A TEACHING MOMENT-OFFER IT UP

This was not the Blog I had planned for this AM but our Deacon Dave wrote in the church bulletin about a subject I have been talking about ever since I had breast cancer in 2001 or 2001.  My mother used to say this to me, it may be a Catholic way of praying that goes back hundreds of years, but it makes sense. OFFER IT UP…offer your suffering up for another, here it is:

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“I remember when I was much younger when I would stub my toe, get a cut on my finger, had a stomach ache, or just plain felt ill, my mother said I should, ‘offer it up.’ I often wondered just what that meant. Through the years, I would use those those words often, but her meaning never really sunk in deeply until I had encountered other types of sufferings later on in life.

Her explanation still rings in my ears. “Offer up your pain and suffering to God as a sacrifice.” My reply was often, ‘to what? For what?’ The teachings of the Church had not been firmly embedded in me at the time. I had no heard of ‘REDEMPTIVE SUFFERING’and if I had, I probably wouldn’t have understood it fully.

In short, redemptive suffering is attaching whatever pain, suffering, or discomfort you may have to Christ’s suffering on the cross for relief for the souls in Purgatory, for the specific relief of someone else’s pain and suffering, or given to God to be used as He sees fit.

It isn’t that Christ did not suffer enough, so that he needs our miseries to be added to his: it is just that he allows us to be part of the healing out of pure love.  The simplest and clearest analogy I’ve heard is that of a mother, baking a chocolate cake in the kitchen. She has everything she needs and doesn’t need anything or anyone else to help. In comes her little three year old daughter who says, ‘Mumma, can I help?’ And love receives. Love doesn’t say, ‘No thanks, I have enough, goodbye.’ So mother says, ‘Sure, honey.’ and the little girl throws in her attempt with a half beaten egg and mess of flower.

Shift gears. God doesn’t NEED our help. But if we offer our painful feet, our pesky cold, our cancer , our heart problems, our annoyance with the person who just cut us off in traffic to God and say, ‘GOD, PLEASE TAKE THIS___________as a gift and unite it to your suffering on the cross. Use it for.._____________or whatever way you wish.’  That is making the best possible use of suffering. WHY WASTE IT?”

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And there you have it.  WHY WASTE IT? Don’t think this is easy. Sometime the pain and suffering is so much you can’t think…teach others in your family to help you think about “Offering it up” when you are in extreme suffering that never seems to end. This is what is so wrong and so hard about assisted suicide, which is so wrong, and devastating, but sometime may seem the only answer for you or those who love you. Remember GOD HAS A PLAN, so offer up your suffering for someone who is worse off than you. Teach your family to do the same things.  It does mater, God does listen, He does have a plan for you and He is in control. (Suffering on this earth may get you straight to heaven, we won’t know until we get there)

PRAYER;  Heavenly Father, you cannot be outdone in generosity, for you have given us the gift of life in the Spirit. Give us the grace to be open to this gift, that we may serve you and our brothers and sisters. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

HISTORY OF LENT AND WHY 40 DAYS

The Catholic TV monthly magazine had an article about the History of Lent. I thought maybe some of you might be interested:

History of Lent-what did fasting used to look like: The Lenten season, preparation for Easter, has been observed from the onset of Christ’s Church, although there have been inconsistencies with duration and practices.  The Council of Nicea, 325AD, established Easter’s fluid date as the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox. In 461 AD, Pope St. Leo established the duration as 40 consecutive days before Easter. Pope Gregory the Great, in the sixth century, added the dispensing of ashes the preceding Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), making Lent 46 days. Sundays were considered feast days and not included in the count. (However, my mother informed us kids that if we gave up Movies for Lent we could not go on Sundays, or it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice. Connie)

Initially, all forms of meat, fish and animal products were excluded for the entirety of Lent. People were allowed one meal per day, after 3 pm. In the 1400’s that time was revised to noon. Eventually, a small snack was included to sustain energy. Over time, fish, meat and eventually dairy products were allowed. However, fasting was require all 40 days. It wasn’t until 1966 that fast days were lessened to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday only. (Now, we give up meat on Fridays during Lent, along with Ash Wednesday)

WHY 40 DAYS????The number 40 has ecclesial significance: Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai before receiving the Ten Commandments; Jesus spent 40 days in prayer and fasting prior to beginning his ministry. So, too, we spend 40 days preparing to do God’s work.

