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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Run so as to Win


So I sez to myself, "Self, there's a big race coming up and I think you're ready for this one".
Lil' self replies, "only if I get to cheat my lenten fast with a small morsel of chocolate...then I'll run the race."
Big Self sez, "nonsense!...this is for the Desert Nuns. Just look at the example they are setting for us with sacrificial prayers, penance, offerings, a life of celibacy, wearing all those duds in the 113 degree heat. Are you going make me remind of you of that Almighty ME thing again?"
Lil' Self replies, "but my legs are so white and I've never run a race, and what if I come in last, and..."
Big Self retorts, "you are ready for the 5k Lil Self. You've been running the 5k five times a week for the past year. You are,in fact overqualified for the 5k. It's time to think BIG like me and run the 10k!"
"10k, are you nuts? The last time I decided to run 6 miles I about puked. Besides, this isn't about showing off...this is about showing up." argues Lil Self.
"You make a valid point Lil Self. Mind if I challenge you?"
"Will it make a difference if I said 'no'", answers Lil self sarcastically.
"You know those folks who have offered to sweeten their pledge if you finish first or faster?"
"Yup" sez Lil Self.
"How about if you counter offer and ask them to double their pledge if you double your distance?" Big Self countermands.
Lil Self falls silent for a change.
"Then you could really show up" adds Big Self.
"but I might puke?"
"but you might finish, too. And you also might be able to make a really splendid pledge to those beautiful nuns for their new digs in Tonopah."
"You know what, Big Self?" asks Lil Self
"What Lil Self?"
"I hate it when you're right."

Interested in pledging Karen for the Fun Nun Run on March 20 in Glendale AZ, send me an email with your pledge amount kwilliams@catholicedition.com


You can visit the Desert Nuns on their website at...


http://desertnuns.blogspot.com/


They are looking for walkers/runners for the 5K or 10K, shadow runners and volunteers for that day. Contact Karen if you're interested.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A letter you should read

My oldest son departed yesterday for his senior retreat out at Lake Pleasant. He and about a hundred other classmates will be pondering over faith matters, spiritual concepts and letters from family members that have been kept secret until this weekend. I hope it will be a time of great insight, gratitude and love for them. I held back a little with our boy. You see, he's really struggling with his faith right now. I would have sent the below letter but he would have dismissed it as "there she goes again...just going on another God rant." I love him for his honesty. What he doesn't know is that I, too have doubted God's love, existence, motive at various places along the journey.  There have been moments that have bled into days and weeks and months where I thought the whole concept of God was utter nonsense. I had to struggle through it. They were not easy, graceful or an impressive chapters. But they were probably the most insightful in retrospect and provided a glimpse of how it's easy to be fooled into the world's ways of thinking.

I've always been drawn to the life and writings of St. Augustine but only recently has his mother, St. Monica joined my enclave (Saints of Endurance--previous post). Somebody once told me that we don't find saints--they find us.  I believe this to be true. At one point, Monica got so ticked off at Augustine for joining up with a weird gang (The Manicheans) that she kicked him out of the house. Monica was later consoled by her bishop..."the child of those tears shall never perish". Monica kept a quiet, prayerful vigil for her son..for 17 long years.  I'm sure there were times she felt unheard, doubtful and impatient...as though God were not even there.  The fact of the matter is, He is there. He does hear. He longs for us to come home to Him.

So I will keep the oil in my lamp even though the road gets hard and darkness casts a pointless shadow. And when the time for listening arrives, perhaps a few decades from now, I'll give this letter to my son....


My Child,


You may not know me,

but I know everything about you.

Psalm 139:1


I know when you sit down and when you rise up.

Psalm 139:2



I am familiar with all your ways.

Psalm 139:3


Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.

Matthew 10:29-31


For you were made in my image.

Genesis 1:27


In me you live and move and have your being.

Acts 17:28


For you are my offspring.

Acts 17:28


I knew you even before you were conceived.

Jeremiah 1:4-5


I chose you when I planned creation.

Ephesians 1:11-12


You were not a mistake,

for all your days are written in my book.

Psalm 139:15-16


I determined the exact time of your birth

and where you would live.

Acts 17:26


You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14


I knit you together in your mother's womb.

