Sunday, February 25, 2007

How to live to 95 and enjoy it

Recently I went to Buffalo, NY, to celebrate the 95th birthday of "Grams" Wickenhiser, the mother of Sr. Mary David and Sr Mary Mark. Over the years I've gotten to be part of the family.
Grams is a great example of how living a Catholic family life can lead a person to great holiness. Her own mother died when she was in her young teens, so she took over raising the rest of her siblings while her father went to work. Even after she got married, she invited some of them to live with her while she raised her own six children (this was during the depression so things were very tough).
She ran a grocery store and knew how to manage money. The matriarch of the family, everyone would go to her when they needed help. And she would always help whoever needed it.
Grams has a wonderfully strong faith. It has been the bedrock of her life and she has always lived it out.
For many years when she was able to, she faithfully went to daily Mass. She can't do that anymore but she prays every day for all who need it.
How did she manage to live so long in such a vibrant way? Certainly it has been because of her faith and great attitude. She's a fighter who doesn't let things get her down. Throughout her life she's always thought of other people. At 95 she is still mentally alert. As she puts it, "I just thank God that I have all my marbles and I know what I'm doing."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Keep looking at Jesus

The following is a beautiful comment that was left by Fr. Gregory--I post it here so it can be more easily seen:

"When I was a child at home in Maine, my cousins and I used to play a game in the snow. We would attempt to walk from my backyard to the woods behind my house, the winner was the one who could keep the straightest line in the snow. It was a distance of 70-80 yards...a long walk for small children. My cousin, Donna, who was the smallest and youngest always won. So one day, I asked her: "How come you always win this game?" And she replied: "It's easy while all of you are watching your feet, I pick out a tree in the distance and keep my eyes on it...and so I win because I always have the straightest line."


I was reflecting on this today...as I (we) prepare for Lent. If we keep our eyes on Christ and His Most Holy Mother...rather than looking down at our 'feet in the snows of sin and failure' (God knows how we love to look at our own prints!) perhaps we might also make a 'straighter' line through our Christian life...and reach OUR goal (salvation) and win by His grace?


O Lord give us the sobriety necessary for the Lenten Fast...that recollected, we may repent of all our failures and grievous sins...and may yet have that image restored to us of our baptismal innocence that we so desire!"

Choose life!

Thursday after Ash Wednesday


“I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.... Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (Deut 30: 15, 19)


“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Lk 9:23–25)


These first days of Lent are like an “orientation” to give us a direction for the entire season. God gives us a choice, and invites us to choose life. Paradoxically, to choose life does mean to choose the cross. Jesus turned our human standards upside down. The cross brings life.


Mary chose life when she gave of herself to bring Jesus into the world. It led her to Calvary. But it also led her to the fullness of life and happiness. Now from heaven she intercedes for us so that we might always choose life.

“Our Lady was for St Ignatius the one who chose, in a free and loving maner, what God chose for her.” (Fr. Kolvenbach, superior general of the Jesuits)


Prayer

Mary, help me today to always choose the good, just as you did. Help me to choose life for myself and others.

© 2007, Daughters of St. Paul

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lent with Mary Day by Day

Ash Wednesday reflection

“We urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, ‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’ See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! (2 Cor 6:1–2).

At every moment of our lives, God invites us to accept his offer of grace. No matter how we might have messed up our lives in the past, God offers us a future full of hope. Mary accepted God’s invitation to become the Mother of his Son. She didn’t know what the future would hold, but she did know that God would be there with her. That was enough.


Prayer

Mary, help me to accept the grace of conversion that God is offering me this Lent. Help me to say “yes” to his invitation, so that this day might become for me a “day of salvation.”

© 2007, Daughters of St. Paul

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lent and prayer

In our Catholic tradition, there are three main penances for Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Lent is a great time to renew our personal life of prayer. The first thing to do is simply to pray, no matter how. Even if it seems badly done or a waste of time, it's important just to carve some regular time out of our day and spend it with the Lord in prayer.

It's like keeping an appointment. A reliable person shows up for appointments, barring some unusual circumstance. Prayer is a daily appointment with the Lord.

The most important thing about prayer is simply to show up. Then God will do the rest.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Behold the Lamb of God...who takes away the sins of the world!"

Has it ever happened to you that something you've heard hundreds or thousands of times all of a sudden strikes you as if you had never heard it before?

