Mary Undoer of Knots

Christ came to bring JOY;

Joy to children, joy to parents,

Joy to families and friends,

Joy to the sick and elderly,

Joy to all humanity.

In a true sense, JOY is the keynote message of Christianity,

And the recurring motif of the Gospels.

Go, therefore, and become Messengers of Joy!

~ Pope John Paul II

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Didn't expect that . . .

I resigned my Washington State bar membership today.  The yearly fee was due tomorrow, and I just could not see paying for another year, when I have not used my license to practice in Washington since 1999.  I have kept it up, because it is not an easy thing to obtain, and I knew if I let it go, it would take a lot to get it back, maybe even re-taking the bar exam.  I thought, maybe I might move back out there, I mean, ya just never know.  But today I could not rationalize the fee, knowing that I AM going to be a Dominican nun soon, right?  I will never use it again, so what is the loss? 

But whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith . . . Phil 3:7-9

Yet still, I found myself filled with a rush of emotion and tears as I clicked the last click of the computer to confirm my decision.  Are you sure you want to resign?  You will no longer be permitted to practice law in the State of Washington.  Once you click 'yes,' you will be logged out of the system and unable to return. 

Yes.  I am sure.  Click!  And then cry.  I am either a damn fool or this will be an amazing story to tell someday, the way I have given up every tiny little thing, one by one, without even one logical, rational reason to believe that any of this will work out....except for the grace of God and my half of a mustard seed of faith that He is the one who has put this desire to serve Him in my heart.  If not, I am foolish and delusional at best.  But if it is as I believe, then heaven and earth will move to bring me to the monastery. 

Still, there are so many things that have to happen, including yet another deadline I was not even considering until today.  Soooo many things to do in sooooo little time.....And no offers to buy my house yet. 

Novena number 3 to St. Joseph starts tomorrow.  Lord, have mercy.

Prayer for Priests

It is so important that we pray for our priests, especially as we see the Church increasingly under attack by the secular world.

This is a prayer I composed a year or two ago for the priests in my life.  I am always adding names as I meet new people or hear of specific intentions.
Please protect these men from the wickedness and snares of the evil one.  Strengthen them to give everything they are and everything they have for Your people, whom they are called to serve.  May they speak only Truth, and be worthy examples of Christ on earth, preaching the Gospel at all times, proclaiming it loudly when necessary, and never fearing the consequences for doing so.  Give them courage, Keep them safe, and fill their hearts with Your authentic love and joy.  Help them always and everywhere to be Your humble and obedient servants, through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Fr. Peter O'Rourke, Fr. Joe Fleury, Fr. Mark Swope, Fr. Mike McCormick, Fr. John Chmil, Fr. Ed Michelini, Fr. Alphones Perikala, Fr. John Kita, Fr. Greg Kelly, Fr. Martin Boylan, Fr. Greg Villaescusa, Fr. Ed Scott, Fr. Jim Nash, Fr. Killian Loch, Fr. Joe Hornick, Fr. Joe Manarchuck, Fr. Jacek Bialkowski, Fr. Vince Langan, Fr. Andrew Hzdovik, Fr. Chris Sahd, Fr. Chris Washington, Fr. Joseph Kane, Fr. Cassian Yuhaus, Fr. Thomas Petro, Fr. John McHale, Fr. Phil Sladicka, Fr. Ed Buckheit, Fr. David Betts, Fr. John Grimm, Fr. Jim Rafferty, Msgr John Esseff, Msgr. Neil Van Loon 

The Dominican friars of St. Joseph Province

Deacon Joe Roinick, Deacon Bill Graham, Deacon Leo Lynn

Bishop Joseph Bambera, Bishop Joseph Martino, Bishop John Dougherty, Bishop James Timlin

Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Archbishop Joseph Rigali, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo

Pope Benedict XVI

 from St. Faustina's Diary: 
O my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church .... give us holy priests.  You Yourself maintain them in holiness.  O Divine and Great High Priest, may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere and protect them from the devil's traps and snares, which are continually being set for the souls of priests.  May the power of Your mercy, O Lord, shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of priests, for You can do all things. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Gift

This day is a gift. Actually, every day is a gift. But some days are just easier than others, aren’t they?