WHY  DO WE HAVE PENITENTIAL SEASONS?  (This is a question many Christians ask Catholics, who quite often don’t know the answer) Jesus gave the example of a penitential retreat, spending prayerful time in the desert preparing for His ministry, reflecting on God’s will and determining how He’d freely make that happen. Penitential seasons offer us this same opportunity to withdraw from our routines and evaluate our spiritual progress or regression. We do this through reflection and repentance, which enable us to identify our weaknesses and make reparation to amend our sinful ways. Penitential seasons create time to reflect on our need to make God the focal point of our lives. The result can be spiritually rewarding. (Many Catholics spend extra time in prayer. Go to extra Masses, the Stations of the Cross, and other spiritual reading during Lent)

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT RULES FOR LENT IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

All Catholics, ages 14 and up, are bound by the law of abstinence. Abstinence means refraining from the consumption of meat (land animals) on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. Why Friday? To unite ourselves with Jesus’ sacrifice, made for us on Good Friday.

All Catholics, ages 18-59, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is defined as eating one full, meatless meal on prescribed days. Bits of food can be taken at other traditional meal times though their combined total should not equal a full meal.

Penitential practices, like fasting and abstinence, are intended to refocus our thoughts and intentions toward God. Lent’s 40 days include Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday (the Lenten fast continues until Holy Saturday), not including Sundays. Sundays are optional but encouraged. For health reasons, the infirm, ill, and pregnant or nursing mothers are exempt.

Three other Lenten disciplines are prayer (daily conversation with the Lord) fasting (from behaviors which detract from our relationship with God) and  almsgiving (sharing our resources, ensuring the basic needs of human dignity).

I WILL ADD; many Catholics like to go to the  Stations of the Cross usually on Friday if it is available in their Churches. The Stations of the Cross actually started before the Crusades when Christian were free to go to Jerusalem.  I read where they used to journey from Rome and Europe to Israel to follow the footsteps of Jesus to the Cross. Much like people do now. Then when the Muslims took over the Holy Lands and the Christians could not go there, they started setting up outdoor statues or pictures of what we now call the Passion of Christ. From the Last Supper to the capture in the garden, the whippings and crown of thorns thru the town, past the women, and when he had help carrying the cross and when He was nailed to the cross. Now Catholic Churches have pictures or carvings on the wall that go around the church, 14 stations showing the Passion of Jesus.  People say prayers at each station and they are called the Stations of the Cross.  It follows the story of His Passion in the Bible Gospels. Usually on Good Friday, when possible, the Stations are said at 3PM, the time that Jesus died.

GIVING ALMS: During Lent as with other times of the year, but especially during Lent, we can give up something we spend money on, coffee, candy, movies, whatever, and give that money to the poor. Examples; the Salvation Army, Local Food Cupboards or you can look up Catholic Relief Services (CRS) or Catholic Charities for example, all these organizations help people who are desperate for help.  Catholics have what we call a “Rice Bowl” we put on the table or somewhere in our home where everyone can drop money in, on Easter we put the money in an envelope marked RICE BOWL put it in the collection basket,and the Church sends all the money to Catholic Relief Services to feed the poor in other countries.  You can look up CRS Rice Bowl on line: http://www.crsricebowl.org. To get more information. Catholics have been donating to CRS for many years. They are all over the world helping and teaching the poor how to  feed and support themselves and they are at places of devastation like Haiti helping people to recover and start over.

HOW DO WE RESPOND TO SUFFERING?

When I was young, one of the things Catholics used to say when we had pain or were ill was: “OFFER IT UP”.  I hadn’t heard it for years until a few years ago, when I read or heard someone say, “OFFER UP YOUR PAIN AND SUFFERING AS A PRAYER FOR OTHERS WHO HAVE THE SAME ILLNESSES.” Simply tell Jesus that you are offering your suffering up for someone one else.”  It made sense to me then and still does, at least the pain and suffering I am going through is not wasted if it is used as a prayer.  I remembered this through breast cancer and then later as I went and am still going through heart problems. Did it make the pain and suffering any easier, it still was bad, but at least it served as a prayer.

I have since read and heard this several times in Christian Magazines and the Presence Radio.  I read that you could use suffering as a prayer, not only for other people, but for souls stuck in Purgatory and to help atone for sins being committed in the world and prayer for Peace in the world. Then I came across this article by Rev. Andrew Apostoli, CFR in the SOUL MAGAZINE, a publication of the World Apostolate of Fatima. In one of the chapters he wrote:

HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO SUFFERING?

The second time the Angel appeared to Lucia and the other children of Portugal at Fatima he encouraged the children, “Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you.” Everyone has suffering of one kind or another in life. This is what Jesus taught in the Gospel to be His disciple, namely, that we must deny ourselves (these are our sacrifices). take up our crosses each day (these are our sufferings, even if just carrying out our daily duties), an follow Me (these are our efforts to imitate Christ each day). (cf Mt 16:24). ………………………………….

