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The Greater Art of Falling Down

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In Akido, there is a concept called, "the art of falling down." Falling down is considered an art because if falling is done with skillfull intention instead of just being caught unaware by a blow, the person who falls will be safer. 
During this Lent, I have been following Blessed Titus Brandsma's meditations on the Stations of the Cross. He wrote these meditations in Scheveningen Prison, awaiting his execution. Tonight, I read about the "seventh station," where Jesus falls for the second time. Blessed Titus wrote that Jesus allowed himself to be overwhelmed by the weight of the cross and to fall. 
I hadn't contemplated this before, but of course He did. Our Lord God incarnate, maker of miracles and who later resurrected would not do or allow anything to be done to Him without intentionality. Jesus intentionally fell down. 
Falling is an art. Not just for our "safety." Not just so we can learn lessons in life. Not so we can build the courage to g…

Longing to be Still

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Jesus, through this frantic world, could you just hold me still?

I don't want to be happy.
I do not want comfort,
for these things pass.

O How I long to be still, still, still with you.

I've had enough,
and nothing else will satisfy.
and there is nothing I won't do
to be still with you.

Let the world keep spinning,
Let it spin until I'm sick,
but Jesus, hold me still.

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Why I Cope With Life Better Today (as a Catholic)

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I do not know how I would cope with my life if I were not Catholic. I can easily tell you that I would not cope well. Years of living beforehand would bear that out.

Here are some differences in how I get through tough times today vs. during my "heretical" years. 

(1) My emotions do not control my decisions as much

Free will has to do with making decisions without being driven by emotions. I am making more solid, logical and clear choices now than I ever have before. During my "heretical years," I believed that free will had to do with extricating myself from the oppression of moral obligations in order to be free to follow my feelings. How did that work out for me? Hmm.. I'm writing this... so...

(2) I take care to have selfless motives. 

When I pursue being of the greatest service to God above the motives for comfort, public opinion or material things, each decision I make has meaning. When I work to make my life a gift to God rather than a gift to myself, I do n…

St. Thérèse: My Soul Mate

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In her short life – she was only twenty-four when she died – St. Thérèse of Lisieux discovered profound truths, truths that I have stumbled on as well. Thérèse is my soul mate, perhaps the soul mate of many mothers. Everything is a grace. Everything is the direct effect of our Father’s love – difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul’s miseries, her burdens, her needs – everything. Because through them she learns humility, realizes her weakness. Everything is a grace because everything is God’s gift.  I have recently discovered that my spirituality is very similar to that of St. Thérèse the Little Flower probably because I have lived with children under the age of 18 for 33 years.  I think that many mothers can relate to this saint as well. She lived the little waylike all people who are not rich and famous but want to serve God their loving Father through their littleness and simplicity. She chose to stay as a child in they eyes of God, performing all of her duties with lo…

The 7 Most Mindblowingly Liberating Things I've Learned By Being Catholic

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I finally figured out what matters. This is it.
(1) I do not need a happy ending in life.

The Meaning:Life isn't meant to be a fairy tale. Whether....
The Freedom:No matter how my life ends, ....
(2) How I feel about my life doesn't matter. 

The Meaning: Whether I think my life is going well or not is....
The Freedom: Less time wasted with pointlessly evaluating my life in....
(4) Even if I became a god or goddess, it wouldn't matter.

The Meaning: Having "personal power," or realizing the greatness in my soul in order....
The Freedom:Who cares who I am?...
"Lord, when we ask you for honors, income, money or worldly things, do not hear us."
-St. Teresa of Avila
(7) Never stop asking- "How Could I Do Better?" 

The Meaning:It doesn't matter...
The Freedom:This is the annoying part...

Here's the rest of this post: "The 7 Most Mindblowingly Liberating Things I've Learned As A Catholic," Laura Paxton, Carmel Heart.

The Eucharist and the “Ghost in the Machine”

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As an autistic, I have the unenviable ability to almost completely compartmentalize my intellect from emotions. I go into a “machine mode.”
My friends often have a very unfortunate experience with that. They talk to me while I am in the middle of “implementing my agenda,” and they see that I do not acknowledge their feelings at all. Friends who know me well stop me and say, “Hey, I just poured out my heart to you,” or “I just disclosed something hard for me to say,” and of course, I collapse into a sea of apologies. I don't realize what I did, but of course I want to acknowledge the feelings of my friends!
My autistic reality is not all that different from neurotypical reality. Humans minds work very much like computers, which is why computers are designed based on how our logical intellect works. Our minds are different from computers because emotional drives can dominate our experience. I know all about that too! I have been known to immerse myself in emotion and the “lever” th…

I Am Free (and it's not what I thought it was). My Conversion Story.

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I'm Laura Paxton and I am free.
I am free to play, to create, to express myself, to explore my world. I am freer to think and to reason and daydream than I ever have before. I read more. I have meaningful work that I enjoy very much. I wake up each day with the joy of purpose before me.
Only about five years ago, I existed in a cramped, dark apartment where I had given up on life, agoraphobic, eating mostly chocolate bars for sustenance and playing online scrabble all day long to keep my mind off the pain trapped deep inside. How did I end up there?
Let's face it... I'm autistic. I'm bipolar. I've lived on the dangerous edges of life. I've been raped,  survived a near fatal suicide attempt, was almost successfully murdered and lived homeless at times in my teens. Over the course of my life, I've also been taken advantage of, tricked and abused because of my poor judgment, (which was poorer than most people's to begin with, because I'm…

The Heartbeat of Jesus, Why I Live

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I was wandering the woods in my amnesia, 
Following the lights to scattered campfires, wandering to who knows where.
The moon was full
My heart was hungry
Who am I? Where am I?  So lost, confused and crying.
When my father held me as a baby, his heartbeat soothed my every tear.

