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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Jan 25

A few things that stood out for me tonight, from the Rediscovering Catholicism book that’s been promoted in the parishes around here:

We become what we Celebrate

“We should always take time to check and adjust the compass that guides us. To do this we must ask ourselves soul-searching questions, and courageously seek the answers.

 ‘What are we celebrating?” is one such question, because you an be certain that we are becoming whatever it is that we are celebrating. We must ask this question of ourselves, our church, our nation and of our culture. And we would be wise to listen attentively to the answers, because these answers will utter prophetic truths about the future. We become what we celebrate.

 Walk into a teen’s room: what occupies the places of prominence? Posters of rock idols and movie stars who, for the most part, live lives unworthy of emulation; magazines filled with articles that subtly and not so subtly undermine the dignity of the human person and the values of our faith; ipods and cds filled with music that redefines love as something selfish and sensual; and video games that too often celebrate violence, depersonalize the human person, and stifle the individuality and creativity that define a person’s unique path towards God. We become what we celebrate, that teenager will become a cloned conglomerate of the people and things he or she is celebrating.”

This was actually encouraging for me, because I am trying to be more disciplined and I know in my spirit I celebrate when the routine goes well. So then with time, according to this, I will indeed become more disciplined.

The Solution – Holiness.

“The problems are many, the solution is solitary. Personal holiness is the answer to every problem. In every situation in my life, in every problem, in every difficulty, I know that if I allow the values and principles of the Gospel to guide me, it will turn out for the best. It will not always turn out as I wish – but I will be a better person for having lived the Gospel in that situation, and because of that, my future will be richer.

 Holiness is simply the application of the values, principles, and spirit of the gospel to the circumstances of our everyday lives, one moment at a time.

In every age, there are a small number of men and women who are prepared to turn their backs on popular culture and personal gain to embrace heroically the life Jesus outlines in the Gospels. These people fashion Catholicism into a lifestyle, they listen attentively to the voice of God in their lives, and they passionately pursue their adventure of salvation. As a result, they capture the attention and imaginations of everyone who crosses their path. Paradoxically, the modern world tends to pity these people, because it believes they are missing out on something. Never feel sorry for them. These men and women are the happiest people who ever lived. They are the heroes of Christianity; they are the saints.

(Exerpts are taken from Rediscovering Catholicism, a book by Matthew Kelly)

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Ever since I learned this about the patron Saint of our church, I can’t get it out of my head.

Saint John Vianney

“During the first few weeks he spent time visiting each of the sixty families in his parish. He would talk to them about every aspect of life. What he was really doing was making a moral assessment of his parish. He found that the people’s spiritual lives were in great need of restoration. They cared little for the church having been seduced by the pleasures common to every age…

The new cure understood the meaning and value of the words ‘ This kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting”. Father Vianney began a one-man campaign of prayer and fasting, offering all his sacrifices to God for the conversion of the people in his parish.

Many considered his penances too severe. He slept on the floor, went for days without food, and for several years ate nothing but a boiled potato each day. But the graces borne from his sacrifices brought clarity to his mind, and they flooded his soul and the souls of his parishioners with abundant grace.

The cure preached boldly and without reservation about the evils of his community. . . The people reacted violently at first, but in time, the cure’s prayer, fasting and the example he set began to reap a tremendous harvest.”

These words have stuck with me because they spoke VOLUMES to me.

(Exerpts are taken from Rediscovering Catholicism, a book by Matthew Kelly)

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Jan 28

When I find pearls of spiritual wisdom I long to share them with others. These exerpts are taken from Rediscovering Catholicism, a book by Matthew Kelly. I found them helpful, and so I share them with you.  (All emphasis is mine)

Work:

The Authentic life is compatible with any honest human activity. All honest work can be transformed into prayer. You can transform your work into prayer one hour at a time, one task at a time. . . Offer the actions of your life to God as a prayer,( whether you are washing dishes, studying for an exam, relaxing…) and by your inner intention you will transform ordinary daily activities into the noblest tasks. By doing so, you will elevate tedious tasks to spiritual exercises that draw you nearer to God. This is how modern men and women in the midst of busy lives can seek and find intimacy with God.

