Joyfully, Immediately and Fully

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Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:6-7

In my past post I spoke of how my Spiritual Director told me that the Saints in heaven, when God asks them to do something, they do it joyfully, immediately, and fully.  I told all of you that I looked at my past and I saw how when God asked me to do something I did it with complaint, put it off, and half way.  I told you I was going to reform myself.  I am here to tell you I am a giant failure.

Within a week of writing that post I was in adoration.  I was praying for a friend. Sometimes when I pray in adoration, if I am alone, I will lay prostrate in front of our Lord in the Monstrance .  As I lay prostrate on the floor in front of the Monstrance, I could see my hair fall all around me.  I very clearly heard the Lord say, how long have I been asking you to cover that up in deference to me?  I told him, probably 4 years.  He then asked me to make the sacrifice and to show the beauty of a woman in a world that so distorts what womanhood is.

I have read all the reasons why women veil.  I have come across article after article.  I have always had great respect for it.  But it wasn’t for me.  I go to a church that has a beautiful Novus Ordo Mass.  In a large congregation of 2200 families, most of the women do not veil, maybe I will see one at a weekend Mass.  Because I work in the RCIA ministry, I have always justified that I need to look “normal” for those who are not used to Catholic traditions.  And plus, I really like my hair.

So here was God asking me, just after I proclaimed I would be immediate, joyful, and full, to cover my head in Mass.  It is a sacrifice for Him and for others is what he told me.  So what do I do, I tell the Lord, why yes, I will do it.  And then I leave adoration and immediately begin bargaining with him.  Does it have to be THIS weekend Lord?  How about a cute hat Lord?

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What I wore to Christmas Mass. My husband told me I looked Russian.

No one else is wearing a veil Lord, I will look like a weirdo.  People will think I am trying to be holy, when I feel completely not worthy Lord.  You just want me to look like a holy roller.  The thing is, I never looked at people who wore veils that way, so why was I thinking it for myself?  In fact I admired people who wore veils.  Here I was complaining, putting things off, and doing things halfway.  I recognized immediately what I was doing.  I got so mad at myself.  

I think God was also hitting me in an attachment, an attachment to vanity.  Stop taking selfies of yourself in a hat Susan and order a veil, he said to me.  My husband asked me how many hats I was going to buy when the fourth one showed up at the house.  I had ordered a veil, but it was going to take about 5 weeks to get here, and the veil at the bookstore, well I bought it and didn’t wear it.  But when my ordered veil finally arrived, I thought,  I cannot fight God any longer.  So yes, you will see me in my veil, not feeling holy, but unworthy, but in everything deferring to my Lord.

susan-in-veil

My friend Allison told me with a blog named Veil of Veronica, how could I possibly think I wouldn’t end up in a veil.  So with that, I won’t make you indulge my selfies after this.  God tells me to stop focusing on myself, and focus on others.  I’m trying Lord.  I really am trying.

But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved.  For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil.  1:Corinthians 11: 5-6

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The Golden Souls

golden-souls

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.  The statutes of the LORD are true, all of them just;  More desirable than gold, than a hoard of purest gold, Sweeter also than honey or drippings from the comb.  By them your servant is warned; obeying them brings much reward. Psalm 19:10-12

Lately I have been getting a repeating vision in my head.  It is of a map.  Sometimes it is of the United States.  Sometimes it is of the world.  The map is covered with people.  The people on the map are mostly gray.  Some are really light gray.  Some are medium gray.  Some of dark gray.   Some people are actually black.  A far view of the map makes most of the map look gray.   God is impressing upon me that I am seeing the color of people’s souls.  However, interspersed throughout the gray are people who are golden.

These shining golden souls are interspersed throughout the map.  There are not as many of them as the gray souls, but each area has some golden souls.  Some areas more than others.  These are the people who are walking in the light of Christ.  They are actively seeking Sainthood and their souls have been illuminated with the love of God that they have accepted and said yes to.  They have been placed where they are, in God’s providence, so that the dark gray or black souls don’t spread the blackness, but for them to spread the light of Christ.  God wants each of us to choose to be a golden soul and to choose to spread his light, so the map becomes lit up as bright as the morning sun.

