Today's Family Reflection: "Finding God Requires Time and Patience..."


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At My Father’s Side

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June has always been the month we celebrate fathers. But for some families, a father’s illness can make this time sorrowful; filled with suffering and heartbreak. Father Hugh Cleary, C.S.C., shares this beautiful prayer with those faithful families who are caring for an ailing dad. We pray it brings hope and comfort to those who need it.

 

Prayer for a Father Who is Sick

 

Dear Father in Heaven, in my heart, I come before you with an urgent need. My father is ill. My father, like you, lives in my heart also. His illness troubles me, saddens me, makes me sick of heart. I seem so powerless to heal him and restore his health.

I think of him as strong and vibrant, always the one I could look up to for help and strength in my need; always there for me with his comfort, advice and wisdom. And now he needs me at his side to be a strength for him in his suffering.

I remember when I was a child how he told me that the greatest sadness he and my mother felt was their inability to take on my sufferings as their own, in place of me, for me, when I was ill. And now I know how they felt. I hate to see my father suffering. I want to take his illness as my own so that he might be free of this all too heavy burden. I would gladly suffer in his place as he wished to do for me.

The body betrays us all, Lord, first in its promise of life, growing and maturing in strength, carrying us through this beautiful creation of yours and then, in time, with age and illness, faltering, fading, dying.

But I see the strength of spirit in my father, the strength of his life, still wanting to live for me, caring for me even in his own need, teaching me that love is the medicine that reveals our ultimate strength and purpose of life.

Bless him, Lord, in this time of illness, and bless all of his family, to be at his side with our abiding love for him as he loves us. Thank you Father, for the way he instructs us in all the great lessons of life, teaching us to live in the great mysteries of life with strength and courage. Amen

Visit our e-prayer site often throughout the year – www.PrayersForFamilies.org - for a selection of short prayers you can send to your family to celebrate and support them.

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Topics: prayer, illness, family, Father's Day

Sacred Spaces

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RosaryWalk.jpgWhen I first came to Bennington, I met Lois at work. She was a wirily little lady and an avid hiker who spent every break and lunch period walking so we became great companions. One day she took me up to the campus of Southern Vermont College. As we began walking down a path she said, “This is the Rosary walk”. Since I knew Lois had no religious affiliation, I was surprised by her remark and asked how it came to be labeled. She said that at one point this was a monastery of some sort and the priests used to say their Rosaries here. Later, I came to find that the Holy Cross priests had their novitiate at this site in the 1960s. 

My niece was born and raised Baptist yet she tells me that when something is troubling her, she goes to a Catholic church … not for the services but for the quiet. She says it’s the only place where she feels this special silence that helps her to know she is not alone. Of course, I feel that way too. I picture years and years of prayers going up in these sacred places; hearts filled with joy at weddings and Baptisms, souls filled with the pain of loss or illness. All this prayerful energy fills up the space where Jesus abides in the Blessed Sacrament.

It calls to mind that as a teenager, I had a Rosary music box which I put on an old trunk in a corner of my room. At night I would often kneel and pray the Rosary as the music box played Ave Maria … my own little altar. 

This is rather how I feel about Rosary Path which my husband and I visit fairly often these days. Whether or not the young priests prayed their Rosaries here, I don’t know. What I do know is that as often as I walk this path, I feel a quiet presence and I know it is a sacred place just like I knew my corner altar was my sacred space those many years ago and I know as well that the little altar in our guest room is our sacred space in our home today. Read More

Topics: rosary, inspiration, altar, sacred space

Considering Habits

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While taking our dog for a walk yesterday,  I could see how much the snow had melted.  It made me wonder how the pristine snow had covered so much stuff.  There were coffee cups, bottles, food and candy wrappers, even a diaper.