This morning at Mass that happened to me at the Lamb of God. When the priest held up the host and said "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world," it hit me all of a sudden. Jesus takes away our sins. Of course I have known that and believed that my whole Catholic life. Yet, those words suddenly penetrated my heart in a very special way. It was like I had a felt experience of them. I felt clean. I knew Jesus had cleansed me of my sins.

Sometimes it's so easy to be down on ourselves and bemoan the fact that we are sinners. Yes, we are sinners. But Jesus knows how to deal with sin. He has cleansed us so that we really are washed, sanctified, justified. In the Book of Acts, when Peter had the vision of all foods being clean, the angel told him, "What God has sanctified you are not to call unclean."

That goes for ourselves, too!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Radio Notre Dame

I found an internet radio station in French that I like a lot: Radio Notre Dame. I've been wanting to learn some French and I thought listening to it on the radio is an easy way to get the sound of the language even if I don't understand everything.
This radio station is a Catholic one in Paris, and they broadcast wonderful religious programs, including Gregorian chant, the rosary, etc.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lent's coming up

Lent will arrive next week. I need to start thinking about it now so that I'll at least be a little prepared.

It's always been the Church's custom to focus on three things in Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Those are the ways that we can set our lives in order if things have gotten off track a bit.

Our Founder, Bl. James, gave us Daughters of St. Paul three particular penitential practices: intense dedication to the apostolate, the practice of charity in community, and a third one that's very interesting: personal development at all levels. I think what he meant by that last one is that we should not be content with just being mediocre, but we should strive to grow personally, interiorly.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mary, the Model of Prayer

In a few days it will be the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. In that apparition, Bernadette saw Mary praying.
She was silent, raising her eyes to heaven, praising God and begging him for graces.

The most important thing about praying is to set aside a regular time for it every day and just do it. It doesn't have to be great prayer. Some days it might be impossible to do much more than sit there. That's OK. What matters is to be faithful to the time. God will do the rest.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The 60's singing nun

I accidentally came across this link to a video clip of the famous singing nun from the 60's singing her # 1 hit
"Dominique."
It brought back memories. Yet I was saddened to find out that she ended up committing suicide. I knew she had left the convent early on--before final vows. She got caught up in the crazy times of the 60s and after she left the convent, wrote a song praising the birth control pill! (The song flopped.) Later, in 1985 she and a friend committed suicide together.
Her real name was Jeanine Deckers. Pray for the repose of her soul.
Watching the video clip was a bit eerie--like the last hurrah of the pre-Vatican II world on the verge of collapsing. She looks like one of those angelic nuns from "Going My Way." But it was not what it seemed.
Perhaps the tragic life of Jeanine Deckers is a reminder that we all need the grace of God, always, every day, to keep on doing good, and that grace comes to us through prayer.

How to live to 95 and enjoy it

Over the weekend I went to Buffalo, NY, to celebrate the 95th birthday of "Grams" Wickenhiser, the mother of Sr. Mary David and Sr Mary Mark. Over the years I've gotten to be part of the family.
Grams is a great example of how living a Catholic family life can lead a person to great holiness. Her own mother died when she was in her young teens, so she took over raising the rest of her siblings while her father went to work. Even after she got married, she invited some of them to live with her while she raised her own six children (this was during the depression so things were very tough).
She ran a grocery store and knew how to manage money. The matriarch of the family, everyone would go to her when they needed help. And she would always help whoever needed it.
Grams has a very simple faith. Some of her interpretations of Vatican II would make me smile, as when she said "The Council said that when people go to Mass they should sit in the front pews." Well, that might not be an exact quote, but she knew that the Church was emphasizing the communal aspect of the liturgy.
For many years when she was able to, she faithfully went to daily Mass. She can't do that anymore but she prays every day for all who need it.
How did she manage to live so long in such a vibrant way? Certainly it has been because of her faith and great attitude. She's a fighter who doesn't let things get her down. Throughout her life she's always thought of other people. At 95 she is still mentally alert. As she puts it, "I just thank God that I have all my marbles and I know what I'm doing."

Thanks for the prayers

Thanks for all the prayers for the sisters who were in the car accident. They're doing well.
One was released from the hospital; luckily she had only minor injuries. The other one has some fractures but is doing well and expected to fully recover.
God really protected them, as the van flipped over a couple of times. They were also wearing seat belts. If they hadn't, they probably would have been killed.

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