Get behind me, satan

Get behind me, satan

Some days, it just seems like nothing is going right. You can almost see the world, the flesh, and the devil trying to steal the best of what’s left of you.

In these circumstances, I highly recommend you look that darn spirit of whatever-it-is (defeat, depression, frustration, anger, resentment, pain, sorrow, unforgiveness, addiction, exhaustion … whatever it is) RIGHT IN THE EYEBALLS, and, standing firmly in the knowledge that you are the beloved Child of the King of the Universe, say:

“You want a piece of me??!”

And if the spirit of whatever-it-is dares to counter with, “Yes – a piece of you. That is EXACTLY what I was hoping for!” You can calmly reply, “Sure thing, buddy. Sure thing. But first, you’re gonna have to go through Him …

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… and her …

olg-dragon

… and him …

SMtheARch

… and allllll them …

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… and, did I mention, especially Him …

The Resurrected Lord
(Yeah – The Resurrected Lord – you know, the One Who conquered sin and death. Ka-chow!!)

… and a bunch of other friends and loved ones here on Earth who are probably praying for me right this very moment. Soooo … if you still want to bring this fight to my door, to my family, to my Church …

… Go ahead. Make my day.
(Exchange that gun for a rosary, and you’ve got the only weapon you’ll ever need.)

Because, devil, I’ve been bought with the blood of the Lamb. You have no power here. You’re gonna have to steal my peace, my joy, and the unshakable Love of my Heavenly Father from my cold, dead hands.”

Get behind me, satan.

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Go, Vlazny, go!

Go, Vlazny, go!

Quite frequently, I pray that our Catholic priests will be holy and true shepherds of the faith. Here is an example of our Archbishop leading the way. Praise be to God! If you’re not already doing so during this great Year of the Priest, please pray for your pastor, your bishop, Archbishop, and especially Pope Benedict.

St. John Vianney, pray for us!

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Serenity Now!!

Serenity Now!!

I don’t have any formalized medical training, but I’m pretty sure my head is thisclose to exploding.

My husband and I are a mere 2 hours away from leaving for our once-a-year couple’s retreat. I should be rejoicing. Except … I am so sidetracked right now, it might take an act of God to get me to be able to concentrate during our weekend “away.”

Thanks be to God, my parents are on their way to watch our kids … but they’re running late. Very late. And we need to drop off a meal to a family that miscarried at 5 months before we can settle in at the retreat house. Thank you, God, for my parents. Thank you, God, that my children are healthy. Thank you for our friends, for the hope I heard in the Mom’s voice despite deep suffering, for providing peace that goes beyond all understanding.

As far as the retreat goes, we have to be a “commuter” couple this year, traveling the 25 minutes back and forth from our house to the center at night and in the morning, because our 20-month-old doesn’t sleep through the night consistently enough for my Mom’s taste yet. Oh, well – at least we get to go. Thank you, God, that the retreat house is not too far away. Thank you, God, for healing my Mom of cancer three years ago and giving her the energy to help us out this weekend.

The phone won’t stop ringing. The guest bathroom has yet to be cleaned. I haven’t showered yet. The “how to” instructions for our kids’ care is done, but the printer doesn’t want to work. Oh, and on my way out of the garage this morning, I took a big chunk out of our left-hand side-view mirror. I am hoping I got all the pieces off the front lawn and that super glue will cover a multitude of sins. Thank you, God, for the phone, for running water, for a computer, printer, garage, home, and car. Oh, and a big thanks for the inventor of super glue.

There are a few other big things on my mind, too: I just heard that a couple who’s going to be at the retreat this weekend just lost their adult daughter suddenly. Thank you, God, for the gift of life. Thank you for the gift of friendship. Thank you for your healing and saving power.

I have a big meeting with a client Monday morning after the retreat. Probably going to have to prep for that Sunday night after the retreat. I have a panel interview for a short-term full-time job the Monday afternoon after the retreat. Probably going to have to prep for that Sunday night after the retreat, too. So much for basking in the “mountaintop” experience of our retreat! Thank you, God, for the opportunity to earn money to support my family, however far from ideal our economic circumstances might be.

