Staying Faithful to the Small Picture

Has anyone ever told you to

“Remember the Big Picture?”

It’s great advice!  But I think there needs to be a “subtitle”:

“But Stay Faithful to the Small Picture”.

What’s the small picture?  It’s the present moment.  And remembering the big picture while staying faithful to the small one, is quite the balancing act.

The two- big and small pictures- are played out in the mind.  

First, it’s consoling to remember that “all things work unto good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)

When life brings twists and turns, we can learn to trust that

God has a big plan for our salvation!

But then the mind must come to focus upon the practical work! Each day we get up and move through each hour.  Each moment we have an opportunity to stay faithful to what is right in front of us.

To whom are we speaking?  What do we chose next?

 How can we turn this experience into prayer?

 Each and every moment and encounter:  these are the small picture.  

What picture are you thinking about right now?  Each, big and small, are important to ponder.  See God loving you all the way to salvation.  The big plan has a glorious ending!  Remember the picture is one He’s creating- He’s writing the big story called life!

But also stay faithful to each little “instagram” moments…  to all the ways to say yes to His love.  Each moment God’s inviting us to turn our eyes toward His gaze.  Each moment He’s reminding us He’s with us every step of the way.

Staying faithful to the small picture of every detail in life,

helps us remember that it’s a really big plan:  unending Love in Eternity!

 

When Love Comes…

Have you ever felt swept away?

 Maybe by the crash of a real ocean wave…Or maybe by a tide

of overwhelming obligations.

Maybe by a beautiful sunset that left you literally speechless.

 

sunset st joseph drive

 

 

 Or maybe by someone with whom you’ve fallen madly in love with…

The feeling can lift us or it can wash us away….

depending on what’s causing the “wave”.

Recently, I have felt swept away by a decision to move after over 30 years.  In union with my husband and in union with God in prayer, we boxed up our world, and let the Love of the Holy Spirit move us.

And when Love comes to sweep you away, you don’t ask where He is taking you.

You just go.

And of course these major decisions and movements of the Spirit, come with many lessons to learn.  One must be humble under the guidance of the Spirit, and listen to the whisperings… gently given… in the heart.

“U-Haul.”

 

U Haul

 Of course we must participate, but a crucial lesson has been to let Him haul.

 Yes, YOU haul us Lord!  We can’t do this on our own!

 Whenever I took over, and tried to haul the burden of packing,  cleaning, worrying about outcomes, and saying all the many goodbyes, I broke down.

It was too much for me alone.

Whenever I let the Holy Spirit take over, and “haul” all my concerns for me, each day began with trials, but ended with gratitude in my heart

for all HE had accomplished through me.

Each day, He’d send just the right person, or note, or kindness or inspiration in prayer.  Each day He’s send just enough manpower or financial support

or glimpse of the future full of hope.

A movement of grace has swept over us.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus has opened.  The Holy Spirit has come to sweep us away, and we trust Him to provide all we need.

Don’t ask, just go.  It is Love who has come to sweep you away!

 

The Folds of Mary’s Mantle

 

“Are you not in the folds of my mantle?

Tucked away in the night?”

“No, rather darkness and fear enfold me.

They make me shiver with fright”

“Shhh now- a Mother has been given to you

I stand at the root of the tree,

See the crossing I make with my arms

This is where I want you to be.

Nurse from the constant graces that flow

Find your place close to me

Search the ebb and the flow of the waves

My mantle provides now for thee”

I looked at the waves, the flow, and the veil

I looked for the comfort I sought

And there, amid all my chaos and screams

I saw end to the fears I had fought

There within the curve of her dress

A fold in the mantle made for me

A place to enter, to rest, and be blessed

Where darkness could no longer be.

Don’t wait too long to search the whole tide

For she waits to give you this place

Seek not the foolish things of the world

When the Mantle is where you’ll find grace.

Know that there is a fold just for you

Just for where you are now

Darkness and fear must flee in the fold–

Her Mantle wraps you in His power.

Two Roads of Worship

 There always seems to be that fork in the road.  And we’re given a choice, and a chance.

