Upon this Mountain: On Carmelite Prayer

Upon this Mountain provides a beautiful and succinct introduction to Carmelite prayer.  “We are never alone on this most solitary of paths.  ‘We are nudged along, taught, and inspired by so many witnesses in a great cloud all around us’” p. 7.   The author is able to simplify and bring us into Carmelite prayer.  So much of my own prayer has been about bringing myself into just the right place, time, position, attitude, to drive out all my distractions and settle into a fleeting moment of prayer.  “Teresa’s own interior liberation came when she finally stopped forcing herself…and allowed herself simply to enjoy a friendship with Christ Jesus.” P.8 .  Can it possibly be this simple?  Can I stop the searching, practicing and study and simply be in the presence of my prerequisites for a serious life of prayer are love of others, detachment at all levels and humble self-knowledge.” P. 8.

Once I have managed to simply turn to Jesus as my friend, there I will meet God in the depths of me.  I have very dear friends who I don’t hold back from.  I love them and they love me, and I am completely myself with them.  I am safe from judgement.  They listen to my feelings and musings of life with patience and love.  They are given by God as a glimpse of the friendship that I can have with Him.   I love that the Carmelite tradition encourages me to “have confidence in following the way of prayer that suits us.” P.12.  I can be alone in prayer with God himself.  I don’t need to be impatient with myself.  I only need to trust that I will find the God in me through my prayer and then I will find him everywhere; “turn our attention in faith and love to the one whose attention never leaves us for a moment … whatever is on our heart when we come to prayer can be allowed to be there, for it is already on the great heart of God and he lives its reality with us.” P. 13. 

When I realize these truths, I will come into the “same personal contact with the Lord as men had during his life on earth.”p.14.  I like how Teresa “advocates simple attention to the immediate presence of the Lord within us here and now.” P. 15.  I don’t need to find a special moment because the moment is always now to say, I see you here Lord.  I am here with you, and I am yours.  I come to do your will.  My husband and I recently had a beautiful experience of visiting my husband’s siblings who we had not seen in two years.  They live across the country from us.  We were blessed and happy to be present with them.  No expectations, only the love and familiarity between us.  That is the relationship that I have wanted with God.  It is already there for me when I turn to Him.  I appreciated the description of night as “we are plunged into darkness, not because the light is not shining but because the brilliance blinds us.” P. 18.  I do not need to fear the night.  I need to be “aware of the startling simplicity and immediacy of God’s oneness with us”. P. 18.  

Chapter two further describes prayer as relationship.  John of the Cross describes this as between Lover and beloved.  “God wants to relate to the real person that I am and the real God that He is” p 20.  He wants to engage with the real me.  This will involve really getting to know myself and pealing away layers of protection.  This is an interesting way to think of the dark night.  When I fail to see God, it is perhaps because I am not spending time in my own hidden depths where God is.  God is waiting for me to turn to Him.  In the journey, we confront our faults and weaknesses as we learn to cast off the persona we present to others and be with our God.  “We can only consent to live more and more in that light:  to know that we are naked, and not hide. “ p. 25.  “In the stillness of utter simplicity, we are one with God, because he has already chosen to be one with us.” P. 26. 

Chapter three brings us into stillness.  An elderly member of the author’s order explained how to enter into silence by “listening to the silence of the chapel”.  McCormack extends this to the silence of where we are.  We can absorb the moment of the chapel or garden or wherever we find ourselves.  Become aware of the traffic noise, the fan, and then the noise of my own breathing.  Then, repeat a simple word or phrase.  For me it is “Be still and know” or “Jesus, I trust”.  This book was rich and profound in its simplicity and depth.  “If all we can do at the time of prayer is to be there, then we must be content to sit there and just be.” P.32  In that space we meet our God.    

Moving Past Disappointment to Gratitude

Oh how sad I feel right now.  I prayed and prayed and prayed.  I wanted your wedding day to be everything you wanted it to be.  And with COVID-19, it will be a different day.  I really believe that God is in these plans.  I believe that we will still have a blessed day for your wedding.  And we need to look forward to what will be.

Today, when we have to accept changing plans, it is a time to feel feelings and cry.  Cry out to God.  Ask Him to be with us as we face the disappointment of today.  Thank Him that he is with us.  Turn to Him.  Sit quietly with God.  Cry with Him.  Let Him comfort you.  Feel your feelings and ask Him for strength.  Tell God how you feel.  Ask our Blessed Mother Mary to comfort you and pray for you.  Ask God to help and he will help.

God didn’t cause the COVID-19.  He isn’t causing all the panic and the closed venues.  We didn’t cause this either.  Politics need to be put aside.  Families need to be together.  We need to begin again.

We will appreciate what we can do to celebrate your wedding.  I am so thankful for you and for your future husband.  You are a beautiful couple and your wedding will be beautiful.  It will be small and intimate and we will have such a celebration later.  And we will be together with you.  Praying for you.  Loving you.  Listening to you.  I am grateful for so many things.  I am grateful for you.

