Advent – Week 1

Romans 5:5 – Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.

 

O Emmanuel,
King and Lawgiver
Desire of the nations,
Savior of all people,
Come and set us free, Lord, our God.

Isaiah 11:1-10

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
    and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
 The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:
    a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A spirit of counsel and of strength,
    a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord,
 and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
    nor by hearsay shall he decide,
 But he shall judge the poor with justice,
    and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
 Justice shall be the band around his waist,
    and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
    and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
    with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
    together their young shall lie down;
    the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the viper’s den,
    and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
 They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain;
    for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord,
    as water covers the sea.
On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the peoples—
Him the nations will seek out; his dwelling shall be glorious.

Luke 1:26-38

 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.
 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,and the L ord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
 And the angel said to her in reply, “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.
 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
 for nothing will be impossible for God.”
 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

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Remembering to Pray

I’ve been gone for six months from here.  Life just got so busy, and full, and complicated, and this was one of the easy things to lay down for a bit.  I’ve been thinking about jumping back in, I desperately want to do Advent activities here on New Things…no promises, but it is a strong desire.  For now, though, I’ll just share what I am currently learning about prayer.  Not anything deeply profound, but just a little something that keeps happening, and I am using it as a reminder to pray.

When I go to Mass, I am often easily distracted and have a hard time focusing on what is going on there.  Babies crying, papers shuffling, someone coughing or sneezing…all of these things interrupt my thought process, and distract me from the Mass.  I have started looking at these as opportunities to pray.  I thank God for the Mommas and Daddies who are bringing their babies to Jesus every week, and pray a special blessing over them, that the Lord would guide those parents as they train their little ones up in His ways.  I pray a blessing of health over the chronic cougher, it’s cold and flu season, and Mass is important enough to them to attend, even if they aren’t feeling 100%.  I pray for those around them, that they would be protected from the germs, and I pray for the one coughing to feel better soon.  These are distractions, but not nearly as distracting to me as seeing someone that reminds me of someone.  My mind will wander, thinking about the person they remind me of, wondering where they are, how they are, remembering fun or difficult times with them.  I don’t know how much time I’ve wasted with a wandering mind…the devil knows just where to attack, doesn’t he?  Well, I think I’ve finally happened upon a successful counter-attack.  I pray for the both of them.  The person who reminds me of someone, and the person that I am reminded of.  At least if I am going to be distracted from the Mass, I can redeem the distraction with a prayer of blessing, protection, forgiveness, or whatever is on my heart.  You know what I’m finding?  I’m not as often distracted this way.  And if I am distracted, it’s not for long, I take that thought captive, say a prayer, and leave it with Jesus.

This reminds me of a lesson I learned and shared here, To Remember Is To Pray.

I think I’m going to start keeping track and passing on notes to far-away friends that show up at Mass when I’ve said a little prayer for them.

Blessed Proverbs 31 Mother

call her blessed

Happy Mother’s Day!  I am so thankful for you, and your example of a virtuous woman who said “yes” to God, even when the task was huge, and you must have felt overwhelmed at times by the details.

Thank you, and bless you, Mother, your example helps me to walk in obedience when God calls me to difficult tasks.

I know that Proverbs is one of the books of Wisdom and not typically categorized as a book of prophecy…but I’m inclined to believe that Proverbs 31:10-31 is one of several exceptions to this classification of Holy Scripture.  I see you ALL OVER in this passage.  For today’s celebration, I have compiled paralell Scriptures from Proverbs and the New Testament accounts of you and your words.

You know how much I like numbers, especially how I love connections with numbers, dates, etc.  So, naturally I find it curious, in a goosebumps kind of way that Luke is the 3rd book of the New Testament, and your beautiful words of wisdom (The Magnificat) are recorded in the first chapter of Luke.  So, I held the passage in Proverbs 31 alongside of Luke (3rd book) chapter 1.  While I’ve also gleaned from other passages that either mention you, or record other words of yours, I just thought it was fun to have 3 and 1 show up in both places, and to put them side by side for a thought provoking parallel.  Another interesting thing to note is that I have just recently picked up an obscure little book by Thomas A’Kempis, called “The Imitation of Mary”.  While the parallels of these two chapters have been rattling around in my brain for months now, this new little book gives me extra incentive to try to be like that Proverbs 31 woman.  I want to be like you.

