Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Scriptures For the Morning

As we enter into the home stretch of the 14 Day "Heroic Minute" Challenge, here are five of my favorite scripture verses related to the morning. In contemplating these it seems that there is a few consistent themes among them:
  • Our morning should begin with praise and thanksgiving to God. This seems straightforward - the very fact that we are alive to see another day is reason enough to praise God! Yet, more often than I care to admit, my day begins with something far more mundane than praise. The opening antiphon for the Liturgy of the Hours, to be recited first thing in the morning, comes from Psalm 51 and reads: "Lord open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise." Over the course of this challenge I have begun reciting that phrase as soon as I shut off my alarm clock. 
  • The Lord's mercy is available to us each morning. I take such comfort in this! With God, there is always an opportunity to begin again. Each brand new day brings with it a fresh start - another chance to grow closer to the Lord, to overcome our weaknesses, and live out the God's commandment of loving Him and our neighbors. If it is one message which has come across loud and clear during this challenge it is that I am greatly in need of God's mercy and assistance - especially first thing in the morning. 
  • Because of God's abundant mercy, we can be confident in placing our trust in him at the beginning of each day. This trust will provide us with the grace we need to face whatever comes our way during the day.
For the remainder of the Heroic Minute challenge, I would encourage you to select one of these scripture verses that really speaks to your heart. Meditate on it, journal about it and ask the Lord to speak personally to you through it. 

Please share your own favorite Scriptures in the comments box below! 

Interested in taking the challenge? Click here to find out more information...






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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Overcoming Discouragement Through the Stations of the Cross

Lately, I have been feeling discouraged about my spiritual life and all the areas of my heart that I still have not yet fully surrendered to the Lord. My prayer life has seen better days and I am desperately in need of a good confession, but seem to be doing my level best to avoid any and all opportunities to avail myself of one. The most humiliating part of all is that I am teaching a class on the virtues at my children's co-op and that has just served to highlight just how un-virtuous some of my day to day behavior really is - a fact that my 10 year old, who is in the class, is quick to point out....

The truth is, giving into the temptation to throw a daily pity-party complete with long sighs and lots of woe-is-me's is not an attitude that is likely to lift our discouragement any time soon.  I stress to my children every day that if they used the time they spent whining about doing their school work in actually doing their schoolwork they would be shocked at how quickly the work got done.

Why don't I take my own advice?

When I find myself in these times of dryness and discouragement, The Stations of the Cross is my "go-to" devotion.  There is something very comforting to me in knowing that Jesus himself fell not once, but three times under the weight of the cross. The fact that he was able, and willing, to struggle to rise again after each fall - knowing that what awaited him was crucifixion, is a great witness to the power of His love for me, and for all of us.  In moments of discouragement, I find myself lingering over these three Stations in particular; begging the Lord for the grace to imitate him and lift my face out of the dust of the ground to rise and begin the struggle again. This prayer, for the Ninth Station in Archbishop Fulton J Sheen's The Way of the Cross has touched my heart in a deep way.
Many times, dear Jesus I promised you,
after having fallen to temptation
by the flesh and the world,
that I would never fall again.
Your third fall, dear Jesus,
is a witness that I have fallen
by the snares of the devil.
But by rising again,
you have given me another reason to hope.
You have taught me that there are
two kins of people I can be:
a person who falls down and stays down,
or a person who falls but gets up again.
By this, your third fall,
you purchased for me the grace
of rising again each time I fall.
The devil would give up the world
to make me his own.
You gave up your very life
to keep me for yourself,
to show me that I am worth saving.

My flesh is indeed weak, but the grace and power that flows from the Lord's crucified body is enough for me.

What prayers, scriptures or other devotions have helped you overcome discouragement?  Please share them in the comments box below! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

October Daybook: A Snapshot Into My Life

Outside My Window
It is a crisp fall day with the wind blowing the leaves off the trees in a steady stream of falling color. Autumn is my favorite time of year and I am grateful for the beautiful scenery that the Lord paints during this season.  

I am thankful...
...that my son has recently had the opportunity to begin Altar Serving at our parish. What an honor and privilege it is for him and a joy to watch for my husband and I. Serving at the altar has given him a new and deeper reverence and understanding of the Mass.

A dear friend and mother of a the seminarian who trained my son shared this video with me  - it is a much watch for all Altar Servers and gives a moving display of the great dignity of their role in the Mass. 

I am going... the Adoration Chapel this afternoon for some much needed time in the presence of the Lord. If you have never spent time in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I invite you to do so.  St. John Vianney says:
"Our Lord is hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, waiting for us to come and visit him....See how good he is! If he had appeared before us now in all his glory, we should not have dared to approach him; but he hides himself like one in prison, saying: "You do not see me, but that does not matter; ask me for all you want..."
I am reading...
...The Consuming Fire: A Christian Guide to the Old Testament by Father Michael Duggan.  This is a text for an Old Testament Scripture class that I am currently taken and I am loving every one of it's massive 688 pages. 

I am learning...
...about the Old Testament and how the experiences, struggles, sins, and victories of the Israelites have so much to teach us today. I have to admit, except for a few favorite verses and a handful of Psalms, before taking this class I had about a second grade knowledge of the Old Testament - you know, Jonah was the guy who got swallowed by the whale; David killed the giant; and Samson had a really bad hair day...

Through the course and Father Duggan's book, as well as reading the OT from beginning to end (an exercise I highly recommend) I am learning the importance of knowing how the Lord has operated in the lives of his people since the beginning of Creation. The Old Testament's narratives were often written to remind the Israelites of the fact that what God has done for their ancestors, he will do for them too. It is so easy for me to look at whatever problem I am facing today and panic. I have come to realize through the Old Testament, that what I need to be doing is reflecting on how God has seen me through problems in the past and he will continue to do so in the present and the future, provided that I remain faithful to him. All of God's word is a living word, with as much relevance and meaning for us today as it was when it was written thousands of years ago.  How great is our God! 

I am praying...
...for a multitude of people and intentions. However, the foremost on my list is for protection for my family and all families. The family seems to be under unprecedented attack and I pray that the Lord will pour out the grace of fortitude and perseverance for all families trying to live holy lives in a challenging, often anti-Christian world. 

I am looking forward to...
spending the weekend with my family celebrating my brother's birthday. My brother is a diocesan priest - if you get a minute, please say a prayer for him and for all priests that the Lord would protect them as fearlessly and tirelessly proclaim the Gospel to a world which badly needs to hear the Good News.  

A favorite quote for today...

A few plans for the rest of the week:
  • Putting away summer clothes and getting out fall/winter ones.  (Yes, even the flip-flops)
  • Attending our parish's Christ Life program - an 8 week evangelization program designed to bring the attendees to a personal encounter with Jesus. My husband and I have been blessed to serve on the core-team for the program.  It is really a joy to watch people's faith come alive as the Lord touches their hearts. 
  • Taking my kids to the zoo with our homeschool co-op and to the local hayride/corn maze. I am amazed that at 12 and 10 years old they are still super excited about these trips and I am looking forward to spending some time outdoors enjoying the beautiful fall days! 
A peek inside my day:
Our classroom.

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