In a commentary from The Word Among Us I read this paragraph and it reflected the same questions that I have been mulling over for a long time. It said,
Why is it that the invitation to pray “for vocations” is usually understood to mean pray only for certain vocations—namely, for more priests and religious? Why do Catholics who are single—widowed, divorced, or unmarried—often feel vocationless and in spiritual limbo? Why isn’t Christian marriage more generally seen as a high calling and not just a default option for people who can’t handle a consecrated celibate life?
These are tough questions and the rest of the commentary did explain the reasons why, but for me, the addition of these and lay leaders in the prayer of the faithful is important. Lay leaders and marriage, are vocations and need prayer. As a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, a lay vocation of professed members dedicated to living out the Gospels, we see our numbers dwindling and our fraternities having to merge as a result just like some religious. The vocation of marriage, well…..can you tell me honestly, that most of your friends and/or family who are married are not struggling to stay married? and at this point, do you know more people who are divorced or single than married? Prayer, prayer, prayer is needed.
The Government, last week released a statistic that 50.2% percent of all American’s are single. That’s right, today, we have more single people than married and 40% of all births in America are from unmarried women. Children are growing up with a new definition of family. These are startling statistics, that paint a very vivid picture of where we are and where we will be in the near future. Children in the next generation are growing up in a very different interpretation of family than we did. There has been a huge shift and we need to reassess how we are praying and approaching the subject. Families today need support in order to thrive. They need help raising their children with faith, they need spiritual counseling as couples, they need financial assistance and mostly they need a community to stand with them through their ups and downs. Marriage is not a lesser vocation to the religious life, but where the seeds of religious life are formed, so I ask you, what are we doing and saying to our hurting communities as a body in the institutional church? Pope Francis is saying plenty, he is challenging and stretching our comfort zones into unchartered territory. On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross he married 20 couples and many were unconventional couples. His example at the Vatican for the Roman Catholic church should set the tone for the Synod of families to meet next month. Check out these links to read more on 20 married couples and Philadelphia this month.
The startling truth is, the definition of families in America has changed. I was speaking with a pastor from an affluent parish and he was meeting with a committee to discuss the challenges of his changing community. Getting advice on how to go about updating his registration form with sensitivity to the transgender and two gay couples with children in their parish. How many others are in the parish community keeping silent hoping to slip through the cracks unnoticed and not getting their needs met. This shift or change in the family dynamics affects how we are to be Church to a hurting world that needs us. Whatever their situation, right or wrong, good or bad they need us. This very notion of how much they need us reminds me of this quote, “church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners.”
As a cradle catholic raising children in the faith, I’ve come to realize that there is a natural disconnect in our children when they become young adults. They go through a stage called “judging”, when they realize that their parents do not know everything they thought they did and they view our raising them in the faith as our imposed belief on them. They begin to explore for themselves if this is what they believe for themselves. The problem we face is that the rest of the world is telling them that we are wrong too. This is why, when they want to get married and they come back to the catholic church and meet with the priest, clergy or laity in preparation, they should be very careful as to how welcoming, compassionate and full of love they are in the process of facing this challenge, because this opportunity has everything to do with whether or not they choose in their young adult life to come back. Then if we can figure out how to make make marriage in the catholic church more affordable for them as well, we may not lose so many of them to destination and protistan weddings.
Let us pray together for the upcoming Synod for the family October 5-19th, that it be fruitful and healing for the entire world and that the Holy Spirit is able to direct them on these very time sensitive issues.
Here is a worthwhile read on a former priest and annulments
These are two topics that are generally hard to understand fully, at least is has been for me. I’ve been to numerous workshops on the topics, read many books and articles and some contradict themselves making it even harder and I struggle with successfully integrating these concepts into my life. I mean sometimes I think I get it, but then I don’t see consistent results. That was, until I heard this explanation from Jill Briscoe. She was able to put it into a context that I could understand by giving me a visual. I will share with you my interpretation of it.
Imagine that you have ten boxes and you wake up looking at those ten boxes and think that in order to have balance throughout the day you need to fill each box equally. This is a misconception and not balance. Instead, look at these ten boxes and discern which two or three boxes matter to God right now, today, in this season of your life. Fill those and let the others be empty. This is true balance.
Look at this picture as an example. Would you be able to balance if your focus were on too many of your body parts? No, you would need to focus on the one, two or possibly three points of your body to make it work. The rest would be a waste of time and a distraction.
