Sunday, September 28, 2008
The initial premise:
* What picture do you think would be on your Holy Card if you were to be canonized.
* Of what would you be the Patron Saint?
Very thought-provoking questions. I know we are all called to be saints, but to actually think of myself as such seems inconceivable.
First - of what would I be the patron saint?
As I have returned to the Faith, I have grown to love the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Since then, it seems that God has placed me in areas where people need to hear about this Sacrament as well as why they need to return to the Church. I was also to give a talk on Confession, which fell through, but in doing the research, I discovered so much consolation and joy when I receive this Sacrament.
Also, I feel many of these people are taking 'Pit Stops' or breathers as they go forward in God's plan. These pit stops have led them to others to help them, or maybe, they were led to assist others in their spiritual journey. Being a patron saint of 'pit stops' would be very interesting and fun.
Another gift is my love for children...and my ability to relate and help parents. Being a parent is one of the most difficult vocations. Adding upon that the need to work outside the home, entrusting children to complete strangers. Therefore I would be a patron saint for childcare teachers/workers and people returning to the faith/those in 'Pit Stops' in their Faith.
Second - picture(s) on my Holy Card:
Returning to the Faith
Patron Saint of Pit Stops
This second picture is created by Greg Olsen. It's called Do Not Be Afraid. For being the patron saint of Child Care Workers.
Friday, September 26, 2008
The first night I tossed & turned - I had so many emotions going through me at one time that I found it very difficult to relax (and the fact that I went from a wonderful double bed to a single). Fears of relinquishing my freedom were on the forefront of my mind. As a Postulent & Novice, we are not free to move about the Shrine or Convent as we would like...even going to the Chapel needs to be approved. I questioned whether I could surrender my freedom continued to haunt me. This made me question my faith and its strength. I have met so many others with greater faith than mine - can I measure up to them? Can I measure up to God's standards?
Yet, even with these questions and apprehensions,
I can not shake the feeling that I am home.
The second day (Monday, 9/8) we celebrated our Holy Mother's birthday! How awesome to be with the Most Holy Trinity AND our Heavenly Mother! It was an absolutely gorgeous day and as an added bonus, Fr. Michael Woost celebrated Mass!
Monday's duty was cleaning the kitchen - the most difficult part was getting on my knees to wash the shelves. Because of softball injuries in highschool, college, and during summer leagues, my knees have taken the brunt of the work - I played catcher. Earlier this year, I tripped over ice and landed on my right knee...creating further hardships. In any case, I offered up the pain for everyone reading my blog, praying for me, and those in my Jesus Jar.
Tuesday - I was seeing red! A farmer donated 1/2 a bushel of tomatoes! We peeled. We cooked. We cut. We saw lots and lots of red. We made lots of stewed tomatoes and had fresh tomatoes for lunch and dinner all week.
Eucharistic Adoration is also celebrated on Tuesdays. It was so nice to be able to sit in front of Jesus (and the Trinity) and let go. Let go of everything that was weighing on my mind.
By the end of the day, the three of us (Sr. L, Sr. M, and I) were so tired we were giddy! Sr. L. brought up the movie Robin Hood, Men in Tights. That's all it took - the three of us created a new version.... Nuns in Tights.
We're Nuns! Nuns in Tights!
We roam around the convent looking for whites.
We may look like penguins
But watch what you say or else we'll give you the lights!
We're Nuns! Nuns in Tights!
The more I let go and let God, the more content, even a bit euphoric, I am feeling. The fears about freedom are dissipating and I also found that I am trusting God more...and praying more. I found that I am cherishing the 3:00 hour to pray the Rosary and the LOH, something I could never do at work.
This was also a very difficult day for the Sisters, and Trinitarian Order. One of the Trinitarian Priests was accused of abuse (his Sister is also in the Trinitarian order); two Sisters (outside the U.S.) had major health issues - one had a major stroke & is in a coma, the other has terminal cancer and not expected to live much longer; three Sisters (inside the U.S.) had deaths in the family - one's mother passed away, one's Uncle passed away, and the other's nephew (1 year old) passed away. So many heartaches - so many prayers needed.
The question of whether to join the Convent or stay and help my parents was weighing on my mind. I prayed for guidance on what God's plan was for me...where am I supposed to go?
It's also the 7th anniversary of the World Trade Center bombings. The memories of seeing the planes crash into the 2nd tower and United Flight 93 ("Let's Roll") still haunt us. Watching the news on TV that morning, finding that a plane hit Tower 1 then watching as the second plane hits Tower 2 - seemed so illusory.
