what are you learning?

What others did…

what are you learning from them?

What will the next generation be inspired to do?

What will we learn, then?

hugs n’ blessings to ALL the Veterans yesterday, today…and for ALL the tomorrows.

Receive…

a favorite prayer….

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Prayer of Surrender

(Suscipe)

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty,

my memory,

my understanding,

and my entire will,

all that I have and possess.

You hast given all to me.

To you, O lord, I return it.

Everything is yours;

do with it what you will.

Give me only your love and your grace,  

for this is sufficient for me.

Ignatius Loyola

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Decision making is hard!

So many choices.

So many possibilities.

So many opportunities.

Some positive & others to be avoided!

As Amy Welbourn explains, “One reason it’s difficult to make choices is that, although all of us have limitations of one sort or another, it’s actually rather shocking how much freedom we really have.”

For example:  If I wanted to, I could do something that addresses my yearning to do something more concretely practical to help with hospice care in our local parish.

I could announce that I’m going to begin story-telling to children again.

Or I could give in to my lifelong fascination with art, and take some art classes!

I could do it.

And maybe I will.

“We can approach the question of decision making from a number of perspectives, but if we’re Christians, and if we really believe that we are made by God and live in a world made by God and for God’s purpose, our only reasonable starting place is that purpose: What does God want?

The Catholic spiritual tradition calls decision making “discernment.” The word implies not coming up with a new idea completely out of our own creativity, but clarifying things so that we can see and understand something that’s already in place: what God wants us to do.

St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, is really the king of discernment in the Catholic tradition. His Spiritual Exercises, written over a couple of decades in the mid-sixteenth century and used by hundreds of thousands in the centuries since, is essentially the structure of a personal retreat dedicated to discernment of God’s will in one’s life. This retreat can take as long as thirty days, and one of its last elements is this prayer:

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

It’s called the Suscipe, Latin for “take,” and even if you haven’t prayed it before it might be familiar to you from a contemporary hymn sung in Catholic churches called, not surprisingly, “Take Lord, Receive” and composed by, of course, a Jesuit.

If we’re wondering what to do with our lives, or even with the next fifteen minutes, the Suscipe is a wonderful prayer to fall back on. When it comes to decision making, context is everything, and this is a prayer that instantly puts our decision making into the right context, even when our own words fail us, when our own desires are pulling us in a million directions, and the sawdust is starting to look mighty appealing.” – Amy Wellborn

Suscipe is the Latin word for ‘receive.’

Each day we have the freedom to receive all that God has to give us.

What are you willing to receive from God today?

Are you willing to listen to His direction?

I am praying & verily hoping that you will!

And don’t be too surprised to watch me joining you too!

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Because in the end, although it doesn’t use the word, the Suscipe is…all about love.

See how much He loves us…

hugs n’ blessings for all we shall receive today! 

Witnesses of Forgiveness

St. Faustina wrote, “We resemble God most when we forgive our neighbors” (Diary, 1148).

Forgiveness means more than avoiding interaction with those who have hurt us. It may not be wise to try to restore a friendship with someone who has seriously wronged you, lest you expose yourself to further harm or abuse. But even if you have to stay away from the person that hurt you, you still have to let go of anger and forgive. Scripture is clear that as our Heavenly Father loves us, we are to love others.

In March 2015, His Holiness, Pope Francis, announced an Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy beginning December 8, 2015.  As a result, from September to November of 2015 the major relics of St. Maria Goretti made a pilgrimage to the United States. Named the “Pilgrimage of Mercy,” it was the first time that her body traveled to the USA. This visit of the major relics of St. Maria Goretti was an effort on the part of the Holy See and Treasures of the Church to prepare and catechize the United States for this great celebration in the life of the Church.

Several of our family members were fortunate enough to attend the Visiting Tour of St. Maria Goretti’s relics, at various locations in these United States.  I wrote of this in a previous post, I will be Brave, and often find myself reflecting on that time spent with her.