Discernment is another challenge for us and determining what is most important to God for us in the present moment can be difficult. It’s important to remember that not every invitation to serve God is from God. We can get into trouble when we say yes to numerous invitation that are good. They may good, in fact, they may be very good, but they may not be good for us.
FOR THOSE OF YOU LOOKING FOR A DEEP SPIRITUAL SCRIPTURE STUDY, YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS. IF YOU ARE FROM N.J. AND CAN MAKE THESE 6 WEEKS, CLEAR YOUR CALENDARS. WE WILL HAVE KAY ARTHUR, PRISCILLA SHIRER AND BETH MOORE CHALLENGE US TO GO DEEPER STILL IN OUR DISCIPLESHIP TO CHRIST. WE WILL HEAR FROM:
KAY ARTHUR, THROUGH THE BOOK OF HEBREWS KAY WILL SHARE HER PERSONAL TESTIMONY OF HER POOR CHOICES, SIN AND BEHAVIOR AND HOW SHE WAS ABLE TO CHANGE AND MOVE OUT OF THE REPEATED CYCLE OF UNFAITHFULNESS, ENCOURAGING US DURING OUR OWN CHALLENGES TO BE MORE FAITHFUL.
PRISCILLA SHIRER, THROUGH THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS SHARES HER PERSONAL TESTIMONY OF GOD’S AMAZING WORKS OF ABUNDANCE AND ABILITY IN HER LIFE THROUGH HER FAMILY AND WE CAN LOOK TO THE SAME ACTS IN OURS.
BETH MOORE, TEACHES ON DISCERNMENT AND SHOWS US HOW TO TRUST THE HOLY SPIRIT TO RECOGNIZE THE LIES AND DECEPTION THAT LEAD US TO MAKE POOR CHOICES AWAY FROM GOD. HER PERSONAL TESTIMONY IS ONE YOUR WON’T SOON FORGET.
JOIN US AND THESE AMAZING WOMEN CHANGE OUR LIVES TO GO DEEPER STILL. WHO COULDN’T USE THESE GREAT AND POWERFUL INSIGHTS TO AID US ON OUR FAITH JOURNEY? IF YOU CAN, CONSIDER THIS YOUR PERSONAL INVITATION ; ) THOSE INTERESTED CHECK OUT BELOW AND FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTION
Join us on WEDNESDAYS for a 6-week Scripture Study
September 17, 24, October 1, 8, 15 & 22, 9:00am-10:30am at Sacred Heart Parish Hall Registration is $15 until Sept 10th after that the price is $20 for more info contact 732- 899-1398 or DawnRusinko@yahoo.com Make checks payable to Sacred Heart mail to Sacred Heart Scripture Study in care of Dawn Rusinko 751 Main Ave Bay Head 08742
Today, I was told by a priest, that worked with homeless people that in spite of the stereotype if given an opportunity the majority of homeless people will take a job and work hard at it. They are grateful for opportunities and not lazy, they have just had a run of bad luck. Robin Williams used to have a stipulation in his contract that in order to hire him, they had to hire a certain number of homeless people as well. He tried to change the mind set of others and make a difference in his community. Check out this truth about homeless people from Orlando Florida.
I bet you didn’t know these famous people were once homeless.
Think about this the next time you pass by someone down on their luck. Think about how you can help them get a job or better their circumstance. Is it true that some homeless people are mentally challenged or suffer from addiction? Sure, but does that mean they are any less deserving of a helping hand? Matthew 25:30 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
LET US PRAY FOR ALL THE HOMELESS IN OUR INDIVIDUAL COMMUNITIES. MAY THEY FIND THE SPIRITUAL STRENGTH TO PERSEVERE. MAY THEIR CHILDREN BE SAFE AND HEALTHY AND MAY THE COMMUNITY SURROUNDING THEM HELP THEM TO LIVE A BETTER LIFE. MAY NO ONE GO HUNGRY OR COLD. WE ASK THIS THROUGH CHRIST OUR LORD. AMEN.
How can this be? I was just getting warmed up and now it’s OVER???!!! Well….at least I can say that I’ve had a good time. The weather has been great, the air sweet, and the good times with friends and family were in abundance this year. I think that I’ve stored enough summer sunshine to prepare myself for the coming seasons. In 13 Thursday’s, it will be Thanksgiving and the 17th Thursday, will be Christmas. I have a lot to do, how about you?