One road leads here.  It’s called The Real Absence, and it’s crowded with travelers.

Monstrance Empty

Beautiful isn’t it?  Lots of shine, lots of gold.  Jewels and many rays of light.

On this road, Real Absence,  our eyes are focused solely on the world

and it’s destination leads us straight into nothing.

There is no One at it’s center…nothing to keep us grounded.  So we’re free to worship all that’s around it.

 Speedily we race to beat time, and to beat each other…like rays reaching out to grasp and possess.   With no Compass for a Guide, we’re taken in by all life’s golden distractions: material things, comforts and ease every kind, earthly pleasures and possessions,  even people that we idolize.

Restlessness resides at every jeweled twist and turn

as we worship along the road of Real Absence.

Nothing holds it together.  It’s center is emptiness. Real Absence.

 

But  today I chose the road less traveled.  

It lead me here. And it’s Name is The Real Presence.

monstrance-with-host.jpg

At first glance, it might look like nothing new: same gold, jewels, and rays of light

…but wait.

Something, Someone seems to be holding it all together.

 Rays of light shine from Him, and once you find this Center,

you can’t keep your eyes off of Him.

Nothing outside of Him fills your heart like He does. You become still.

 You’re satisfied, purified, mesmerized.  The world and all its “bling”hold no attraction any more.  No more need for racing along twisted turns. Those on this road with you all have their hearts sent on Him.  No more competition or grasping. And somehow everything around Him makes more sense, and has it’s proper place.

So this is the road you just stop on.  He’s the journey and the destination.

He’s found you upon it.  And He will not lead you astray.  

Take the road less traveled today and see where it leads you in worship…

He waits for you to be under His Gaze and find peace in

The Real Presence.

 

Sentinel Type Waiting

 

“I trust in the Lord

My soul trusts in His word

My soul waits for the Lord

More than sentinels wait for the dawn” (Psalm 130:6)

Docility, St Thomas Aquinas tells us, is one of the integral parts in the discerning task of prudence (deciding the right thing to do).  It means knowing how to listen, so that we can be teachable.

Sentinels needed to be docile and ready- ready to listen. Yes for every stir or sound

’round the place of their guard. 

And night shift sentinels had an added challenge.  Darkness surrounded them.  They needed to be still to hear the slightest sounds.  They had to be prepared to receive the circumstances around them.

And as the night wore on, they tired as they waited.  They longed for those first rays of light on the horizon.  The promise that they might see and might be able to find some rest.

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Are you awaiting the dawn?  Is it hard to be still and to listen with docility?  You want to discern the right thing.  You shiver until the sun brings some warmth.

How to be like the sentinel?  How to stay still in the dark? Do you wait for a reconciliation?  A healing,  or a place to work and to live? Do you wait to know your vocation?  And what God is calling you to do?

Especially when God’s seems to be silent.  You wait for the dawn of answered prayer. You stay awake so you’re ready to hear.

And creation tells us the story.  We’ve listened to it day after day :  

Night time is always over.  

And time moves us into the light.

Tested in long times of suffering, we are born children of the day.

 He makes all things new.

God bless all you sentinels out there waiting.  I join my heart prayers to yours.  

I choose to trust in His promises of day.  My soul will await the dawn.

Our Lady of Fatima – 100 Years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

It is the Eve of the 100 Year Anniversary of the Mother of God’s first appearance to the shepherd children, Jacinta, Francesco, and Lucia in Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

There is a sense of anticipation.  She’s made herself known before.  

She’s come to help us back to our faith.  She’s a Mother and she longs for her children to be at peace.

Will we hear her call to draw near to her?  Will we help our brothers and sisters on the way back to life?  Does it matter to us still today?

The message of her tender concern is hard to refuse.    

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, a well known Catholic author, has given us a great gift in this book as she writes about the awe inspiring events at Fatima.  Adding to the accurate and well described historical background, O’Boyle offers readers other little known stories, the words of notable people on the subject, and a way to “bring it home” by applying the messages of Our Lady to our own lives today.

Details of each apparition and how the children responded with heroic love to the call of our Lady, leave us examining our own consciences in regards to our journeys in faith.  As we read of their suffering and offering of many sacrifices we find our hearts convicted to to the same.  

