Friday, July 29, 2011

Martha & Mary

In reflecting on the story of Martha (Feast day: July 29) and Mary today I recall how busy Martha was when serving the Lord and how Mary sat at his feet to listen to him. Jesus responds by saying, "Mary has chosen the better portion..." Lk 10: 42

Why is it the better portion? Wasn't the Lord grateful for all that Martha was doing for him?

Of course he was, but he wants us to know that we must be about doing his will, not our own. First we must listen to know his will and then we must do as he says.

I am reminded of the need to be both of them in my life--being contemplative like Mary and active like Martha. These two women reflect the two facets of a good balanced Christian life--contemplation and action. They need to go hand and hand.

When I take time for prayer early in the morning and seek to listen, I discern things that weren't on my visible or invisible '"to do" list. This might include a variety of actions like:
  • call a specific person and touch base
  • write a thank you note
  • give an affirmation or little gift to someone
  • organize something in the house
  • pray for a relative, friend, or acquaintance
  • go to confession 
So the point is we don't want to rush anxiously into our day doing everything we think we need to without being prayerful. There is a better way, and that is to consult the Lord for his agenda, his plan, his priorities for us each morning.

Peace is found in action rooted in contemplation.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


My husband and I broke this Word open yesterday with two friends who are priests. The Magnificat, also called the Canticle of Mary, found in the Gospel of Luke (1: 46-55) begins with "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior..."

These were only a few of the words of the canticle Mary proclaimed as she was greeting Elizabeth, her cousin, after the Annunciation when the angel Gabriel appeared to her to announce she would be the Mother of God.

It seemed a fitting day to converse about the Magnificat. It was the Feast of St. Joachim and St. Ann, parents of Mary. From a sermon by St. John Damascene, found in The Liturgy of the Hours yesterday, we read these words, "Rejoice, Ann, ...Rejoice Joachim, because from your daughter a child is born for us...Rejoice in God, all the earth. Sing, exult and sing hymns."

So this invitation to rejoice became united with the rejoicing of Mary in the Magnificat giving us a sense of that holy family who were a beautiful reflection of the holy Church that bears fruit in the world.

After listening to John Michael Talbot's song "Holy is His Name" and pondering the words, one by one we began to share.

First, one priest said, "What resonates with me is 'my soul proclaims...' I realize that is something from the deepest level--the soul and it's with my whole being. I had to ask myself the question, 'Does my soul proclaim your greatness?' and 'How does my soul proclaim?' My sense was there's more and that the Lord is calling me deeper to proclaim His greatness at a deeper level."

Then another one said, "I was drawn to the various verb tenses in the verses. There was has, will, and is. 'He has looked upon the lowliness of his handmaid...all generations will call me blessed..., and holy is His name.' I am reminded of the Church's prayer ' it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever...' The past, present and future tenses--the timelessness resonates with me."

And my husband shared, "I thought of a magnifying glass. It's something that makes small things appear bigger. Mary's soul makes the Lord's even larger."

Our prayer together became "Oh Lord, show us how to proclaim your greatness from the depths of our soul, by taking us deeper. We say 'Yes' to this. Help us to understand more about the timelessness of your Word, and give us the grace to magnify you, to bring you into clearer view for others as Mary did."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Women of Liberia

A friend emailed me to ask if I had seen the documentary
"Pray the Devil Back to Hell."
"No," I said, "but I would love to."
The next day she dropped it by our house saying,
"I think you need to see this."
Original Artwork--Olaf Hajek       Poster Design--PrettyCo
So I did and took these notes while watching the movie.

It's a story about the incredibly courageous women of Liberia who joined together in 2003 to fast and pray for peace in their country which had been in a horrible civil war for many years. There was hatred between ethnic groups and an enormous gap between the rich and poor. Fear ruled their lives and they were tired of it.

Leymah Gbowee, leader of the peaceful protesters said, "In the past we were silent, but after being killed, raped, dehumanized, and infected with diseases, and watching our children and families destroyed, war taught us that the future lies in saying NO to violence and YES to peace!"
Photo Credit--Michael Angelo for Wonderland
Women rose up out of their silence and started speaking. Inspired by the "Christian Women's Peace Initiative" they formed the "Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace Campaign" and got Christian and Muslim sisters to unite together. That was historic. The message they took on was, "Can a bullet pick and choose?" And their banner read, "Women of Liberia want peace now!"