Your daily tasks have spiritual value. You don’t just work for money. When you work hard and pay attention to the details of your job, you cooperate with God as he transforms your soul. (p75)

Holiness:

In a world of rapid and constant change, it is what is unchanging that allows us to make sense of change.

The universal call to holiness is unchanging. The north star of the spiritual life is this call to holiness. It leads unfailingly to Jesus, who is, “the Way, the Truth and the Life’, even when He seems distant or unknown. It is vital we discover this great spiritual north star, so that in times of confusion or decision we can ask ourselves, ‘ how is this situation an invitation to grow in holiness?

[–Holiness brings us to life. It refines every human ability. Holiness doesn’t dampen our emotions, it elevates them. Those who respond to God’s call to holiness are the most joyful people in history. They have a richer, more abundant experience of life, and they love more deeply than most people can ever imagine. They enjoy life, all of life. Even in the midst of suffering they are able to maintain a peace and joy that are independent of the happenings and circumstances surrounding them. Holiness doesn’t stifle us, it sets us free.–]

My experience of people and life continually teaches me that those who have no central purpose in their lives fall easy prey to petty worries, fears, troubles and self-pity. I have also learned that those living authentic lives are not looking over some hill or around the next corner to some elusive future happiness. They simply try to be all they can be, here and now, and that brings with it a happiness all it’s own.

True Worship:

Whenever Jesus did something extraordinary, the people of that village wanted  to put him up on a pedestal and make him a king. At those moments, he always left the town or region he was in. Why? Because Jesus didn’t want people to fall down  helplessly before him and worship him. He was, of course, worthy of worship, but he wanted the highest form of worship: Jesus wanted people to imitate him. He didn’t come to solve all our problems, he came to show us the way. He came to show us that when we cooperate with God and with each other we become vessels of light and love.

(Exerpts are taken from Rediscovering Catholicism, a book by Matthew Kelly)

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June 18

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Father’s day weekend was a time of great spiritual growth and I had my first few whole days of letting go of my will and also walking in the spirit. (It’s so much easier to be docile to the spirit when I’m by the sea down in Blandford!) A weekend away in the country was just what I needed. It was really me who wanted us to spend the weekend there, I knew I just needed to get away. DH’s best friend was going to be there and I had looked forward to a fun weekend with lots of family and friends and laughter. Instead, it was rather difficult with lots of unmet expectations and vying for DH’s attention and I had to struggle and fight to maintain a positive attitude.

But I’ve never felt so constantly close to God!

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The way it played out it was a rather rough weekend, but it was HUGE for my soul, a chance to read, unpack, learn, apply, grow, pray and live without the distraction of the computer. So reminding what had been trying to focus on: -fight my own will and then -as often as fault, examine myself to find the reason, the weak point. With the extra adults around I had some time to myself to read and to pray, and because I had nothing better to do, I was able to really apply what I have been learning to my current situation. I spent close to 2 days walking constantly, living, in the spirit. God was so close, all I had to do was close my eyes and I felt Him near. I don’t want to lose that; I have to keep my heart open and be careful not to get too distracted by the computer.

The chapter on suffering and grace in 1000 gifts was a big part of this. Every time I read from that book, I spend several days living life more fully, beautifully, beauty in everything and God so close. I can already tell, this will never be a book I read once and then move on; I will find myself reading and rereading from it for years to come, every time I need a fresh shot of joy.

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On Saturday morning, spent about 2 hours sitting outside in the sun overlooking the water. It is so peaceful there, and it always stills my soul.

*Soft breezes, spirit moving
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*The quiver of grass blowing in the wind
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*A single tear drop glistening beneath tiny eyelashes
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*The weight of this tiny person sleeping in my lap
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With my big kids gone boating I got to read through another chapter. These are the excerpts, (all emphasis mine) that struck me most (and a little bit of context) mostly as taken from her own blog post, So All is Grace :

“Lord..”All the feelings since the blade and the breaking, all my questioning and asking, they swell, hot lava to the surface and I choke it back, the thick farming hand squeezing mine.