Of course, a difficult day does not make it any less of a gift from our Creator. And certainly the saints who have gone before us saw great benefit from suffering when it is offered up to God and united with the suffering of our Beloved on the Cross. But some days, there is felt such great union with our Jesus, that is hard to be anything but extremely thankful. Today is just that kind of day for me.

Often I am amazed at what God tolerates. Forty years I endured that generation. I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray and they do not know my ways.” (Psalm 95). God and I both know He has tolerated plenty from me for at least 40 years. But I am trying, and God willing, I am growing closer to Him every day…..loving Him deeper and better and more authentically, every day……

Today I have a great sense of God’s closeness, even though I have not given Him as much attention this weekend as I could have---should have.  I regret this, as I had much time to pray and contemplate and read this weekend, after my house was clean and ready for showing.  I had no other work to do, while the snow came down outside, keeping things quiet inside, and yet I left Him mostly alone. Sometimes, He withdraws the feeling of His closeness to help us to grow in our faith, but He is always right there, like a Father who is running beside the child who is riding a bike without training wheels for the first time. And as exhilarating as it can be to take off, seemingly on your own, often it ends with a fall, with Father there to catch you and pick you up. I am grateful for these days when I feel Him so close, that I can simply rest, knowing He has got everything under control. I barely even have to pedal…..just keep resting in His Love and His Presence. It is so easy to surrender everything to Him on these days…..easy to give it all to Him without a fear or worry in the world. I relish these days. I know they can not last forever, but God, in His Wisdom, knows when I need Him, and He has been very generous with His gifts these past weeks. Thank You, Father.

It seems like things are coming to a natural end with my life in the world, so to speak. Even though I continue to be no closer to selling my house and resolving my school loans, the ‘for sale’ sign in my yard has all but stopped my phone from ringing with new clients. I am fresh out of money to pay my bills and the mounting bills from unexpected car, plumbing and dental problems are growing by the day. Still I have peace. God has always preserved me, and I fully expect that all of my needs will be met during this time of waiting, somehow, some way. I am telling anyone who asks, that I am moving to Delaware, because even though there is no forward motion, I know this could change in an instant—It could change today!---and I will be on my way to finally realizing my vocation to the religious life. I fully expect a miracle. I have no reason for this hope….no reason for this faith….no reason for this peace---except for the pure gift from God. None if it makes sense, unless it comes from Him.

I remember it was not that many years ago, that I would be crying and stressed if business was quiet for a few weeks, afraid of not meeting my obligations. It has never been this quiet, this long. But even as I am rapidly running out of time and resources, I am happy.

97 days and counting . . .

St. Joseph, pray for us.
Blessed Mother, pray for us.
Christ, have mercy on us.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blessed are the Pure of Heart

I saw Jesus today. I recognized Him not in the breaking of the bread, as those on their walk to Emmaus did, but in the breaking of the straw from a Christmas Nativity crèche, in the person of a small boy who embodied the heart of Christ.  Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Cor 3:16

I had an incredibly beautiful experience today, one which I will treasure forever in my heart. I spent the morning and afternoon at a Passionist monastery, first with a beautiful group of fellow Cursillistas at a session of ‘school of leaders,’ and then at our annual Christmas party for the nuns who have given us so much, praying for us and giving us respite from the world and direction for our hearts. I recognized Jesus in all these beautiful souls, from contemplative nuns to mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, husbands, wives and friends…..Soooo many people loving the Jesus they find in each other, and sharing the Jesus they find in themselves.

Once the party was winding down, and our time together was coming to an end, my dear friend and spiritual sister on the journey, Donna, asked me to come to the chapel to pray. We always pray in this chapel, where so much of our spiritual growth and awareness began when we made our Cursillo together in 2004, but this time, we were going to go pray at the manger, in front of the tabernacle.

Well, once we got into the chapel and made our way to the front, we saw a beautiful boy, kindergarten age, praying at the manger. He was alone, while the rest of his group was listening to his brother play Christmas carols on the piano. His eyes were closed, his hands were held palm to palm, just inches away from Jesus in the manger, while his lips moved fervently in prayer. We could not hear what he was saying, but he was absolutely undaunted by our near presence. He just kept praying and praying.

