Paul sets the example

Today is the feast day of the Conversion of St Paul, the Apostle.

Recently, I noticed an Instagram account I follow that for the most part exhibits the universal Church message. They push more on the side of the Church Militant which we are, but in a way that explains the evil forces we fight against addictions, pornography, etc.

However, they posted a clip from a ‘speaker’ who I defiantly don’t follow or give any of my time. I have heard a couple of this speakers’ talks and my heart shut off once I started to hear him point out things that get others angered or rage about either the Pope, “weak priests”, certain Church teachings. It scares me the following he has because he gets many to settle in on what he thinks should be the focus. Intertwined with some uplifting faith remarks to make him look like a good and faithful servant.

What dumbfounds me is that the same group of people will listen to Bishop Barron, Fr. Mike Schmitz, and then ‘this guy’ who at this time I don’t want to make known his name.  How they don’t see how vastly different ‘this guy’ is to others who are being disciples of the Church by preaching/teaching words of salvation. Do they ever hear our great evangelizers share out the same message as ‘this guy’?  Isn’t it strange there are not more like him in the spotlight?  Don’t get me wrong, he does have a spotlight because more and more follow his message.  And the message is attack and divide. Comes at a time, when so much is this focus. Good timing.

That may sound too strong of an opinion on this person, but when it comes to pointing out things to stir up negative emotions, that’s a red flag for me. And it saddens me how the faithful fall in it. Why are some giving ‘this guy’ any time?

Which brings me back to St. Paul.

St. Paul was zealous for God in his mind. Yes, God did choose past Old Testament individuals to fight against opposition who did not want to follow the Law nor count God as God. He did use them to fight and conquer even to the point of bloodshed. In the New Testament, Saul, who later was named Paul by the Lord, was much like those characters from the past but no longer needed. He thought it was his duty and right, to fight against those who he and the group he followed, to separate those who didn’t worship God in the way they thought was accurate. He admitted he had been following human invention. Persecuting areas he thought were his right to do and getting others to join in with him. Those that joined in with him could no longer recognize the tone Saul had because he made them believe he was a true believer of God.

Tone.

Once St. Paul had his conversion what struck me the most was his tone. His tone was full of strength but abundant with great love and humility. First thing was recognizing what he had done, the great remorse, and then opening himself up to learn what God wanted him to gain. St. Paul’s message that we are greatly blessed to have in his writings, teach us the main purpose of our call to discipleship – leading others to Christ. Period. That’s it!

Not to be overcome by the world. Not to give others the power to dictate to us what is darkness and how we are to go after it. The power to guide us comes from the Word of God, Church teachings, and prayer. Anyone can manipulate anything to make it seem right. You see it every day. Fear causes us to want to jump on something that is going to protect our right, our future. But we are not to live in that manner. But we are to test it asking the Holy Spirit to help us discern and place in our souls His wisdom.

Wisdom from Above

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James 3:13-18

When St. Peter was with Christ at Gethsemane, when the soldier guards came to take him away, St. Peter thought on his own to strike Malchus. What did Christ tell St. Peter?

Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”

John 18:11

St. Peter did not consult Jesus before striking. He did it in what he thought was zeal for the Lord. He did it out of his flesh in thinking he was standing up for something. Never in any teaching does Jesus asks us to assemble and fight against things that stir up agitation, rage against other human beings. Never.  He asks us to live in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Steadfastness in Faith.

27Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel, not intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is proof to them of destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing.

Philippians 1

These ‘Catholic speakers/podcast/Youtubers/Influencers’ who like to preach with false authority, arrogance, are the ones to watch out and pray others stop taking the bait. Recognize what Church organizers, leaders, evangelizers are to possess. If it carries disrespect, strikes fear towards your fellow brothers/sisters, pretty sure, that’s not the one to follow. Listen less to their gospel and literally pick up the Gospel.  That will stamp out the noise.

1. “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.”

Romans 12:9-13

St. Paul, the Apostle, pray for us!+++ Help us to know who we are fighting!

A Thank You to my Aunts and Uncles

Recently, I’ve been thinking more on the lives of my aunts and uncles. I am blessed in that I share wonderful relationships with my remaining family. At this time, they are all in their late 70s or early 80s. Unfortunately, dealing with physical challenges, which for most of them did not have for the majority of their lives. And because of Covid, the ability to visit has not been possible. But our phone conversations have carried us along.

When recalling each of them, it takes me to times spent and how great those memories are because of how they were and are.