‘That I’d day after day after day, greedily take what looks like it’s good from Your hand – a child gloating over sweet candy’ I’ve been a thief, trying to hoard away all the good.” “but that I’d thrash wild to escape when what You give from Your hand feels bad – like gravel in the mouth. Oh Father, forgive…

What if that which feels like trouble, gravel in the mouth, is only that-feeling- What if faith says all is… I think it, but do I really mean it?

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(Scripture on CD)
It’s coming out of the same stereo speakers, like the voices of predisents, dignataries. These are the words of God.

Out of the speakers I hear Him clear: But Jesus told him: “No! The scriptures say, ‘People do not live on bread alone… but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’. (Matthew 4:4)

I listen and I live fully on what comes straight from His mouth,. That Serpent, he’s slithered with the lie that God doesn’t give good but gives rocks in the mouth, leaves us to starve empty in the wilderness, and we’ll just have to take lessons form Satan on how to take the stones of the careless God and make them into bread to feed our own hungry souls. And I hear it straight out of the speakers on a July morning breaking, the Son of God saying there is only one way to live full and it’s’ ‘by every word that comes from the mouth of God’

It is all that Jesus used to survive in the desert, in His wrangle with silver-tongued Lucifer, only this: “It is written.” And it is the Word of God that turns the rocks in the mouth to loaves on the tongue. That fills our emptiness with the true and real good, that makes the eyes see, the body full of light.”

‘…but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ We have to trust, and we have to CHOOSE to do this. To see everything through the eyes of heaven… It is the word of God that turns rocks in the mouth to loaves on the tongue, and this, this is the only way to live fully!

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“The countryside splits open, the earth unpeeled into sun. The wheat wears gold.”

I awaken to the strange truth that all new life comes out of dark places, and hasn’t it always been? Out of darkness, God spoke forth the teeming life. That wheat round asnd ripe across all these feels, they swelled like hope embryos in womb of the black earth. Out of the dark, tender life unfurled. Out of my own inner pitch, six human beings emerged, new life, wet and fresh.

All new life labors out of the very bowels of darkness.

That fullest life itself dawns from nothing but Calvary darkness and tomb-cave black into the radiance of Easter morning. Out of the darkness of the cross the world transfigures to new life. And there is no other way.
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Then…yes: It is dark suffering’s umbilical cord that alone can untether new life.

It is SUFFERING that has the realest possibility to bear down and deliver GRACE.

And grace that chooses to bear the cross of suffering OVERCOMES that suffering.

This is so true! We focus on it and gripe and complain about it and it beats us down. As long as we try to fight it, it will rule over us.
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But it can do this only as long as we let it! If we intentionally choose to bear the suffering, it no longer has power over us!

“It is dark suffering’s umbilical cord that alone can untether new life.”
Then so it must be for my husband as well. Of course, my own life as a child of God came from a place of darkness, so he too must come to a place of NEED, and so must I for full conversion. I must come back to that place. I know I need God for heaven, He saves me from death, and although day to day I do need Him, I don’t know it well enough yet.

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My pain, my dark-all the world’s pain, all the world’s dark – it might actually taste sweet to the tongue, be the genesis of new life? —

Yes. And emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fulfuillment of joy.

So God transfigures all the world?

Darkness transfigures into light, bad transfigures into good, grief transfigures into grace, empty transfigures into full. God wastes nothing -“makes everything work out according to his plan.”

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“I am amputated. I have hacked my life up into grace moments and curse moments. The chopping has cut me off from the embracing love of a God who “does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow” but labors to birth grief into greater grace.”

This line really struck me. I have amputated my joy by labeling curses and rejecting His gifts of suffering!

“Isn’t this the crux of the gospel? The good news that all those living in the land of shadow and death have been birthed into new life, that the transfiguration of a suffering world has already begun! That suffering nourishes grace, and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart, and mourning and dancing are but movements in His unfinished symphony of beauty (and grace).

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What a magnificent way to view the world, to view life:

What in the world, in all this world, is grace?

I can say it certain now: All is grace.

I see through the woods of the world: God is always good and I am always loved.

Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things: take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness.
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I have glimpsed it: This, the hard eucharsteo. The hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty. The hard discipline to give thanks for all things at all times because He is all good. The hard discipline to number griefs as grace because as the surgeon would cut open my son’s finger to heal him, so God chooses to cut into my ungrateful heart to make me whole.