It is often difficult for these souls though.  They feel isolated and alone.  They feel others don’t understand them.  They yearn for community.

Throughout my prayer life I have heard God tell me I will lose my comforts.  I always interpreted that to mean material comforts (and that could well be true also, as he also tells me everything is connected.) But more than anything, after my ordeal, the comfort I felt I lost was the comfort of the community I knew.  The comfort of feeling like I belong.  The comfort of feeling I am wanted.  God told me, I am wanted.  I do belong.  I am loved.  It is from Him alone I should seek this comfort.  Be in the world, but not of it.

So, with this knowledge in mind, I looked to our Saints.  I looked for the other examples.  And there shone the Golden Soul of Mother Teresa. She was a victim soul.  She felt abandoned by God himself, but in reality,  he was letting her feel what the souls she served felt.   She did not let this feeling turn her soul gray.  She went outside of comfort, both emotionally, and materially, and shone the light of Christ anyway.  Her soul was golden, even in the midst of her own agony.  And we must always remember the greatest example of the Golden Soul, our mother, the Immaculata.

This is what we are all called to do.  We are all called to shine the golden light of Christ to others.  We are called to look beyond ourselves and go where our humanity doesn’t usually want to.  We can build community by introducing people to Love Himself.

With that in mind, my Spiritual Director told me he believes that the world needs an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  So beginning today we are saying a Novena to the Holy Spirit.  Please join us over the next 9 days in this Novena.  Our prayer will be that the Holy Spirit working in the world, and also through us, will turn that mostly gray map Golden, and the light of Christ will shine beyond measure.

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Divine Mercy Marathon

Kathleen Carr Divine Mercy

Original Oil on Canvas Divine Mercy by Kathleen Carr – http://www.carrfineart.com

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:25

I hope everyone has had a very Happy New Year and Christmas Season.  As the new year starts, I see a lot of people trying to get in shape again after the holidays, and I will tell you, I am no different.  But I may have a different motivation.  I will begin by taking you back a few years in my life.

I used to be really athletic.  I played basketball, softball, field hockey, swimming and diving, when I was growing up.  If it was outside, I especially loved it.  I played softball in high school and college.  I was fit physically, but my spiritual life was an ebb and tide, sometimes I was faithful, and many times I wasn’t.

susan-softball

As I have grown older, gotten married, and had children, I have had my ups and owns with keeping fit, just like any of us.  But I used to consistently try to at least run or jog to keep in shape.  When my friend was murdered I began to get my spiritual life in shape.  I was no longer a luke warm Catholic, I was and remain on fire for Christ, despite my many failings.  I know He is the Living God and his mercy is boundless.   For a time both my body and soul were on a trajectory of fitness aimed at the Lord.

In October of 2012 I went on a retreat with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation.  I was in adoration for quite a while and I heard the Lord clearly say to me, “Divine Mercy Marathon.”  It was clear and loud.  I fought with the Lord a bit because I had  only ever run a half marathon, and not a full one.  I told one of the sisters about it and she and I both thought I was supposed to run a marathon for the Lord.   Someone on the retreat even asked me if  I was a runner, and I took that as my sign that I should run a Marathon for Divine Mercy.   But because I had never run a full marathon I told the Lord I would do the half marathon for him.  (This makes me laugh now because even then I was always trying to get out of what God asks me to do as I have talked about here).   But I did think God’s request of me was totally appropriate because the path to Sainthood is not typically a sprint, it is a marathon.  Most Saints work over their lifetime to achieve the state of perfection that gains immediate entrance to heaven.  I even wrote to Fr. Michael Gaitley about it and received a response back from him wishing me blessings in my half marathon.

