The Lord delights in you!

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One of the readings we chose for our wedding Mass was Isaiah 62. It reads in part:
You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My delight is in her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.  For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (verses 4-5).“The Lord delights in you.” Have you ever thought about that? I can easily understand our delighting in the Lord, but His delighting in us? What could that possibly mean?

God is our divine Bridegroom. He calls us to be His bride. When a young man falls in love, he doesn’t dwell on his beloved’s faults. They appear as nothing to him. He sees goodness and beauty that others have overlooked. He desires to give himself fully to her.  He desires to know everything about her.

Above all, a bridegroom yearns for fruitful union with his bride.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Sing the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary with children

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Back in Advent, Dan and I sang The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came as part of our Evening Prayer. It struck me how perfect this hymn was for teaching children about the Annunciation. I conceived the idea (yes, that’s a pun) of teaching children the meaning of the mysteries of the Rosary through song. Here it was I came up with for the Joyful Mysteries.

My primary goal in our Contemplative Homeschool is to teach our children how to grow in union with God. Christian meditation is a vital part of that process, teaching all of us to listen to God’s voice in the Scriptures, and to ponder His character in order to love Him better.

The Rosary provides a bridge between the vocal prayers we learn as children and more mature mental prayer. Through the Rosary, we meditate on the most important mysteries of our faith.
Many people have created ways to share the Rosary with children. In Singing the Rosary, I have the following goals:
leading children to see the Rosary as a means of meditation, so they are not just trying to concentrate on the words of the vocal prayersteaching them in detail about each of the mysteries, so they have plenty to meditate onlimiting the number of prayer repetitions until they understand what the Rosary is for
Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Seeking the face of God in prayer

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he Face of Christ by Claude Mellan (Wikipedia).

  
Early versions of the new constitutions for the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites defined OCDS members in part as those who ”seek the face of God in prayer” in order to be of service the Church and the world. I love this imagery. Seeking the face of God is the most important aspect of Christian prayer. It separates prayer from eastern meditation techniques and self-seeking under the guise of holiness.

Pope Francis is fond of reminding us that the Christian life is an encounter with Christ. As important as morality is, it cannot take central place. Even such fundamentals as protecting human life and supporting traditional marriage cannot stand alone. Atheists can be pro-life. Muslims can support the traditional family. But only Christians truly encounter Christ.

Created, redeemed, and destined for love The Apostle John summed up the Gospel in this manner: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The Gospel begins with God’s love for us. God’s love is at the center of the Christian life.

God created us out of the abundance of His love. When we sinned, He sent God the Son to redeem us. By believing in Jesus, we can come to share in God’s eternal love in Heaven. This is what Christianity is all about.

Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

Is there a magic bullet to holiness?

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I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for a magic bullet to bring me closer to God. Let’s be honest: the Christian life can be a slog. Day in, day out, struggling against sin and making little measurable progress. I’m always looking for the secret to help me reach sanctity faster. But is there one?

St. Therese asked herself this same question. She sought a fast way to climb the ladder to Heaven, as it were. The Little Way of Spiritual Childhood was her discovery. She said that if she made herself little, Jesus could lift her up in His arms. His arms would be her elevator to help her advance quickly.

Why am I still not a saint? But there is a catch. As much as we might think the Little Way means Jesus does all the work for us, we still have to strive against ourselves. The Little Way is not magic. We can’t just say a few words and be instant saints.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Pizza and disordered attachments

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On Sunday I made pizza for supper. Herbed crust, thick, garlicky sauce, uncured pepperoni, black olives, and two cheeses. Is your mouth watering yet? Is pizza among your disordered attachments?

As you may know, I’m focusing on being more truly detached from everything except God this year. Before you read the rest of this post, you may want to read or review these:

What is detachment in the Catholic spiritual life?Why is detachment necessary?How can you know what your spiritual attachments are?Why do you have inordinate attachments?I can’t work on every possible type of spiritual detachment at once. I have to slice it into small pieces. Here is an easy way I’m trying to start. Every time I experience pleasure or enjoyment, I am immediately turning my thoughts towards God.

As I’ve said before, we are not Puritans. We don’t reject the goodness in God’s creation. The world was damaged by Adam’s fall, but not destroyed.

Enjoying pizza, a good movie, splashing in the rain, or time with your spouse is not sinful. But when we dwell on these pleasures we take them out of their proper context.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Some Marveling at Super-Pope Francis via Graffiti Art

Artist Mauro Pallotta with his graffiti art “Superpope” Francis (photo:  Andreas Dueren/CNA)

Mauro Pallotta is a 41 year old artist and sculptor based in Rome.  But Pallotta may better be known as a celebrated street artist based on widespread notoriety of his graffiti “Super-Pope” Francis on the Via Plauto, a tiny cobble stoned street in the Borgo Pio district near St. Peter’s Square in Rome (Vatican City).