That evening we took a road trip to Stowe, OH - antique car show! How awesome! It brought back memories of my dad's cars: 1960 Volvo and 1964 Plymoth Belvedere (push button automatic transmission). It was a lot of fun - but one problem - if I was a car, I'd be an antique!!! LOL
The Most Holy Name of Mary
Another Feast Day for Mary! How awesome!
The Priest (a Franciscan) celebrated Mass this morning and talked about the different names and titles for Mary. How wonderful it has been this week, not only to share my experience with the Most Holy Trinity, but also with Mary, the Mother of God. Many tribulations this week, but many opportunities to TRUST God!
Questions about why God chose this week boggled my mind - but then again, it is just more proof that Mary has been guiding me all my life, by my side the entire time.
Feast of St. John Chrysostom (Golden mouth): He is called 'Golden Mouth' because of his eloquence in speech.
Cleaning of the washroom. Afterwards, we were able to go outside for awhile and enjoy the sunshine. I finished reading my book, Swear to God, by Scott Hahn.
After much prayer, I handed in my request to enter the Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity. I feel that this is where God wants me.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Actually - what got me was the fact that I KNEW what I was doing - and yet I was afraid to make the Sign of the Cross in front of people. This is a mark of my faith - and yet - WHY was I afraid to show my faith?
When I really thought about it - I was denying my faith at that moment. That was the sin.
What's really been interesting are the comments from people - some were VERY glad I immediately went to Confession and only wanted to receive the Eucharist with a clean heart & soul (and conscience). Others did not see it as a sin at all...but that I was being too hard on myself.
I will be the first one to admit - yes, I am VERY hard on myself. But in these times, I have to be. There is part of me, which I am not able to clearly explain, that needs me to stay on the straight and narrow, and ensure that my soul is clean - to use the Sacrament of Confession and the Eucharist (as well as Spiritual Communions) as much as possible. We all see that the Spiritual Warfare is on heightened levels.
Again, I can not explain this - but I have had many people (who have never met me before) tell me that I am here to do something great. WHAT this "great" means, I have no idea - but my reliance on the Eucharist & Confession is great. I am greatly drawn to these two Sacraments. It sounds crazy - I know. Which is why I keep praying to God to get me ready for what I am supposed to do - His Will that I am to fulfill. And when the time comes where I am completing His will, give me the courage, tenacity, fortitude, and strength.
Which goes back to why I was afraid to make the Sign of the Cross in front of people. If this was one of God's tests for me to show my faith in front of others - I failed. So, I confess my failure, forget it, and move on....learning from the failure and facing it head-on.
Has this incident changed me? Absolutely! Yes, I am still hesitant on making the Sign of the Cross in front of others - even at restaurants. However, I face it head-on, tell Satan to go to the foot of the Cross and boldly proclaim my faith by making the Sign of the Cross. There are times when my hand is shaking, there are times when my head is bowed and eyes closed, and there are other times when my head and eyes are forward, back straight, and my faith proclaimed.
Yes, I show my faith in other ways - but for some reason, this was a hurdle that I needed to overcome at this moment. Maybe by showing my faith it will enable someone else to proclaim their's as well.
Photo: Pope Benedict XVI makes the sign of the cross during the weekly general audience at the Vatican last Wednesday. (Plinio Lepri/Associated Press)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
It was mentioned at my come-and-see week that before I officially enter my Novitiate (if I am accepted) I would have to submit 3 Feast Days with Saints and 3 Descriptors to add to the end of my name. Of these, the Vocation Director would decide which Feast Day and Descriptor I would take on with the Habit. The Descriptors are what my devotion is about - for instance, one of the Sisters has 'of the Cross' another, 'of the Most Holy Eucharist', and another 'of the Child Jesus'. (I will post on the descriptors at a future time).
At the Bible Study (Scott Hahn series about the Bible & the Sacraments) this past Sunday, one of the Sisters, who is also taking the course, mentioned that many Catholics are celebrating their Baptismal days rather than their Birthdays since this is the day we become adopted sons & daughters of God...fully adopted into God's family. This peaked my interest - so I decided to look into it.
What I discovered was further proof that Mary has a big role in my life. My Baptismal day is August 29th....there were many obscure Saints listed but one Saint leaped off the page.
Saint Hyperdulia: The proper veneration that is reserved for the Blessed Virgin Mary, as the most exalted of all human beings and all creatures.
Second Exodus explains:
'The special veneration due to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church states: “The various forms of piety towards the Mother of God, which the Church has approved within the limits of sound and orthodox doctrine, according to the dispositions and understanding of the faithful, ensure that while the mother is honored, the Son through whom all things have their being Col 1:15-16 and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell Col 1:19 is rightly known, loved and glorified and his commandments are observed.”'
