Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace by Marge Steinhage Fenelon

Have you been hurt by your mother?  

The pain of that relationship can paralyze our thoughts, actions, and future relationships.  Stuck in the past and the wound that has not healed,  sometimes we’re lead to despair.

In a transparent and courageous sharing of her own experience with an abusive mother, Marge Steinhage Fenelon takes her readers through an interior journey of the heart, that leads them out from the dark places of suffering and anger to hope, healing, forgiveness, and freedom.

All of us have broken parents because we live in a fallen state since the first sin.  

Our environments growing up can leave us disabled in differing degrees. Whatever the personal experience has been, Fenelon’s words can be applied, and her guidance sheds light on way to finding true peace.

And the way?

 A new relationship with Mary, Our Mother.

Beginning with tapping into a desire to want to heal is the logical first step.

Often, however it’s just easier to stuff the past and not deal with it.  That’s why Jesus asks the ill man if he wants to be healed.

Fenelon uses Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church to help readers understand Mary’s role in bringing us to Christ, the Divine Healer. 

That proposal can be scary.  We necessarily have to look back.  The key is never to process alone, and to seek God in prayer, and the right persons to walk with us.  Fenelon mentions her spiritual director often, and the need in some situations, for good counseling as well.  Practically, it may mean a time of distancing, while continuing to work through emotions and pain.

When we are able to receive the grace and the truth that

our mothers are children of God, just like we are,

we can place them and all their fallen brokenness in our Mother’s arms.  

There’s a sense of freedom that comes from surrendering the past to God’s healing power, and our present lives into the loving arms of a perfect Mom who has the power to comfort us and intercede for us.

The book prepares the reader for the beautiful novena at the end.  

It truly blessed me in moving through the days, taking the time to journal and pray, and opening myself up to my own healing.

Moving through it slowly,  praying to want to be healed,  surrendering my past and the wounds,  seeing my mother as a child of God with her own brokenness, helped me to move toward seeing her in new ways, and knowing that God had a plan and a purpose for it all.

That might be the greatest lesson.  God makes good come out of even the most difficult situations, if we allow Him in to heal us and draw close to His Mother.

With love and real vulnerability, I must thank Marge Fenelon for offering her own life example as a way to help others move closer to Christ.

And so many of us need the love of the Good Mother, Mary.  My prayer is that this book finds its way into all the hearts who need her most.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mending the Heart: A Catholic Annulment Companion by Lisa Duffy

Lisa Duffy has offered her own mended heart to a growing number of Catholics who have experienced the painful reality of divorce.

Mending the Heart:  A Catholic Annulment Companion is a clear and loving explanation of the process in the Catholic Church called an annulment. Duffy leads her readers through the purposes and practical definitions of this process while regularly addressing the emotional challenges and difficulties of those facing a broken marriage situation.

She accompanies her readers as credible witness- as one who has shared the road.

Many myths persist in regards to the annulment process, which by definition, seeks to declare that a marriage bond (unbreakable covenant) was not a valid sacramental one.  Duffy debunks each misrepresentation of the truth and explains terms like “invalid” and “impediments to marriage”.  She walks readers step by step through the annulment process and names the specific canon law grounds that might constitute an annulment being granted.  With continual warmth and concern for her readers’ hearts, she simultaneously assures readers of the true existence of a marriage relationship and gives encouragement for when the going gets tough.

Concerned with her readers dignity and worth, she lovingly encourages them to bravely confront what may have been real obstacles to a valid marriage and suggests to them that the efforts are well worth it.  The interior work required ends up being the very path to true healing and joy.

Having someone calmly explain something when emotions are complex or intense can be a great gift for someone experiencing divorce.  Like a loyal friend Duffy accompanies her readers in their confusion and pain but also places her focus on the great graces that come with using this time to enter more deeply into a relationship with God.

The book is filled with the stories of many others who have traveled the road of devastating divorce, but who have allowed God to transform their crosses into glory. Since so many divorced people as well as their families and friends find themselves in confusion about what the Catholic Church ultimately offers, Duffy’s book is extremely timely and will likely welcome many hearts back to a deeper relationship with God and fellow Catholics.

In this reader friendly Annulment Companion, Lisa Duffy is your faithful companion. As she generously shares her own story,  readers find the haunting and daunting task of annulment becomes less insurmountable.  The warmth, humility, and expertise of Lisa’s own mended heart serves to accompany  and encourage others to begin the beautiful process of finding theirs.

 

 

 

 

Tell Everyone: A Reflection on Today’s Mass Readings

Acts 5: 17-26            Psalm 34          John 3: 16-21

God SO LOVED the world.  

