Short Note on Prayer

“Prayer lifts the soul into the heavens where it hugs God in an indescribable embrace.

Prayer is the desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not given by man but brought about by God’s grace. As St Paul says: For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf in a way that could never be put into words.” — From the Office of the Readings

What a great thing to keep in mind! That prayer is a gift. It is not my list of demands to God, but the free gift of a relationship with Him. He *allows* us to communicate with Him. He doesn’t have to. How often do we — do I — take for granted the fact that I can talk to God, and He can speak to me?

I have had it happen before where I am completely unable to string together a coherent thought, but have the desire to communicate something to God. But God knows even before we do, so the words aren’t really necessary; and being coherent isn’t necessary, because He has perfect understanding. This is not to say that we shouldn’t pray, because God hears us anyway. As the way we were made, God is constantly inviting us to respond to Him and to seek a relationship with Him. Prayer is a gift, but we need to cooperate.

May the Lord God bless you!

Lent – A Time to Grow Closer to the Lord

Just a quick note on my Lenten plans.  This year, I decided that I would have a 3 phase plan for Lent.  I wanted to grow in three areas:  spiritually, physically and emotionally. 

1.  Physical growth- I hate drinking water.  I usually stay pretty dehydrated, which can get me into trouble.  So, for Lent, I will drink 2 glasses of water in the morning and 2 glasses of water in the evening.  Not only will this refresh my body, but in symbolism it is not healthy to be constantly rejecting water, since water is life.  I don’t wish to avoid life or reject life, but rather embrace life.  So, I will do this in a tangible fashion and hope that it has some effect on my spirit as well (since we are body-spirit mixes, I figure it’s worth a shot).

2.  Spiritual growth – I don’t really have a problem praying or talking to God.  And most of my friends would probably say that I don’t have a problem talking, period.  However, in my relationship with God, I find it harder to hear what He is saying to me.  So, I will make it a point to read 2 chapters of Scripture each day of Lent.  That way, I am hearing His Word and not my words.

3.  Emotional growth – this may seem like a silly one, but I think it will be the most difficult for me.  I like to listen to what I call Norte Americano Booty Music.  Mostly pop, with some rap and dance in there.  This is not always the best thing to listen to, morally speaking.  I have brought it up in confession a couple times, wondering about it, and have been told that it’s not so horrible of a thing.  However, another priest has counseled that it’s not a good idea to invite sin into our lives (good plan).  And since the message of the songs are all too frequently immoral and/or degrading, I am going to fast from this music.  Since it is all-pervasive in society, I am technically saying that I will refrain from listening to this type of music if I have control over the music being played.  For example, if I were shopping at the grocery store or something and one of these songs comes on, I’m not going to go running screaming out of the store.  However, I am not going to seek out stores to shop in because I know that they do play this music.  If I am, say, in a friend’s car, I would mention this to them, but then it is their choice to keep the music on or not — I’m not going to force my penance upon them.  Until I have lobotomized my iPod (wiped all my booty music from it and replaced it with either good music, or more likely homilies and talks from my priests), I have removed it from my car.  Needless to say, the radio’s either going to be off or on Ave Maria.  🙂

On a side note, there was an article in the weekly bulletin, mentioning these bracelets. Basically, every time you find yourself saying something unkind, or engaging in gossip, you need to switch the bracelet from one wrist to the other. Because you physically have to move something, it will help make you aware of that behavior. A friend suggested this as something we could do over Lent, like a spiritual exercise, not necessarily as our official Lenten penances. I upped the stakes by saying that we should track how many times we swapped wrists during the course of the day, and then at night say a decade of the rosary for every time we swapped, for the intention of the people we spoke against.

May all of you have a wonderful Lent, grow closer to our Lord, and soak up all the abundant grace which He provides to us in this time!

God bless!

Joyeux Mardi Gras!!!

The time of the year for the world to show it’s seamy underside as we spend a day reveling in our sin, in our shackles, in our imprisonment before reconciling ourselves to God and following Him in the path to true freedom tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. But today, as we gather our beads and eat our paczki, we should be aware of our sin and of the way in which our sin binds us and restricts our freedom. Which is why I am wearing a prison-stripe T-shirt today. This is truly a day to rejoice, for it is the last day of our enslavement! Tomorrow will bring a new season of renewal and conversion. I love Lent. I believe it holds incredible grace for us — we just have to cooperate with that grace.

As an aside, there are certain ethnic groups traditionally spotlighted today: the Polish people for the paczkis, and the Creole people with the huge Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. As a little French girl with some Native American blood, I think that I should qualify as a Creole. 🙂 At least for the party, right? 🙂

Please remember in your prayers today René LaMourt, a friend of mine who passed away just after returning from a deployment at sea, about 11 years ago on February 28, 1998. Please also pray for Sheri, a friend of a friend, who committed suicide last Thursday.

Laissez les bons temps roulez!

I Have a Strange Sense of Humor

For example, take the books I picked up from the library today:

“Son of a Witch” by Gregory Maguire
“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living Catholic Faith: 101 Stories to Offer Hope, Deepen Faith, and Spread Love” by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & LeAnn Thieman
“He’s Just Not That Into You” by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo
“Sex for Busy People: The Art of the Quickie for Lovers on the Go” by Emily Dubberley (This I think will be hysterical! Completely absurd!)
“Benedict XVI: Spiritual Thoughts in the First Year of His Papacy” by USCCB

Update
The “Sex for Busy People” book? Ugh. Completely X-rated. I’m surprised this was available on the shelves at the public library. Yuck. Not funny. Morally offensive.