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Photo by George Martell/Archdieocese of Boston

Perhaps it is because

a constant reminder (of her)

(literally) travels with me every day, everywhere I go!

(giggles.)

There she is!

That’s a photo of St. Maria Goretti…sitting on the console of my car!

Beside her is the Archangel St. Michael and below rests the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

All 3 are the perfect travel companions & offer no back-seat driving advice, giggles!

On July 6th,  Catholics everywhere, celebrated the feast day of St. Maria.  I am grateful to have been with her relics and the personal ‘accountability’ challenge I received as a result was an unexpected blessing.

Many times we receive great gifts in life that simply pass us by unnoticed.

But this particular gift has been one (for me) that has had such a profound impact

that St. Maria remains in my car with me every place I go…

in hopes that I never forget all she has taught me.

Pope Francis has marked the feast of the young martyr St. Maria Goretti by calling the faithful to follow her example and be forgiving to those who wrong them.

The memory of Maria Goretti’s example should “encourage you to commit yourselves, like the Saint you venerate, to being witnesses of forgiveness,” the Pope wrote in a letter for the July 6 feast of the Italian who is known for having forgiven her attacker.

The young saint, who was killed at age 11 while resisting a rape, is renowned both as a martyr for chastity and as a witness of forgiveness: as Maria lay dying from wounds inflicted by her would-be rapist, Alessandro Serenelli, she prayed for his conversion.

Lauding Maria Goretti’s ability to forgive her attacker as she lay dying, Francis quoted the 2015 Bull of Indiction for the Year of Mercy, saying: “At times how hard it seems to forgive! And yet pardon is the instrument placed into our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart.”

This “generous offer of forgiveness,” he said, accompanied “the peaceful death of the young Marietta,” establishing for her killer the “sincere journey of conversion which, in the end, led him to taste the faithful abandonment in the arms of his merciful Father.”

In 1902, Maria was stabbed 14 times when Serenelli, then a neighboring farmhand who had made previous inappropriate comments and sexual advances toward her, attempted to rape her. She died in a hospital in the nearby town of Nettuno.

While in prison several years later, Alessandro converted after having a dream in which Maria handed him 14 white flowers that burst into flame. The flowers represented the 14 wounds he had inflicted upon her; the flames symbolized forgiveness. After being released from prison one of his first acts was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother.  He later became a Capuchin tertiary and attended Maria’s beatification alongside her mother.  (Excerpts taken from CNA)

Three years after her beatification, one of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization – 250,000 – symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti.  Among the quarter-million people who attended, 66-year-old Alessandro Serenely knelt and cried tears of joy.

“Even if she had not been a martyr, she would still have been a saint, so holy was her everyday life.” Cardinal Salotti.

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I know what it can feel like to offer sincere forgiveness to an offender.

I have felt the peace of Christ that comes when we do so.

I know the freedom which follows, when we extend this mercy to others.

And as a result…

I wish I could say I no longer struggle with offering forgiveness.

And…

I wish I could say that I offer it as automatically as St. Maria Goretti did.

But God is still perfecting that in me.

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And until that time comes, when I too can resemble more closely St. Maria Goretti,

what I can say is…

I desire,

with my whole heart,

to forgive all offenses joyfully!

(for love of Him.)

And because of this…

I do try harder to offer it,

even when it is difficult for me to do so,

because I recognize the great

peace

and

joy

and

freedom

which follows

IMMEDIATELY

after having presented this most prized gift, to self & others.

And even when the gift is not received straight-away, (as with Alessandro,)

I desire to forgive even that.

Let us all, with God’s grace, strive to reach the goal that her example sets before us.  Through her prayers to the Redeemer may all of us, each in our own way, joyfully try to follow the inspiring example of St. Maria Goretti, who now enjoys eternal happiness in heaven.

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“He Loves, He Hopes, He Waits.” St. Maria Goretti

Who might you need to forgive today?

hugs n’ blessings to all those waiting to receive our forgiveness!