Love,

Mymom

See others through the eyes of Jesus

I can’t think of a person who hasn’t let me down at one time or another.  And I’m sure that I have let others down many times.  God wants us to depend on Him.  He loves us and is always there for us if we turn to Him and put our trust in Him alone.  Only Jesus who leads us to the Father and works in us through the Holy Spirit.  If we can trust God, then we are free to joyfully love others and allow them to be imperfect.  We can love who they are and not who we wish they would be.  We are all imperfect humans trying our best in an imperfect world.  Our sense of sometimes feeling let down often comes from putting too much on the shoulders of that other person to bring us happiness.  Peace comes from those moments when we let Jesus take us by the hand and show us others through His eyes.  Accept, trust, forgive, love.

Love,

Mymom

Prayer overcomes evil

In a world full of sin and evil and apathy and lack of faith it is hard sometimes to see God working in all things for the good of those who love Him. He is present in every moment of every day. He is aware of every breath that we take and cares about every aspect of our lives. We are His children and we are cherished. My prayer of late is all about how we can make a difference to others through our love and our example of mercy and service. I try to remember that when I see evil, I am looking right into the face of the devil and he must be rebuked through the Holy name of Jesus.

I must pray for each person and persistently pray for peace in our day. When I pray the Our Father, the rosary, the Divine Mercy chaplet and my prayer intentions, God is glorified and He listens and answers according to his Holy will. I can rely on my mother Mary to guide me to her Son, Jesus. I can rely on her to intervene on my behalf.  I ask her to pray for each of us and our intentions. I can have hope in today. I can feel joy in this very moment amidst all the distractions and trouble of the world if my focus is on Jesus. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.  Oh God, please help each of us to stay focused on you and your Holy Word.  Please deliver us from evil and grant us the freedom to worship you.  Please grant peace in our day and protect us from evil. Grant this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Love, peace and goodness,

Mymom

When does sharing news become gossip?

When we are all together with friends or family, it is loving and joyful to share news about those friends and loved ones who aren’t able to be there. We share news of blessings and suffering that our loved ones are experiencing and we rejoice and suffer together. One rule a friend shared regarding the difference between sharing and gossiping is that you should never say anything spoken to you clearly in confidence and you should never share anything you wouldn’t say if you were telling the story with that same person present. Keep your criticism and your editorial comments to yourself as they may be very hurtful. Don’t share comments meant to justify yourself or tear down the other person’s reputation. To that I say while tempting, it is bad form.

What if someone asks you directly about someone you are known to have a disagreement with? Please decline to comment. State that you have strong feelings between you and hurt feelings that are not yet resolved. Ask for prayer support for the opportunity to have the difficult conversation that will be needed to lead to reconciliation. Remember that peace begins with each one of us. Choose not to gossip but love and forgive instead. Pray for each other. Listen with love. Treasure these precious moments of time with family and friends. Spread joy, not gossip.

Oh God, help us to be instruments of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love, where there is injury, pardon through Jesus Christ or Lord, Amen. Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us. Our Lady queen of peace, pray for us. St Frances, pray for us.

Love,

Mymom

Cursillo

I belong to a wonderful community called Cursillo. I attended a Cursillo retreat in 2010. There I found balance in my faith. I had been all about action and I learned at the retreat that I need a balance of piety (prayer), study (Word of God), and action (service). This fuels me, guides me and directs my action so that my life is grounded in Christ.

The weekend retreat is lovely and even better is the 4th day… after the retreat… becoming part of the Cursillo community group reunions. There are weekly small groups. Monthly larger group reunions and other events throughout the year. We talk with each other about our piety, study, and action and encourage each other as we live out the Gospel message in our environments.

The weekend retreat was a beautiful experience. Annually, I work a weekend so that others may experience this encounter with Christ and join in the ongoing community of Cursillo. Through working in various roles, I continue to grow in my love for Jesus and others.

Dear God, I pray for the privilege of making a friend, being a friend and bringing a friend to Christ through Cursillo. I thank you for this experience and these people who love me and help me on my Christian journey. Please help me to live out my Christian faith with grace and love and service as I continue to learn and grow in you through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns forever. Amen.

Love,

Mymom

Grieving a Sinful World

I am shocked at how commonplace mass shootings have become in the United States. Instead of a couple of times in 100 years, we now know that something will happen and it will happen soon and it will be very, very bad. We don’t even talk about it anymore. Did you hear about … isn’t even in our everyday conversation.

We have to keep talking about terrorist acts, mental illness, isolation, greed, and all the terrible things happening. The devil wants to separate and divide all of us. Republican or Democrat…. do I want to listen to you or not is what goes through our minds. Stop the hatred. Stop the blindness. Stop the separation. Stop the anger. We must love one another. Love is what we need and God is Love.

