8 Dec 2014
22 Jul 2014
You are pregnant. Married just over a year and working steadily at your career, you were hoping to wait a while longer before this day arrived. But here it is.
You wish this pregnancy felt more like a deliberate choice rather than a shock. But let me propose something, something you already know, which is worth considering now in a new way: with this pregnancy, God is visiting you. You might quickly object--and rightly so--that God was already a frequent visitor in your newlywed home; there was no rush for God to send a baby at this particular moment. In truth, God has been your constant companion, accompanying you in your first year of marriage, in your engagement, in your courtship, in your college years, in high school, in your childhood . . . in your own mother's womb.
Read more at Praying with Grace.
24 Feb 2014
(The illustration is by Shannon Wirrenga and is from the Elizabeth Ficocelli vocation awareness book Where Do Sisters Come From?)
5 Nov 2013
30 Jul 2012
“Well, we offer a variety of publishing services and some of those services are that authors do, indeed, pay to have their books published with us,” were the words I said that didn’t even begin to cover the true response.
What I’ve come to see over these past six years working with different authors is that there isn’t a vain one among them. In fact, what I’ve come to know and be blessed by are the men and women who have made the conscious choice to answer the call the Holy Spirit has put upon their hearts to bring a work of fiction or non-fiction to fruition. These are men and women who have taken the “new springtime of evangelization” to heart and have responded. They aren’t in positions of power where their names can open doors; rather, they are the simplest and most humble of people who have prayed and discerned to know God’s call upon their lives. Each and every one of them is a truly gifted writer and has brought to me work that I am proud to publish; work that I have enjoyed reading and can recommend to others with full confidence. Without exception each is a work that entertains, edifies and enlightens.
Thinking about the inquirer’s question-framed-as-a-statement, I realized that not once has it ever been the case of someone whose vanity propels them forward, wanting to see their name in print and their words bound together for profit or for gain.
It is always about serving God and uplifting brothers and sisters in Christ in compelling prose.
In fact, I have been so blessed to work with these men and women that I know my life is better having known each of them. I marvel at what they’ve brought to the world through their work; sharing their tales—whether fiction or non-fiction—has been a labor of love. Paying to have their work published has been a sacrifice they each have been willing to make because they believe it is what God has asked of them. They rightfully believe that this time in our Church isn’t about just a few being called but about all of us being called to step up and serve with our God-given gifts and talents. It is a time for each of us to open a door for another, through whatever means or situation in which God has put us.
They understand that now is the time to join together—being bound as believers—and serve one another. These men and women are taking very serious their responsibility as part of the body of Christ.
Since these men and women have not pursued their publications out of vanity, their success, I am sure they will tell you, is measured on a different scale. They humbly ask themselves such things as:
1. Was I obedient?
2. Did I use the gifts God has given me the way He has asked me?
3. Did I willingly sacrifice as I was asked?
4. Has one person been affected by my witness, my work?
I am in awe to know these men and women of all ages and backgrounds and experiences. They are what the new springtime of evangelization is all about: taking leaps of faith as they witness and work to share the Good News through their God-given talents.
I hope these men and women encourage you to wonder and then respond to the question, “What is God asking of me right now in this exciting time in our Church?”
28 Oct 2011
In ‘A Landscape with dragons’, Michael O’Brien writes about children knowing whether something (or someone) is good or bad. Their little souls are still sensitive, whereas we adults have taught ourselves to disregard that awareness. Perhaps the world or our busyness drowns out the voice of our guardian angel who is prompting us to steer clear of a certain person, to turn off a particular movie, or to not try to drive home in a heavy snow storm.
O`Brien advises parents to not scoff when children talk about monsters under the bed, because doing so teaches them to distrust their own discernment. Good discernment is so important in living a Godly life. Just as our conscience must be formed, our morality developed, our code of ethics established, so our ability to discern needs to grow in strength and maturity.
That discernment is a gift we all have, men and women both. There is a lot of emphasis on `women`s intuition` but men have it, too. The inherent differences between men and women means the gift is expressed in different ways, but the common purpose of instinct is preservation – safety from spiritual and physical harm.
I think women are inclined to trust the promptings of their instinct. For example, a mother is fierce in the protection of her children and ensuring the integrity of the home. What keeps us back from being fierce all the time, is the need to also be nice, to not upset other people, to offer help when we can see it is needed. It is the struggle between being kind and being safe that sometimes leads women into danger. We`ve all heard stories of assaults and abductions and think that could never happen to us, in this country, in our neighbourhood. And yet it does. It happens not because women are smaller, slower, weaker, or dumber, but because we sometimes ignore that little voice that tells us to look after ourselves first. If we are reacting on behalf of our children – or anyone else who is relying on us – we will respond appropriately. But we hesitate when it is comes to ourselves.
I have an illustration. Years ago I shared an apartment. It was in a well-maintained, respectable building so we had no concerns about safety. One afternoon while home alone, I was wakened from a nap by strange sounds coming from the door to out apartment. Then I heard voices, and I realized someone had been fumbling with the lock and was now in our hallway. Totally confused by the situation and having just been in a deep sleep, I stumbled into the living room, unsure of what to do or say to the two men now standing in my home with a case of beer tucked under an arm of each of them. I said something along the lines of, ``Umm... what?” I didn’t want to offend them, but I was also afraid to go near them. Though I knew I had every right to insist they leave, I was almost afraid to offend them - if I were British I might have offered them tea. With as much polite insistence and I could muster, I asked them to leave. Turns out they were visiting a buddy in the building who was getting married the next day, and they simply went to the wrong apartment.
Contrast that with the time I was looking after my five nephews in their home. We were going through their bedtime routine, when I heard a knock at the door. I ignored it as we weren’t expecting anyone, it was late, and I don’t like to answer the door when I’m home alone. The next thing I heard was the door opening and heavy boots stepping into the front hall! A voice called out, “Hello” but I was already half way up the stairs, yelling, “Get out! Get out! Get out!” I charged into the hallway, hands out in front of me, and pushed the man out the door and down the porch steps while shrieking at him to get out of the house. I didn’t give a thought to how he was feeling or what he thought of me. Poor man... he turned out to be the landlord come to repair something. Once I realized who he was I stopped yelling at him, but I took him to task for not phoning ahead, and for just walking into our house. I must have got through to him because he always kept a safe distance from me after that.
Before that incident, and based on what had happened earlier in my apartment, I used to wonder how I would protect the boys if something like that ever happened. Instinct kicked in and I didn’t question it for a second. When it came to protecting myself, though, I hesitated because I wasn’t sure I was justified in reacting the way I wanted to.
It is so important we listen to that voice, whether it is our guardian angel, or our God-given instinct. Scripture tells us to get rid of our eye if it causes us to sin. We must choose our friends wisely, avoid scandalous activities, not partake of blasphemous entertainment etc. How can we do all of that if we no longer trust our own discernment?
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