My sister and I were blessed with large families on both sides of our family.  My Mom came from a family of twelve.  My Dad came from a family of seven.  Both of my parents were raised in close knit families.  Family occasions were bountiful and there was always something to look forward to.

From a young age, my Mom always made sure I had a birthday party. There could never be a small party because our family wouldn’t allow that.  The size of your house didn’t matter either.  You gathered because you were family and that was the only concern.  Aunts and Uncles would always show up with their big families.  It was a given that everyone would attend.  It wasn’t a question because then life wasn’t so complicated with other schedules affecting decisions.

My Dad would take my Mom, sister, and I to California every Thanksgiving. Dad’s side of the family lived in different parts of the State allowing us to see many sites such as the beach, Disneyland, etc.  Those family trips opened up my awareness on how both sides of the family were equally important. It was always something I would look forward to.  To see my cousins who I would only get to have fun with at this time of year. The playful times running around, sweet treats, game playing, and laughing.  The sharing and the spoiling I would receive from my aunts and uncles topped off with a gift. 

As I speak to my aunts and uncles more so these days, I can’t help recall who they were in their younger age. Memories pop up. The vibrancy they all had. Being at this stage in their elderly lives, their bodies can no longer keep up with their minds. But even so, knowing their physical challenges, most don’t “sound” like they’re suffering. Their minds are as sharp as can be. Just how I’ve always known them. It always amazes me after each call.

Each of them inspired me with a personality trait that I think I’ve adapted into my own way of thinking. Ways about them that made me take notice and love them for being that person in my upbringing.  I have not always noticed that all these years, but playfully at times, my sister points out to me that I have them. Good or bad, I accept.

Majority of them were and still are quick witted. Some were highly educated. Some never worked. Some traveled the world. Some went through difficult marriages, some never married, or had kids. Some endured illness, some reaped financial success, and some lived in humble ways. Some were not always present when I was young, but have completely been present as an adult.

My Mom always stressed to me the importance of family, but regretfully as a young teen and young adult, I did not always feel this way. For a period of time, the celebrations in our family took a different direction that caused a stain in how I viewed the gatherings, specifically at the time my parents divorced. I was too immature to separate the love for them from their actions. This wasn’t the overall case, but some instances drew me to distance myself some. Thankfully, now in my marriage, importance of family developed by God’s design in numerous ways He gave us, has strengthened it in a way fitting now.

Now after losing both of my parents and observing their relationships with their siblings, I have a new profound respect and appreciation for my aunts and uncles.

Both of my parents loved their families greatly. They truly treasured each of them in their hearts and you could feel that in them in their final days.

In closing, I know I am fortunately blessed that I had aunts and uncles who I had strong relationships with. Their impact in how they were there for me in the troubled times throughout my life is something I now pass on and show to my nephews and niece. Dignity and honor, fortitude, unconditional love, are all seeds they showed that I want to carry on.

Thank you Tios for the treasured presence you brought to the family, memories, the legacy of your representation, I will always keep close in my heart and soul.

A Time for Love

These last weeks I’ve been going through my Mom’s things. Mom passed away on April 12th. My sister and I have been sifting through, deciding on who will possess her things, donate, etc. And even though we went a solid week doing this, individually we are still going through Mom’s items. Being that Mom lived with my husband and I, I keep coming across treasures that are adding more to her memory.

There is something about life as a family when you lose your parents that my sister and I are now just appreciating or maybe it’s a whole new appreciation. Not that we didn’t appreciate our parents before, but I guess with maturity comes different perspectives. In the shuffle of time as a child, speaking for myself, I did much comparing my parents to others. Looking at how my friend’s parents spent time with them, gave attention, cared for, etc. That was my gauge. I grew up with that mentality and captured it against my parents, blocking me from seeing them individually and who they were.

It had much to do with feeling abandoned, which led to insecurity. Frustrations that turned me into being angry with my parents. There was never conversation or intimate talks on what had happened or where things were going. It was living through each day only to be disappointed.

To be clear, it’s not that my parents did not provide for me or celebrate me with birthday parties or Christmas gifts, but the relationship between parent and child and the respect needed was absent. I didn’t feel valued and neither did they. They were facing their own demons that only became stronger obstacles as life went by. Seeing them crutched my soul and paralyzed my lens towards them. Mom never explained to me her life situation, what she was facing, what she was battling when she made the decision to divorce my Dad. I only viewed it as her making the mistake. All my teen years was a lash out for that decision and a heart that at times was bitter towards her. I don’t know why she never shared. Instead she just let me be. Her life too became a result of broken love.

