love, there must always be free will.  God loves us enough to allow us to choose to  live our lives for the sake of the one who died for us, or to refuse His gift.  How do we as Christians live our lives – not for ourselves – but for the sake of the one who came to save us from sin and death?

When we look at the world around us, we are bombarded with messages of “Look out for #1, Whatever makes you feel good; Put yourself first – no one else will;  You must have a perfect, youthful body and a fancy car, etc.”  As followers of Christ, we should be living counter-culturally!  If we were to be on the outside looking in at our families, what would we see?  Are we truly offering all that we have and all that we are to God to be used however He sees fit to further His kingdom?

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In the gospel, Jesus is asleep in the boat when a violent storm crops up.  The apostles panic and ask Him, “Do you not care that we are perishing?”  I think that this is hilarious!  It is so human.  Only a chapter or two before, Jesus had healed a paralytic, a leper and a man with a withered hand.  Had they forgotten about these miracles and the power of Jesus already?  Had they not just witnessed these things?

As human beings, we are slow learners who need lots of reassurance!  I know in my own life, there have been many times when God has miraculously provided for me and for my family, yet, I still struggle with doubt or look for another sign.   There have been times when I have tried to persevere in prayer, when in my heart I was thinking,      ” Do you not care, Lord?  Why won’t you answer me?”

I don’t know about you, but I find a lot of comfort in knowing that my God – the God of the Universe – can still the sea with just a word or a blink or a thought.  This tells me that if the waves are crashing in around my boat that He must want them to do so for some higher benefit.  Maybe He wants to test my faith.  Maybe He wants to teach me patience and persistence.  Maybe He wants to give me an experience that will help me to be more empathetic with others in a similar boat.  Maybe He is strengthening me for a job He has for me to do.  I can rest assured that the moment that the storm is no longer beneficial to my soul, the Lord will take it away.  That’s all I need to know.  That’s all any of us need to know!  Trust in Him – Just in Him!

theanswer4families.com

 

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Reflection on the Readings for Sunday, June 14, 2015

Readings for Sunday, June 14

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Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it,
every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.

As this month of June is the first real summer month here in the Deep South, and heat has really set in, I took comfort in this line from the first reading.   This is what my faith is like for me – a comforting place to land – to be shaded from the scorching rays of this world.   I am so thankful for having been given the gift of faith, and for having a loving family to nourish that faith as I’ve grown.  I am saddened for children who have received the seed of faith in their hearts, but have not been raised in an environment where that faith has been “fertilized.”  You know, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we’ve been taught that God has stamped on our hearts the desire to know Him at conception.  There was an AMAZING DISCOVERY made by scientists recently that further confirms this beautiful Church teaching.  Check this out.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praise to your name, Most High,
To proclaim your kindness at dawn
and your faithfulness throughout the night.

God is faithful to those who love Him.  We love Him.  Do we remember to thank Him for every gift and blessing that comes from Him?  Do we sing praise to His holy name?  Saint Augustine of Hippo was a very wise man following his conversion. He said, “Whoever sings prays twice.”  Let us have a joyful heart – a grateful heart – and sing, sing of our love for Jesus!  Let us share stories of His faithfulness as often as we can, so as to water the seeds of faith planted (sometimes buried deep within) those for whom we come into contact.  God puts people in our paths for a reason.  Let’s allow Him to use us to bring others to Him.

although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord,

Do you ever feel as though you don’t belong here – like you are somehow different from everyone else – like the world doesn’t understand you?  Then you are “doing it” right!  The world didn’t understand Jesus.  If we are his followers, the world won’t understand us either!  You are in very good company!  The earth is not our home.  We are in exile here.  We will feel totally at home once we get to heaven.  It is our home.  I love this song about the subject.  Enjoy!

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
so that each may receive recompense,
according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

Many Protestant Christians believe that all one must do is believe that Jesus is the Savior and he/she gets to go straight to heaven.  I wonder how they interpret this passage.  It clearly says that we will receive reward/punishment according what we have done.  Just saying!

Now, in the gospel, Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of God.  I began pondering this thing called the Kingdom of God.  Is it a place?  Is it a person?  Do you know that the Kingdom of God/Heaven is mentioned 122 times in the bible!  Go to biblegateway.com and in the keyword search write the words, “Kingdom of God.”  You will see every verse that mentions it.