When I am close to Jesus, I am near his heartbeat too. 
I am a baby in his arms and His Sacred Heart holds my heart in the safest place I'll ever be.
As I grew older, my dad and I camped by the river. The heartbeat of the river soothed me in the intoxicating laurel thicket where we slept.
Every evening, my dad's friend would say, “This is the life.”

Years passed when I could not hear that heartbeat.
All I could hear were chaotic sounds of need and fear,
frantic crickets and cicadas seeking quickly fleeting mates.
The moon was full
My heart was hungry
Starving, all alone.

One day, I will find myself, floating on my back, nailed to my cross.
I won't move there but I'll be freer than in all my life…

St. Teresa of Ávila: A Doctor of the Church with a Sense of Humour

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Today, Oct. 15,  is the Feast of St. Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus. I love this woman. Although she is a doctor of the Church and  one of the three great 16th century Spanish mystics (along with St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. John of the Cross), she is funny.

St. Teresa is down-to-earth with a wonderful sense of humour which is always a sign of holiness for me. Her humourous quotes tell me that she was real, humble enough to laugh at herself and that she lived in the joy of the Lord. Thank heaven she did not take herself too seriously.


Famous  HUMOUROUS Quotes
Even the first line of her autobiography is amusing. “Having virtuous and God-fearing parents would have been enough for me to be good if I were not so wicked.”

After a donkey threw her into a cold river“If this is how You treat Your friends, then it is no wonder You have so few of them.” You’ve gotta love that level of practicality and annoyance in a mystic.
On false piety“From silly devotions and sour-faced sain…

Jesus loves us MOST when we are weak.

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At the Secular Carmelite retreat I went to last weekend, I heard a message I didn't expect and it has changed the way I'm hearing scripture, liturgy and homilies. I have different ears somehow.

The topic of our retreat was, "Rediscovering the Riches of Divine Intimacy," with retreat master Father Robert Barcelos, OCD. I had been wondering how to grow in intimacy with God, pondering how it was that I had been feeling stuck for so long and even having a hard time following through on my prayer commitments. 
Father Robert said that Jesus loves us MOST where we are weak. He doesn't love us DESPITE when  we're weak, but loves us MOST when we are weak. It's his preference. Whenever Jesus picks a place of encounter, it is in a place where life is messy, shameful or overwhelming for us.
Where did Jesus choose to encounter mankind, face to face, in the flesh, for the first time? In a dank, smelly stable, in the middle of the night. He could have chos…

St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Mums

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I have recently discovered that my spirituality is very similar to that of St. Thérèse the Little Flower probably because I have lived with children under the age of 18 for 33 years. 

 I think that many mothers can relate to this saint as well. She lived thelittle waylike all people who are not rich and famous but want to serve God their loving Father through their littleness and simplicity. She chose to stay as a child in they eyes of God, performing all of her duties with love and obedience, no matter how small and insignificant they were.  Matthew 18:3: and said, "Truly, I say to you,unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  I like to say that a child, frog and tree are holy because they are who they called to be without a mask or false persona or large ego.
St. Thérèse said, “Holiness consists simply in doing God's will, and being just what God wants us to be.”
 I pray now by simply resting in Him, looking into the light and His eye…

What is detachment in the Catholic spiritual life?

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Among Carmelite saints, John of the Cross, co-founder of the Discalced Carmelites with Teresa of Avila, is not the most popular. Why not? He insisted that detachment was necessary for holiness. Many Catholics, misunderstanding his teaching, think it too hard and too dull. On first reading his Ascent of Mt. Carmel, they might be tempted to settle for luke-warmness.

On the other hand, nearly everyone loves St. Therese of Lisieux. The irony is that Therese was a true daughter of John, embracing all that he taught. If we reject John, we implicitly reject Therese as well.

Misconceptions about attachment Let’s examine some of the misconceptions about detachment.

First of all, the detachment John of the Cross speaks of is not aloofness. We should have proper affection for our family and friends.  It’s nonsensical to be cold towards your spouse due to a supposed love for God.

Detachment doesn’t mean denying the good that is in the material world. Rather, it means viewing temporal go…

I Don't Know How To Stop

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I feel whiny today. Yesterday, I cried.
Why, oh why, do I have to slow down?
I hate it. I want to stay busy.

Everyone who cares about me annoys me by trying to get me to stop. I want them to go away, since I'm too busy for them anyway.

My therapist said I need more breaks in my day to take care of myself.

My spiritual director said I need to keep doing Eucharistic Adoration for the next three months and then we'll re-evaluate whether I need to continue. I don't have to obey what he says, but I'm not seeking direction because I'm a genius at how to grow spiritually. My talents lie more in the realm of driving myself to the edge of psychosis and back. So, I agreed and I do what I agree to do. I realize that what I want isn't always what I need.
I don't want to slow down. It's almost as if I feel the world will come to an end if I do.

I used to play computer games non-stop at night, five and six hours at a time, to de-stress. But, that just charge…

Autism Acceptance and Morality

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April is "Autism Acceptance Month." Some organizations have called it, "Autism Awareness Month," but because so much of the negative advertising of many autism charities, autistics like myself have re-titled the month, "Autism Acceptance Month." It seemed most charities only wanted to make people aware of the negative parts of autism, leaving out the good parts!

 I've had a tough time accepting my autism since the day I was diagnosed. The part I hate most about it is that I need help in areas and ways that other people don't. Because of that, I feel like I'm not equal to other people. So, "Autism Acceptance Month" has given me a lot to think about.
Autism is a difference in neurological wiring. Although some aspects of this are disabling, they are balanced by the many strengths we also have. Autistic people generally have a great eye for detail, an unparalleled conscientiousness, sincerity and honesty. In general, we…