I recently found documentation from my Mom’s annulment process. This has forever changed my view on my Mom to which I regret not knowing about her struggles or her point of view at the time of her decision to divorce my Dad. Life was very different back then. No one butt into others business. Mom pushed through decision out of fear on both sides. Dad was spiraling in his life of addiction and had no grip on reality.

I can only speak for myself, but I feel if I would’ve taken the time to know my Mom as “Barbara” and not just Mom, my relationship with her could have been richer. I say this not to beat myself up, but with an appreciation and awareness to share that with my nephews and niece so they can find that fortune.

Mom was a very reserved person. She wasn’t one to share her frustrations or make her issues your issues. There was much to her life before she was married and while she was married that I did not know. While she lived with me, I did spend time asking her questions on her life. Those conversations were informative, but still didn’t reveal what I recently found.

The point I’m getting here is how much more profound it is to me the phrase “everyone is on a journey”. Dad and Mom battled their family circumstances/upbringing in their marriage. They were equipped with the knowledge they had. It was difficult and inconsistent. Any hurt my sister and I received was the side effect. It wasn’t that they didn’t love us, but they struggled to make it our strength.

Looking back at their lives, I am even more grateful to know what they overcame from all their trials, sufferings, disappointments, battles, by the redemption from Our Lord Jesus Christ. They found Him!

For whatever was absent in my childhood, I received a hundred fold when they both gave their lives to Christ. That is why their presence is greatly missed. Because the love that Christ wanted them to pour out onto our family broke through when they gave their lives to Him. My family and I all received that token of grace. Their lives were not their own. We experienced their love in endless ways that will live in our souls forever.

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

We dare to say

Yesterday after mass, I came out knowing that I would need to stay away from social media because I cannot control what people say. In a broader spectrum, I cannot control much.

For almost the past week now, I have seen Catholics who I have been following for some time on social media, show their appearances of rigidness, judgment, divisiveness, and self righteousness, that has left me to resort to confinement of some degree.

They want to voice how their Candidate who upheld the Christian view is in a fight to keep his presidential role and that anyone who claimed they are Catholic and did not vote for him, must not be.

Maybe it’s a small portion of who I have come across. Maybe it is a sample of a larger scale of what is truly out there. But I do know, that it isn’t what I’ve known my faith to preach.

I heard recently, I think from Fr. Mike Schmitz podcast, how deep the beginning line of the Our Father at Mass is, but how many miss it.

“At the Savior’s command
and formed by divine teaching,
we dare to say:

How many times have I said the Our Father and not taken those words “we dare to say” more to heart! How many of us recite it too and missed it.

Many times, we have had a President in place who is pro choice, but have lived with the elected and worked together. We have many times entered Church and sat in the pew with others who do not approach the faith in the same way, but we’ve been told it does not make us better. How many times have we sat with others who have opposing views, and don’t even know it? The faithful are instructed what to do when our focus becomes to much about something or someone and not Jesus Christ. To be in the world, but not of the world.

As I shuffle through the verses that have been coming to my mind these days, I remembered this parable.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. 9He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.c 10“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 11The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’d 13But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’e 14I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Our job as Catholics is not to add to chaos, but to refer to the Fruits of the Spirit. Why? God is spirit! God dwells in us. God has given us what to cling onto, to rally in when times get tough or trials hit. If the voices you are listening to do not grow your soul, provoke it to rattle , give off dissension and anger, then you have fallen for someone’s agenda.

God’s aim is not about us and them. They are this and we are that. Politics change. Jesus doesn’t.

Yesterday’s Gospel reading told us what each of us should be concerned about:

MT 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 
Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. 
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. 
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Fr. Shea said the oil represents wisdom. The foolish virgins that did not have enough oil were not ready for the Bridegroom. They along the way, stopped being prepared. As in the self-righteous, that think they own the Cross and that a political party owns the Cross too. Jesus is not contained. Didn’t we hear that before? What happened?

God help us to live as servants of God. Help us to foster love and reverence for God.

.

Dollhouse

This is the exact dollhouse I had when I was a little girl. I had wanted one for Christmas one year and Santa didn’t disappoint. It had everything like the furniture you see.