There are three levels of reverence that we in this life offer. Latria (worship) is reserved for God alone. Hyperdulia is reserved for the Blessed Virgin. Dulia (veneration) is reserved for all the rest of the heavenly host, including the angels and saints.
There are many signs that Mary has been beside me from the beginning...some of which I have already posted. I am unsure what God has in store for me or why Mary has been so intricately woven into my life, but I am not here to know....I am here to serve.
Since my return to the Faith, one of the few prayers that I have for myself is: whatever I am supposed to do here on earth, God will prepare me to carry out His will. Teach me what I need to learn. Help me to remember that which I will need. When the time comes, give me the strength, fortitude, tenacity, and courage to fulfill God's plan...with Mary beside me all the way.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Monday, I got on the train heading back to Green Road, took out my Liturgy of the Hours book and started reading (yes, reading, NOT praying!). I was too embarrassed to do the sign of the cross on the train in front of people! The train was not even crowded! I had a seat all to myself! WHAT was I embarrassed about???? If this was God testing me to see if I would show my faith in public, I miserably failed!
Immediately after I realized what I did (actually didn't do), the scripture about how if we deny God to men on earth, Jesus will deny us before His Heavenly Father. Ouch!
To make matters more poignant, yesterday's evening Reading in the LOH (which I read at Adoration last night) was all about this!
So I went to Confession this morning - This is the one time I was really glad to get 3 Our Fathers for a Penance!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Information about the Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity
Some history of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity
St. John of Matha was born of noble parents in Province, France. Educated at Aix, then lived as a hermit at Faucon. Doctorate in theology at Paris. Ordained in 1197. At the first Mass he celebrated, he had a vision of an angel, clothed in white with a red and blue cross on his breast. The angel placed his hands on the heads of two slaves, who knelt beside him. Later, when sitting beside a stream with fellow hermit Saint Felix of Valois, the two were given the vision of a white stag between whose antlers was suspended a blue and red cross. With the encouragement of Pope Innocent III, he founded the Hospitaler Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of Captives (Trinitarians; Redemptionists) to ransom Christian prisoners of the Moors (the Mathurins); it received papal approval in 1209. The angel's clothing became the habit of the order, the Scapular of the Most Holy Trinity was instituted, the Order was placed under the protection of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Good Remedy, and John was the first superior general. Hundreds of prisoners were ransomed and returned to their homes.
More about the Trinitarian Order.
Order of the Most Holy Trinity in the United States
Mother Maria Teresa Cucchiari, foundress of the Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity.
"In 1198 John of Matha was inspired to found a community dedicated to the Trinity in order to share the Trinity's love through redemptive charity. On September 8, 1762, Maria Teresa Cucchiari followed her own special call by the Trinity and received the Trinitarian habit and became the foundress of the female branch of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity.Maria Teresa and the first two women to join her carried out the charism of the Order, namely, redemptive charity. They were of service to women and children living in the small towns of the hills of Avezzano, Italy in various ways. This was a truly unique and innovative type of ministry for its time. Over the years this ministry included not only catechesis, but developed into caring for children in orphanages, helping the sick and establishing schools for those who otherwise would not have access to education. Mother Maria Teresa had a great devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. She had complete trust in the providence of God. When she found herself in difficulty her motto became, "I trust in God and I am confident."
Our Lady of Good Remedy
800 years ago Christians were being captured and sold into slavery by the thousands, and nobody knew what to do about it. Then, in the year 1198, a man had an idea. St. John of Matha founded the Trinitarians to go to the slave markets, buy the Christian slaves and set them free. To carry out this plan, the Trinitarians needed large amounts of money. So, they placed their fund-raising efforts under the patronage of Mary. They were so successful at that, over the centuries, the Trinitarians were able to free thousands and thousands of people and to return them safely home. In gratitude for her miraculous assistance, St. John of Matha honored Mary with the title of "Our Lady of Good Remedy." Devotion to Mary under this ancient title is widely known in Europe and Latin America, and the Church celebrates her feast day on October 8. Our Lady of Good Remedy is often depicted as the Virgin Mary handing a bag of money to St. John of Matha.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Passed down from generation to generation, these sins influence our very being, our souls, so that it has ramifications upon everything we do. This burden slowly wearing us down until we find it so difficult to move, to live, to love, while desperately trying to cling onto the Word of God to keeps us going. We find ourselves drowning in the everyday battles. We know He is there, we know He is beside us, but the suffering is so great that we feel like we are losing the war.
