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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man as Bride

In Scripture, the analogy used most often to describe God’s love for humanity is spousal.  He is the Bridegroom and we, the Church, are the Bride.

I have always thought that this might be easier for women to understand than men. We “get” being brides.

How do men understand that they too, are brides?

 The key lies in receptivity.

 

silhouette of man and woman during sunset

The story of God creating the first man and the first woman can give some insight.  

“So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  The Lord God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman.  When he brought her to the man, the man said:, ‘This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called woman, for out of man this one has been taken.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one body.” (Genesis 2:21-24)

Man’s receptivity is here in these verses.  First, he is cast into a deep sleep, which symbolizes his vulnerability and deep trust of God. He rests in his loving relationship with Him.

Then, God ordains that it is the place in man which guards his heart- his rib, that should be taken out.  Now, man is open and vulnerable.  Now the one who will end his loneliness, the woman, has a place to enter his heart.

And he is open to giving it. He allows God to take it.

And it is from this very rib taken out, that she is built up.

She’s created from his offering to give up his guarded place.

She is alive because of him.

God uses what man has given up in trust- his sacrificial gift of his rib which makes him vulnerable- to create someone new who can give herself back to him!

When they first see each other- they are ecstatic! Finally, a place to be gift!  Finally a place to be gift and receptivity all at the same time.

And the giving and the receiving create union and love between the two.  

And together, even in man, they know how to be God’s bride.

Together they receive God’s gift of love and give it back.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

  

 

The Great Adventure Bible: The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth

We all want it: the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It’s what makes us confident and secure.

crucifix on top of bible

And what about the truth about ourselves?  Everyone eventually asks the questions: 

Who am I? Why am I here? 

Where am I going?

For these ultimate truths, people have for centuries, turned to the Bible as God’s Word, but we’ve often struggled to piece the whole truth together. We don’t know where to start and it can be such a challenging read!  All sorts of opinions about how it should be read abound!

We’ve had questions and need teachers who have already studied the whole library collection of books from different authors, genres, and historical backgrounds.

We’ve lost our way, given up, and been confused.  So we need clear cut instructions and a map.

God’s desire for us to have the whole truth is even greater than our own. And He’s provided the whole truth and nothing but the truth, most beautifully and clearly explained, in The Great Adventure Bible.

It is first and foremost, the complete Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Second Catholic Edition.

Additionally, this Bible’s team of editors and consultants have tied together and explained every book- categorized its key people and provided a timeline of biblical events.

The timeline begins with The Early World, telling the story of Genesis chapters 1-11. Before the Scriptural text there is a summary, an explanation of how the narrative goes, and clarification on the significance of these chapters, like God’s purpose for human dignity, creation as a cosmic temple, and the drama of sin and redemption.

The systematic presentation incorporates a color-coded Bible timeline that organizes the different stages of our powerful and magnificent salvation story.  One cannot easily forget that color-coded black section signifies Israel’s darkest period in history, or that purple reminds us of the Royal Kingdom.

The Great Adventure Bible gives clear instruction about God’s overarching covenantal plan for loving and saving us, and provides colorful charts and maps that show the progression of time and historical place.  Who would doubt that an eye-catching map of the desert wanderings could enhance the reader’s understanding of the Israelites’ 40 years of waiting in hope for a Promised Land?

Separate articles enhance the reader’s understanding of the important covenants God has made throughout history and suggest how to interpret the Bible. And a well thought out reading plan helps students know how to begin to see the overall picture, before adding some of the more supplemental books.  Lectio Divina, a way of praying with Scripture is also introduced.

And underlying each teaching tool is the Catholic understanding of the Bible- seen in its entire context and unity.  Centuries of saintly commentaries and magisterial teaching undergird the structure of the Great Adventure Bible’s contents and lend to making all the parts create a whole.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth…so help us God!  And He does.  Through the thorough and clear presentation of God’s Word, the Great Adventure Bible draws us into the knowledge of the truth:  we are the beloved children of God’s steadfast covenantal love and we’re destined to live with Him in that love forever!

 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

RISK

In my rich pride

I think it prudent to hide

The stuff in my old haughty heart

The mask is called fear

Of what vulnerability would make clear-

Of what’s broken and fallen apart

 

Heart of Jesus

You say, “Give it to me…

And then you will see

The hundredfold reward in its place”

“Press your wounds into Mine

Crushed grapes into wine

The risk will make room for the grace”

“Give me every last shred

Give me all that you dread

Follow me wherever I go”

My haughty heart’s gone

I’m free to belong

To the One Gift I risk all to know.

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!