As I was fiddling through Pinterest, I came across it  and it made me think of that time. My parents home and life in it, was nothing like how I saw my dollhouse. My parents were very much fun loving. So much so, their young parenting had to do with satisfying their fun than with time spent with me and my sister.  Weekends often consisted of all weekend long parties. Our home was viewed as the “party home” with alcohol and drugs. When company would arrive, I was told to go play with the visiting kids where hours we were off to fend for ourselves.

The dollhouse I had was orderly. Furniture in place. I was always cleaning it. I drew up an idea of how I wanted my home and family life to be once I got older.  My home would have joy, time spent at the kitchen table, warm delicious food, and ultimately someone who gave me attention.

God always knew what the desires of my heart were even though in the process of it becoming a reality. I didn’t always give Him honor in my life. Mainly, because I always sought a void only Jesus could fill. Seeking ways to get attention. But by His grace, a time came, where everything showed His patience never wavered from me. And placed my husband in my life.  We learned to understand each other.  Mainly my husband towards me because I’m the one who carried most baggage.  God gave my husband even more patience and developed us to create a home that, thanks to God, we’ve been in for almost 22 years. At times, I step back and look at our home and recognize those things I was without are with us in bountiful ways.  All those things I wanted in my dollhouse, have been replaced with comforts and love I could never have imagined. AMDG.

 

Check your oil!

For about a week, it feels as though there is a turn happening.  I don’t know if it is actually happening all parts of the world or just what it seems like for me.  The feeling  feels like a coming on the verge of something.

Part of it, I believe, stems from fatigue now caused by the continued quarantine and restrictions. I hear it in my relatives voices and see it in the eyes of strangers.  At the grocery store, where usually small talk happens, the aim is now the quicker the customer moves out of the way, the better.

Protests under the name of “Black Lives Matter” continue to happen to a degree in cities across the United States, but it appears now some are disguising under it and are rebels causing havoc on the police and city structures.

Racial history and education still much on the forefront, as it should be.  Self reflection from individuals to enterprises, changing their company names and associations to themes associated with racial slurs or connotations.

There are those  a part of this rebel agenda, who are trying to hijack the race discussion by turning their attention to  the  Catholic faith in vandalizing statues or churches.  They believe these Saint statues were a part of racial injustices.  On top of, there have been fires in different parts of the world that have ruined  aged cathedrals.  One, I know to be arson.  The others are still under investigation.

Because there are more issues populating the news feed outside of the Corona virus, it only adds to the hysteria and paranoia to more and more people.  People’s patience turning into anxiety, fear, and deeper worry.  I have caught myself into it. I feel it physically.   Today, I find out my very special aunt who has Parkinson’s is battling it to a high degree.  There’s constant news thrown in your face on all the many things happening in our world instead of calming people in the changes that may need to be.  Namely, that corona may be here for a while, but on the horizon, a vaccine to help combat it.

Unfortunately, I had to confront a sister of mine on a video she was sharing.  This wasn’t the first time a video like this had been sent to me by family.  But I had to.  Videos like this surfacing all over social media. People giving attention to false prophets telling them that the George Floyd death was planned.  Corona virus being provoked by the Democrats.  Political talk that shimmers light on a figure that shows them walking a righteous path of God ignoring  facts that not all steps have been the best for some individuals or people.

I told her to stop buying into this propaganda. To save them self away from this undue fear. How much the enemy wants us to play into these games and be trampled on in our souls and family lives. Invoking despair and passing it onto others as to lose focus on what we should be focusing on.

As I finished writing this, the thought of the virgins with the lampstands came to mind.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins.“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them,but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake,* for you know neither the day nor the hour.

My armor and might the Lord has reminded me is to fight with prayer, repentance, and love.  To continue to point others to Whom we place our trust and to give Him all control.  The day is not to be used in fear, but to pray and love one another.  Those are things we can be definite about to our day.  Nothing else is in our control.  Let’s give Him our days.

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COVID19

This post has been transpiring since March 3rd, but only now I sit and write.

The world has been struck a virus.  A deadly virus that was born in China and spread rapidly throughout the world (even though that’s under investigation of its origin). Each country receiving devastating results.  Hospitals past capacity, treating patients in tents outside as well. In the United States, it hit the State of Washington first.  Initially, this virus, called COVID19 (Corona virus), was informed as attacking the elderly and those who are immune suppressed.  As the world was showing, as days passed, the information started changing by the minute.  It now is known as attacking anyone.  No clear rule or definition. People surviving on ventilators.  Becoming very sick, near death without any underlying health issues. At this point, after almost 3 months, the world seems to be calming down from this virus.