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This, this is the practical, of how to live this full life. This is what I have to DO, to achieve it. It’s not easy, that’s for sure, but this grace life is WORTH it.

-Help me to love my husband as Christ loved the church, and more and more, to lay down my life, for him. (suffering -> grace-> beauty-> love-> new life)
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This was Part 1, this real awakening to the possibility of a whole new way of living.

Part 2.

This was also the weekend that I had my first experience intentionally boldly sharing my faith with someone I knew. (I have been sharing with my best friend but it has always been gradual, and led by her genuine interest and questions).

Walking close to God, the spirit showed me a new lost sheep to tend. I found myself alone with this person, and the spirit impressed on me that this was a prime opportunity; this probably being the most relaxed and friendly atmosphere possible to have such a conversation!

I deliberated over it for probably 15-20 minutes. At this point I was sure the Lord wanted me to, and the spirit had given me words to open with, but I was nervous. It was scary. This was one of the last people I’d choose to engage in such a discussion. And yet the spirit urged me on. The words were on my tongue but still I couldn’t open my mouth, knowing that as long as I didn’t, I could still take it back, but once I opened my mouth and put it out there, there was no going back and one way or another, things would be different. I was nervous about their reaction, nervous about what I would say, espeically beyond the first question as I would have to think on my feet.

As I stalled I felt God asking me, ‘do you love them?’ Sharing the Gospel with someone is the ultimate act of love, whether they realize it or not. I knew that the answer was yes.

By the grace of God, somehow I got that first question out, and we talked fairly openly for 10 or 20 minutes, mostly I asked and answered questions. For the first time I was speaking about faith, but without an agenda. The spirit gave me the grace to lay out the truth, without forcing a particular opinion. Nothing major has come of it, but it was huge for me.

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Through the Courageous Catholic program, and especially this experience, I am learning, that speaking about my faith is not just for my husband or my best friend, but with all those I long for God to reach, it’s not enough to just pray for them (that someone else will lead them etc) at some point, I have to actually share my faith with them. I pray for them espeically because they are in my circle of influence, so then I must also be the one to reach out to them!

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June 19

What stood out to me:

ALTHOUGH DISTRUST of self is absolutely necessary as we have shown it to be in the spiritual combat, nevertheless, if this is all we have to rely on, we will soon be routed, plundered, and subdued by the enemy. To it, therefore, we must join firm confidence in God, the Author of all good, from Whom alone the victory must be expected. Since it is certain that, in ourselves, we are nothing, and that dangerous misfortunes continually threaten us, reason itself suggests distrust of our own strength. But if we fully convinced of our weakness, we shall gain, through the assistance of God, very great victories over out enemies. There is nothing of greater efficacy in obtaining the assistance of heaven than placing complete confidence in God. We have four means of acquiring this excellent virtue.

First. To ask it with great humility.

Second. To contemplate with an ardent faith the immense power and infinite wisdom of the Supreme Being. To Him nothing is difficult; His goodness is unlimited; His love for those who serve Him is always ready to supply them with the necessities for their spiritual life, and for gaining a complete victory over themselves.

All that He demands is that they turn to Him with complete confidence. Can anything be more reasonable? The amiable Shepherd for thirty-three years or more sought after the lost sheep through thorn-roughened ways, with so much pain that it cost Him the last drop of His Sacred Blood. When this devoted Shepherd see His strayed sheep finally returning to Him with the desire of being guided in the future by Him alone, and with a sincere, though perhaps weak intention of obeying Him, is it possible that He would not look upon it with pity, listen to its cries, and bear it upon His shoulders to the fold? Doubtless he is greatly pleased to see it united again to the flock, and invites the Angels to rejoice with Him on the occasion.

Third. Another means of acquiring this salutary confidence is frequently to recall what we are assured of in the Holy Scriptures, the witnesses of truth, in a thousand different places—-that no one who puts his trust in God will be defeated.

Fourth. The final means of acquiring both distrust of self and confidence in God is that before attempting to perform any good action, or to encounter some failing, we should look at our own weakness on the one hand, and on the other contemplate the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness of God. Balancing what we fear from ourselves with what we hope from God, we shall courageously undergo the greatest difficulties and severest trials.