Pallotta (a.k.a. Maupal) was inspired to do the piece one evening when he was reading a comic book and the image of the Pope appeared on television.  Pallotta opined:

“I thought of representing this Pope, Francis, as a super hero of the Marvel (Heroes), simply because, according to me, he is one of the few people who, having a real power as a Pope, he uses it for the good like the superheroes of the American Marvel.” It dawned on the artist that this Pope also had superpowers in the form of humility and empathy.

Pallotta likened Super-Pope  to  “It’s  a little bit like Greek mythology brought to modernity.”   In depicting Pope Francis as a superhero using his papal authority for the good, the pontiff is shown as a pop style dressed in his understated white cassock, simple shoes and an iron pectoral crosscross as the Super-Pope carrying a black briefcase labeled “Valores” (meaning values in both Latin and Spanish).  This symbolizes that the first New World  Pope only carries his Christian values.

A red and blue scarf is hanging out of the briefcase, which is for the Argentine San Lorenzo de Football (soccer) club, which the Pope been a fan of this underdog team since his boyhood.

Graffiti art in Buenos Aires, Argentina of Pope Francis and San Lorenzo Football Club (photo TripAdvisor)

Pope Francis greeted players from San Lorenzo at the Vatican in December after a Wednesday general audience to congratulate them on winning the Tornial Incial championship.

 Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken of the spiritual values of sports teams.  His Holiness exhorted Argentine and Italians sports clubs that:  “[R]ugby is like life because we are all heading for a goal, we need to run together and pass the ball from hand to hand until we get to it”.

The artist explained that the San Lorenzo soccer scarf brought Super-Pope Francis to being human.  However, considering Pope Francis’ connection between sports and spirituality, carrying  the San Lorenzo scarf with his values “baggage” , it can be seen as a reminder that even a “Super-Pope” needs the support of his underdog team to achieve the goal of advancing the kingdom of God.

Vatican Communications embraced Pallotta’s Super-Pope folk art tribute by posting it on  its Twitter feed.

The Super-Pope graffiti art lasted but a day, as Rome’s decorum police acted faster than a speeding bullet took down this street art in record time. 

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Create a guided Christian meditation for kids, step by step

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David and Goliath from the Breviari di Marti, 14th-15th century
(photo credit: Wikipedia).

 
I’ve had a lot of requests lately, especially since my interview on Carmelite Conversations, for more details on teaching children to pray. So I’ve decided to write a step-by-step post to help you create these meditations for your children or students.

I will walk you through a meditation I created for my boys. We’ll use the story of David and Goliath as a basis for this meditation, because everyone is familiar with it.

You can write a meditation for your kids without first praying over the Scripture passage yourself. I was making a Bible-based curriculum for the boys for a few years before I realized how akin it was to Christian meditation. At that point, I tried meditating on the Scripture passage first. What happened?

The lesson became more personal. I was more excited about it. My kids and I were then focusing on the same things in our spiritual lives. How cool is that? I taught with more enthusiasm and gained a deeper connection with them.
 Step 1: Read and Meditate on the story yourselfSo, find a Bible and read I Kings 17. This is a long story, so I encourage you to read it outside your prayer time. You don’t want to spend all your time with God reading. You want to spend your time in conversation with Him.

Then set aside about thirty minutes for prayer, alone in a quiet place where no one will interrupt you. Place yourself in God’s presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your meditation.

Read the rest at  Contemplative Homeschool.

Honoring St. Francis de Sales, the Patron Saint of Writers

Today is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622).  Francis de Sales was canonized in 1665.  St. Francis de Sales was known both for his medium as well as his message.  St. Francis de Sales was named a doctor of the Church by Pope Blessed Pius IX in 1877 for works like “An Introduction to a Devout Life”.   

In 1924, Pope Pius XII  proclaimed St. Francis de Sales the patron saint of writers and journalists (and now bloggers) since he extensively used media (flyers and books in his spiritual direction and his apologetics to convert Calvinists in the region.   During his missionary work in Switzerland, Francis de Sales was able to help up to 70,000 people return to the faith.  Aside from his prolific wring, St. Francis de Sales was known for his concern for writing with truth and charity.  Hence, he is also considered a patron for Christian Unity. 


 Through your prayers, St. Francis de Sales, I ask for your intercession as I attempt to bring the written word to the world. Let us pray that God takes me in the palm of His hand and inspires my creativity and inspires my success. St. Francis de Sales, you understand the dedication required in this profession. Pray for God to inspire and allow ideas to flow. In His name, let my words reflect my faith for others to read. Amen.