Tag Archives: love

Seeking to Console

14492355_10104705101121664_5578315947801954111_n“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
 Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
 Where there is injury, pardon;
 Where there is error, the truth;
 Where there is doubt, the faith;
 Where there is despair, hope;
 Where there is darkness, light;
 And where there is sadness, joy.

 O Divine Master,
 Grant that I may not so much seek
 To be consoled, as to console;
 To be understood, as to understand;
 To be loved as to love.

 For it is in giving that we receive;
 It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
 And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.”

Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assissi. This prayer, attributed to him, is very well known. It is recited often, printed on cards, and is the basis for hymns. In fact, we recently sung this beautiful prayer during Mass.  While I’ve been familiar with the prayer for a long time, the part that has stuck out to me most recently is that second paragraph:

 O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

We all face difficulties in life. Whether in our marriages, our careers, struggling with illness, financial troubles, infertility, death of a loved one, you name it.  Not one of us walks through life without being touched by some sort of trial, big or small.  And sometimes these troubles seem to take control of our lives.  In those times when all our focus is on the troubles we face, we tend to expect a certain reaction from those around us.

We want the people around us to be better at consoling us, to understand us more, to show us love in a different way. We get frustrated when they don’t have the right words to say. Or when no matter how hard they try, they just can’t understand what we are dealing with.  And when we don’t find ourselves consoled “properly” by those around us, it can lead us to feel more upset.

The second paragraph in the St. Francis prayer seems to me to be a cry for help in just these moments. In the times when we think to ourselves “no one understand what I am dealing with,” this prayer asks God to help us realize that, even if we ourselves don’t feel understood, we can still seek to understand the pain of those around us.  If we do not feel consoled by the words of others, rather than letting it upset us more, we can pray for the grace to see others in pain and find the words to console them.   It is a prayer that takes our attention away from our own struggles and instead redirects the focus to those around us who are in need.