It’s interesting that the snowmelt comes during lent when the church provides a season to determine the kinds of stuff we've been collecting, harboring, and covering up over the past year. Some habits and feelings have increased in intensity. Sometimes it's a matter of judging those around us and expressing our ideas to others.  It's not quite gossip but pretty close.  Perhaps we've become a little too reluctant in helping others, or on the other hand, giving so much of ourselves that we don't have time to recover and pray.  And of course there are the indulgences…overeating, overspending, or over texting to the extreme.

But here it is lent; not merely a time to give up chocolate but a time for introspection and cleansing.  It's truly a time to develop new habits.  It's a time to resensitize  ourselves so we can reach out compassionately and thoughtfully because we know how easy it is to let mistakes become habits.

It makes perfect sense that so many of us are eager to receive the sacrament of confession during lent.  What better way of concluding our time of reflection and soul searching than by asking God for His healing and forgiveness.  Just as we clean the trash along the road enabling new life and beauty to come forth, so we are cleansed, ready for new life, and a new year.  So as I ponder all these things, I wish for one and all a productive and growth filled lent.  Let's pray for each other on our journey toward Easter.

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Topics: healing, Lent, forgiveness

Living Lent with the Mother of the Word

 

During a recent to our Family Rosary Missions in Africa I had the opportunity to visit Kibeho, Rwanda where  Our Lady appeared many times between 1981-83 a  dozen years before the well known genocide.

Though relatively recent, these apparitions have already received high level approval from the Church. Their message  is quite contemporary. Particularly noteworthy is that as Our Lady called us all to pray the Rosary she identified herself as The Mother of the Word.

Lent is a great time for this and at the heart of this season is our desire to give ourselves to the Living Word, Christ Himself, as he gave himself to us.

How? The Pope invites us to look to Mary, who ¨lives completely attuned to that word… As we contemplate in the Mother of God a life totally shaped by the word, we realize that we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, whereby Christ comes to dwell in our lives.¨

Meditating the Mysteries of the Rosary, this is what happens! Let this Lent be a time for grow in your love for the word of God as you  pray the Rosary. As you pray it,  don´t rush! Slow down! Reflect! Listen! Let Christ, the Word of Life,  truly come to dwell in your heart.

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February 11: Our Lady of Lourdes

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes – Basilica in Lourdes, FranceAll Catholics have heard of the apparitions of Our Lady to Saint Bernadette in Lourdes in southern France in 1858. The shrine  attracts millions of pilgrims every year. I have had the privilege of visiting a number of times because of our Family Rosary work in France.

I find Lourdes to be probably the most beautiful place I know on the planet.

I think most anyone who has visited will agree that the sense of peace there speaks powerfully and palpably of the healing love of God.

Most Catholics have also heard of many miraculous cures that have taken place there, particularly as the sick have bathed in the spring that has flowed since the apparitions. If someone takes the time to investigate them, he quickly realizes - unless he is a total skeptic - that something really extraordinary has been going on there!

 What do these supernatural manifestations mean? We are faced with something that cannot be dismissed as merely a popular superstition.

Not so many know that when Our Lady identified herself to young Bernadette she said, "I am the Immaculate Conception," confirming the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception that had been officially declared only 4 years before by Blessed Pope Pius IX. That fact helps us to understand both the "Immaculate Conception" (a phrase that may seem like obscure theology to some) and the healings.

The Immaculate Conception: the Virgin Mary from the moment of being conceived in her mother's womb was without sin! The New Creation dawns as she is prepared to be the Mother of God.

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes – Grotto in Lourdes, FranceShe was saved from sin: one human person is completely restored to true freedom so she can say YES to God with all her being when asked to be the Mother of Jesus. And say YES again when that promised Son was to be crucified! This beautiful daughter becomes the Mother of the Church - and the image of what the Church, the Bride of Christ, is to be.

This is a great promise for you and me!

But it is a promise that is already a reality in Our Lady of Lourdes. Mary really is our Mother, a loving and faithful Mother, caring for the sick and suffering...and caring for you and for me! The Kingdom of God is already among us.