Normally this time of closure to the summer has me in a tizzy anticipating the darker days ahead, but since one of my friends had a near death experience last week, I’ve realized something more important. Life is precious, short and we are not promised tomorrow. Therefore, cloudy days, cold rain and snow doesn’t matter, what matters is making each moment count. Letting go of past hurts and bringing joy into the present moment is a must. They say that in the end, what will count is how much we loved. I remember reading and hearing stories from visionaries that were gifted in seeing the blessed mother, ask her, “why it is that she looks so incredibly beautiful”. They say, her beauty is beyond description and no picture or statue does her justice. Her reply was recorded as, “Because I love so much and if you love as much as I, you too, would be this beautiful”. She gives us something to think about doesn’t she?
In order for us to move forward in life without regret, is to be the best “YOU” you can be. No one can take that away from you. I am getting a bit older and unfortunately have found myself beside many caskets at funerals. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from the grieving their regrets over their last memory or moments with the deceased. Their last encounter was either arguing, not saying “I love you”, giving the silent treatment, being fresh or just not spending enough time with them. Don’t live your life with regret, turn things around while you still can. Pick up the phone and make that call to someone you’ve been thinking about for a while, smile and be joyous even on your darkest days.
St. Francis of Assisi is noted to have said, “the devil rejoices most when he can snatch away spiritual joy from the servant of God. He carries dust so he can throw it into the tiniest cracks of conscience and soil the candor of mind and purity of life. When spiritual joy fills the heart the serpent throws off his deadly poison in vain. The devils cannot harm the servant of Christ when they see they are filled with holy joy. When, however, the soul is wretched, desolate, and filled with sorrow, it is easily overwhelmed by its sorrow or it may turn to vain enjoyments.” Thomas of Celano Chapter 88 of the Second life in the, page 465
We should take those words to heart and command ourselves to live spiritual joy every day. We should also keep in the forefront of our minds, that others are watching us and some of those others are children learning how to be adults. They need to be taught how to carry their childlike happiness with them. We don’t want to encourage angry sourpuss’s ha, ha, ha. We are to be living examples of the Gospels, which means being love. This is not always easy, that’s why we are works in progress, never fully completed until our time is done. We do the best we can with what and where we are presently. The key is remembering that others are also doing the same.
1Peter 5:9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
IT’S PROBABLY SAFE TO SAY THAT WE ALL KNOW SOMEONE THAT HAS AN ANGER ISSUE. IT’S EVEN LIKELY THAT SOMETIMES THAT PERSON IS US. WE ALL EXPERIENCE ANGER, ANGER IS NOT THE PROBLEM, IT’S WHAT WE DO WITH IT THAT CAN BE A PROBLEM. RON ROLHEISER, IN HIS BOOK “THE SACRED FIRE,” HAS THIS TO SAY, “WRATH AND ANGER EXPRESS THEMSELVES MORE AS IMPATIENCE, BITTERNESS, AND A SENSE THAT LIFE HAS NOT BEEN FAIR TO US.” HMMM…..THERE SEEMS TO BE TRUTH IN THAT STATEMENT. CHECK OUT THIS EXAMPLE FROM SHELDON
ANGER USUALLY STARTS FROM OUR FEELING CHEATED OR THAT SOMEONE HAS BEEN UNFAIR TO US. THESE FEELINGS AWAKEN OUR EGO THAT FANS THE FLAME OF OUR SELFISHNESS, WHICH CAN LEAD TO DISASTER. ONCE WE LET THIS HAPPEN, OUR ANGER CAN SPREAD OUT OF CONTROL LIKE WILDFIRE HURTING EVERYONE IN ITS PATH. OUR ANGER MUST BE TEMPERED AND CONTROLLED BEFORE IT GETS THAT FAR. THERE ARE MANY ANGER MANAGEMENT COURSES THAT ARE HELPFUL, AS WELL AS MEDITATION, PRAYER, DEEP BREATHING AND WALKING AWAY TO COOL DOWN BEFORE FACING THE SITUATION.