10  A good wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.   And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.  Luke 1:26-28

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  Luke 1:38

13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant,
    she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and tasks for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
I love the thought of your hands tending a vineyard!  The fruit of your womb called Himself the Vine.

17 She girds her loins with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor,
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
“They have no wine.”  John 2:3  (said to the One who identified Himself as the Vine)

21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes herself coverings;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger.  Luke 2:7  

23 Her husband is known in the gates,
    when he sits among the elders of the land.
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary?”  Matthew 13:55

24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers girdles to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. – Luke 2:19
     and she laughs at the time to come.

26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.  Luke 1:50-55

“Do whatever He tells you” John 2:5

27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
 and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;  Luke 1:48b

29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
“Behold, your Mother”.  John 19:27
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands
Luke 1:42 …blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

and let her works praise her in the gates.
All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus.  Acts 1:14

I love you , Momma.

 

 

Supplication/satisfaction

CAST your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you.

Commit
Adore/Affirm
Supplication/Satisfaction
Trust

We’re halfway through my prayer journal, and actually have come to the thickest portion of the contents.  I just wrote about this section here.  As this section is the busiest part of my journal, it is always evolving, and has taken on a significant change just since I wrote about it.

Because sometimes I feel like I get bogged down in the “gimme prayers” and I tend to forget God’s faithfulness to me in answered prayer, I felt I needed a way to track it better.  Now, after I pray through my pocketful of daily prayers, I turn to my page of “Supplications”.  These prayers include, but are not limited to specific requests for myself, my spiritual walk, areas I am working on, etc. as well as names of people I’ve committed myself to pray for, with dates.  On the back of this page, on the same line as the request is written on the front, I record answered prayers with the date answered.  I call this “satisfaction”.  Whether His answer is yes or no, or not yet, I know that He has heard me, and answered me.  When this page is full, and I need to add intentions, I transfer all prayers that I am still waiting on an answer for to the new page, and continue from there.  This serves a dual purpose, it keeps me mindful of things that I promised to keep in prayer, and it keeps me mindful of answered prayer that I can add to my “attitude of gratitude” page.  I plan to make a page or two for this section with one of my favorite poems, “Wait”, as well as Bible verses reminding me to keep persisting in prayer.

Why do we do the things we do?

One of my newest podcast discoveries!

Ever wonder why Catholics sit, stand, and kneel so much?  Jennifer explains it here:

I wish I’d have had these podcasts when I was a brand new baby Catholic.  Sharing for all you newbies now, and for all you seasoned Catholics who might not have known WHY you do what you do.

Blessings.

Where Charity and Love, God is There

This morning’s blessing from the Divine Office:

Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est
(Where charity and love, God is there)

We feel your presence here
Your love and comfort near
As you welcome us.
Fill our every need
Hurry gracious host
To those we meet

(Chorus)

And so we come to you
We need to be renewed
Take our gifts O Lord
Use us for your good
Help us love each other as we should

(Chorus)

Help us your people Lord
That we may serve the world
Wash away our sins
Cleanse us from within
Send us forth to do your will

(Chorus)

So as we live each day
Lord help us that we may
Keep our hearts and minds
Open to your love
That charity and love in us abound.

(Chorus x 2).

Forty Ideas to Incorporate or Give Up this Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  Today we remember our station, that we are dust, and one day will return to dust.  It’s a time of personal reflection on the passion of Christ, and the imitation of Him.  It’s also a time of intentional resolve to follow the exhortation of Philippians 2, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  The sacrifices we make should be from a heart of obedience, and not for outward show.  In this, we draw near to the heart of God, as obedient children, and have the opportunity to participate in His suffering and death.  The practical application of this participation is denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him. We give up things, attitudes, or bad habits that may have taken a place in our hearts that is reserved only for the Lord.  We put these things aside, and work on developing good habits while we nourish our souls.

If you don’t know what to give up for Lent, I’ve compiled a list of 40 ideas for you to choose from:  If you’e already made your Lenten sacrifice, there’s an idea for each day of Lent for a little extra sacrifice to keep you extra focused.

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, and would love to hear yours.  Feel free to share your Lenten inspirations with me in the comments.