I began training immediately.  But I was thwarted at every turn.  I got extreme plantar fasciitis.  I could not run.  I could barely walk.  I experienced knee issues too.  I complained to the Lord that I was trying to do what he asked (or at least half of it), and I didn’t understand what was going on.

And then, the Boston Marathon Bombing happened.  I was stunned.  It was probably the first time I had an inkling of a charism of prophecy.  I abandoned my training so my body could heal, and I prayed for all the souls involved in the bombing and began my serious search for a Spiritual Director.  I was also hired to work a lot more in ministry with adults this time instead of just children.

Fast Forward to this year and so many things in my life have changed.  I love my work in ministry and I have my Spiritual Director.  He has trained me, as a coach would train a marathon runner, to reach new heights in my spiritual life.  I have experienced God in my soul like never before.  But my body has fallen by the wayside.  I put on weight, as many of us do, and I knew I was not treating my body as a temple.  I had severe arthritis in my knee, and so walking could be an issue some days, much less working out.  I have not been taking care of body and soul together.  I have decided that has to change.  I had plasma replacement therapy in my knee, and my plantar fasciitis has long since healed, and for the first time in a long time, I can run again.  Not far mind you, but I can do it without pain.

Which brings me to today.  Constantly in my prayer I hear, “everything is connected”.  I mean, all the time I hear it.  So I was on the treadmill today, just trying to run a mile, mind you, and I hear “Divine Mercy Marathon.”  And I think, now is the time, although it could mean something else.  I was meant to pray for mercy for the Boston Marathon Bombing, but I am also meant to run in reparation for Divine Mercy.  I want to run a Divine Mercy Marathon in reparation for the sins against the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts.  Or at least a half marathon (lol, I know, doing half of what God asks.)  God always tells me to get outside myself.  I want to do this for others.  But I feel unable, unfit, and just generally afraid.  I figure if it is meant to happen, it will, and I will succeed, because like everything, if God wants it, it will happen.  It’s not about me.  God has had me just BE with him these past few years, and now I am ready to BE and DO. (I hope I have been doing in other ways, but this will be a huge sacrifice).

So for now, I begin training.  If this is not God’s plan, he will let me know, he will block it like he did before.  Say a little prayer for me that my knees hold up, and my ankles, and my feet.  And if you want to run one too, I encourage you to do it.  It doesn’t have to be an actual marathon, like I want to do, but there’s probably some task that takes some work that God has been calling you to do.  As always, pray, discern, and do.  Do it in love.

In the end, whether I complete a marathon (or half marathon) or not, I just want to be able to say to the Lord;

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

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Mercy and Truth, Love and Law – Take the Road to Emmaus

I have recently been asked to write for Catholic Stand.  I had an article published today.  You may recognize some of my writing from my blog.

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Run Toward the Suffering

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“It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you.”
-Saint Teresa of Calcutta

I wasn’t going to post this meditation today because it is the joy filled season of Christmas, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it is appropriate, especially because many find themselves lonely at Christmas time.  I wrote this while in adoration yesterday;

A meditation;

Lord,

I hear you whisper to me, “run toward the suffering.”  Every human inclination in me says, “no, I must run away from it.”  But the God mark on my soul pulls stronger.  “Run towards the suffering.  Embrace the lonely and broken people, lift them up.  Don’t let them be alone.  We are made for Communion.”  And in those moments I want to throw myself on the cross.  I say, “yes, Lord, I will run toward the suffering.  I will embrace my fellow man in these darkest of nights; Because I can see the light of the cross.”  And I hear you whisper, “hope.” And I know that heaven is real and it awaits and I have nothing to fear.

– your servant Lord, Susan

During this Christmas Season;

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

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Fiat!

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Our Lady of Perpetual Help

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph of the house of David. The Virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus.” And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God for with God, nothing is impossible.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.  Luke 1:26-38

Throughout the past several years I have developed a deep devotion to Mary.  She gave the Fiat, the total Yes.  She is in communion with the Divine Will.  I believe this is what the Holy Trinity wants from all of us.  I have stated before that when I invited her into my life, my relationship with Christ became much deeper.  Communion with his Will.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  This is not just some empty prayer we pray.  Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta had this revealed to her.