Because of the rapid spread, the world was on quarantine, which happen to begin when Lent was still in effect.  Quarantine, by the way, is a Latin word meaning forty days of isolation.  Countries began to follow suit and forbid people to go out, only if medical attention or to buy food. The phrase “shelter in place” or “stay home” commonly used so that people understood staying home meant less spread of the virus.  This only drew up fear in some that the shopping frenzies began. People stormed to the grocery stores, big box stores, and bought out all the toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc.  For weeks, people would crowd and stockpile items that didn’t have to be taken since the quarantine never meant you couldn’t go out to buy things when needed.

During the initial weeks, my husband and I were home, while Mom whom we care for, was with my sister.

The daily news fed stories on hospital workers, grocery workers, Amazon (on-line store) workers, “essential workers”, that were working around the clock trying to keep up with the demand. Everyday around three o’clock, the President would give a press conference with some medical professionals and scientists on what is being monitored, done to help, and future impact.

My husband who works for healthcare, was non stop busy from March 3 for a month.  There would be days that he didn’t leave the face of his computer. He was working around the clock along with his staff and the entire hospital.  All that they were working on came to a screeching halt because the focus turned to COVID19 and how the hospitals were responding. Extra facilities were being opened up to house the not so critical patients so that the hospital could deal with the high number of COVID19 patients.  Weeks of intense issues popping up everyday.  There was a moment in the late evening, husband still on a conference call, where I heard him say “hold on, my head is spinning.”  I felt helpless.

All I did while my husband worked away was prepare him meals and pray.  I prayed and prayed.  Along with all my family and friends. The world.  Out of our control.  And from my experiences due to my health, that was somewhat normal.

Then, we received news that we could no longer attend Church.  That due to the virus spread, we couldn’t by law be in a congregation setting.  Rules starting to dictate no more than 10 can be together. Keep six feet apart.  Wear a mask.  The virus was airborne and so everything that brought people together, could no longer. Sports, concerts, movie theaters, etc.

Initially, Ruben did all the shopping.  Due to my immune and not having a supply of masks, he would go and buy us what we need.  We bought food that we felt could last us some weeks.  Good in that, we don’t normally eat much on our own.

In the beginning of the quarantine, it felt like okay, this is what we have to do.  We’ll handle it!  So did our neighborhood and community.  We all felt like we will be at peace and have patience.  Tons of neighbors walking about.  For the most part, people were working from home too so you would see them out all hours of the day.

Then more orders from the government came.  Adding more weeks to the quarantine because states like New York and California were hitting devastating numbers of patients and deaths.

In the midst of monitoring the United States and the our impact, I was also seeing China and Italy.  They too had devastating cases, but then you saw that the virus had touched the whole world except for Antarctica.  India was and is still being hit harshly and it appears their government is only making it worse.

The month of March happened in a second.

April started to feel less strained and with holy week approaching, it felt like no other holy week. Again, none could attend Church and out of all weeks of the year, this is the week most attend. Not even explaining the loss of the Eucharist and how odd on so many levels it was, still is, not to receive.

Pope Francis called for prayer many times throughout.  The impact of his prayer and focus for all to watch on TV or live stream, I know for me, meant so much. There was a moment during a special prayer, where he upheld the monstrance outside of St Peter’s in a way that through the TV, struck my soul.  Tears abound.

Throughout April until now, our family dealt with trials in the midst of the pandemic.  Thanks to God not due to financial needs, but physical and mental health.  I felt like the need and call for prayer has intensified each week.  I’m sure we are not the only ones feeling this.

Easter brought hope!  Renewed faith.  The extra weeks of quarantine were coming to an end.  Stores were now showing a normal supply of stock.  Some exhale was beginning.

May 15th,  the date the State of Arizona ended quarantine. Restaurants, salons, shopping centers, all were allowed to open up but only with strict rules.  Wear a mask at some and others, your choice.  Stay 6 feet apart. Only so many allowed in a store at a time. Enter in one way, exit another. But hey, it’s better than nothing.

Then there became talk about wearing a mask.  Mask shows weakness.  Liberal agenda insisting on wearing a mask.  The most hilarious conversation on the use of a mask.  Yes, I wear my mask.  I still do. Did before and do now. Lupus will teach you that!

Three weeks out now, but now our world is addressing another virus. On May 26th, a police officer made a decision that has affected our focus once again. Look up George Floyd.  I will use another blog to address this event because it has caused me to unpack so many thoughts and feelings.