You can sense that there is a sort of uncertainty and fear that many experience today. But the Lourdes message is of confidence in the powerful and loving work of God!

There have been many physical healings recorded at Lourdes. The spiritual healings are beyond counting … there and all over the World. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

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Topics: Mary, saints, feast days

Our Lady Undoer of Knots

My sister Donna has had a very difficult six months. It was one of those things that did not just include her daily life but also hospitalizations, three surgeries, insurance problems, home health nurses missing appointments, and on and on. How she kept her sanity in all this was beyond me. On my part, I was over 1,000 miles away and incapable of assisting her other than through prayer and daily phone calls.

At one point when I was overwrought with concern, a friend asked if I was familiar with Our Lady Undoer of Knots whom Pope Francis has spoken of. No, I hadn't heard of her. She suggested I make a novena to her since Donna had so many issues.

After I began the novena, whenever I felt overwhelmed and helpless to make a difference, I would picture Donna with Mary, each situation represented by a knot Mary was untying. In this image I felt Donna was cared for, loved beyond my love, and knew that her problems were resolving. And actually, they were. Surely, it wasn't the end of some of the issues, but everything seemed more tolerable. Donna was more at peace, able to handle the situations as they came along, and was healing.

Even now, I find comfort in this image as I pray for those in need. How often we are indeed, “tied in knots”, one problem connected to another. So I would like to share Pope Francis’ prayer.

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To Our Lady Undoer of Knots

 

Holy Mary, full of God’s presence during the days of your life,

You accepted with full humility the Father’s will

And the devil was never capable to tie you around with his confusion.

Once with your son, you interceded for our difficulties,

And, full of kindness and patience gave us an example of how to untie the knots of our life.

By remaining forever Our Mother, you put in order and make clearer

The ties that link us to the Lord.

 

Holy Mother of God and our Mother,

To you who untie with motherly heart the knots of our lives,

We pray to you to receive into you hands, (name of the person),

And to free him/her of the knots and confusion with which the enemy attacks.

 

Through your grace, your intercession, and your example, deliver us from all evil,

Our Lady, and untie the knots that prevent us from being united with God,

So that we, free from sin and error, may find Him in all things,

May have our hearts placed in Him,

And may serve him always in our brothers and sisters.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Mary, pray, Pope-Francis

Awaiting the Light

Looking for the lights of Advent and Christmas.When I was a small child, I experienced an alarming event.

Every night when I went to bed the nightlight provided just enough light to allow the shadows to come alive. There was a dragon living in my bureau and at this time it would sneak out the back, stand there looking at me, waiting for I didn’t know what. I would lie there with my eyes open wide as if by doing so I paralyzed the dragon. Sometimes when I was most frightened, I’d call my mom and when the light went on, the dragon disappeared.

I liken this experience to Advent. We yearn for light in the darkest of times. Even as the winter presents the experience of darkness, and as the Christmas lights begin to light up the neighborhood, we are aware on a deeper level that this is symbolic of what happens on a spirit level. Unless we have had this experience, why would we hope for light?

We need Advent and the Christmas season to remind us of the times of darkness and the knowledge that all experiences pass. We do not look for death and darkness but in that state, whether due to circumstances or willfulness, we persevere because we know there is light even when we can’t see it.

So as Christmas; as we prepare in countless ways to cheer others with gifts and our presence, may we ever remember that the Light of Christ is forever in our hearts … even when the dragons in the dark threaten us.

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Topics: Advent, Christmas, light

Alive Yet New

During the month of November we pray for the dead, but during this month of December when so many are enjoying the season, preparing to party and give gifts, I’m more aware of the families who are grieving in a most unique way.

Three year old Brandon was a bright and charming child and a climber; not just climbing stairs and chairs but bookcases and dressers as well. Fortunately, he was always able to escape uninjured. 