On the feast day of St. Francis today, I pray that we might all strive to be a brighter light in the lives around us. To bring peace, love, joy, and hope to those who need it most.  And that when we find ourselves struggling, we may have the strength to turn our focus to others who are also in need and to find a way to help console them, understand them, and love them, even in the midst of our own struggles.

~~~~Baby Update~~~~

Just to update all of you who have so kindly kept us in prayer throughout our journey of infertility and our miraculous pregnancy, everything is going very well!  I am 36 weeks in my pregnancy this week and while I have loved being pregnant and feeling his little kicks and flips, we are so excited to meet him and hold him in our arms in a few weeks.  Thank you again for all your prayers!

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Get Equipped

Things have been a bit hectic lately and I haven’t had time to write.  So in place of writing today, I am sharing a post from my sister Rebecca who leaves for her mission trip this week.  Check it out!

Get EquippedGet Equipped

Well my bags are packed and I’m Rpreparing to leave for 46 days to serve the Lord on Missions. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been dreaming of this moment since as early as 2008, and I have been preparing for this one trip since August. God has done so much for me in all this time, and I feel he has prepared me so well.

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Fortnight for Freedom: Witness to Marriage

Marriage.Fortnight for Freedom is a 14 day period leading up to the 4th of July where we take time to bring awareness to and pray for our religious freedoms.  It is a time to give thanks for the freedom we have, to pray for those who are persecuted for faith, and to pray that our own country will honor the religious freedoms that we hold so dear.  My parish takes part in this Fortnight for Freedom with a prayer service each year that incorporates speakers, song, and prayers for our religious liberties.  This is my first year participating and I was asked to speak on marriage.  I wanted to share with you my witness to marriage that I will be presenting this coming weekend:

The theme of this year’s Fortnight for Freedom is to “Bear Witness.”  I wanted to share today my own witness to marriage, what marriage means to me, and why it matters to begin with.

This July will be 4 years since my husband and I were married. When we were preparing to get married, plenty of people had advice on how to have a happy, successful marriage. Communication, compromise, making time for each other, and other things like that. Of course those things are great, but it’s something more that makes a marriage strong. I may only be married four years, but I look to the example of my husband’s parents who have been married 29 years, to my own parents who are celebrating their 30th anniversary in November, and to my grandparents who have been married over 60 years and I see one thing in common. They all had God at the center. It is God’s presence that makes a true marriage work.

Without God, there is no love.  God is love! We think we know what love is.  But one look at the cross reminds us that there is a love so deep we cannot begin to grasp it.  A love that created life. That sacrificed itself for us, even when we stubbornly refuse it.  The love of Christ is never-ending. Knowing that such a love exists, even while not fully understanding the depth of it, opens our eyes to the reality that we have so much to learn about love. We need Christ to show us how to love.  We need Him beside us in all aspects of life, in all our relationships, and definitely in our marriages.

Marriage is a gift from God. It is the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife. Marriage is more than the “next step” in a relationship. To me, marriage is a calling from God to live as husband and wife being open to whatever God has in store for us. It is not something to be defined or changed by us. It is a sacred and beautiful sacrament given to us by God.  Marriage is not just about the individual. It is about the unbreakable union between man and wife.  And for a marriage to remain strong in love, peace, and joy despite what life throws our way, that union must include Jesus.   With God at the center of our marriages, we may continue to grow in love for each other and for Him.

ALL IN

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“ALL IN”

This has become the rallying cry for the Cleveland Cavaliers as we have advanced through the playoffs and are now headed to the NBA Finals after an exciting four game sweep against the Atlanta Hawks. In those two little words, the team, the fans, and the city itself are daring to hope for the championship that we have never managed to win, while acknowledging exactly what it will take for us to finally make it all the way.

Cleveland has a lot of almost championships. The Indians have almost made it several times. The Browns have almost made it to the playoffs on many occasions as well. And the Cavs, well the Cavs hold perhaps the most bittersweet memories of almost winning for Cleveland.   After several years of being so close, the team, the fans, and the whole northeast Ohio region was angered after the highly publicized decision of LeBron James to leave Cleveland for Miami. The years that followed showed just how much our team had relied on LeBron as we failed to play even close to the level of basketball we had been playing with him.

After last season ended, LeBron announced he was coming home to Cleveland. The announcement was met with a cautious optimism. While the possibility of a championship was exciting, every loss, every “slump” and every injury brought back doubts that this may not be THE YEAR. That maybe, like years before, we just didn’t have what it takes to go all the way. When the playoffs became a reality, it was clear that everyone needed to move past their doubts, beyond what happened in previous years, and support the team fully. The team, the fans, the city itself needed to be ALL IN to make this championship dream a reality.

To be ALL IN playing the game or supporting your basketball team is great. Sports have a way of uniting people even under trying circumstances and a long awaited win would certainly be exciting and uplifting for the whole region. But in the end, it’s still just a game. When it’s all said and done, win or lose, it’s just basketball.

What things in our lives do we really give our all? Sports? Work? Money?   Family & Friends?

If the players, the fans, the whole of northeast Ohio can go ALL IN to support a basketball team, how much more willing should we be to go ALL IN for the things that are most important in our lives? To go ALL IN for the One Thing that is more important than any of it?

Basketball will come to an end. Players will come and go. We may be left with the memory of a championship or of another almost. And while it is nice to be a part of the excitement, to be ALL IN for the Cavs, we are called to something much greater.

We are called to be ALL IN for the One who gave us life, who forgives us time and time again, who fills us with joy and peace that cannot be found anywhere else, and who loves us with a love so deep that He gave His Son for us. To give to the Lord everything that we have without doubts, without reservations, without fear. We are called to trust fully in His promises and to give our ALL to God. He promises far more than a basketball championship. He promises love beyond compare, forgiveness of our sins, a joy that cannot be found anywhere else. He promises eternal life! And that is something definitely worth giving our ALL for.

Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart (Proverbs 3:5)

I will give thanks to the Lord with ALL my heart (Psalm 9:1)

You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, and with ALL your soul, and with ALL your mind, and with ALL your strength (Mark 12:30)

In the Simple Stillness

daisy-143186_640People want miracles.  They want to see instant cures and lasting peace.  They want to see the stars and the moon dance around in circles and for the world’s hunger to be instantly gone. They want to see something astounding.  Something that defies all explanation.   Something AMAZING!

People want a sign.  They want God to answer their prayers in a visible and immediate manner.  They want to hear God speaking and see Him working through a grand and wondrous spectacle.

People say that if they saw these things, if they heard His voice, if they had actual proof, then they would believe.

The truth is that God has worked miracles too numerous to count in people all over the world since the beginning of time.  Those miracles still happen today, even if we cannot open our eyes and our hearts to see them.

Miracles are little glimpses of Heaven, of the glory of the Lord that is too awesome to fathom.  But we do not need miracles to hear God’s voice and to feel His presence.  For even in the presence of great miracles, many saw and still did not believe. Beyond the miracles that leave us speechless, God is still there.  In every moment of every day, He is there.

The Lord meets us in the stillness of our hearts, in the silence of prayer, in the beauty of the sacraments.  He speaks to us all in a manner so beautifully and exquisitely simple that it touches the deepest parts of our souls and transforms our entire lives.  All we need to do is open our hearts to Him.

“This is how the Lord acts: He does things simply. He speaks silently to you, to the heart. Let us remember in our lives the many time we have felt these things: the humility of God is His style; the simplicity of God is His style. And even in the liturgical celebration, in the sacraments, what is beautiful is that which manifests the humility of God, and not the worldly spectacle. It would do us good to journey through our life and to consider the many times the Lord has visited us with His grace, and always with this humble style, the style He calls us, too, to have: humility.”  ~ Pope Francis

How Much Does God Love Us?

I am currently teaching the 2nd grade CCD class at my church. I began halfway through the year when the regular teacher fell and needed someone to step in until she recovers. I was a bit nervous at first since it has been a few years since I taught. But in the month and a half I have been teaching them, I have been reminded how much I love it and how much we can learn from the little ones.

Yesterday during class I asked the children how much God loves each one of us. One student held their hands out as wide as possible. One said “a lot!” And then one student said,

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God’s love is so wondrous, so amazing, so infinite. He loves us so very much. Enough to forgive us time and time again. Enough to look beyond our faults and see the person He created each and every one of us to be. Enough to give His Son to show us the way and die for us.

There are many things we do not understand. Many things in this life that can bring us down and make us feel lonely, scared, angry, confused or sad. But greater than all those things is the love of the Lord. So many times we try to find the answers to the things that trouble us. We want explanations. We want all of it to make sense. There are things we will never understand in this life. The one thing we can all understand is love.

Despite the troubles we may face, we can find peace in our lives when we fill our hearts, our minds, and our souls with the love of the Lord. When we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, we need only to focus on this overflowing and everlasting love that God has for each one of us. A love so deep and strong we cannot fathom it. A love more grand than all the stars in the whole sky.

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Christmas Music Already?

ball-2037__180Every year it seems Christmas creeps earlier and earlier.  And for the past several years, I would bemoan the early enticement of sales and decorated trees.  I refused to listen to the music until Santa rolled through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  For me, that was the official start of the holiday season, followed shortly thereafter by the start of Advent at which point we would really get into the Christmas spirit.

But this year, when almost a full week ago now I heard a local radio station had already switched to playing continuous Christmas music, I didn’t change the channel.  In fact, I didn’t even reach for the dial.  I just let it play.

Why the change?  Maybe seeing the Christmas displays in all the stores builds the excitement.  Maybe it’s the six inches of snow that has covered the ground and the subzero temperatures forcing us to break out the winter clothing, extra blankets, and delicious hot cocoa (not to mention snow shovels) earlier than usual.   Maybe it really is that Christmas music that did me in.

I think the biggest reason is that my heart is ready for Christmas.  More than  that, it needs Christmas.  Truly, we all need Christmas.  Sure the early start to the season is brought on largely by the materialistic side of Christmas.  But whatever the underlying motive, is there ever such a thing as too much Christmas spirit?  That spirit of joy, excitement, and hope!  The spirit of giving, of sharing, of love.  Is it ever possible to get excited about the celebration of the birth of our Lord too early?

I don’t think so.

Even as we begin the celebration of Advent in a few weeks, I believe that our time of waiting does not have to be a somber one.  It should be filled with excitement!  With hope and joy and love.   We are not waiting in darkness, but in the light!  We know what it is we are waiting to celebrate.  We know that God came to us that night in Bethlehem in the most precious and wondrous way as the baby Jesus.  And we know that He will come again.

I don’t have Christmas decorations up yet.  I haven’t started watching my favorite Christmas movies or baking cookies.  But I have enjoyed looking at Christmas decorations, shopping for loved ones, and, yes, listening to Christmas music (and even singing along!)  There’s something about Christmas music that instantly cheers you up.  The lyrics tell stories of love, of family, of the Lord.  Even the goofy songs make you smile when you hear them.  Hearing my favorite Christmas songs again reminds me of the immense joy that fills the Christmas season.  And why should that joy be confined to only one month?

Despite the fact that Christmas is still over a month away, I will confess that I am in the Christmas spirit.  Shouldn’t we all be?  The Christmas spirit is one that we should be carrying in our hearts year round.  Even if we wait to outwardly celebrate the Christmas season, that spirit of love, happiness, and hope should be with us no matter what the season.   So even though it is early, I think we all need a little Christmas.  And I am going to let that joyous Christmas music continue to play.