Sunday, September 8, 2019

Come Rack, Come Rope


Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson is the author of many notable Catholic novels, many of which I would love to cross off my list of read books. I personally have only read two of his English martyrs novels, By What Authority and more recently Come Rack, Come Rope. Both were very inspiring and historically accurate. 

Come Rack, Come Rope, are words taken from Edmund Campion, who after being tortured in the Tower of London reaffirmed he had not revealed any secrets that would compromise the Faith, "come rack, come rope." As written in the preface, the novel could more rightly be called non-fiction, rather than fiction, save for the two main characters. The events center around the sufferings of Catholics under Elizabeth's reign in the late 1500's, when it became high treason to be a priest in England.

The story follows the characters of Marjorie and Robin who are Catholics in love. However when Robin's father apostatizes, Robin is presented with a new inspiration to pursue the priesthood rather than marry Marjorie, which he well knows may mean eventual death. Edmund Campion makes an appearance in the novel as well as Nicholas Owen, the priest hide creator and Richard Topcliffe the infamous torturer. The plot realistically captures the stealth, courage, and heroism of the priests who risked their lives to provide the Sacraments. 

This novel reminded me of the great love and appreciation we should have for the Mass. It is sobering fact that Catholics risked their lives to attend Mass in those times, and this is a privilege offered to us daily at no inconvenience to ourselves other than our time. We should long to be present at the Holy Sacrifice to receive Him Who comes down from Heaven for us. At the end of the novel, Heaven is described as that place where "the Crucified Lamb of God would talk to him as a man talks with his friend." Let us here on earth talk to Christ as our dearest Friend.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

What's in a Friend


What's in a friend...the very word brings a smile to your lips and laughter in your heart. It floods your mind with happy memories and the names of wonderful people who have touched your life. It's a reminder that you are connected to special someones, whether they live next store or thousands of miles away.

What's in a friend.... someone who understands you without words, listens to your stories with as much interest as you listen to theirs, laughs so hard together you both cry, connects with you on a spiritual level, shares the worst and the best with you, sticks by your side through thick and thin. In short, they are "the bacon bits in the salad bowl of life" :-)

When I think of my dearest friends in life, I am filled with gratitude. Grateful to have met such fantastic individuals and been blessed to call them by that name of "friend." Grateful for the laughs, the advice, the growth, the support, and most of all the moments together that are ingrained in my memory forever. 

One cannot put a price on friendship. It is something to be treasured above all else. I think you realize the value of a friend when you can't imagine your life without them.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Out for the Count


There's nothing like a bad bout of bronchitis to knock the wind out of you. It's not the first time this coughing monster attacked me, but I must have blocked out how truly menacing that monster can be. Not that I'm complaining...thankfully I had lots of opportunity for rest....which brings me to this post.

The art of learning how to be unproductive is lost on me, one which is a very necessary art when illness strikes. Rest is the best medicine for beating a bug, but for the personality type like an "energizer bunny" this presents a challenge. Rest is the very antonym of work, but something I'm learning is that both are redemptive.

Our work can be offered to God and our rest can be offered to God. Sometimes one can be more meritorious over the other if we are not inclined to it. For most that would be work, for myself that is rest. I don't know why it's hard to rest because I do enjoy having fun and leisurely activities, but maybe because they are activities. Being sick is the most inactive form of life I think there is...in the physical sense.

In the spiritual sense, being sick can be the most active state there is. And this got me thinking. Impatience often creeps up on us when we feel like we are "wasting time" or simply can't wait. We are never wasting time if we are united to Our Lord at every moment. Be that work or rest, suffering or pleasure, it is redemptive when we offer it up.

So even when you're out for the count and feeling like sickness is eating away at your valuable time, an interesting perspective is that may be the most valuable time you are given, a chance to accept what comes to you and give it back to God.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Listening Ear


Anyone who knows me knows that if a problem is presented to me my first intention is to try to "fix it." It has taken me awhile to understand that that is not always the solution a person is looking for, and sometimes they are not looking for their problem to be fixed at all. 