  1. Spend some time developing your prayer life this Lent.  I’m still adding to and organizing my own prayer journal, and working on making better habits.
  2. Give up social media.  So much time is wasted here.  I’ve actually fasted completely in the past.  This year, I’ll be partially fasting, because of work that requires me to be on social media.  My goal is balance, my plan is to abstain from sun up to sun down, then prioritize the time acquired between work, familly, and ministry. I hope to be able to continue this even after Lent is over.
  3. Television.  Turn. It. Off.  Seriously!  We actually are planning to disconnect cable altogether as soon as this billing cycle ends.  What a waste of money and resources.  It’s just a vast wasteland of mind rot.
  4. Replace TV time with reading a good book.
  5. Read Story of A Soul, or if you prefer, listen to it online.
  6. Give up some sleep.  Wake up an hour earlier than usual, or stay up an extra hour before going to sleep.
  7. Replace sleep time with prayer and/or contemplation.
  8. Learn and pray the Divine Office.  It’s online here.
  9. Give up your telephone.  Turn it off for an hour, or an afternoon, or all day.  Let your voicemail pick up important calls and you can return them later.
  10. Make and send a handwritten greeting card or letter.  Don’t you love to get REAL mail?  Give, and you will receive.
  11. Give up laziness.  When you feel like sitting and relaxing, get up and DO something.  Combat laziness with activity…go for a walk, exercise, garden….
  12. Offer up your hobbies.  We enjoy them, but sometimes they take more time than they should, time away from necessary things, even.
  13. Give up worrying and fretting.  Aint’ nobody got time for that!  Replace it with thanksgiving, and allow His peace to fill your soul.
  14. Memorize Philippians 4:6,7
  15. Pray the Rosary.  If you are a baby Catholic (like me) or are just learning the Rosary, it is helpful to listen and pray along with one of the many youtube videos available.  Check it out, and pick your favorite.
  16. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I prefer to sing it.  This is my favorite version right now.
  17. Give up your pride.
  18. Pray the Litany of Humility
  19. Turn off your electricity for a day and meditate on Jesus being the Light of the World.
  20. Pray for those who do not have electricity for refrigeration, cooking, heating/cooling, and etc.
  21. Give up your favorite Alcoholic drink.
  22. Replace your usual alcohol beverage with water while you meditate Jesus’ first miracle.
  23. Give up caffeine (!)  (I have to admit this one is a huge sacrifice for me, I really, really love and appreciate my morning coffee.  If you can’t give it up completely, what about cutting back and limiting yourself to just one cup instead of half a pot?)
  24. Cut out all sugar and carbs and replace them with healthy alternatives.
  25. Give up one meal.  Offer it up and replace the time with a Rosary for world hunger.
  26. Give up meat.  Try some new meatless meals on another day besides the usual Friday fast.
  27. The ever popular “sweets”.  Give up candy, sodas, desserts, etc.
  28. Give up that second helping.  That dinner was good, and you could easily polish off another plate of it?  Resist.  Offer it up.
  29. Give up salt. Experience the absence of salt while you do a topical study on all the times salt is mentioned in the Bible.  You won’t forget it.
  30. Visit a shut-in
  31. Read Thomas A’Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ 
  32. Did you know Thomas A’Kempis has another beautiful work?  I’m reading The Imitation of Mary this Lent, after finding it in our church’s bookstore.  So far, I don’t see a free version online, but Amazon has them if your church bookstore doesn’t.
  33. Give up your inclination to anger.  When you feel it rising, offer it up, and and look for an opportunity to exercise your compassion.
  34. Memorize Colossians 3:8-13
  35. Give up grumbling and complaining, replace it with thanksgiving.  This requires you to think before you speak, a worthy habit to develop!
  36. Memorize Philippians 2:12-16
  37. Give up shopping for 40 days.  Learn to be content and make do with what’s on hand.
  38. Memorize Hebrews 13:1-6
  39. Give up procrastinating.  Whatever it is you’re putting off, do it, so you can get it done!  You’re not getting any younger.
  40. Memorize Ephesians 5:14-17 — in fact, if you’ve got serious penance in mind, memorize the whole chapter.  It is RICH, isn’t it?

Christ Renews His Parish

I’m off early in the morning to a ladies retreat with CRHP.  I would appreciate prayers.  I believe strongly that the devil doesn’t want me to be there, which makes me believe even more strongly that the Lord has something specific for me to receive in it.

I’ll be back next week to share all the wonderful things I learn with you, thank you for remembering me in your prayers.