Psalm 139:13


And brought you forth on the day you were born.

Psalm 71:6


I have been misrepresented

by those who don't know me.

John 8:41-44


I am not distant and angry,

but am the complete expression of love.

1 John 4:16


And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.

1 John 3:1


Simply because you are my child

and I am your Father.

1 John 3:1


I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.

Matthew 7:11


For I am the perfect father.

Matthew 5:48


Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.

James 1:17


For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.

Matthew 6:31-33


My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.

Jeremiah 29:11


Because I love you with an everlasting love.

Jeremiah 31:3


My thoughts toward you are countless

as the sand on the seashore.

Psalms 139:17-18


And I rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17


I will never stop doing good to you.

Jeremiah 32:40


For you are my treasured possession.

Exodus 19:5


I desire to establish you

with all my heart and all my soul.

Jeremiah 32:41


And I want to show you great and marvelous things.

Jeremiah 33:3


If you seek me with all your heart,

you will find me.

Deuteronomy 4:29


Delight in me and I will give you

the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4


For it is I who gave you those desires.

Philippians 2:13


I am able to do more for you

than you could possibly imagine.

Ephesians 3:20


For I am your greatest encourager.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17


I am also the Father who comforts you

in all your troubles.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4


When you are brokenhearted,

I am close to you.

Psalm 34:18


As a shepherd carries a lamb,

I have carried you close to my heart.

Isaiah 40:11


One day I will wipe away

every tear from your eyes.

Revelation 21:3-4


And I'll take away all the pain

you have suffered on this earth.

Revelation 21:3-4


I am your Father, and I love you

even as I love my son, Jesus.

John 17:23


For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.

John 17:26


He is the exact representation of my being.

Hebrews 1:3


He came to demonstrate that I am for you,

not against you.

Romans 8:31


And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19


Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19


His death was the ultimate expression

of my love for you.

1 John 4:10


I gave up everything I loved

that I might gain your love.

Romans 8:31-32


If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,

you receive me.

1 John 2:23


And nothing will ever separate you

from my love again.

Romans 8:38-39


Come home and I'll throw the biggest party

heaven has ever seen.

Luke 15:7


I have always been Father,

and will always be Father.

Ephesians 3:14-15


My question is…

Will you be my child?

John 1:12-13


I am waiting for you.

Luke 15:11-32


Love, Your Dad

Almighty God
Father's Love Letter used by permission Father Heart Communications Copyright 1999-2010 www.FathersLoveLetter.com

Friday, February 19, 2010

In the cell, not on it: What's it's like to be a Dominican Sister of Mary

Some splendid things hail from the great state of Michigan:  Greektown, Little Cesar's Pizza, lake recreation, a few choice automobile manufacturers, the MSU Spartan Marching Band, my family, The Red Wings,  and now let's includeThe Dominican Sisters of Mary, who recently lit up the Oprah Winfrey show. I had an opportunity to meet a few of them at a gathering last week.  This is another vibrant young Catholic Community (just like our beautiful Poor Clares, aka Desert Nuns) that has come to life in the last few decades...average age of the women in this order is a fresh 26! So those of you out there who have monikered Holy Mother Church with adjectives such as "stodgy and stale" think again.



"the habit is like a wedding ring; it says that someone loves me...someone has claimed me as His own"...ah beautiful.

Thanks Oprah....this almost makes up for not offering equal time to both candidates last election cycle ;-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Immolation

I was really ticked off before Mass today. Someone had offended the almighty me.  Would you like to listen in to the hamster wheel in my head? Sort of goes like this:

"How dare they insult and offend me this way. I was only trying to do something good. Don't they know who I am. I am a good volunteer.  I am one of he best. No one should treat me this way. If only they knew the trouble I have gone to for this project and all the souls I will save by my gracious and glorious act, they would not treat me so abjectly.

Then I strode into church to take my rightful and glorious place.

That was until I saw His rightful and glorious place on the crucifix. Mind if I change the script profoundly? okay. Here goes.