This is where the concept of "a listening ear" comes in. Often all a person needs if for you to listen. They may need to vent about their troubles, or talking it out gives them their own ideas to fix their own problem. They may just want someone to confirm their own convictions, or they need a sympathetic word or kind remark. 

For ultimately you are not responsible for trying to "fix" someone else. God is the author of our stories and we are the pens to write them, but we cannot be the pen in someone else's book. We can write our own pen in their book, but we cannot be their pen. (Bear with my writer analogy...occupational hazard).

After all, being the listening ear is what helps the most anyway. It doesn't help to try to change someone or change the sufferings of someone. It is important to do everything we can to be their support system and maybe suggest ideas to alleviate their problem, but we can't fix their problem. There should be a great peace in that because listening means you are giving your full attention to that person, which very well could be the one thing they need most.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Miraculous 54 Day Rosary Novena


"Whoever desires to obtain favors from Me should make three novenas of the prayers of the Rosary and three novenas in thanksgiving." ~ Promise of Our Lady of the Rosary

One of my very favorite devotions is the 54 Day Rosary novena. I have prayed it many times over the years and always received some sort of answer, sometimes in very clear ways for big decisions and other times just the comfort of subtle graces received.

The history behind this devotion stems from a vision of Our Lady to Fortuna Agrelli in 1884. The young girl had three illnesses that doctors declared incurable. Her family prayed a nine day novena of rosaries without success, until Our Lady appeared to the girl with the Child Jesus and a rosary in her hand. 

Fortuna said, "Queen of the Holy Rosary, be gracious to me, restore me to health. I have already prayed to Thee in a novena, O Mary, but have not yet experienced Thy aid. I am so anxious to be cured."

Our Lady replied, "Child, you have invoked Me by various titles and have always obtained favors from me. Now, since you have called Me by that title so pleasing to Me, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, I can no longer refuse the favor you petition; for this name is most precious and dear to me. Make three novenas, and you shall obtain all."

After following Our Lady's instructions, Fortuna was cured from all three illnesses. The rosary prayed for 54 days in a row is a beautiful devotion to honor Our Lady. If begun on the feast of the Assumption (August 15th) it will end on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7th)!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

He Who Prays Most



An inspiring quote I came across for the feast of St Alphonsus was "he who prays most receives most." The reason this struck me was not necessarily the length of prayer but to focus on quality. To pray the most means to be united to God in everything. We receive so much more if God is a part of our whole day rather than a piece of it because His presence transcends each moment.

It is also how you look at things. Those who want to see God working in their life can, if they only look. There are so many times I have been delayed when traveling, only to pass by a recent accident on the way that could have been me. Some could argue that's insignificant, but if someone wanted to see God's protecting hand on those moments they could. 

God is always creating in nature...rainbows, sunsets, snow flurries...always beautiful. How much more beautiful is He acting through our lives and forming a breathtaking creation of a life lived well? We receive from God as much as we hope for, an extension of the idea, "he who prays most receives most." Because if prayer is simply lifting our hearts to God, as St Therese would phrase it, and God cannot be outdone in generosity, then how much more is He lifting His Heart to us?

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Leave a Trail


Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

The characteristic that precedes the ability to leave a trail is courage. Forging your own path in life is a brave thing to do. It is not an easy road. There is the unexpected, the challenging, the mistakes...but after those moments are the triumphs, the glory, the successes.

A lot of people today are becoming cogs in a machine, following set social patterns and trends. It only takes a glance at social media to see that society struggles with individuality, which also means that people are searching for identity. 

Self awareness is an important thing and it isn't found by comparing oneself to others. It is found in trying new things, taking chances, and discovering who you are through the big things in life we have to face. Knowing who you are and feeling confident in that allows you to leave a trail that others want to follow. 

Making changes in your life to get where you want to be is the first step. And as you go through life taking one step at a time and being consistent, before you know it you've left a trail.