Don’t know if we will ever get back to normalcy. These last weeks all feel like one month.  My husband and I haven’t visited our families.  We miss them.  We miss doing ordinary things, but know we have a purpose and call to prayer to get us through. All that is happening is requiring us not to just think of ourselves, our country, but the world.  How much we are in need of each other.   It doesn’t end.  The reminders in various ways.  And throughout it all, the deep rooted biblical messages.  That too, I would like to dive into in another blog.

The chant in the beginning of the pandemic, “We’re all in this together!” I hope so.

 

Primal Loss Book Review

There was a book circulating on Instagram from those I follow that caught my attention, “Primal Loss, The Now Adult Children of Divorce Speak” by Leila Miller.

It didn’t take me long to realize this would be a tough one to read.

Leila Miller, a Catholic author/writer, compiled questions and answers from participants from all walks of life.  The book, “gives voice to the adult children of divorce. Their stories are not pretty. ..breaks through layers and layers of pro-divorce propaganda.” Answers are given numbers to keep the participant anonymous.  Much of the responses I could relate to, to the point of highlighting, noting a page, and writing in my answers.

Chapter one, “The Effect of the Divorce”, the first question, ‘What effect has your parents’ divorce had on you?’  The answers are  raw and some sound as if they are still struggling.  Response noted: “Stunted my ability to properly form my own emotions” and “parental presence, instruction, and stability were often missing in my childhood.”

The second chapter, “Feelings as Child vs. Feelings as Adult, what is the difference between how you felt about divorce as a child and how you feel about it as an adult?” There was a response I highlighted from a woman who spoke about her brokenness and how she carried it into her marriage. That early on, she wrestled with the behaviors, but thanks to God, her husband, “never gave up…even when I gave him reason to walk away…through their marriage, I have come to learn what love means, what truth means.”

Third chapter, “View of Marriage, has our parents’ divorce affected your own marriage or your view of marriage?” A reply noted: “I struggle with trusting my husband. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop, which I am sure must be related to the feeling of abandonment by my family of origin.”

Fourth chapter, “Are children resilient? What do you want to say to people who say that ‘children are resilient’ and ‘kids are happy when their parents are happy’ and ‘kids of divorce will be just fine and will go on to live successful lives?”  Responses marked: “What divorce does is shatter that universe in a drastic and traumatic way, and there’s no coming back from that. It even changes the way you perceive reality, you become anxious, nothing ever feels safe or predictable, and you’re always waiting for the piano to fall” and “I was never happy with the way things were. I simply accepted that I had no control over any of it.”

Chapter five, “Speak to your parents, then and now, what would you say directly to your parents…how it affected you, would you advise them to do it differently?”  Response noted:  “I would have told them that God must be at the center of their marriage, that they were losing focus on the family, and that they were pursuing too much of their own self interest” and “I didn’t even know my pain was buried, but every now and then something would trigger this little girl inside of me.”

Chapter six, “What society should know, what do you most want adults in our society to know about how divorce affects the children?” Response noted:  “I’d want them to know that divorce is likely affecting their kids in way that they, the adults, can’t see or understand” and kids “often don’t gain the vocabulary and perspective to even begin to articulate all they are experiencing and questioning until well into adulthood.”

Chapter seven, “The role of faith in healing, what role has your faith played in your healing?” Response noted: “My faith taught me that marriage is a vocation that leads me to unification to God. It isn’t “romantic” love or superficial happiness; true love is an act of will.”

Chapter eight, “To those facing divorce, what would you want to say to children facing their parents’ divorce today?” Response noted: “You will confuse them and make them feel abandoned in the process” and “all the positive things you modeled for your children will be eclipsed by the disordered things you modeled when divorce is the punchline” and “even though they are children, they have a voice and should say, loud and clear, what they are feeling.”

Now my response.

I begin by admitting, the book took me a while to finish.  For whatever reason, I would become anxious before and while reading.  There were emotions, thoughts, that I felt I was clear of, but then memories surfaced that I had forgotten.  I would stop and think, text my sister, ask for her recount. Sometimes, I would ask my Mom questions throughout the day, to see if she could recall situations. And for those who don’t know me or my blog, my Dad is no longer alive.  He passed away in 2006 from sarcoma cancer.  However, before my Dad died, we did talk and reconcile (thanks be to God).