Francisco and Jacinta die young, but not without modeling how to pray.  Lucia lives on many decades more to spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart. From seeing the horrors of hell to witnessing the miracle of the sun, the shepherd children reveal for us the reality of the life beyond time on this earth.

Mary asks for Five First Saturday devotion- confession, Holy Communion, and recitation of the rosary.  These requests are now made of us, so that we might obtain peace.  And so that many souls might be saved by our prayers.

Countless Popes devoted to the Mother of God, are described in the book, and how they all had a role in Fatima’s story. All knew of the consecration to Our Lady.  They fostered the devotion, approving of the the apparitions, and wrote to encourage the faithful to turn their hearts back to the Lord.  They consecrated themselves and the world, just as Mary had wished.

With prayers and devotions in each chapter, the book becomes an opportunity to change and to grow.  When our hearts receive the message of Fatima, they are moved to seek shelter in the arms of our Mother.

What is the significance of this great appearance and anniversary feast?  Mary is perhaps giving us time and an invitation to seriously consider our relationship to God.

Do we not long for a time of peace- maybe in our families, in our communities, in our country, in our world?  Are we not finding in our own hearts

a spirit of discouragement or concern?

Which one of us would not want to be comforted right now? 

Mary wants to help.   O’ Boyle’s book can bring us right into our Mother’s arms.  Perhaps today Mary is sweetly calling you back home.

Will you answer her call?

“Littlest Suffering Souls” by Austin Ruse

 The little wren outside is pecking seeds off the wooden deck- so small and seemingly insignificant.

What could this poor little creature teach me?  

How often we ignore the littlest among us.  How often we ignore the simple of heart, those who go about their purpose in life, while the rest of the complicated world whirls around them.

Especially when it comes to suffering human beings, we’re slow to take notice of those who can’t keep up with the pace.

The book, Littlest Suffering Souls, by Austin Ruse, reminds readers of the great graces available to those who are faced with the care and responsibility of little ones, and additionally, the humility it takes to learn from life’s sicknesses and pain.

And there may be no greater pain that watching a child suffer.  

Our Mother Mary knew that ache.

Ruse shares the blessed heroism of three modern day children and their families. And he shows us that each family is unique in the crosses they bear, but that all are called to embrace them with love.

And then, miracles happen!

Devotion, faith, openness, and littleness of heart

bring exaltation, blessings and unexpected joys.

Ruses’ book is about three small children who suffered greatly from physical illnesses.  Struck with Downs Syndrome, leukemia, spinal bifida, and all their complications, the short lives of Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey were a marathon of enduring pain. The untimely deaths of these little ones, though, continue to bring about great conversions.

Their example teaches us how redemptive suffering which is offered up and united to Christ’s, can be a powerful force.  Readers are led to consider how accepting one’s own crosses in life while keeping hope in expectant trust, can lead to peace and even joy.

Referencing great writers and saints in the Church, Ruse helps us understand this sometimes unpopular Catholic view.  Suffering united to Christ’s changes the world.  Brendan, Margaret and Audrey received wisdom beyond their young years, and suffered incredulously, with joy. Their parents’ stories, and those of their friends, are proof that these littlest suffering souls had a great mission.

All Catholic children, these three little ones became catechists and evangelizers to the family and friends they encountered.  How close they were to Jesus in the Eucharist- many of them requesting an early reception of this sacrament.  Priests who ministered to them and their families, were drawn to their saintly sides and remain forever changed in their own self sacrificial lives.

When the powerful, influential, and the worldly recognized the true Presence of Christ in Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey, they were changed. Renewed by watching them, even popes like St John Paul II, found renewal to serve the Lord and His Church in new ways.

Readers will find themselves privileged to have been given a glimpse of these saintly children, just as one catches a glimpse of a poor simple wren on a spring morning.

 As Ruse tells their stories, the heart and mind are given a new vision.  Our Lord tells us the same in His Word,

Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature, but not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,and which none of the rulers of this age knew;

for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But as it is written:  “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart,what God has prepared for those who love him

(1 Cor 2: 6-9)

Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey, pray for us!