But if we neglect this method, though we may flatter ourselves that we are actuated by a principle of confidence in God, we will usually be deceived. Presumption is so natural to man that, without notice, it insinuates itself into the confidence he imagines he has in God and the distrust he fancies he has of himself. Consequently, in order to destroy all presumption and to sanctify every action and the two virtues opposite to this vice, the consideration of one’s own weakness must precede that of the Divine Power. Both of these must precede all undertakings.

HOW TO DISCOVER WHETHER WE DISTRUST OURSELVES AND PLACE OUR CONFIDENCE IN GOD

 THE PRESUMPTUOUS MAN is convinced that he has acquired a distrust of himself and confidence in God, but his mistake is never more apparent than when some fault is committed. For, if he yields to anger and despairs of advancing in the way of virtue, it is evident that he has placed his confidence in himself and not in God. The greater the anxiety and despondence, the greater is the certainty of his guilt.

 The man who has a deep distrust of himself and places great confidence in God is not at all surprised if he commits a fault. He does not abandon himself to confused despair; he correctly attributes what has happened to his own weakness and lack of confidence in God. Thus he learns to distrust himself more, and he places all his hopes in the assistance of the Almighty.

 

Silence/Mediation

To have confidence in God is to trust that God can get us through anything and with Him we can and WILL win.

If we don’t rely on ourselves for anything, then God can work in us instead!

2. In God we have everything that is necessary for this battle. In God we have everything we need to live in the spirit, and not out of the flesh, to look to Him for everything we need. I needed a solid block of time away from the computer. I knew my soul needed that today. So, God made a way, He gave me the desire for that kind of quiet that I so needed and then blessed me with 2 hours of peace and quiet. And before that, last Wednesday to start it all off! We were at my in-laws and the baby fell asleep, and DMIL took the kids to the playground, leaving me with a surprise block of time without kids to get back to the Spiritual Combat, and then on the weekend the quiet time to read 1000 gifts, and new life sprang forth, amid loneliness, tiredness and headaches.

‘For God nothing is difficult’ – not even loving lost souls? Especially souls that He knows will be lost forever? I think maybe that’s a different kind of difficult…

We can turn to Him with complete confidence, He works all things for our good! When I really think about it, He has never, NEVER let me down.

3. No one, NO PERSON that puts their trust in God will be defeated!!!

4. We have to join the two virtues, our own weakness with a firm confidence in God.   Ah, so it’s a two-edged sword! And we have to apply these two power principles before we perform any good action or encounter a failing so basically before we do anything.

Presumption. Oof! I’d been feeling like I was failing at this battle etc… Here we go, this is the real deal. I am STILL trusting and hoping in ME. Already, I’m not putting my trust in God, so now how to apply these principles say, right now? Being frustrated with my own efforts is not having confidence in God! Consequently, I am actually more inclined to evil!

This new living daily in the spirit; it’s going to be hard – I have to fight myself for it – but – it’s worth it!

I’ve been struggling with this a lot, the missing piece of the puzzle.  I have been learning of my own weakness, and have felt a little lost about what to do next:  ‘I don’t have the answer here… I can’t deal with this… I don’t have the patience etc, I don’t know what to do   —  but, God does!

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If you want to read the book yourself the entire text is available online, just search for Spiritual Combat. This is the version I’ve been quoting from: <a href=”http://www.catholictradition.org/Classics/combat.htm”>http://www.catholictradition.org/Classics/combat.htm</a&gt;

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Jul 3

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Over the long weekend we celebrated our 5 year anniversary :D DH realized about a week before, as did I, and thought to himself, we should do something! So he asked his parents if they would babysit and we had a night away in Lunenberg. Our conversation was reflective, we reminisced.

I’d never been but it’s a beautiful little waterfront town. We did have the baby with us, but we still managed to see some great fireworks on Canada Day as well as share cake under the moon and enjoy a nice quiet breakfast out in the sunshine.