Photo Credit--Pewee Flomoku
Many Liberians moved to refugee camps because of the violence, but there was despicable poverty there and the children were especially being impacted. Regardless, these remarkable women endured in their valiant effort with exemplary character, and despite witnessing the worst horrors of war, still had hope and vitality.

The women began talking to leaders of their churches and mosques informing them of their plans for getting involved in the peace process and breaking their bondage of silence.

With increasing boldness, through radio announcements they called the women of Liberia to rally. To make a greater visual statement, they encouraged women to dress in white as a symbol of peace.

Determined to rally until they got attention from the President, they sat in front of a strategic location--the fish market--praying and singing day after day. They weren't afraid. Their attitude was, "If I get killed just remember I was fighting for peace." The President's convoy would pass this location day after day without acknowledging them.

Their cry onto the streets was: "Peace and no more war; our children are dying. We are tired of suffering. We want peace."

Eventually the Muslim and Christian women soon began to empathize with each other, and thousands of women mobilized their efforts. And finally the women's perseverance paid off--President Taylor agreed to meet with them.  

Photo Credit--Pewee Flomoku
On the back of their shirts is printed "We Want Peace, No More War,"
and on their skirts "Peace Forever."
The women were further emboldened when they heard about the Internal Community's call for peace talks in Ghana. Risking their lives and leaving their families behind, for the sake of peace in their country, a delegation of Liberian women went to Ghana to continue to apply pressure on the warring factions during the peace process.

And then they did something even more daring! They staged a "sit in" outside of the Presidential Palace, blocking all the doors and windows and preventing anyone from leaving the peace talks without a resolution. Isn't that amazing? Their influence made a difference and peace negotiations eventually resulted in a peace agreement which helped end the war that killed over 200,000 people.

The story didn't end there though. These great women remained involved because there was still much work to do. So they moved forward in forgiving, reconciling and living together in peace. They wanted disarmament and an elected democracy. Three years later, Liberia was the first African country to elect a woman as President.

These Liberian women are heroes in my book of life. They sacrificed everything for the sake of peace. And their cry was heard in the heavens above by God, the Father of us all.

Thank you, women of Liberia, for being excellent role models for women in the world. Thank you for your bravery and for standing up for the children. You are an inspiration!

Grace & peace be with you and in your country.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Duties toward God

Words from Sirach rang out this morning. As I walked into the family room my husband was reading the scriptures aloud. The following verses come from chapter 2: 1-11 entitled "Duties toward God."

"My child*, when you come to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
undisturbed in time of adversity.

Cling to him, forsake him not;
thus will your future be great.
Accept whatever befalls you,
in crushing misfortune be patient;
For in fire gold is tested,
and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust God and he will help you;
make straight your ways and hope in him.

You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy,
turn not away lest you fall.
You who fear the Lord, trust him,
and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.

Study the generations long past
and understand;
Has anyone persevered in his fear
and been forsaken?
Has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?

Compassionate and merciful is the Lord;
he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble."

Duty is defined in Webster's dictionary as conduct due to superiors and as a moral obligation. Conduct is not only external actions, but also an interior attitude. Notice the verbs--prepare, be sincere, undisturbed, cling, accept, trust, make straight, wait, turn not, hope, study.

My husband said the word "cling" resonated with him. Which verb(s) resonate with you? For me they beckon the question which duty, Lord, do you want me to give attention to, or is there one more than another I need to work on to better serve you? I think I will ponder "make straight."

*I took the liberty to change the word son to child in the first verse.

Grace & peace!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ring the Bear Bells

Dear Lulu,

How is my dear precious sister today? I hope you are feeling well.

You've been on my mind since Con Man moved west. I know your heart was saddened by that choice.

Oh, our they have strings around our mother's hearts!

We spend every ounce of energy ensuring their welfare and happiness when they are young and then when they grow up and make their own choices, what are we to do with all the love and concern--with all the energy that once consumed us like a protective mother griz?

As I write I have the image of us walking that path to Avalanche Lake in Glacier Park many years ago. You're such a brave soul. We arrived at the trailhead and the sign read, "At our own risk!" because bears had been sighted on that path. You didn't flinch. We proceeded; I timidedly following you--my younger sister. (Well, only eleven months, my Irish twin.)

I felt like I was in the Where's Waldo book; everywhere I looked through the dense forest I thought I could see a grizzly face. About halfway on the two mile path you said to my alarm, "Oh, I forgot the bear bells!"

"Bear bells?" I inquired. "What are those?"