We got a letter from the IRS Wednesday telling us we own $35,000 in back taxes from 2008, which is hilarious, because I don’t think we even made $35,000 in 2008. Seems my former employer put a “comma” where there should have been a “decimal point,” and I made upwards of $80,000 instead of $8,000. Getting out of this mess will take a stack of paperwork and a lot of time that we don’t have right now. Thank you, God, for the gift of humor, perseverance, and patience. Help us, Lord, to get this cleared up soon so we can get our Federal tax return in the bank.

The financial aid paperwork deadline for school this Fall is looming overhead, and … and … and …

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus beckons:

“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 your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the gift of your Word. I am starting to slow down … I am starting to listen …

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The sugar wars – who will win?

The sugar wars – who will win?

A couple months ago, the associate pastor at our church announced that he would be taking three months off to go to Mexico.

Now, before you sigh with envy and work to squelch your urge to covet, Fr. Pablo isn’t off to bask in the luxury of taskless relaxation in Cabo. On the contrary, Fr. Pablo is probably working harder than he ever has, seminary studies included. You see, Fr. Pablo is currently facing his personal struggle with food by participating in a health management boot camp of sorts.

The bulletin announcement, written by Fr. Pablo himself, explained that, during a recent doctor’s visit, the M.D. was coming up with all sorts of excuses for Fr. Pablo’s health concerns. The doctor, in his attempts to be kind and “sensitive” to Fr.’s feelings, failed to address the proverbial elephant in the room, which was Fr. Pablo’s dangerous weight as the cause for his various ailments.

After reading the announcement, I was so proud of Fr. Pablo. Proud of him for confronting his demons. Proud of him for being courageous enough to share his struggles with us. Proud of him for knowing that these struggles, once overcome, would help him to better-attend to his vocation.

I also felt a bit convicted by Fr. Pablo’s forthrightness, to be honest.  You see, God has been talking to me about my health for some time now. While pregnant with and nursing my three children over the past 6 years, I had given myself permission to not monitor my food intake. “Oh, I’m eating for two,” I’d say, rationalizing the extra helping of dessert or bread or whatever. I wasn’t really thinking of the baby’s – or my own – real needs. I was thinking of my how good it felt to eat three or more scoops of ice cream or some other dessert on a regular basis.

Only, it wasn’t really feeling good anymore.  Small allowances became habits, and then cravings. I’d overeat, then hate myself for doing it, then eat to make myself feel better, only to start the cycle all over again. 

This spring, I was hospitalized several times due to complications from kidney stones. I had two procedures and missed about a month of my “regular” life. Mercifully, I was able to recognize these incidences as a gift from God – a clear sign to change  my unhealthy ways. I needed a better diet, more water, and more exercise. Sure, I tried for a while to “do better” (perhaps a week or two), but inevitably, I slipped back to old habits and probably caused God to give Himself an open-palmed slap to the forehead while rolling His eyes.

I saw Fr. Pablo’s commitment as a new opportunity for conversion. I reasoned that if Fr. Pablo could make some changes in his life, so could I. To my husband’s overwhelming delight (he’s been on my case for years), I decided to give up sugar as a sign of solidarity with and support for Fr. Pablo. No sugar means: no dessert, no sugary snacks, no soda, no sugary coffee drinks (AK!), etc.  Every time I think of sugar, desire sugar, am around or in close proximity of sugar, etc., I pray for Fr. Pablo’s success in his endeavor to win his health back. I also pray that with each small “no,” God will help me detach myself from, truly, a relationship that had become disordered.

“Great timing,” an acquaintance said, when I explained my plans. “Do you understand you’ll be going through Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas? That means no Halloween candy, no pumpkin or apple pie, no candy canes or sugar cookies or fudge?” She looked at me like I was crazy. She laughed as she added, “Let me remember you the way you were,” implying that there was no way I’d be happy without chocolate.