The Kingdom of God means Jesus – that through Jesus and in Jesus God is fully present.  The Kingdom of God also resides in the hearts of men.  The Lord dwells within us.  We can either cooperate with His plan to use each of us to further His Kingdom on earth, or we can refuse.  He doesn’t need us – His Kingdom will come with or without us, but He allows us to be a part of the coming of His Kingdom if we will serve, obey and agree to be used.  The Kingdom of God is also made present in the life of the Church – through the sacramental life of the Church.  Wow!  There are so many incredible layers to this mystery called the Kingdom of God.

Think of how the Kingdom of God has grown from a tiny mustard seed during the days of the apostles into mighty mustard tree (not the herb that we make the yellow stuff from) all over the world today.  Yet, remarkably, there are still pockets of the world who have not heard the “good news.”  We pray for the coming of the Kingdom over All over the earth each time we pray the Our Father:  “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…”

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The Doyles in Destin

IMG_1597_2 IMG_1613_2 IMG_1631 IMG_1634_2 IMG_1644_2 IMG_1658_2 IMG_1675_2 IMG_1693_2 IMG_9225 IMG_9226 IMG_9273 Hope you enjoy some of the images from our Destin trip:)

 

 

 

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I know I’m his momma, but I think his eyes are striking!  Love!

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We really missed having our big guy with us on this trip, so here’s a picture of him from our last beach trip.

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What’s on my mind? What’s on yours?

ucm_slide_9aFirst of all –  I really did not feel like getting out today, but I’m so glad that I did.  I truly enjoyed my time with my kids, my niece and my friends from school.  We visited the very funky, very cool UCM Museum in Abita Springs, played in the splash park, then had an outstanding pizza at the always entertaining & delicious Momma D’s.

I’ve been having lots of questions lately, and the answers are not coming very quickly.  ( I am praying about them – well most of them)

1.  Is there anything worthwhile or morally redeeming on television?  What little there is – can it be worth $100 a month?  I was watching something last night on tv, got up, left the room to get something then came back.  The programming had changed.  What was on the Family Channel (Hello!) was so offensive, I won’t even honor it with further comment!

2.  How can we make cutbacks as a family to live more simply?  This world is so full of STUFF.  We don’t need so much stuff!  (And groceries are sooooo expensive!)

3.  Should I keep utilizing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WordPress, etc., or is it a waste of time that could be better used?  I joined these as an evangelization tool.  I suspect that the only people who are tuning in are those who do not need evangelizing (You know, preaching to the choir).  Sometimes I enjoy this distraction, and sometimes I honestly find it all overwhelming.

4.  Some of the walls in our house need touching up, but we are out of touch up paint – perfect time to choose a new color – but which one(s)?  Do I really want to spend my treasured free time during the summer painting?  Ugh.

5. Should I attend this 2 year program I’ve been “nominated” to take in order to become a commissioned lay church minister?    Am I not cooperating with God’s plan if I refuse?  Does He even want this for me?

6.  Should I cancel my YMCA membership or make myself go and use it?  I seem to have lost my motivation and steam.  I want a fit body, but don’t really want to have to work hard at it.  I’m ashamed to say that I lack discipline.

Guess I have more praying to do:)

Are you wrestling with some nagging questions right now, too?

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What is the Greatest Gift You’ve Ever Received?

When I think back to the most memorable, special gifts I’ve received, a few come to mind:

When I was a preteen, I wanted my ears pierced so badly.  After all, I was the only girl (or so I thought) without holes in her ears.  When my dad came home from a business trip, he brought me some pearl earrings.  When I opened the box, I was elated to see the posts on the back!  Does this mean…?  It was a moment I won’t forget.

On the occasion of my 16th birthday, my dad purchased a beautiful one carat alexandrite stone, and had it set just for me.  I was always bummed as a kid that everyone else had a gemstone for their month, and I had a boring pearl.  Alexandrite is a gem alternative.  He had it set just for me!

In my married life, I must say that my children have been my greatest gifts.  I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and that dream was fulfilled in three beautiful, miraculous ways – Joseph, Annie and John.