Pray without ceasing. Love each other. Pray for your enemies. See Jesus in each other. When you start to feel separated, pray “Get behind me Satan.” Recognize that the evil one is behind your feelings of isolation and run back to God. Pray. Love. Treat each other kindly.

Listen. Pay attention to each other. Put down your phone once in a while. Forgive, love, be a friend, and know that I am praying for you. Be a positive, loving, listener and voice your opinion only after carefully praying for direction.

Oh God have mercy on us for we have sinned, we don’t know where to turn, help us to turn to you first and then to each other. Forgive us Father. Love us. Help us. Bless my children and grandchildren and relatives and friends. Bless the people of Florida and people throughout the world as we cry for peace and pray for those who are mentally ill or isolated, Through Jesus Christ our Lord who is Love for the world. Amen.

Love, MyMom

Go to Mass

I go to mass often; daily when I can, wherever I am. If I’m traveling, I use the masstimes.org site to key in the location and find a church with a mass when I can worship. This is more than a good habit for me. I truly desire mass deeply in my heart and I seek this time to come together to worship the King of the Universe and receive Him in the Eucharist. I seek to be close to God. I don’t understand the distance many feel from God.

Perhaps it is because they just feel separated by time and poor habits. They make excuses or skip mass because the person or people they are with resist going to mass. Invite them and if they say no, pray for them, smile and go to mass. You won’t be going alone, there will be others like you attending mass together.

I say return to mass! Go to reconciliation. Run back to God and His Holy Church. “Return to me with your whole heart” Joel 2:12

I pray that you will seek mass every week and as often as you can. Cherish the mass. Be thankful for our priests and praise our God. Oh God bring us to you through your most Holy Mass. We pray for our priests who bring us the mass. Please protect and encourage our priests and bring us many more priests and deacons. In Jesus name. Amen. Mary most Holy mother, pray for us.

What you say matters!

There is an old philosophical question “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”  My answer to you is that of course it does make a sound.  What you say matters whether or not anyone else is around to hear it.  What you think matters too.  You are to conduct yourselves at good and honorable people, examples of Christians in the world.  Sometimes you will get angry.  Sometimes you will hit your thumb with a hammer and you will want to curse.  When I have been the most frustrated; in a car, in the basement, in the woods, those times when I thought I could swear like anything and no one could hear me anyway, someone is always around to hear me.  Sometimes it is my husband, sometimes a stranger, sometimes a friend, sometimes a child who just happens to walk into the situation where I think I’m alone and no one can hear.  I really regret the times when I indulge in venting and fowl language.  It is always unbecoming of a Christian and reflects poorly on me.  When you are angry, say you are angry.  When you need to vent, vent in a constructive way.  Hold your tongue and go for a run or just take a deep breath and ask Jesus to help you to handle the feelings that you are having.  Your feelings aren’t wrong.  The permission that you give yourself to vent, curse, or act out is what is wrong.

Also, never, ever talk badly about another person.  The sarcastic comedy that has permeated our society for the last 40 years has just gotten worse and worse.  It has become so lewd and unrighteous that it is hard to find kindness in any man or woman.  We are asked by Jesus to love one and other.  We are also asked to love our enemies.  When we find it impossible to love, we can ask Jesus for help.  When we fail, we ask Jesus to forgive us.  Admit when you are wrong and ask for forgiveness from each other.  Pray for those who you find most frustrating.  They need our prayers.

Oh God, help me to say yes when I mean yes and no when I mean no.  Help me to speak with grace and dignity.  Help me to hold my tongue and choose to handle my feelings in constructive ways.  Help me to see you in each person and love them.  Help me never to speak harshly about another but to be charitable and forgiving.  I can do these things through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Love,

Mymom

 

 

How to Handle Evil

  In a world full of sin and evil and apathy and lack of faith it is hard sometimes to see God working in all things for the good of those who love Him. He is present in every moment of every day. He is aware of every breath that we take and cares about every aspect of our lives. We are His children and we are cherished. My prayer of late is all about how we can make a difference to others through our love and our example of mercy and service. I try to remember that when I see evil, I am looking right into the face of the devil and he must be rebuked through the Holy name of Jesus. I must pray for each person and persistently pray for peace in our day. When I pray the Our Father, the rosary, the Divine Mercy chaplet and my prayer intentions, God is glorified and He listens and answers according to His Holy will. I can rely on my mother Mary to guide me to her Son, Jesus. I can rely on her to intervene on my behalf. I ask her to pray for each of us and our intentions. I can have hope in today. I can feel joy in this very moment amidst all the distractions and trouble of the world, if my focus is on Jesus. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.  

Oh God most Holy.  Protect us from evil.  Grant peace in our day.  Give us focus that we may keep our eyes fixed on you.  Give us freedom to worship you and keep us persistent in our prayers for our troubled world through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Love, peace, and goodness, 

Mymom