From Mist to Midst

“Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.

But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then… God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being… God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.” (Genesis 2:5-8)

From a place where mist used to rise, in a garden,

God created the first human person.

Mists are mysterious.  They mystify.  Scripture says that we’re born into a beautiful garden, shrouded in the mysteries of life.

Salvation history began at this moment, and continues on to today.  But today, we celebrate the Easter season, and our Savior is risen and in our midst.

How did we get from mist to midst?

Our walk with God has been a complicated one.  With freedom, we’ve fallen from grace.  We’ve toiled and worked in the gardens of our lives, and struggled through sin, suffering, loss and even death.

Death.  That’s the “d” that splits the word mist.

These things, especially the finality of death, remain mysterious and dreadful realities, unless we truly rejoice in what we’re celebrating these days.

Does Jesus’ death split the mist in your life?  

Can His Presence in your midst make sense of all your suffering?

Mary Magdalene’s in a “mist”- a mist of tears and of confusion.  She’s in the mist of the early morning hours after being up all night weeping.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  (John 20:15)

Here we are back in a garden. It’s not until the “Gardener” calls her name, that all the mist evaporates.

 He’s in our midst.

 And His death has separated all the confusion. His death has breathed life back into the human person.

“Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26)

Notice He doesn’t take the “d” word away.  In fact it seems to be the only way!

If we do not know the necessity of dying with Christ as the mysterious reality of a life of faith, we can never really know the beauty of His Presence, risen and in our midst.

Let His death defy the MIST-ery.

Let His death make all things clear.  Our Savior rises in glory and He lives, so we can too.

The Gardener calls your name in your MIDST.

The Shape of You

It’s such a catchy tune.  He’s in love with your body.  He’s in love with the “shape of you”.

So just what kind of shape is your body in? As we finish this fourth week of Lent?  A lot of people I know are “feeling it”…

…the desert, the discipline, the death to self.  Their bodies are beat.

They’re feeling like their body’s are in the shape of the Cross.  Hanging up there with Christ.  

That’s the shape of HIS BODY.  And it’s given for you.

So the lines can become hard ones to sing: ” Who-a, who-a, who-a , who-a….I’m in love with your Body, Lord.  I ‘m in love with the shape of you….the shape of the cross that we are sharing right now.  Because my pain in yours and yours in mine.  We’re suffering together.

 This passion?  This shape?  It’s intense.” 

What if we sang as we waltzed up the communion aisle….sang that song with all our heart?

“Lord, I’m in love with your Body of Christ in the Eucharist.  I’m just so in love.  I can’t wait to meet you- I’ll be your Bride, and you’ll be my Bridegroom.

You see the shape I’m in, and you love me!   

And, I’m in love with your Body, Lord!”

We pray, we receive, and peace comes even while we still hang in the shape of the cross. Our eyes open and once more we can untwist the lyrics of this song of longing and union in the heart. We look around and let them apply to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  St Paul tell us that we are the Body of Christ.  And each member is united to the rest.  When one suffers, the whole body suffers.  If one is well, the whole body’s well.  

Am I in love with the Body of Christ? In the people in my life each day?

 Will I let my body take the shape of a cross for them?

 Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!  Can I say to the members of the Body of Christ- I’m in love with the shape of you….especially when you are suffering in the shape of a cross.  I’m in love with your body. I will be a gift of self out of love for you.  I want us to hope and to heal.”

Every heart is longing for union and love.  Mysteriously, every heart will find rest in the shape of the Body of Christ.

 This is my love song this Lent.  A song that leads to true love and real life.

  “Lord, everyday discovering something brand new…I’m in love with your Body.”

 

Stone Rejected

Moses struck the rock in the desert

To quench an Israelite thirst

Even though their complaints rise, they grumble

Still He always loves first.

Christ comes to be, the True Rock Redeemer

Cornerstone builders reject

Spear-struck to pour out the Blood and the Water

For thirst He would never neglect

Sing out my soul in praise of this Rock

Draw near to drink and be still

Grumbling is over, desert long past

Now you are one with HIs Will!