Before I go any further, I wanted to share when I found out my parents were divorcing. It was a weekday morning.  I was leaving to go to school in 7th grade.  That’s when I was given the news.  I clearly remember it was in the winter, clear morning, and my world began to close in.  My sister, who is eight years older than me, was already married with her new little family.  My Dad was quickly out of the house which left just Mom and me.  Mom worked a full time job and soon began to search in her ways of attention and self seeking joy.  In 7th grade, I tried marijuana and alcohol and continued using through my Sophmore year of high school.  Time at home on the weekends was on my own or, thanks to my sister, spent with her on the weekends.  My Mom and Dad led selfish lives fulfilling their own needs and not looking towards mine.   I was fed and clothed, but the impact of my parents non-emotional non-spiritual care was heavily felt.

Even after reconciling with my mom a couple of years ago, this book pushed out things I still had trapped in my heart I didn’t know I had. Thankfully, when we spoke she listened to me when I vented the pain it caused me.  Mom is 77 years now.  So even though, there are more things I would like to clear up, she can’t recall nor does she have capacity to help me resolve.  In a way, once I realized that, it saddened me because I know I will need to deal with it with God and on my own.

This book was a challenge, but I know I had to read it not just for me, but also for my nephews and niece who are also victims of divorce.  I can see much of their own behaviors in the book that match.  They are adults now. This book gives me knowledge that I could help them in ways I didn’t notice before.

But I think the biggest thing I took away from this book, is my progress made by faith as a now adult child of divorce.

There was a moment in the book when I jumped up, put the book down, and ran over to my husband and cried to him.  I literally saw God’s hand paint over my life from the time of the family destruction to where I am now.  Holding my husband’s hand, I cried and said, “Thank you! Thank you for staying with me in the beginning when our first years of marriage were rough. For not retaliating and leaving me. For understanding I had a rough past and still with some issues to this day.” His answer, “we broke the cycle.”  How much Our Lord Jesus knows our pains and struggles.  How much He heard my cries as a teenager, saying randomly, how I never want to be like my parents or have a marriage like them. The times when I was left alone to grieve the loss of family from junior high through high school, keeping it inside, moving like a zombie pretending to be normal and happy. Through the time after high school, living a double life of seeking attention and finding myself in the pew with my sister’s family on Sunday’s because I felt I was holding onto something good.

In many ways, I know that’s why this blog started.  It was healing and still is healing. I know the way God needed to reach me and stop the pain and focus I was starting to show in my marriage, despite putting in front of me a husband, stability, love, was to diagnose me with Lupus. I know for sure, that put me to change, have recourse in my life that I’m forever grateful.  It allowed me to see truth.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  1621

In the Latin Rite the celebration of marriage between two Catholic faithful normally takes place during Holy Mass, because of the connection of all the sacraments with the Paschal mystery of Christ. In the Eucharist the memorial of the New Covenant is realized, the New Covenant in which Christ has united himself for ever to the Church, his beloved bride for whom he gave himself up. It is therefore fitting that the spouses should seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and by receiving the Eucharist so that, communicating in the same Body and the same Blood of Christ, they may form but “one body” in Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into the desert

It’s summer in Arizona and what that means is from June to September, you can count on it being 105 or higher. This is the reverse of those who live in the Midwest or East when snow keeps you inside. Well, at least for me it does. I’ve gotten better over the years, as far as, not limiting my time if I’m out doing errands. But somehow, this last few days, I’m feeling a bit depressed.

I’ve always done good about not paying attention to it. Like keeping busy whatever that might mean. Either with things I have to do or not. I don’t work, so much of my time is either caring for my mom or doing something productive when she’s with my sister.

But I’m yearning for more.

In the past month, my husband and I were able to take two trips to beach cities. It was a great getaway! The weather and beach, as many of my family and friends know, gives me such energy. But I also feel like I’m connected to people more too. And I think that’s part of what I’m sensing.

Where we live it takes a car to get somewhere. We don’t live in the city center or near it. Because of the heat, I can’t just walk to a grocery store. There are no common parks or beautified parks at all except in central Phoenix. Can’t just hop onto a metro link and get to another town. And don’t get me wrong, if it’s fall/winter/spring everything is rosy for those eight months. I’m outside taking it all in! These thoughts don’t run in my mind of abandoning the desert during these luscious months.

So it was interesting to me that a conversation was brought up between my husband and I about where our future residence would be. Where would we retire?

I asked my husband if we would ever live anywhere else? Would we ever do that experience of living somewhere far from family? We do not have children that would keep us from taking on a big transition like this. My husband has a super career now. What if he was asked to move? The thought of moving to Newport Beach, CA, or Denver, CO, or Connecticut sounds tempting.