The whole world?  How can that be?  

How can LOVE be so all encompassing?

Our world:  Filled with domination that lays hands on…

Judgments that would silence our love…

Our world:  Filled with jealousy and jails….

The God who SO LOVED– hears the cry of the poor.

I sought the God who SO LOVED– and He answered me…

Delivered me from all my fears.

When the poor one called out the God who SO LOVED– answered me….

and from all my distress He saved me.

Small hearts, broken hearts, tethered hearts,

sword-pierced hearts- conditional love in our hearts

Lead to sin, prisons, preferred darkness and death

 

BUT GOD SO LOVED THIS WORLD- NO CONDITIONS- FULL SENDING

HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON WAS GIVEN!

 

Now all worldly hearts cease to blush with shame

And faces are radiant with JOY!

Let us go then to the temple of this world,

and “tell everyone about this life”!

Sentinel Type Waiting

Today’s responsorial psalm is about waiting- some thoughts about the gift it can be….

Gifts Into Flame Ministry

“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…

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Knowing Nathanael

One way to stay faithful in relationship to God is to read the Scriptures daily.  

As a Catholic, I love that there are readings given to me each day like spiritual food.  They always give me the particular morsel I need.  When I pray over them, God causes certain words or phrases to leap off the page.

These Words are His Word.  And His Word, is Him.

It’s really unfathomable how much God loves us:

that He would give us Words in order to give us Himself.

After I “catch” the Words He sends to my heart, I usually write a few words of my own in response.

I like God to know that I’ve heard, and that His gift has made a difference in my day.  

I try to remember these special Words throughout that day.  I try to stop in between all the crazy activity and let them affect me again. Some days I forget ( just so we all know how very human my response can be).

So today, I’m sharing my “leaping Words”, the Gift of Christ to me,

and how He moved me to respond.

Thank you Jesus, for touching my heart today.

First Reading from  1 John 3:11 -21:  My “leaping Word”:

“God is greater than our hearts and understands everything”

Gospel from John 1:43-51:  My “leaping Word”:

“Nathanael said to him, ‘How do you know me?’

     “Jesus answered him and said, …’I saw you under the fig tree..'”

KNOWING NATHANAEL

O God who is greater than my heart

I want you to come and see

See this sinner who hides under trees

See who she longs to be

 

O God who is greater than my heart

Before I came, you saw me

Help me to let go of duplicity in life

And before You, stay down on one knee

 

O God who is greater than my heart

I want to know HOW you know me

“MY HEART IS MY GAZE AND CREATION OF YOU

GAZE BACK, AND YOUR HEART WILL BE FREE.”

Jesus’ Zeal For You

Daily Mass Readings Reflection:  November 9, 2017

The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica 

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God?” 1 Cor 3: 16

“Zeal for you house will consume Me.” John 2: 17

St Paul tells the Corinthians

that they are temples of God and that the Spirit dwells within them.

 Knowledge of that privilege and grace should give us pause.  Poor self image cannot stand alongside this truth.  And healing comes when we accept these words coming from God’s Heart- that we are beloved enough to have Him desire to come dwell in us.

This corresponds to our gospel today.  Jesus finds the temple full of the idols -noisy moneychanging.  It is animalistic- oxen, sheep and doves.  Bargaining and cheating hearts seek to fill the pockets of the self indulgent.  Clinking coins fill the tables where peaceful stillness once was.

Is this how Jesus is finding my temple?  The temple of my soul and my body?

What noisy voices of the world have taken over in my head?  What  idols are being exchanged within this temple?

I’m not good, I can’t do it, I have lost all my hope.  You should worry and  grasp what you need now. Don’t wait for the Lord to provide, because you must do it yourself.  Press in on others and demand what you want.  Lack mercy, lack patience, lack love.

Am I reduced to what is less than human? Less than my dignity deserves?

Sin coins are filling the places where I had peace.

Noisy, clinking sounds disturb my prayer.

But Jesus loves me too much.  He sees the state that I’m in.  He’s coming into this temple! He fashions a cord out of bands of His love.  Zeal for this house, this temple that I am, consumes Him.  And He’s ready to cleanse me.

Overturning the tables in me He comes with His power and His grace.  He is ridding me of excessive noise.  The idols I filled the temple of my house, have been whipped away by His love.  What remains is a place where prayer can begin again.

Lord, you are consumed with zeal for me, and I believe in the intensity of that love.  You will not let your temple be filled with all that distracts and destroys it.  Come with your whip of cords and cleanse this temple.  Let it be for you a house of worship and prayer.  Come Holy Spirit and dwell within me.  Bring me stillness and peace and joy.

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.