Can we ever be completely healed by the influences and effects these sins create? Can we be free from this bondage, this burden placed so heavily upon us? Can we feel His love again? Yes! Through the Sacraments. Through prayer. Through fasting. Through Jesus. He died so we could have everlasting life ... free from the bondage of sin, including the sins of the past, present, and future.
I pray this prayer in hopes of being completely healed, as well as healing for my family, one day.
Prayer for Healing the Family Tree
Heavenly Father, I come before You as Your child, in great need of Your help. I have physical health needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, and interpersonal needs. Many of my problems have been caused by my own failures, neglect and sinfulness, for which I humbly beg Your forgiveness, Lord. But I also ask You to forgive the sins of my ancestors whose failures have left their effects on me in the form of unwanted tendencies, behavior patterns and defects in body, mind and spirit. Heal me, Lord, of all these disorders.
With Your help I sincerely forgive everyone, especially living or dead members of my family tree, who have directly offended me or my loved ones in any way, or those whose sins have resulted in our present sufferings and disorders. In the name of Your divine Son Jesus, and in the power of His Holy Spirit, I ask You, Father, to deliver me and my entire family tree from the influence of the evil one. Free all living and dead members of my family tree, including those in adoptive relationships, and those in extended family relationships, from every contaminating form of bondage. By Your loving concern for us, heavenly Father, and by the shed blood of your Precious Son Jesus, I beg You to extend Your blessing to me and all my living and deceased relatives. Heal every negative effect transmitted through all past generations, and prevent such negative effects in future generations of my family tree.
I symbolically place the Cross of Jesus over the head of each person in my family tree, and between each generation; I ask You to let the cleansing blood of Jesus purify the blood lines in my family lineage. Set Your protective angels to encamp around us, and permit Archangel Raphael, the patron of healing, to administer Your divine healing power to all of us, even in areas of genetic disability. Give special power to our family members' guardian angels to heal, protect, guide and encourage each of us in all our needs. Let Your healing power be released at this very moment and let it continue as long as Your sovereignty permits.
In our family tree, Lord, replace all bondage with a holy bonding in family love. And let there be an ever deeper bonding with You, Lord, by the Holy Spirit, to Your Son Jesus. Let the family of the Holy Trinity pervade our family with its tender, warm, loving presence, so that our family may recognize and manifest that love in all our relationships. All of our unknown needs we include with this petition that we pray in Jesus precious Name.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
A little second grader, J, was being prepared for his First Confession in the 'olden days' when everyone entered a Confessional and spoke through a screen.
J was very frightened to go into the Confessional, so he asked his classmate, F, to go first and tell him about it. Obligingly, F entered the Confessional, made his First Confession, and rushed out to reassure J.
'Don't worry, J, they have him in there in a cage!'
We’ve all been there at one time or another—going to Confession with a guilty conscience, sweaty palms, anxious about what Fr. So-and-so is going to think when I tell him about _____. We go in feeling burdened, hesitant, or embarrassed—but we should not leave this way.
It is never comfortable to look back on our own failings, to own up to them and to confess them, but Jesus sees so much more than our failures and sins. That is why He invites us to come to Him.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden, light. (Matthew 11: 28-30)
The Sacrament of Penance, also known as Confession, was instituted by Christ to heal us and to renew Christ in our hearts. We not only receive forgiveness for the offenses we committed against God after Baptism, but we are also reconciled with the Church, who is wounded by our sins.
God wants an intimate relationship with us. When we sin, we separate ourselves from God; we sever that relationship. On our own, we cannot repair this rift caused by our sins. The only way our relationship with God can be repaired is by standing at the foot of the Cross, asking for God’s forgiveness and mercy. God gives us Himself through grace to heal and sanctify us so we can be like Him and live with Him, intimately, in Heaven.
When Jesus needed Peter the most, Peter denied Him three times. This sin was a huge burden on Peter’s conscience. His guilt over his failure was eating away at the core of his being and Jesus knew this. Jesus had to show Peter that He forgave him. He removed Peter’s guilt and gave him a vision, a sense of purpose, a mission. Through this forgiveness, Peter was no longer bound by the guilt of his past failures, but now was filled with hope for the future.