One day, however, he was playing in the backyard when his mother, Remi, looked out and found him missing.  Without a doubt he had made it over the fence but then where did he go? As the neighbors assisted in the search, someone looked over a backyard swimming pool fence and found Brandon floating in the water.  They resuscitated him but after two months in the hospital he was brought home, unable to talk, see, or even move on his own. His parents continued to love and care for him but in time, his dad was unable to deal with the loss of his bright little boy. He could not relieve or assist him or Remi and he left for good.

This is a true and poignant example of not all too uncommon losses. Sometimes children and/or spouses suffer traumatic brain injuries, sometimes parents have a stroke which leaves them incapacitated, and in some cases a brilliant young adult is diagnosed with schizophrenia.

In all these cases the families must mourn the loss of the loved one. The child is no longer who they were. The hopes for a future filled with all the normal events of life are dashed. No matter how much better they do through therapy or care, they will never be the same. But as we know, parents and families do carry on, loving, caring, supporting and fighting for their loved one. We might sit back and say, how sad it is and go about our normal days. Normal days for these families are very different. They need our love and support, not our sympathy. 

For many, Christmas is a reminder of happier days. May we gently honor those around us who suffer and yet rise to the occasion in love, every single day of the year. 

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Topics: Christmas, loss, family crisis

Don’t Wait

Life is busy and demanding. Seems we barely get done what we have to each day! How can there be any time left reserved for daily family prayer? Often we make the time only during times of crisis.

Enjoy this poem that repeats Father Peyton’s popular message throughout and encourages us to make daily family prayer a family priority.

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Family Prayer – Don’t Wait

 

Don’t wait for a family crisis. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for financial hardship. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for a broken relationship. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for illness. Pray together today.

The family that prays together stays together.

Don’t wait for a death in the family. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for an addiction problem. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for war in your country. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for an abusive family situation. Pray together today.

The family that prays together stays together.

Don’t wait for legal problems. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for unemployment. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for infertility. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for fear. Pray together today.

The family that prays together stays together.

Don’t wait for loneliness. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for mental illness. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for incarceration. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for resentment. Pray together today.

The family that prays together stays together.

Don’t wait for heartbreak. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for poverty. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for sorrow. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for injustice. Pray together today.

The family that prays together stays together.

Don’t wait for depression. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for divorce. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for conflict. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for hopelessness. Pray together today.

The family that prays together stays together.

Don’t wait for stress. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for old age. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for an emergency. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for a difficult pregnancy. Pray together today.

The family that prays together stays together.

Don’t wait for a life transition. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for a military deployment. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for chronic medical issues. Pray together today.

Don’t wait for disappointment. Pray together today.

When family challenges come, the family that ALREADY prays together stays together.

May God bless your holy family.

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Topics: prayer, family, crisis

Occasions of Grace

Last week my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by spending time together in Maine. We had wonderful weather and enjoyed so much of the beauty together. We also had time alone. During my time, walking on a seemingly endless beach, I took in the entire picture; birds flying and calling, the waves lapping at my feet, people walking alone or as couples, and the endless sea topped off by equally endless clouds.

I reflected on Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s, Gift From the Sea. In her introductory chapter she writes, “To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea.” 

After years of hunting for shells, rocks, and ocean glass, I was finally open to the magnificence of all as the gift of the moment. Then, just as I was getting ready to end my walk, a couple called to me. There in the surf was a jelly fish the size of a basketball. It laid there brown with designs of gold enhanced by the sun with the partial dome of clearness over it. We weren’t sure if it was alive or dead so we kept a distance even as the three of us merely marveled in silence, together. Then as we each prepared to go our own way, a wave came in, the jelly fish rose up, its tentacles came out and off it went. 

This was indeed a gift, totally unexpected and completely unanticipated. I like to call these moments occasions of grace. They call for an openness to the moment; an awareness of beauty, the ability to be present in silence and without an agenda. 

This is the way I want to be in the world, open to the gifts and moments freely given to me when I am not tied up in my own expectations; living in the awareness of grace freely given and always abounding.