HOW DO WE HANDLE SUFFERING?

I has been said that suffering can make a person either better or bitter. It makes us better when we see it as coming from God and are willing to accept it from Him. Many lessons in life come through suffering especially the building of character and the strength of enduring with perseverance.  On the other hand, we know that suffering can make people bitter. This happens when they resent them and refuse to accept them. Many people become angry at God when crosses come their way. They resent it because these sufferings take away their ability to live a happy life according to their own hopes and desires. Yet it is only when we embrace the cross in our hearts that we find the peace that comes in doing God’s will, even in adversity. In our Christian faith the cross is no longer a tragedy; God turned it into a source of blessings and eternal happiness. The Angel would encourage us to accept our sufferings with patience and trust. Abundant fruits will follow!

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Remember folks, offer your pain, disappointments, sufferings, and hurts up to Jesus as a prayer, He has a plan for you. Ask Him to be with you and to give you the strength to make it through the tough times, and be sure to thank him for the good times. Thank Him for the things He has given you and the good people He has put in your life. Be sure to tell Him you love Him, as he love you, no mater what.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GREAT READING FOR LENT and DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY

As we approach Divine Mercy Sunday on April 23, the week after Easter Sunday on April 16, and the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, check out these great resources on the tremendous power of Divine Mercy and the story of the apparitions at Fatima, 100 years ago.  You can order these at (marian.org)

A JOURNEY TO HEALING THROUGH DIVINE MERCY: MERCY AFTER ABORTION: by Theresa Bonopartis. Sharing the fruits of her own long and often painful process of healing after having had an abortion. Theresa Bonopartis gives her testimony and offers a series of Divine Mercy meditations for post-abortive mothers and fathers. Drawing from the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and the words of the popes, Bonopartis shares profound insights to assist her wounded brothers and sisters to find healing and renewed relationships with God, their families and friends, and themselves. $9.95.

THE FACE OF MERCY DVD AND LIBERATING A CONTINENT: JOHN PAUL 11 AND THE FALL OF COMMUNISM DVD. These two remarkable documentaries by the Knights of Columbus tell the stories of Divine Mercy and the Great Mercy Pope, St. John Paul II. THE FACE OF MERCY includes the teaching of Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, and Fr. Seraphim Michalenki, MIC, as well as the Divine Mercy testimonies of Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, and Eric Mahl, a Marian Helper and former NFL player. LIBERATING A CONTINENT draws on interviews with many of the foremost experts on St. John Paul II in the world, including Marian Press author Ewa Czaczkowska, who wrote the outstanding biography, FAUSTINA; THE MYSTIC AND HER MESSAGE.’s calls today. Indispensable reading for the 100th anniversary of Fatima. $17.95 B33 FOMDVD and $19.95 B33 JPDVD

FATIMA FOR TODAY; THE URGENT MARIAN MESSAGE OF HOPE by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR. shares the history of what happened at Fatima, as well as the apparitions that Lucia dos Santos continued to receive later in her life.  He discusses Fatima’s effects on world and Church history, as well as how we can and must answer Our Lady’s calls today. Indispensable reading for the 100th anniversary of Fatima. $16.95

You can also order these at:  shopmercy.org

Happy Reading and a Productive Lent

 

 

PRO LIFE -MARCH FOR LIFE

FROM CONCEPTION TO NATURAL DEATH IS THE CRY OF EVERY CATHOLIC AND HOPEFULLY EVERY CHRISTIAN.

THE MARCH FOR LIFE ON FRIDAY, JAN 28, 2017 WAS AGAIN VERY SUCCESSFUL AND VERY ENERGETIC. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE ENTIRE 44 YEARS OF THE MARCH, SINCE THE YEAR AFTER ROE VS WADE WAS PASSED THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. SPOKE FROM THE STAGE. I DIDN’T HEAR HOW MANY WERE THERE, IT REALLY DOESN’T MATER, THEY MADE THEIR POINT. AND THERE WERE CHILDREN, TEENS, AND ALL AGES OF ADULTS. THERE ARE MORE EVERY YEARS AND THEY COME FROM EVERYWHERE. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME, THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT ARE PRO LIFE.

A NEW SLOGAN:  ADOPTION NOT ABORTION.

IF ANYONE READING THIS NEEDS HELP OR KNOWS OF SOMEONE THAT NEEDS HELP TELL THEM TO CALL CATHOLIC CHARITIES. They are listed in the phone book. They will have names and addresses of safe places to go for help.  Most neighborhood clinics will have names and addresses.   There are places to get free mammograms. There are places to get free birth control and there are places that will help women to keep their babies, finish school, get a job, or help them put their babies up for adoption. They do not need Planned Parenthood.   I thought the meditation  and prayer below  from the  book: THE MESSAGE OF FATIMA apply.