I left in a rush and forgot my camera cable on this a most important weekend, so DH kindly let me use his iPhone to document our trip. It does not have all the capabilities of my DSLR, but it still takes surprisingly good pictures, as long as you hold it still. I am thanking God in a big way for the gift of the iPhone, as it was a special weekend and I would have been extremely disapoointed if I was unable to document at least a bit of it.

When we got there it was late afternoon on Canada Day, but there wasn’t much going on, so after checking in we strolled around town and down by the waterfront. We also hunted out the various fish sculptures found on the utility poles.
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When we got back it was hot and we were tired and the baby decided to fuss for about an hour straight. Tensions were high and it was not turning out to be the anniversary that either of us hoped for. Finally, feelings still churning inside I stepped out on the deck for a little peace – And I saw the moon shining in the twilight and instantly my soul fell still. And God whispered a gentle reminder to me, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Every stress just melted away, and oh, my soul ached with the beauty. ‘The place of seeing God.’ I understand why Ann chased the moon.

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Gifts: twilight blue
*A full round moon (pure white)
*Twinkling lights
*Calm water
*Soft moonlight
*Cute old buildings

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All is grace. How much I had to tell mysef that this week and especially this evening! ’ But in that moment I knew why God had brought us to this Inn, instead of a Bed and Breakfast. God knew this place. He knew that the moon would be full and round over the water and that it would be perfect over the red fishing shack. God KNEW THIS PLACE, and He had it for me all along, but I wanted to fight the choice of destination. Oh Father, forgive! Forgive!!!!

Later we drove to a nearby town to watch the fireworks. We arrived with only a few minutes to spare and ended up sitting right near the edge of the safe zone. As a result the fireworks were almost overhead. They burst grand over our heads, so big and round the entire sky was a giant screen. It was magical.
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Back home the baby was sound asleep so we carried him up in his carseat and went out on the back deck. The moon had moved higher in the sky and it was late and the world gone quiet. We shared a second piece of anniversary cake and the moment. We leaned on the railing chatting about our lives and the night workers on the waterfront.

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Gifts:
*Watching another Canada day fireworks display with the love of my life
*Fireworks bursting big right over our heads
*A moonlit balcony for 2

The morning of our anniversary was a little overcast, but despite forecast thundershowers the weather was beautiful as we strolled through town. Little did I know then, that it would turn out to be one of the craziest anniversaries ever!

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After seeing the rest of the sea sculptures, we decided it was time to find some breakfast. Most everything was closed until 11 for the holiday, but there was one place open, and with a second strong recommendation, we decided to go there, even though they didn’t have any pancakes on the menu. We sat on the back deck in the sunshine and had breakfast for 2 while the baby slept. The food was delicious, and they were happy to make DH pancakes anyway 🙂

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We also went to the fisheries museum which was just so awesome. Maybe it’s because I’ve always had the sea in my veins and my husband even moreso, but I think it’s probably the best museum around here and I know the kids would just love it! The museum is housed in an old red fishing warehouse building right on the water. They had an aquarium with lots of local fish species, one of the tanks was even completely open on top. That one had crabs, starfish etc as well as the flatfish that sit on the bottom. There were also exhibits about all the different fishing methods, a boat that was partly built so you could see how it’s made and they even have two boats docked outside that you can tour as well.

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They also had some stations for funky fish facts. Each of them had a unique hand-painted wooden buoy marker hanging down to open them up.
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I thought these were just so cute, and decided that one from the gift shop would be the perfect little souvenier for our trip. They only had a couple left 2 were Halloween and one was white with holly on it… but there was one other simple blue one with a fish on it. DH and I had been discussion and yes, traditionally there IS something for every anniversary… http://www.happy-anniversary.com/year-of-marriage/index.html and after looking it up back home I learned that ours was wood. How perfect then, was my choice of the wooden buoy for a souvenir! I just LOVE how God works sometimes 🙂
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On the same note, it had been a couple months since Nanny found my keys in the playpen, so of course I ended up leaving them there, but DH has a friend that lives nearby so we will get them back this weekend 🙂 Since the buoy was on a key ring I put my spare house key, and the spare car key I had since acquired on it, and proceeded to live life as if I’d never left them behind (except that I did miss the shed key).
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We finished up at the museum and took a peek at the Bluenose before heading back towards Blandford, with a planned stop at our usual anniversary restaurant for lunch. We’d heard word of thunderstorms, and the sky was very dark ahead. As we got closer we heard rumbles of thunder and even saw a great bolt light up the sky. Both DH and I love a good thunderstorm. 🙂 I felt like we were storm chasers, hunting for the thrill of nature’s display of power. (Displays of God’s power for me)