 

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Topics: grace, inspiration, gifts

Prayer for Month of the Rosary

Friends, October is the month of the Most Holy Rosary! Let us remember this beautiful and comforting prayer when praying the Rosary. “Never was it known that anyone … was left unaided.” Share it with family and friends!

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The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided.

Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother!

To you I come; before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but, in your mercy, hear and answer me.

Amen

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Topics: Mary, rosary, family, feast-day

Our Lady of the Rosary

Do you remember this family-favorite, prayer-poem by Mary Dixon Thayer, written in the 1920’s and made popular by Archbishop Fulton Sheen in the 1950’s? Share it with your family on this special Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!

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Lovely Lady dressed in blue
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little Boy,
Tell me what to say!
 
Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
Gently, on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way,
Mother does to me?
 
Did you hold His hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
Oh! And did He cry?
 
Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things --
Little things that happen? And
Do the Angels’ wings
 
Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now?
Tell me -- for you know!
 
Lovely Lady dressed in blue
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little Boy,
And you know the way!
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Topics: Mary, rosary, feast-day

Siblings Forever

Reflecting on the news of the passing of Father Willy’s brother and the sorrow that it brings also makes me marvel over the sibling experience. Unlike friends who may come and go in our lives, siblings are forever. Surely there are those who don’t nourish adult relationships with them, and others who have lost their siblings through death or happenstance, but nonetheless, they have made a mark on our lives which cannot be erased.

I see how my relationships with my sisters have changed over time. As youngsters at home we were more competitors than friends. We fought like banshees to my mother’s consternation.   Over time, we each went our own way, still in contact but living quite different lives. Now, we have moved from all the other kinds of relationships we have had over time, to friends. Regardless of our ties and individual experiences, their mark is indelibly part of my life; part of what made me into what and who I am.

No one else can ever share this unique space or understand the ramifications. It doesn’t really matter if our siblings die when we are 5, 25 or 60 … or even 80, there is something gut-wrenching about the loss even if it is taken as if “life goes on.” Sometimes it’s a silent loss as in childhood when the grief of bereaved parents is so overwhelming, the remaining children are more concerned about parental loss to grief than their own loss of a sibling. Over the years I’ve been amazed at how siblings still cry or remain muddled over this loss that happened years 

siblings-are-forever

Perhaps, as with most losses, especially as we age, we don’t like to think too much about it, knowing that sooner or later our time will come. There are some who lived before we were born so it only seems natural that we will have years without them as well. But as with all losses, there may be an empty hole, and no one else will ever fill that hole. ago. 

Sometimes it is good to examine our transitions and evolutions. It’s always nice to let those closest to us know the impact they continue to have on our lives. I am forever grateful that my sisters and I have lived long enough to love and appreciate each other so much. 

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Topics: loss, family, siblings

Pray for the Family

Holy-TrinityThis past weekend I joined members of our extended family to pray for our brother, Romeo E. Raymond, 1936-2015. This caused us all to remember how precious our family is in our lives, in our memories and in our hearts. This is what I was thinking and praying about and thanking our Good God for.

 "The family is where we first learned to love and be loved; where we first learned to trust and believe; where we first learned to hope and care for others; where we first learned to pray and to honor and thank God; where we first learned to share with and respect others.

The family is so precious and valuable because it was imagined by God as the best way to reflect his own heart and love in the community of grace and beauty we call Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is no relationship more valuable in giving and protecting life, in building a community and society where the relationship of love and kinship are central. The family is our most prized possession and we do well to honor it, cherish it and protect it. God in Christ became man so that man might become god. The family is the path and the destiny of this Christian vocation.

Pray for the family; thank God for the family; love the family; believe in the family; place all your hope in the family. You will not be disappointed."

Looking for more ways to pray with your family? Visit How To Pray The Rosary.

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Topics: gratitude, prayer, death, family

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