A part of me sees that I would be involved in more things if we lived in cities or places that are closer knit. Doing more exercise, church activities, volunteering, education, and art events.

I often feel like I’m meant to be somewhere else, but I know it’s not something that is going to happen. And I thankfully say that because in no way am I not grateful for the huge blessings my husband and I have, which now comes to the Catholic tie into these thoughts.

In my thoughts or actions that come in a away that does not bring joy, is a time to always self examine.  Well, not just for me, but for anyone. Because we know when joy is present, Christ is present.

In my restlessness of this, I know my call is to go to God with it. I cannot change our environment.  We cannot get up and move somewhere.  In fact, it may never happen.

Prayer becomes very important during these “down times”.  If I don’t include or pay attention to prayer in my day to day, I can very well let go of myself and turn the negative emotions into negative actions towards my husband, family, friends, etc.  When you pray, Our Lord gives you clarity, direction on what He wants you to focus on, which in most cases, is completely not your thoughts.

The challenge outside of prayer is to be active in things where you come second. Paying attention to helping someone in need. Putting others first. Soon you’ll realize more purpose.

Who knows what God’s plan for us will be in the next ten years. But in the meantime, my life, our life, our happiness, our home, is here today in this desert landscape.


John 15:10-11

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

False Witness

In order to write this post, I have to reveal an area of sacrifice I’m working on this Lent.  A part of self control, for me, is the sin of gossip.

Throughout my life, I have wrestled with this sin. Before I began practicing my faith, I never knew gossiping was a bad thing.  It was all around me.  Family and friends always used gossip in conversations. It was and still is a way to either vent or share things because we feel we can in either making fun of someone or puffing up our chests to make ourselves look better.

Over time, for me, I realized my confessions continued to cough up this sin and yet, no real self reflection struck me on why this was repeated.

At this stage in my life, I do find myself gossiping, but it’s like I told myself in a certain way…well, I’ll only go this far in sharing, or I won’t say too much as to not fall into the trap. But regardless, I would find myself reflecting on discussions I’ve had with others after that fact and see that no matter how  I wanted to classify it, it was still gossip.

There is a fine line I want to say when it comes to being concerned  over an individual when sharing things for the sake of helping them without their knowledge.  Speaking about their decision making or ways that could hurt them spiritually, those incidents may cause for others to discuss and plan out what could be done to get them back on track.  But to just have a  field day about someone’s lifestyle or continued same actions that cause pain to others, does nothing to keep talking about how awful this person is to everyone.

Coming back to my sin of gossip during this Lent.  I’ve come to take on an action that I first saw as my own penance. And that is to correct myself with those who I gossiped with as a way to reconcile my behavior and sin. Explaining to the individual, that I did wrong and that I shouldn’t have said what I said.   Doesn’t matter if it was one word blurted out or ten.  Doesn’t matter if I didn’t mean harm in sharing, because it is harmful no matter what.  It places me in accountability.  Makes me humble myself that I sinned and want to correct myself because Jesus placed it in my heart and eyes to see what I have done.   Oh how much Our Lord wrestles my heart to show me my sin. I’m thankful.

What catches me to about gossip, is that I wish those individuals who do know it’s wrong, don’t pin it on me or correct me right on the spot. Gosh, how I wish they would. I’m not saying it’s easy to do but I’m going to start trying. Sometimes we don’t do that enough or at least in my circle I don’t see it.  I also don’t see much in asking forgiveness for daily actions that can hinder unity or cause disruption. Most of the time, we don’t want to take notice we’ve done some thing wrong or pride ourselves that we are doing all things right. Really?  There are some things to dig deep about and frankly, I would appreciate if my fellow Catholic/Christian would call me out when I sin so it’s corrected right then and there.  But I know it’s not easy.  Honestly, I know.  And I know I will slip up again, but my hope is the day it completely stops for me. That I am so rooted, it doesn’t make me budge.  And most of all, throughout this self examination, how the path through it gets me to God’s mercy.  It’s there every time.  Like the Light at the end of the tunnel. Once I’ve reflected, accounted for, asked forgiveness, His mercy is there…and I move on.

If the dialogue isn’t fruitful brothers and sisters, there is no end that points to a helpful solution, then do yourself and me a favor….don’t go there!

 8th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 

Added note: The Catholic Church has always taught there is a communal reconciliation

Leticia Ochoa Adams

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