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM SAYS, THE CURE FOR ANGER IS COURAGE AND DID YOU KNOW THAT ST. JEROME WAS SO SWIFT TO ANGER THAT HE BECAME THE PATRON SAINT OF ANGER? I COME FROM A FAMILY OF HOT HEADED ITALIANS, SO I COULD PROBABLY WRITE A BOOK ON THE SUBJECT HA, HA, HA, HOWEVER, ANGER IN AN OF ITSELF IS NOT BAD, IT’S ACTUALLY HAS A PURPOSE MUCH LIKE FEAR WHEN USED PROPERLY. CHECK OUT WHAT ROB BELL HAS TO SAY ON THE SUBJECT.
LIKE JESUS, WE NEED TO CHANNEL THAT ANGER INTO GOOD. PERHAPS, YOU WILL FIND THESE QUOTES FROM THE EXPERTS HELPFUL.
‘There is an anger which is engendered of evil, and there is an anger engendered of good. Hastiness of temper is the cause of the evil, divine principle is the cause of the good, such as that which Phineus felt when he allayed God’s anger by the use of his own sword.’
–Pope St. Gregory the Great
”When we have to reply to anyone who has insulted us, we should be careful to do it always with meekness. A soft answer extinguishes the fire of wrath. If we feel ourselves angry, it is better for us to be silent, because we should speak amiss; when we become tranquil, we shall see that all our words were culpable.”
–Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church
There are two methods to subdue anger. First, that before a person undertakes to act, he places before his mind the contumelious and sufferings which he will likely encounter, and, by reflecting on the shame borne by our Savior, prepares himself to bear them patiently. Secondly, that when we behold the excesses of others, we direct our thoughts to our own excesses, by which we offend others. This consideration of our own faults will lead us to excuse those of others. For a person who piously considers that he also has something which others must bear patiently in him will be easily disposed to bear patiently injuries he receives from others.”
–Pope Saint Gregory the Great
OPEN FLOOR: Please feel free to share how you are able to control your anger from leading you into deadly sin.
Today is the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, many of you have asked what this means. In 1954, St. Pius the X recognized her in this official title and gave it a day of commemoration. She is recognized as the Queen of the Universe for numerous reason and I am sure that I will not capture all of them in this blog post. I can tell you the three reasons that stand out for me personally.
1. Her amazing humility of always putting others before herself.
2. How she magnifies her Son Jesus in everything.
Many catholic’s consecrate their hearts to hers for the reasons I mentioned and more. Many use the consecration by St. Luis De Montefort . I have seen priests going to homes guiding entire families to be consecrated to Mary. There is a Roman catholic mariology as devoted believers followed by many saints and priests such as, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Anthony, St. Padre Pio, and St. John Paul II just to name a few. There is a misconception that we as catholics, worship Mary, this is very untrue. To understand what we really believe about Mary I’ve linked this article from “Patheos” and for those who understand better with visuals, I’ve included this below.
A brief story of a woman devoted to Mary and the sign she was given:
There is woman I know from church, who has been deeply suffering along with her young adult daughter who has severe chronic Crohn’s disease . If any of you have a severely sick child you will understand the heart wrenching agony you go through along side of them. This woman always goes before Mary in prayer and feels comforted by her who understand the pain of watching your child suffer so much. One day, after seeing her so sad in church, I had given her two medals, one for her and one for her daughter. They were blessed in Medjugorje with the picture of the Mary on one side and Jesus in Divine Mercy on the other. I felt the Graces and Blessings on this medal would transfer to her and her child. She was grateful to receive it and bought chains for them to wear. This morning she told me that her chain had broken and she placed the medal in a safe place in the middle of her shelf in one of her rooms. She went to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for her daughter and when she was done she immediately went back into the other room and found the medal on the table (not the shelf) facing Divine Mercy side up. She couldn’t believe her eyes and instantly felt peace and love. She believes this was a sign that the Mother of God heard her prayers and that everything was going to be alright. She was so excited that she had to share this story with me and I in my excitement for her felt inspired to share it with all of you.
We are not supposed to look for signs however, there are times when we are in desperate need of them. It’s during those times that God blesses us with the unexpected and we feel peace, confirmation and hope, that help us to keep going. My prayer for you on this special feast day, is to open yourselves to allowing Mary to reign as queen of your hearts, softening them to receive the seeds of Jesus so that you can birth him into the world.
I’m not sure why I sometimes do this, but I do. I find myself staring into my past rehashing my mistakes (as though I have the power to change it) and stressing over situations that have piled themselves into mountains before me. Do you find yourself at times doing that too? Of course I know better, yet without realizing it there I find myself. Today, God had to shake me up so that I could shake it off and this is how he did it.