Peter said to him, "Master, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times." (John 13:37-38)
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus. But Peter stood at the gate outside. So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in. (John 18:15-16)
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, "You are not one of this man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." (John 18:17)
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love (filio) you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." (John 21:15)
Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm. And they said to him, "You are not one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not." (John 18:25)
He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love (filio) you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." (John 21:16)
One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, "Didn't I see you in the garden with him?" Again Peter denied it. And immediately the cock crowed. (John 18:26-27)
He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love (filio) me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love (filio) you." (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)
This is what God wants from us every time we go to Confession. He wants to see us transformed, to overcome sin and the temptation of sin, to overcome the flesh of this world for the spiritual of the next. We need to trust in God’s forgiveness and mercy with the hope of having our lives transformed through His grace. Jesus understood that Peter was unable to love Him enough to die for Him. However, Jesus reassured Peter that He would lead Peter to an agape-kind of love.
When a Catholic comes from Confession, he does truly, by definition, step out into that dawn of his own beginning…in that brief ritual God has really remade him in His own image. He may be grey and gouty, but he is only five minutes old. ~ G.K. Chesterton
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that we must appreciate this gift that God has given us through the Sacrament of Confession, a Sacrament of Christian Initiation. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. It has been said that we sin so many times a day, but our sins are washed away through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. (1425). The conversion in Confession is within our hearts, not to be seen as an outward sign, but an inward one, one of Christ. This conversion is a repentance of ourselves, a turning away from sin, and repugnance toward evil. At the same time, God asks us to change our lives, to trust in Him, His grace, and His mercy. Sin causes our hearts to be heavy and burdened. God must give us a new heart, must give us strength to begin again and to trust that His love will always keep us turned away from sin. (1430-1432).
The Sacrament of Penance is meant to be a celebration where all of Heaven rejoices whenever a sinner repents. Confession gives us a greater hope of being united more deeply with Jesus, to be an adopted son/daughter within God’s family. This change in our hearts through this Sacrament helps us to change our lives, in harmony with God’s.
The Sacrament of Penance must be one of the most exhausting, demanding, and difficult ministries of a Priest, yet one of the most rewarding. It requires prudence, discretion, discernment, and firmness, tempered with gentleness and kindness. Pope John Paul II likened the Sacrament of Reconciliation to going to the doctor. If a patient is too fearful of what the doctor would say to show his wounds, the doctor cannot heal what is not known. Christ is the physician of our souls. We need to bring everything to Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation…everything. The Priest, acting in persona Christi, is the minister of Penance who makes Christ present for us through the Holy Spirit. Christ is still the High Priest, behind the Priest. When we go to Confession, we are not going to the Priest (the human), we are going straight to Christ, who is present to us through the Holy Spirit in the Priest. It is Jesus who is listening as we pour out our hearts; it is Jesus who is absolving us from our sins. Like the doctor, we need to bring everything to Jesus in the Confessional so He can heal our wounded hearts and souls.
We should not be discouraged if we do not see progress. Frequent Confession helps us to be free from the bondage of sin, as well as, consistent in our struggle against sin. Nor should we be disappointed if we do not feel/see immediate effects of a particular Confession. When our sins are forgiven, they are completely forgiven…and forgotten. You do not need to feel like you are walking on clouds when you leave the Confessional – trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness. Be assured that you now are a new creation in Christ…you now have a clean slate.
(Confessional picture used with permission from www.vassaloftheking.blogspot.com)
Since that time, I left the group, reasons not important. Many friends have asked if I would still talk about what I learned - I decided to write about it. I have only read those articles approved by the Church, including Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Exortation Reconciliation and Penance; Lord, Have Mercy, by Scott Hahn; Misericordia Dei, Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio by Pope John Paul II; Catechism of the Catholic Church; and many of the Apostolic Letters, homilies, and articles found on Zenit.com from Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and others leading our Church. I also conferred with several Priests in the Cleveland Diocese for further clarification and have asked the Parochial Vicar at my parish to read and comment on the writings before I post them.
This is my research and is in no way an exhaustive description of the Sacrament.
What is Confession (Principle aspects of the Sacrament)
What's in a name? Confession? Penance? Reconciliation?
Signs & Symbols
What is a sin?
Types of sin
Loss of the sense of sin
Why confess sins?
Forgiveness of sins
Cain, Abel, and Original Sin
The Prodigal Son
Judas - was he forgiven?
Divine Mercy & the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Pastoral Ministry of Penance & Reconciliation
Forms of Celebration of Confession
What is Bound on Earth shall be Bound in Heaven
Why confess to a Priest?
Fundamental Convictions of the Sacrament
Sacraments & Confession
How to Make a Good Confession
Steps of going to Confession
Act of Contrition
"What to do when..." (What to do in certain situations)
I hope you learn to enjoy this Sacrament as much as I have...if not more!