Friday, March 22, 2013

Saint Francis

According to the calendar, spring has sprung....but I am still surrounded by mountains, literally mountains of snow.  Well, maybe hills of snow, but 30 cm. fell a few days ago and if spring is here, it doesn't feel like it yet.

To help remind my family of the renewal of the natural world, of the Church and of the Papacy with our new Pope Francis I, I thought I would focus on the beauty of God's creation.  Planning to work on this craft with my kids is something that has me looking forward to a time when I can see other colors than white in my landscape (green, for example, would be great!), ties into St. Francis' love of creation and respect for it, and will open the discussion about why Pope Francis chose his name.

Here's the plan (I'll keep you 'posted' about the results and any changes that need to be made):

A little prep work is in order, but really it has to do with asking my daughter what her favorite animals are, then adding my son's favorite animals to the list--he's too little to articulate what they are, but a mother knows these things.  I'll ask her to draw the animals on square pieces of cardboard (3 ''x 3'') so that the images will be roughly the same size. Next, I'm going print out this clip art image of St. Francis and color it (that's going to be my job!! Yeah, I love coloring...don't laugh it's meditative for adults too).

I found it found at

Finally, I'm going to assemble all of this into a mobile.  St. Francis in the center and all the animals around him.  I think I'll use a clothes hanger to hang everything'll be faster and easier than trying to rig a proper x-style mobile.

Through this hands on work I'd like my kids, and myself as I help them, to focus on the things that we love in the world that surrounds us.  This should help us stay focused on why we need to be thankful and reverential as we wait for Easter, and for spring.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Walking in the light

Since my last post, I've been thinking about the fact that I feel 'comfortable' feeling a river of sadness running in the background of my life.  Living that way sounds strange, and it is.  This is something I want to change about my thinking, and since I don't believe in coincidence, let me tell you about a series of little events and happenings--things I saw, read, and did--that are encouraging me to let go of the sadness and fully embrace the joy that my life affords, with all of its natural ups and downs.

First, since it's Lent (we are now midway through), most of what I have been meditating on and thinking about--reading in Scripture and praying about--has to do with the power of suffering to bring great joy if we view it correctly.  It can transform.  It is only a stepping stone to greater things (some that we can't even see or imagine yet).  I want to see the difficulties as pit-stops, not as things that I need to hang on to, or unduly focus on.  Seen this way, we can even find joy and contentment in temporary suffering (because it's all temporary, isn't it?), and because we are already looking forward to seeing how we will be better because of it.  Who will we be?  How will we be different?  What will we learn and accomplish because of it?  I don't want to deny my pain or sadness, but I do want it to have meaning.

Second, I came across this quote from Saint Pius X and a series of Biblical Quotes:

"If God is trying us with tribulations and punishments, he is doing so in order to bring us to mercy and low us to enjoy calm after the storm, to give us joy after sorrow and happiness after our weeping."

"Be happy, always happy in the Lord." (Ph 4:4)

"Be glad and rejoice for ever for what I am creating, because I now create Jerusalem 'Joy' and her people 'Gladness'."  Isaiah (65:17-21)

Third, several people reminded me about the fact that God wants us to be joy-filled even through trials, fatigue, the doldrums etc.  If we have rightly ordered our lives, then even difficulties will be lived joyfully and peacefully.

Also, I meditated on all of the above for several days, then decided that that was going to be my outlook going forward.  The effect was immediate and I had a most blessed Sunday the next day--an inner peace and joy that was unshakable   I have held onto it for a couple of days now.  I'm sure it will come and go as I struggle with everyday troubles, but having tasted that inner peace, it will come back more quickly should it ever be out of my reach for a time.  It will come back because now I know it will never really be gone, just hiding under some fleeting sadness, sorrow, anger.  As the passing cloud of emotion passes, the joy will be revealed when I see the fullness of what my life is really about.

Last but not least, let me leave you with the words of a great man that were part of today's readings in the Magnificat .  Blessed John Henry Newman had this to say--another sign from the heavens that this is the type of change that I need:

Gain healing from troubled waters.  Make up your mind to the prospect of sustaining a certain measure of pain and trouble in your passage through life; by the blessing of God this will prepare you for it--it will make you thoughtful and resigned without interfering with your cheerfulness.(emphasis mine)

This was something I needed to read today, and for always, may this attitude bring peace to me and to you as we struggle to be joy-filled always.