"Oh, they sell them in stores to ward off bears when you're hiking. You jingle them so that the bears don't come upon you unexpectedly. That's when they strike. When they don't know you're there and suddenly come upon you, they get scared. They want to protect the little cub(s) so they attack. So you're supposed to jingle the bells."

OMG! I was horrified. "Get your car keys out, I exclaimed!"

So we jingled those keys in lieu of the bells the rest of the way to Avalanche Lake, Lulu. Remember that? I calmed down a little, and I sure felt brave when we arrived back at the trailhead safe and sound. You are more adventurous than I am!

Today as I think about you and your broken heart, I encourage you to ring the bear bells. Ring them loud and clear, Lulu, to ward off any threatening spirit that tries to tempt you into sadness and depression and rob you of joy and energy. Don't let those grizzly spirits cause you fear and anxiety. Keep your eyes on your goal, whatever that may be, like we did Avalanche Lake. Keep ringing those bells because they'll hear you and turn from you.

Mama said in our years growing up, "Things aren't always as they seem, nor are they necessarily the other." It's obviously ambiguous, but applicable. Those "what-ifs" can really set in. What if this happens or that. Even though your Con Man moved away, none of us know how long that will last. I encourage you to persevere with the faith and confidence that are written in your heart.

Carry our Grant family motto, "One day at a time!" That's enough. But do ring those bear bells, sister.

I love you,

Your 4ever Irish twin, SheMoe

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pleasing to God

"For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." Rm 14:17-19

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Called by Name

Yesterday I had an opportunity to go on a day retreat to the Shrine of the Infant of Prague to share reflections with a group of precious people who work with Catholic Charities. The theme of the talk was "Doing God's Work in Service to the Poor."

We can make many assumptions about the poor. Are the poor always poor and the rich rich, or can the poor be rich and the rich poor? We know that material goods do not make one rich, in the truest sense of the word, but rather spiritual goods. After all, "there are in the end three things that last: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor 13: 13

"Love is the mansion," my husband and I still say as we did when we first married knowing there can be mansions on earth with people living inside and no love in their hearts.

God's work is certainly feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, setting the captive free and sharing the good news. But it's also an interior journey. We need to be about becoming a better Christian, drawing closer to the Lord, and ultimately growing in union with him.

He calls each of us by name to enter deeply into a relationship with him. How do we do that? I shared this at the retreat based on the mysteries of the life of Christ:

God has called us each by name  Is 43: 1
to do the work we're doing
in serving the needs of his children.

Be joyful!

God reminds us to continue to give our daily fiat--our "Yes,"
to joyfully surrender as Mary did at the Annunciation,
to be hospitable and charitable in our visitations with others,
to allow Christ to be borne in our hearts,
to be obedient to his holy will,
and to keep seeking the Lord first in our life.

He has called each one of us by name,
to be light in the world,
to have a spirit of poverty,
to expect miracles
because he's still a miracle-working God,
to proclaim good news--the gospel of peace--to the poor,
to ask for the spirit of truth to be revealed
in our life and work,
and to offer the gift of ourself for others
as He does in the Holy Eucharist.

God has called each one of us by name
to unite our suffering with his,
to spend time in his presence
allowing him to fill us again and again,
to arm ourselves with his attitude  1Pet 4:1-2
and rejoice in the measure that we share in his suffering.
He encourages us to continue to carry our cross,
and to persevere to the end with forgiveness in our heart.

He has called each one of us by name
desiring us to be transformed from glory to glory,
and to have undying faith in him.
He invites us to be a hope bearer,
and to be open to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
that never ceases.
And finally He asks for our devotion to his mother,
our heavenly mother, Mary,
and to look forward to spending all eternity with them.

And as we embrace this paschal mystery of going forth, dying, and rising, may we experience the fullness of life that the Lord so desires for each one of us.

Grace & peace be with you,

Saturday, July 9, 2011


"Becoming a human being involves more than conception and birth. It is a mandate and a mission, a command and a decision. We each have an open-ended relationship to ourselves. We do not possess our being unchallenged; we cannot take our being for granted as God does. Nor do we possess it in the same way as other creatures around us...

Being is entrusted to us as a summons, which we are each to accept and consciously acknowledge. We are never simply a being that is "there" and "ready-made," just for the asking. From the very start we are something that can Be, a being who must win selfhood and decide what it is to be. We must fully become what we are--a human being. To become human through the exercise of our freedom--that is the law of our Being."

This quote is from one of my favorite spiritual classics--Poverty of Spirit by Johannes Baptist Metz. In the front cover I wrote, "We read this for transformation, not information."