I pray this prayer everyday.  “Make my will one with yours Lord.”  Imagine the whole earth praying this, to make your will one with Love Himself!  My Spiritual Director once told me the difference between the Saints in heaven and those of us on earth is that when God asks the Saints in heaven to do something they do it immediately, fully and joyfully, but this is not so with us.  I thought about how often God has asked me to do something only to have me fight with Him to find a way out of it, or to only do part of what He asked, and feeling so anxious about doing it.  But when you are in a relationship with God, you can only fight so much before a whale swallows you and spits you up on a shore.

And so as we enter into the Holy time of the Christmas Season, and the start of a New Year, I have vowed to do my best to make my Fiat immediate, full and joyful.  I look to Our Lady of Perpetual Help – to, well, HELP me because I have failed so miserably in the past.  She is the example.  I  know that God is asking for absolute trust and abandonment.  And as I look back on the times when I have said yes, I can see how the blessings have abounded.  It’s as if I can see an intricate tapestry of connections woven with the Divine Hand.  He constantly tells me all things are connected and when I look back, I can see that they are.  I can also see how, even in suffering, there was beauty, and that He works all things for the good of those who love him.  So as I look forward, I cannot help but say, “Mother Mary, grab my hand as I step into the unknown with you, knowing we are guided by the Divine Hand, and I have nothing to fear.”

May you all have a very Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.

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Duc Et Altum

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 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.  When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”  When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break;  so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Luke 5:3-8

Lately I have been hearing God whisper to me, “Duc Et Altum”– “Cast into the Deep.”  That was a favorite of St. John Paul II.   It is a call to a much deeper trust.  A call to cast your net into the unknown, not knowing exactly what will happen.  When the Lord told Peter to do it, Peter still didn’t know Jesus well (it was his brother Andrew who believed), but Peter trusted and cast his net into the deep, and his net became full.  And Peter KNEW him, and said, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.”   In the verses that follow Jesus tells him not to be afraid he will be catching men.

I had been pondering this story, because, you see, I know my purpose.  I know I am called to love God more than anything and that I am called to share His love for us with other people.  And so it seemed God kept whispering to me, Duc Et Altum.  Not knowing exactly what I was supposed to do with that, I went about my day.  Low and behold I came across a conference called, “Into the Deep,” led by Dan Burke (Executive Director of the National Catholic Register.) I don’t believe in coincidences, so I knew I was supposed to go.

The conference was at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, AL.  Since I don’t much like travelling by myself, I really did have to trust and I drove myself there.

 

The Conference was wonderful.  Mr. Burke gave us excellent tips on how to pray.  I would highly recommend his book Into the Deep.   Prayer really can change your life.  I know it has changed mine.

After the conference was over, I went into the Shrine.  All I can say is I was overwhelmed and overcome.  This place is stunning.  This is beauty.  It transcends time and takes you to the heavens.  I almost lost my breath.

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Then I attended Mass in the crypt church.  This is probably the most reverent Mass I had been to in a long while.  During the consecration the altar boys laid prostrate on the floor (it was celebrated ad orientem).  This place was holy.  I felt safe and loved and I didn’t want to leave.  There is a place for beauty in architecture, and in the liturgy.  It definitely drew me deeper, and I didn’t want to come back to “reality.”  I would actually argue that what is going on there is more real than any place else.

And I felt something.  I felt I am no longer afraid of death.  I know after being in this place that is a little slice of heaven on earth, that heaven is what is real, and that heaven is where I long to be.  I actually felt sad to leave.

For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.  If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose.  I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, [for] that is far better. Phillipians 1:21-23

So I have been Cast into the Deep, trusting in the Lord, knowing that He is real, and that He overcame death, so I have nothing to fear.  May God Bless all of you, may you no longer have anxious hearts, and may you know the love that surpasses all understanding.

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