After some time, Donna went and kneeled in front of the tabernacle, while I watched him share his heart with our infant King, waiting to have my own chance to gaze at the manger scene. When he was finished and started to walk away, I could not help myself, I bent down to his level and asked him, ‘Could you do me a favor? Would you pray to Jesus for me, and ask Him to help me sell my house so I can be a sister like the nuns in the other room?’ He nodded in agreement and walked back to the crèche. Again he closed his beautiful eyes, folded his hands in prayer and began speaking inaudibly to Jesus. I do not know what he said to Him, but he spoke for longer than you might expect such a small child to do. And when he was done, he gave me one of the best, most warm, authentic-feeling hugs I have ever had. Donna and I were so moved, we could not help but cry over this beautiful, innocent, God-inspired child, as we moved to a pew and tried to pray. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8

Once we left the chapel, I took up a conversation with another friend, standing outside of the doors, and this dear soul came up to us. He had several small pieces of straw, I think three, and he gave one to me, one to my friend, and kept the other for himself. I was again overwhelmed by the generosity of this child, for I am a complete stranger to him, except for the Jesus that we know in each other. When another person came up, he broke the straw he had, divided and shared the pieces among us. And finally, one more time, another person came up, and he broke his last teeny tiny piece, and gave it to the rest of us again. I don’t think he ended up keeping a single piece for himself, although I received three---a larger piece, a smaller piece and a miniscule piece. I will save and treasure them always.

And so I ask myself, why am I so moved by this? And why do I feel as if I have seen this before? And so I contemplate it on my drive home. Of course I am moved by the pure sweetness and charity of this act and the unbridled generosity of this child, but I remember something else, something my friend Donna first reminded me of several years ago regarding the loaves and fishes.

Jesus did not look at the paltry amount of fish and bread he had when it came time to feed a multitude. He simply asked those closest to him to give him what they had -- nothing more, nothing less. And with that, He gave his people their fill, so they were wanting for nothing.

In the same way, it did not matter how many people came into the picture.  One bighearted child took what little he had, and made sure everyone was blessed by his kindness. And let me tell you, not only did I have my fill, but my cup overflowed. 

His name is Marcus, and he wants to be a priest.  What a grace it was to have met this child today, for yesterday, I signed a contract with Century 21 to sell my house, and I am again left wondering what God has planned for me. I must admit that I had about a 10-second moment of abject fear after the realtor left and I comprehended what I had just done, but then my peace returned. My house is all that I have and it is not enough to pay my school loans and remove the obstacles to my entry into the Dominican Monastery. But I met Jesus today, and he gave me my fill.  

And now Lord, for what do I wait? You are my only hope. Psalms 39:8

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year

A new year…..only 118 days until April 29, 2012.

Last week was incredible. I spent the week with my soon-to-be sisters at the monastery, and enjoyed such deep peace and rest. This peace can only come from Christ, and I am extraordinarily grateful. I felt so comfortable and at home. I wondered how could I love these sisters so much already, when I have not known them for very long, and soon I had my answer. The truth is that I love them because I love the Jesus in them, the Jesus who lives in them and works through them. He is my Beloved, so it is no wonder I would feel so close to these sisters who reflect Him so beautifully with their very being.

I have great hope that I will be able to enter the monastery as planned in 118 days, even though I am no closer to my goal than I was 2 years ago. And even though I do have great hope, it has only taken a day "post monastery" for the stress to creep back in. The contract for the sale of my house expired yesterday and so I am feeling a bit worried again. OK. More than a bit worried. But my trust must be in the Lord, even though the evil one is capitalizing on my weakness right now.  Mother of Mercy, pray for me.

The potential buyer (from the expired contract), is a dear man, and very sincere about helping me, but I must try to see what I can do now that I am rapidly running out of time, and he does not have the resources to complete the deal at this time.

The natural gas boom in this area has made for quite a housing shortage. I will call a realtor this week to see what the realities are for a similar deal as my previous buyer made, selling the house and everything in it for enough to cover my educational loans and mortgage, etc.   But this must happen fast, as I need time to close my office and make a deal on settling my school loan.  Time is of the essence.

If anyone is reading this, please pray for me

May this new year be the year that brings you and me, ever closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  God bless you, and Happy New Year!