How dare we insult and offend HIM this way?
After all, HE is always trying to do something good (for us).
Don't we know who HE is? (God of the universe).
HE is a good (most perfect) volunteer (God's Son who gave HIS very life for us).
HE is the best.
No one should treat HIM this way.
If only we knew the trouble HE went through (His life, passion and death) for this project (eternal salvation)
And all of the souls HE will save (including my own titanically arrogant one) by HIS most gracious and glorious act...
they wouldn't treat HIM so abjectly (crucifying Him)

I have a long way to go.
The only "I" word fitting enough for this little spartan is "Immolation". Ahh yes.  That's a good place to start on Ash Wednesday.
Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lent: The Pregame Show

This is how Lent usually begins for me. Self propelled, pants on fire, spiritually dead by the time I get off the porch. Why is this?  Perhaps it is too many pazckis in my belly; tried to finish off that last pound of See's Chocolates before the Ash Wednesday deadline; trying to cram too many gotta do tasks into the almighty Lenten self improvement program. I am not alone.  There are a lot of folks I know who also take advantage of the austerity of the season to wittle off that 10 pounds of winter warmth; to start a new exercise program or to change a bad habit. (New Year's Resolutions Revisited). So to you, my "soon to be better-disciplined" comrades: "Nothin' wrong with that." But let us be challenged for a moment.

Lent is not a self-improvement program per se. Lent is a journey. A pathway to something much greater. We recall elements of our Us-ness in the waters of baptism and the need to repent on many levels, but it doesn't begin or end there.

What is Lent exactly? Lent is a 40 day period of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter. Our liturgy changes from the green of ordinary time to the purple penitential time as we steel ourselves to meet the risen Lord at Eastertide.

The word Lent derives from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten, meaning "Spring," and lenctentid, which literally means not only "Springtide" but also was the word for "March," the month in which the majority of Lent falls. Playing around with words a little more, I imagine that lent also has something to do with "length"; the days are becoming longer and the hours of light overcome the hours of night. Symbolic? You betcha. Perhaps it will mean that I have to stretch a little too; lengthen my grasp. Grope for God.  And there's the nouggat filling, er um I mean ultimate reason for the season. (Sorry, reptile brain still on the launchpad). Simply stated, Lent is our quest for The God of the Universe. What we do to slough off the bad and instill the good is what propels us. We give up things in order to stretch out. We jettison the 50 mental pounds of heft in order to soar spiritually. We gain mastery over self, the hamster wheel that is the mind, bodily temptations & earthly delights so that we can become supernaturally- fit, divinely purified; make room for the Heavenly Guest.

So Lent is not a "what" as much as it is a "why". The Wile E. Coyote character does unfortunately represent me well. My "pants on fire" mentality sometimes has me focusing too readily on that external roadrunner and less on the ever present reality that God is waiting for me....He is in HERE.  Not in a barren wasteland or a howling desert, but in the oasis that is my soul. The journey is to my inner region, where I shall find food and drink in steady supply....

It was a great delight for me to consider my soul as a garden and reflect that the Lord was taking His walk in it. I begged Him to increase the fragrance of the little flowers of virtue that were beginning to bloom, so it seemed, and that they might give Him glory and He might sustain them. -St. Teresa of Avila
Ergo, I am putting down the chocolate
Taking up my beads
Finding my way to adoration and prayer
Gathering my Carmelite saints and their writings around me (because, frankly, they are the best examples I have)
And preparing for warp speed

See you in coach... travel light.


Monday, February 8, 2010

The Serenity Prayer--in it's entirety

Those who are in 12-Step recovery programs are undoubtedly familiar with the Serenity Prayer; one of the most well-known and oft-quoted prayers of our time.  It is the common name for a prayer originally written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in the late1930s to early 1940s. Research suggests that Niebuhr wrote the prayer for as part of a sermon he was giving. The program of Alcoholics Anonymous adopted the first few lines of this prayer in the 1950s which it recites at most of its regular meetings of AA throughout the world.  I would like to post the full text of that beautiful prayer for you here:

The Full Original Copy of the Serenity Prayer
by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.








Thursday, February 4, 2010

Big Story-small package

A four-year-old child offered a cheerful "hello" to his elderly neighbor who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.

When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy just said,

'Nothing, I just helped him cry.'
- - - - - -
I am grateful today for the many people who have 'been there' for me.
I am grateful for the opportunities to 'be there' for others.
I am grateful for big stories in small packages.