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Joyful Song Rises

This day, this joyful day,
a song rises within me,
and I give You thanks for birth.

For a mind to know you.
For ears to hear birds singing
and whispers of love from others.
For eyes to see the magnificent splendor
created by your spoken word.

For the still small voice within to hear your voice.
For a mouth to proclaim your word.

For hands to bless and touch.
For feet to spread the Gospel of peace.

For a heart to love You & others.
For a soul to belong only to you.

For healing of brokenness,
and redemption of sin.
For reconciliation with others,
and grace to begin again.

This day, this joyful day,
I leap in my spirit
to touch you in heaven and say thank you,
O thank you for this life, this abundant life
that you have given to me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Holy Abandonment

Abandonment is a most excellent way of finding peace and happiness. That is desiring God's will and whatever He wills. To understand this better consider marriage vows that two people make. "I will love you for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."

Circumstances arise in our lives that can be uncontrollable. Like when a loved one is diagnosed with a disease, suffers, and may even die. Or when someone loses their job due to recession or corporate downsizing. Abandonment means whatever happens--even when things seem to go "wrong"--we receive as God's will, understanding He allows such things to happen to sanctify us.

In the book, Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, Father J. P. de Caussade, S.J. wrote, "To all there is but one answer--that the will of God is the only thing necessary; therefore, what it does not grant must be useless."

St. Teresa of Avila said, "In this holy abandonment springs up that beautiful freedom of spirit which the perfect possess, and in which there is found all the happiness that can be desired in this life; for in fearing nothing, and seeking and desiring nothing of all things of the world, they possess all."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Key to happiness

"As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery.
We have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace.
The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger and attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion, a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness."  Dalai Lama

Recognizing and admitting our disturbing emotions is 50% of the battle in overcoming them. Consider what the other 50% may be:
  • surrender
  • belief in a higher Power
  • seeking God's will
  • self examination
  • admitting wrongs
  • desire to change
  • prayer
  • reconciliation with others
Once we overcome whatever obstacles we may face, we gain new territory for ourselves and others. We can help them more readily because the peace we have found will draw them to desire the same good.

Grace & peace be with you!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Today is the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We remember Mary and how she was born without original sin. She had this special and unique privilege because she was chosen to be the mother of the Savior. Jesus was conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because she was "full of grace" through God and redeemed from the moment of her conception, her heart was pure and perfectly clean throughout her life. Lk 1: 28

In the Catholic Church, we honor the mother of Jesus just as He honored her at the wedding feast at Cana. After Mary said, "They have no more wine," He instructed the waiters to "Fill those jars with water," and then turned the water into wine. Jn 2: 3-9

We have a miracle-working God with whom all things are possible.

We accept Mary as our heavenly Mother and trust that she is interceding on our behalf. "This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation... " CCC 969

Mary's heart is full of love and the perfect reflection of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus--the solemnity that we celebrated yesterday. Like her son, her heart is wounded by the ingratitude, irreverence, and grave offenses in this world.

We, her children, long to make reparation for the sins committed against these two hearts of Jesus & Mary. We do so by saying special prayers and making sacrifices.

We are promised superabundant graces and treasures of divine love when we honor His Sacred Heart and Mary's Immaculate Heart.

You may enjoy this link about our Mother's heart:

May the Lord bless you, keep you, make his face shine upon you, and give you peace in your heart.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

In the Catholic Church today, it is the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Here's a beautiful traditional prayer:

O most holy heart of Jesus,
fountain of every blessing,
I adore you, I love you,
and with a lively sorrow
for my sins,
I offer you this poor heart of mine.
Make me humble, patient, pure,
and holy obedient to your will.

Grant, good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you.
Protect me in the midst of danger;
comfort me in my affliction;
give me health of body,
assistance in my temporal needs,
your blessing on all that I do,
and the grace of a holy death.

In this Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is unimaginable love. Floods of living water can not contain the love He has for each of us.

My parents were given this picture of Jesus as a wedding gift when they married sixty years ago. Just yesterday they celebrated their anniversary. Although my mother, who is in the last stage of Alzheimer's disease, was not aware of this special day, we celebrated God's goodness to them. It is the gifts from above that my parents received that helped them remain faithful to their covenant love for one another, just as the Lord has been ever faithful to His covenant love with us.

Today we celebrate the Lord's enduring love and fidelity and we remember him in special ways with a longing to comfort his heart that is broken from ingratitude and grave offenses.