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Then as we were driving past a bay DH told me to look out across the water. There, in the middle of the bay was a wall of water, fast approaching as we drove towards it. It was so neat to actually watch the storm physically coming towards us. The wall got closer and closer until suddenly it hit, and moments later our windshield was a river.

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We drove through the pouring rain and into the town where we were going to eat, but before we could get to the restaurant hail started hitting our car. We pulled under a leafy tree for shelter. I’ve heard of such things happening, but I’d never experienced it. It’s kind of surreal, sitting in a car in July while it hails outside. DH thought it was letting up so we left the shelter of the tree only to head back for cover again shortly after. After the 3rd time we decided to sit and wait until it was actually over. Out the window the pavement was covered in white.

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Photo Courtesy of DH!

After about 20 minutes the hail finally let up and we made it to the restaurant. Already the storm was passing, and the sky was getting lighter. I was a little disappointed at the absence of several menu favorites, but I had fish cakes this time for something different, and they were very good. Because we were running late and Nanny wanted us back, I took my dessert to go.

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Back at Blandford the kids were eating the hail pellets. They littered the wooden platform in front of the shed and the corners of the garden. DH and I hung around hoping to watch more thunder and lightning across the bay but there wasn’t much.

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Eventually we gave up and headed home on the old road.
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It seemed the storms had gone before us, but I guess we were quicker than they were, because as we got closer to home the sky grew darker again. Back home we unloaded the car before it hit and set about storm watching from our sunroom. There was definite rumbling outside but we didn’t see even a flash of lightning. Instead, our car was once again pelted with little chunks of ice. It was hard to believe the same storm had followed us home, and once again, it felt pretty surreal watching cold ice fall from the sky in mid-summer. The kids and I went outside afterwards and picked up more of the pellets. I watched the neighbourhood kids run out to splash and play in the rain, completely in the moment. We walked over and my oldest joined them.

Then, lastly, to cap it all off, God’s special sign of His love to me, a rainbow arcing through the sky over our neighborhood.

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Gifts:
*A sunny stroll through town
*A quiet breakfast in the sunshine
*A bolt of lighting, lighting up the sky
*A wall of water racing across the bay
*Shelter from a hailstorm under a tree
*Play, in the rain.
*Back home, a rainbow, on our 5 year anniversary

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Since then I’ve been noticing an incredible deepening of intimacy, at least from my end. It’s amazing what one night away can do for the intimacy in a marriage, but also just hitting the 5 year mark. Looking back on all we’ve been through together- especially over the last 5 years, all the life we shared- it’s so special, and it makes me feel so close to him! I was just thinking the other morning how he truly is my other half. He is the one who compliments me and my characteristics and ways, AND he is the one who truly loves me. He is the perfect calm balance to my crazy emotions, he calls and challenges and fights against my selfishness and inspite of it all he accepts and loves me! Intimacy – ‘to know and to be known, to be deeply respected.’ No one else comes close. After 5 years of marriage and 8 years together, I’ve never felt more in love with him. ♥

Happy 5 Years, Love.
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What stood out to me:

This distrust of our own strength is a gift from Heaven, bestowed by God on those He loves. It is granted sometimes through His holy inspiration, sometimes through severe afflictions, or almost insurmountable temptations and other ways which are unknown to us. Yet He expects that we will do everything within our power to obtain it. And we certainly will obtain it if, with the grace of God, we seriously employ the following four means.

First. We must mediate upon our own weakness. Consider the fact that, being nothing in ourselves, we cannot, without Divine assistance, accomplish the smallest good or advance the smallest step towards Heaven.