One Christmas, my husband ordered a special silver ring band with word engraved in Gaelic on the outside.  They read (in translation) “pulse of my heart.”  He tied it to the Christmas tree thinking that amongst the ornaments and lights, I’d never spot it, but I did!

It’s funny that 3 of the four things I mentioned here are jewelry related, because I’m not a big jewelry person.  My jewelry is very simple (usually inexpensive) and religious in nature.  Interesting…

When I began this ramble, what I really had in mind was getting you to ponder your greatest gifts and blessings for a moment.  A grateful heart is surely a happy heart!  However, what made me think to pose this question was the priest’s homily on the feast of Corpus Christi.  He proposed that Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is the greatest gift we will ever receive while on this earth.  I could not agree more…and the wonderful thing is that we have the opportunity to receive Him into our bodies again and again.  It doesn’t have to be a once in a lifetime experience.

Why then, do many people receive the Eucharist and not feel changed or incredibly blessed?   Jesus gave people free will during His ministry here on earth.  He respected people’s freedom.  Many people turned away from Him, unaffected by His presence.  He let them go.  He still does.  His real physical presence is in the Eucharist, but we have to be open to the grace of allowing His entrance into our bodies transform us.  He will not force His Will upon us.  Preparing ourselves with scripture, confession and prayer can help open the doors to that great grace.

On a side note:  The priest’s homily was very good – thought provoking.  In fact, I heard someone comment on her way out to her car how she would never look at the Eucharist in the same way.  Awesome!

I couldn’t help but observe, however, that some things that took place on the altar didn’t match the message of the homily that Jesus’ body and blood are the greatest gifts we could ever receive while on this earth.  For example, the chalice was a clear glass, instead of gold or silver.  Of course, if this was all the parish could afford,  I would understand that.  I know that the chalice used is typically the one that the priest received as a gift upon his ordination.  It just seems that gold or silver would be more suitable for a King.  ( I was once told by a priest that pottery is always unsuitable as it is porous.)  Also, I noticed that the priest drank what was left over from all of the chalices from the many extraordinary ministers while a man with a name tag “mass organizer” cleaned all of the sacred vessels as though he were drying kitchen dishes.

Actions truly do speak louder than words.  If we truly believe that the Blessed Sacrament is a precious gift – is indeed our King – shouldn’t we treat Him with the utmost respect, love and gentleness?

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Reflection on the Readings for Trinity Sunday

Readings for Sunday, May 31, 2015

This Sunday is the feast of the Most Holy Trinity – one of the greatest mysteries of our faith.  We say that our faith is Trinitarian – everything we believe hinges upon this reality.  While we know that it is a reality – one God in three divine persons – it is indeed very difficult to wrap our human minds around.  This is because we live on earth and have limited vision and understanding.  We do not see with the eyes of heaven yet.

Think about it this way.  Let’s say a  color blind person cannot distinguish between red and green but sees brown instead.  Does that mean that red and green don’t exist just because he/she can’t distinguish between the two?  No.  Our vision on earth is somewhat hindered in this way.  We will not fully understand the relationship of the Trinity until we get to heaven.

We say that the members of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit are one in nature or essence.  Wherever God is, there is the Son, and wherever the Son is, there is the Holy Spirit.

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At the same time, each member is distinct.  God the Father has no origin.  He always was, is and will be.  No one created Him.  Jesus was “begotten of God,” meaning that He came forth through Him.  Then, the Holy Spirit (as we profess in the creed) proceeded from the Father and the Son.  By becoming man, Jesus took on our humanity, so that our humanity could be raised up to participate in the life of the Trinity – He became like us, so we could become like Him.  The Spirit was sent to sanctify and guide us – one of the ways that God would remain with us when Jesus was taken up into heaven.  It is beautiful and amazing that our God loves us so much that He would want us to participate in the inner life of the Trinity.  We get a little foretaste of that on earth.  We will experience ultimate joy and communion when we are joined with the Trinity in heaven.

Do you know that our families (if we are doing it right:) are supposed to reflect the love of the Trinity?  As members of a family, we should operate as a holy unit.  We should also respect and appreciate the individuality and gifts of each of our family members.  When we live with the Most Holy Trinity as our top priority  and model of love, our families will mirror God’s love.  What a powerful witness to our misguided, messed up world!

“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty…God in three persons, Blessed Trinity”

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Do You Ever Feel Like the Devil is Chasing You?