Do you notice anything unusual about this picture? If you look closely you will see that they are sunglasses and the lenses are missing. Today, I secured my beach bag to my bike, put my sunglasses on and started to ride to the beach. They were polarized sunglasses and on the way I marveled at the different colors it casts, but at one point during the ride I felt myself squinting in the sun and wondering why, thinking it must have been the angle. All the while my lenses had miraculously disappeared. I say that, because they were fine when I put them on I didn’t crash, touch them, feel or hear them fall off. I’m not sure where they went or how they went ….they just somehow disappeared along the way. Not just one lens, but both lenses. God sure did get my attention.This disappearing act forced me to see that I needed to look at things through a different lens and new perspective. My mountain may look big, but my God is bigger.
I, like many others, spend too much time in the past, worrying about the future, and never being fully present in the moment. God is in the moment, in our relationships and in nature. By bringing my focus to the present, God showed me what I would miss if I weren’t fully paying attention. On my way up the wooden step to the beach he showed me this knot in the wood expressing his love.
Love through an unexpected Monday wedding
and the joy of a child wanting to be present, so she crashed it
The butterfly that greeted me on my return home
God works in mysterious ways, does unusual things to get our attention and speaks to us all the time in the present moment and we can miss a lot of really great stuff if we linger in places God is not. He likes to remind us that we need to keep our focus on him and his promises. Did you know that in scripture there’s an estimated 3,000 verses of God’s promises and most likely more? King David spoke God’s promises as part of his ammunition against the giant. After speaking them he was able to easily defeat it with one shot from one stone. BAM!!!! DEAD!! God’s promises spoken out loud countered the giant’s intimidation and weakened him.
Situations and people are always going to try to hold us back. We must shake it off by studying God’s promises, speaking aloud God’s promises and being joyful. I was never particularly a Taylor Swift fan until today. She impressed me at her age of 24 with her new song called “Shake it off” it’s the wisdom of how to handle haters. Haters will always hate you and you have to shake it off and find joy. I thought this positive message was a fitting way to end.
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Envy & Jealousy are the root of many evils, its subtle and hard to recognize within oneself. It can be so cunning that God made two commandments for them while all the others have one. According the dictionary envy means: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. Jealousy means: resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself. The Philosophical interpretation: Jealousy is the fear of losing what one has Envy: the desire to posses what one does not.
When we are jealous of someone else for having the same or better attributes than us we often deny we are jealous.
The best example of envy can be found in this unbelievable true story. The two women were so envious of the possession of someone else it lead them to sin. Check out this 1 minute video of them captured in the act.
Rather amazing isn’t it? Almost unbelievable when you capture the very moment you fall into stupidity from the wrong choice from being envious. Ron Rolheiser, in his book “Sacred Fire” has this to say, We feel diminished by other people’s greatness and find ourselves nitpicking and looking for flaws rather than blessing the talents and achievements of others. We can do an inventory on ourselves apposite the sin of envy by asking ourselves these questions: How often in a given day do I praise another as opposed to criticize another? How often do I nitpick, and why do I nitpick? Why do I find it much easier to be empathetic with someone who is hurting as opposed to sharing truly in someone’s good fortune? Why do I experience a secret glee upon hearing about the fall from grace of a celebrity? Why do I struggle to bless younger people? When did I last truly praise a younger person of the same-sex?
Aha! that last one is a good one. We often have trouble with our same-sex, Rolheiser talks about how women praise their sons more naturally then their daughters and vice versa for men. If I look at my own family dynamics I see that he is onto something. He goes into more detail about this in his book. He also uses the story of the prodigal son as an example of jealous and envy involving the older son. Another example he uses in relation to God’s love and envy is the workers in the vineyard. We tend to feel these pangs of jealousy and envy, because we are always watching and comparing ourself to others, forgetting that God’s love is unbound. He loves us as though we are the only ones and He will shower us with His blessings to overflowing. Check out the story of the “Red Barn” and you will see what I mean. Let us together, begin to focus on our blessings and being grateful for each one and asking ourselves the questions above on a regular basis, so that we can avoid this damaging deadly sin.
2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
OPEN FLOOR: Perhaps, you have a story to share of envy and jealousy from your life that you were able to overcome that may help someone else. Please feel free to comment below.