Second. We must beg God, with great humility and fervor, this eminent virtue which must come from Him alone. Let us begin by acknowledging not only that we do not possess it, but that of ourselves we are utterly incapable of acquiring it. Then let us cast ourselves at the feet of our Lord and earnestly beg Him to grant our request. We must do this with firm confidence that we will be heard if we patiently await the effect of our prayer, and persevere in it as long as it pleases Divine Providence,

Third. We must gradually accustom ourselves to distrust our own strength, to dread the illusions of our own mind, the strong tendency of our nature to sin, and the overwhelming number of enemies that surround us. Their subtlety, experience, and strength surpass ours, for they can transform themselves into Angels of light, and lie in ambush for us as we advance towards Heaven.

Fourth. As often as we commit a fault, we must examine ourselves in order to discover our vulnerable points. God permits us to fall only that we may gain a deeper insight into ourselves, that we may learn to despise ourselves as wretched creatures and to desire honestly to be disregarded by others. Without this we cannot hope to obtain distrust of self which is rooted in humility and the knowledge of our own weakness.

Whoever seeks to approach the eternal truth and fountain of all light must know himself thoroughly. He must not imitate the pride of those who obtain no other knowledge than what their sins provide, and who begin to open their eyes only when they are plunged into some disgraceful and unforeseen debacle. This happens through God’s permission that they may know their own weakness, and, by sad experience, learn not to rely on their own strength. God seldom supplies so severe a remedy against their presumption unless other means have failed.

Briefly, He permits persons to sin more or less grievously in proportion to their pride, and, if there were any as free from pride as the Blessed Virgin, I dare say, they would never fall. As often as you commit a fault, therefore, immediately strive to probe your inner consciousness; earnestly beg our Lord to enlighten you, that you may see yourself as you are in His sight, and presume no more on your strength, otherwise you will fall again into the same faults, or perhaps much greater ones to the eternal ruin of your soul.

 

Silence/Mediation

1. Anything good in me, is God. Holiness is Christ in me, (and not me in me!)  Thinking about my own weakness,  how easily I give up sometimes! That and the great pull I feel to keep doing something when I know should be doing something else instead!

Lord, teach me, no grant me the virtue of distrust of self.

3. I understand the importance of accustoming ourselves to distrust completely our own strength, inclinations and even our thoughts and illusions, BUT how do we know when something came from God so that we can follow that, and not just distrust absolutely everything?

4.  Every time we commit a fault, we must examine ourselves to determine our motivation etc. Every time we commit a fault! This is precisely WHY God lets us fall, so we can learn. We should ask him to enlighten us, and to try to see ourselves as we are in His sight, that we may presume no more on our own strength. (And thus, we put all our trust in God. This whole distrust of slef goes hadn in hand with our complete confidence in God, which is the next chapter).

‘That we may learn to despise ourselves as wretched creatures and to desire honestly to be disregarded by others.’

This line still jars me every time I read it! I know this highlights the depth of true humility, but, unlike the rest of it, it sounds pretty unappealing. Are we to desire to be disregarded because we are nothing and thus to direct all Glory to God – someone praises me for something kind I did and I say, ‘it’s all God.’ THAT, I understand. Or are we to simply desire to be disregarded by others, period. That we think ourselves so little and unimportant, that we want everyone else to think of us as nothing? I think about the idea of utter humiliation vs the importance of our human dignity, and I think that this is not so. We are to be regarded and respected etc by others, (and it is even right to desire it?) but only because we are the object of God’s affection. Does this sound right?

Even so, this is a radical way of thinking. And as I noted that I thought more about why I feel that way. This line of thought, living this way, is weird, hard and crazy, because we want God on our terms. Even as we pursue a relationship with God, we think about how we see Him fitting into our lives, not how we fit into His.  We do, we think we have it all figured out. We don’t stop to think how we can better fit into God’s life. God’s life is so different from ours. We usually relate it to human experience etc, but truly, it is nothing like that. How Love wins (complete self-sacrifice) is so foreign to our human understanding. What do I really know of Holy?

Lord, show me the depth of my sin, that I might better appreciate my need for You.

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If you want to read the book yourself the entire text is available online, just search for Spiritual Combat. This is the version I’ve been quoting from: <a href=”http://www.catholictradition.org/Classics/combat.htm”>http://www.catholictradition.org/Classics/combat.htm</a&gt;

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