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JESUS, HAVING CONQUERED LIFE WITH DEATH AND SIN WITH LOVE ,appears to the women and his followers at various times and in various ways to deliver a PRO LIFE MESSAGE that goes beyond what this finite existence is able to contain.  Christ’s power is over life and death in this world and in the next!  LOVE is more powerful than death;  LIFE reaches beyond the grave for those who believe. Suffering has saving power.  Penance, and remission of sins in Christ, saves souls.

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OH MARY, MOTHER OF THE LIFE WITHIN,  ALL LIFE WE ENTRUST TO YOU: THE LIFE OF EVERY EXPECTANT MOTHER, AND THE CHILD WITHING HER WOMB, THE LIFE OF EVERY HUMAN BODY, THE LIFE OF EVERY HUMAN SOUL, THE LIFE OF EVERY NEWBORN CHILD AND THE LIFE OF ALL GROWN OLD. YOU HELD THE LORD TO YOUR OWN HEART AND DREW HIM SO CLOSE IN.  SO DRAW US NOW IN ALL OUR NEEDS, OH MOTHER OF THE LIFE WITHIN.

 

DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE LEGAL PROTECTION OF UNBORN CHILDREN

This was on Jan. 23, Monday, but I thought you would all like to know, since the Pro Life March is coming up soon.

In all the dioceses of the united States of America, Jan 22 (or Jan. 23, if the 22nd is on a Sunday), shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.

GOD, OUR CREATOR, WE GIVE THANKS TO YOU, who alone have the power to impart the breath of life as you form each of us in our mother’s womb; grant, we pray, that we, whom you have made stewards of creation, may remain faithful to this sacred trust and constant ion safeguarding the dignity of every human life. THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, YOUR SON.

WE VALUE LIFE THROUGH CONCEPTION TO NATURAL DEATH.

THE LITTLE BLUE BOOK, ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS SEASONS

Dedicated to Bishop Ken Untener who was inspired to create the Little Books. There are several short reflections on the infancy narrative of St. Luke, that I enjoyed and think you all will also, food for thought.

JOY OF THE GOSPEL, On Nov. 24, 2013 Pope Francis issued a pastoral exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel) which urged a joyful proclamation of the Gospel to the world. “I INVITE ALL Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day,” wrote Pope Francis in the exhortation, whose publication came at the conclusion of the Year of Faith

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ZECHARIAH AND ELIZABETH go home. I’m not told where this is but later, when Mary visits their home, I learn that it was “a town of Judah” (the same part of the land as Jerusalem) in the “hill country.”

Elizabeth soon learns that she is pregnant, as the angel had promised, and she expresses heer joy at what God has done for her.  PRAYERS of THANKSGIVING are the easiest to say. Every day, even on bad days, I come across all sorts of things that can remind me of God’s goodness–trees, little children, warm water in the shower, the sound of birds, a good burger, the sun, moon, stars, a kindness someone does for me. (and I will add,”the beauty around me after a wet snow storm, when the trees and every bush is covered in white). If I keep my eyes open for them, I can catch lots of things I never really noticed as “gifts” before–things that deserve a simple word of thanks to God.  If I haven’t done it often enough this week, right now might be a good time for a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

SPEND SOME QUIET TIME WITH THE LORD

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FINDING JOY AT CHRISTMAS

We often feel Christmas should be a “sugar plum” day with no touch of sadness. We feel we mustn’t let the sad parts of our lives into this special day. Suffering spois it. Let only gladness fill the air.

BUT CONSIDER ANOTHER APPROACH: Instead of avoiding all the sadness and trying to create a Hallmark Christmas, savor the richness of a savior born into a broken world, for broken hearts, to bring healing.

This is the feast of a God who so loved this world-my world-with its better and worse. Let the love of this feast touch the better and the worse, and I’ll find a deep down joy that can bring tears to my eyes. This mixture fits the feast. The event as Bethlehem wasn’t a Disney World experience. It was a time of both bliss and sorrow.

The joy of Christmas is that light overcomes darkness. It’s the good news of the angel to the shepherds: Today a savior has been born for you…for all that is happy in you, and all that is sad in you. Don’t hide the sad feelings. For some, it is the first Christmas with a newborn child or a grandchild. For others, it is the first Christmas without  their mother, father, husband, wife, child, close friend. For all of us it is Christmas celebrated in imperfect lives in an imperfect world.

WHEN WE remember who Jesus was and why he came, we can let him come into our real life, and then experience what it means to have a merry Christmas.

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SPEND SOME QUIET TIME WITH THE LORD.

More another time……………………