Current Thoughts Bouncing Around My Head

1. Yay! I finally have MY car back! I only have about 3 weeks left on my warranty (and the car’s only a year old! I just happen to drive A LOT!), and my little message display stopped working, so it was in the shop to try and figure out what was going on. I had thought it was just a fuse, but the tech said it had power and had a ground, so they want to replace the entire unit. Yay, warranty! Knock yourselves out! 🙂 The only bad thing is that I was without my car for 2 days. I am grateful that my mom was willing to let me borrow her car (and that she had Wednesday and Thursday off!). However, driving her car made me so incredibly glad to get my own back. Not that her car is awful or anything. She has a 2007 Dodge Caliber. But, it does have some characteristics which I found irksome.

a. My mom and I are the same height and everything, but she likes to sit WAY too close to the steering wheel. Since, I understand the pain and anguish of having to readjust the seat, I left it the way she likes it. As a related issue, she likes the steering wheel low, so that’s almost in your lap, too. Problem being that the top part of the steering wheel is right in the line of sight for the speedometer. Now, I understand that Mom doesn’t use those digits at the top of the dial, but for her daughter, Mario Andretti, there was an issue.

b. It seems like this car has much less visibility than mine. Wider pillars, smaller back window. However, her side mirrors are amazingly well-adjusted.

c. Her transmission doesn’t sound the same switching gears. So, I don’t know that I’m going too fast until the little needle comes out of hiding from the steering wheel, like at 95 mph. 🙂 (Just kidding, Mom! I didn’t have your car going that fast!)

d. Mom and Dad were irritated by the shape of the headrests on the seats…so they removed them. Now, the seat only goes up to your shoulder, and there is no support for my head/neck were I to get into a crash. That is more than a little disturbing to me.

e. Her cup holders are further down by the floor than mine and not well protected. It is much easier to spill my coffee. And, because of their location, you almost have to look down to put the cup back in the holder — which, hello, distracted driving. I made sure to evaluate my options for Starbucks-compatibility before purchasing. Just saying.

f. Mom doesn’t care about “options” in a car. If she could buy one without power anything and with no radio, she would do it. It just happens that the better leases are on cars which have at least a few options. Resale value is higher. Go figure. 🙂 Because she does not care, the clock was still at the wrong time (never changed when daylight savings did). So, I fixed that. But then, turning on the radio, I found it all messed up. Obviously, my brother must have messed with it, since the fade and balance were adjusted so that I was certain I was going deaf in one ear, and the bass was cranked up way too much. Not that I don’t like bass. But, seriously, when it is making all the plasticy pieces in the back of the car rattle — not the vibrational sound I was going for.

Overall, it was good, reliable transportation, and I am very, very thankful that I was able to borrow her car to go to work.

2. On a related note, I noticed yesterday that her passenger windshield wiper had hanging rubber, and wasn’t wiping very well. And, because it is expected to snow tomorrow pretty good, I needed to make sure I returned the car fully functional, so Mom could go to work. So, I faced the prospect of having one car in the shop and trying to find a way to get parts for the other car. I stopped by an Auto Zone on the way to get Mom (to pick up my car). I bought a new wiper blade and the kind boy behind the counter installed it for me! Go AutoZoneBoy! Thank you! I prayed that he would have a blessed evening and day today, for his kindness. Because of him, I was able to return her car in perfect condition, with a full tank of gas (okay AZB didn’t do that, but still).

3. “A lot of taxpayers’ money is going into Church schools and I think we should tease out what is happening here,” said Sheerman. “It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude, questions have to be asked.” — Courtesy of ZENIT

Oh, I getcha. Religion is fine as long as it’s not REAL. What they are saying is they don’t mind believers who…don’t really believe. What? I mean, if we aren’t to teach the faith, why not just have secular schools? Duh. Why are they surprised? It’s like saying, “Math classes are fine, as long as the students really aren’t learning anything. But as soon as they start actually teaching algebra and long division, questions have to be asked.” In summation, “Keep the dumb sheep dumb.” Thank you, Satan; I think I’ll pass.

Dignity of Life Speaker Series: Fr. Tad Pacholczyk – “Care and Treatment Decisions for Compromised Patients at the End of Life”

Wednesday, February 25, 2008
Following 7:00 pm Ash Wednesday Mass

Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D.
Director of Education, The National Catholic Bioethics Center

Fr. Tad is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts. As an undergraduate he earned degrees in philosophy, biochemistry, molecular cell biology, and chemistry, and did laboratory research on hormonal regulation of the immune response. He later earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Yale University, where he focused on cloning genes for neurotransmitter transporters which are expressed in the brain. He also worked for several years as a molecular biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church
47650 North Territorial Road
Plymouth, MI 48170
(On the corner of Beck & North Territorial)

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This series is sponsored by Gospel of Life Committee at OLGC. For more information, please contact Mark Renfer @ mark.renfer@gmail.com

Fr. Tad studied for 5 years in Rome where he did advanced work in dogmatic theology and in bioethics, examining the question of delayed ensoulment of the human embryo. He has testified before members of the Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Virginia and North Carolina State Legislatures during deliberations over stem cell research and cloning. He has given presentations and participated in roundtables on contemporary bioethics throughout the U.S., Canada, and in Europe. He has done numerous media commentaries, including appearances on CNN International, ABC World News Tonight, and National Public Radio. He is Director of Education for The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia and directs the Center’s National Catholic Certification Program in Health Care Ethics.

The Dignity of Life speaker series is a response to the crisis of modernity as described by Pope John Paul II. He wrote that the crisis of our age is the pulverization and degradation of the dignity and uniqueness of the human person. The speaker series address this crisis and hopes to offer concrete avenues to transform the culture into a genuine civilization of love.