Well, it’s been 36 days so far. Halloween, with its bowls of Reese’s peanut butter cups and Tootsie rolls has come and gone, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I wish I could say that saying “no” to sugar has become easier. I wish I could also say that I have lost 20 pounds. I CAN say, though, that I think I have more energy now to chase my kids around. And I think my complexion might have improved. More importantly, I know that with God’s help and by His grace, I can use my small sacrifices to help another. And I CAN overcome anything through Christ who strengthens me – even sugar.

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Will the REAL Catholic Shepherds please stand up?

Will the REAL Catholic Shepherds please stand up?

As we celebrate the year of the priest and the month of saints and souls in November, let us please take the time to genuinely encourage those shepherds who are speaking the Truth of the Catholic faith in love. Now, more than ever, we need authentic shepherds to guide our flock.

Please take a moment to read and consider the following words taken from a column by Bishop Robert W. Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. It originally appeared in The Catholic Key before last year’s Presidential Election. I hazard to guess Bishop Finn’s words will always ring true. Deo gratias. + 

The month of November begins with the two great celebrations: All Saints day (November 1) and the Commemoration of All Souls (November 2). These feasts celebrate our communion with the “Church triumphant” in heaven, and the “Church suffering” in purgatory. Today I would like to share a few brief comments about what we have sometimes called the “Church militant,” the Church here on earth.

We, the Church on earth, have a very special challenge as participants in the grace and life of Jesus Christ to “fight” against the enemies of Christ’s justice and truth and light and life. We must be attentive to the demands of this daily “battle” in a peaceable but serious manner.

I am sometimes amazed at the casual manner with which Christians, Catholics included, take up our life within what Pope John Paul II rightly called the “culture of death.” The Church, by comparison, reminds us that we are engaged – by reason of our Baptism and Confirmation – in a battle, “not with flesh and blood, but with the principalities and powers, with the rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in heaven.” (Eph 6:12) Jesus Christ has won the ultimate battle, but we, in the course of our human life must make our choice, determining on whose side we will live and die. Whose side will you choose?!

What is at stake in this battle is our immortal soul, our salvation. My responsibility as bishop is with the eternal destiny of those entrusted to my care. My total energies must be directed to the well being of those who otherwise may come under the spell of a radically flawed and fundamentally distorted moral sense, at odds with what our Mother the Church teaches. There are objective and transcendent truths. There is such a thing as right and wrong. There is a legitimate hierarchy of moral evils, and the direct willful destruction of human life can never be justified; it can never be supported. Do you believe this firm teaching of the Church?

Did you know that in Canada priests and Christian ministers have already been brought before tribunals for preaching and teaching in support of marriage? They are charged with “hate speech” against homosexuality. In light of the tyranny of choice growing each day in our own beloved country, we ought to be ready for similar attacks on religious freedom. We must not fail to preach the Gospel. We can not withhold the truth of our faith. That is why I will never be silent about human life. It is why I am proud of so many others – bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity – who are not afraid to speak out about the values that matter most. What about you?!

Our Lord told His apostles that they would be hated by the world, just as He was. Nearly all of them died a martyr’s death. As warriors in the Church militant, we must never resort to violence. But we must stand up fearlessly against the agents of death, the enemies of human life. Human beings are not Satan, but we know too well that they can come under his spell. They can become willing agents of death, numbed and poisoned in this culture of death. What about you?!

As we begin this month of November, the month of the Church, let us call upon the Saints to inspire us, befriend us, and pray for us. Let us offer many prayers and sacrifices for the poor souls who have gone before us. They need our meritorious suffrages to help them reach heaven. And let us resolve to be warriors of the Church militant; warriors with our eyes fixed on heaven. Let us ask God’s mercy and strength to persevere in our call – individual and collective – to holiness. Mary, Mother of the Church, Pray for us!

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