Do you ever have those days, weeks, months or even years when you feel like the harder you try to love God and love your neighbor, the more the devil tries to stop you?  Do you ever feel irritated by your own skin?  Do you feel like the more you offer up your pain or trials, the heavier they become?

I’ve had that kind of month –  however I am very thankful that it has been punctuated by some very peaceful, happy moments.  Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and these happy moments are what keeps me going!

I believe that Spiritual Combat is real.  The war between good and evil – God and the Devil is being played out in our world today – and sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of that battle.  The more you try to do good for Christ, the more the devil will try to stop you – through negative thoughts, pain, irritation, despair – even illness. The good news, is that God has already won!  I’m hanging onto that!

Pope Paul VI, (in his general audience on Nov. 15, 1972) said,

“The Christian must be a militant; he must be vigilant and strong; and he must at times make use of special ascetical practices to escape from certain diabolical attacks. Jesus teaches us this by pointing to ‘prayer and fasting’ as the remedy. And the Apostle suggests the main line we should follow: “Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Romans 12:21)

What are some weapons that we, as Catholics have in our arsenal against the devil’s assaults?

*the holy name of Jesus

*the sacraments

*the rosary

*holy water and other sacramentals

*prayer and fasting – Jesus shows us this during his temptation in the desert

* the St. Michael prayer

*adoration

*Breastplate of St. Patrick prayer

This song, though secular in lyric, reminds me of this battle –   When you read the words, try to think of it as your relationship with the world, and wanting to run toward the Son – Jesus – in order to overcome it.

There’s a lightning in your eyes, I can’t deny
Then there’s me inside a sinking boat running out of time
Without you I’ll never make it out alive
But I know, yes I know, we’ll be alright
There’s a devil in your smile, it’s chasing me
And every time I turn around it’s only gaining speed
There’s a moment when you finally realize
There’s no way you can change the rolling tide
But I know, yes I know, that I’ll be fine
This time I’m ready to run
Escape from the city and follow the sun
‘Cause I wanna be yours, don’t you wanna be mine?
I don’t wanna get lost in the dark of the night
This time I’m ready to run
Wherever you are is the place I belong
‘Cause I wanna be free, and I wanna be young
I will never look back now I’m ready to run
I’m ready to run

There’s a future in my life I can’t foresee
Unless, of course, I stay on course and keep you next to me

There will always be the kind that criticize
But I know, yes, I know we’ll be alright.

(Writers:  Tomlinson Payne Jamie Scott Bunetta Ryan)

Here is what St. Paul says about this battle in Ephesians 6:10-17:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Suit me up, Lord!!

You know, I always try to be positive in my postings here, as my hope is to help to build others up and encourage them with my own stories and experiences.  Today, I felt inspired to share the not so pretty side of my spiritual journey in hopes that someone who reads this will know that they are not alone.

Stay strong!  We’re all in this together, and the Lord is at the helm of the boat.  Storms may come up and threaten to capsize us, however, Jesus is in charge.  He can, with one word or thought calm the seas if/when He desires.  This should give us great confidence and hope!

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A Prescription for Peace

imagesAre you tired of chaos in your home? Are you fretful over your children’s choices, their friendships, their relationships? Have you lost your motivation? Do your children treat each other disrespectfully? Do you wonder how you will pay next month’s bills? Do you feel angry or agitated toward your spouse? Do you feel depressed or despairing? Perhaps things aren’t all bad but could surely be better.

Maybe your family is doing great, but this sounds very much like a struggling family you know.   The prescription for peace that I describe in The Answer for Families has really been a life changer for my family for many other families around the world.

“In Dana’s book, she spells out the “answer for families:” the Enthronement. Just like the woman at the well, she encountered Jesus, and is now telling everyone about Him. St. John Paul II tells us, “When we have a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus, we can transform history.”

This book is so timely for the time we live in. It is a book I would put in the hands and hearts of my family members, friends and those struggling, looking for love. Dana tells her story – you have a story. Read the book, and let the love of Jesus transform you and your loved ones. Dana is inviting you and me to advance the kingdom of love. Pick up the book, and let Him begin.”

Gloria Anson, President of the Sacred Heart Apostolate, Inc.

a global movement for creating a civilization of love through the Enthronement

 

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