st. catherine qoute

(St. Catherine of Siena)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Mother's Love

There is nothing quite like the love of a mother. I love my Mom very much. She has first of all given me life and planted the seed of faith in my soul at a young age. Mom has been there as a shoulder to cry and the comforting voice of encouragement when I doubted myself or was worried. I love her and someday hope to be the kind of mother she has been to me. However, nothing can compare with my Heavenly Mommy...the Blessed Mother, Mary....Jesus' mother. I love the Blessed Mother because she was the mother of Jesus, and He loved her very much (heck, if it is good enough for the Son of God, its good enough for me). And also, because Jesus gave his mother to us. As He hung dying on the cross, Jesus gave Mary away to the world; so that we would also love and honor as much as Jesus did.

Often, the concept and understanding of the Blessed Mother can be a stumbling block between Catholics and Protestants. Just to clarify any misconception,s Catholics do not worship Mary or give her any more love than we would to Jesus. We go to Mary because Jesus loved her and simply ask her to pray we may be holy and one go to Heaven. Any doubts about that read the the Gospel of St. Luke; Mary is mentioned, spoken of in places of honor, and an important character in the life of Christ. Our Lady has one job; to lead all souls to Jesus Christ! However, this post is not to convince non Catholics or even Catholics to immediately begin praying the Rosary or scoop up every Marian book to learn about Our Lady. My point here is to share my own personal love for the Mother of God and how her presence has and is continually changing my life.

It is simple, I talk (yes, even aloud) to Mary as I would with Jesus in prayer. I ask her to help me, pray for me, help me strive for purity and name it, and I bring it to her and ask her to take it to Jesus. As a woman, I feel a special closeness to Mary (sorry guys!). As a little girl, I was always fascinated with the Mother of God, but saw her more as a distant "holy lady chilling up in Heaven with Jesus." I never saw Our Lady as loving me personally as a mother loves her little one. Through my own personal trials and sufferings, I would come often and cry on Mary's shoulder. I would ask her to help me, make things clear, and give me strength.....just as I would with my Mom. I look to her as an example for my own life as an example of humility, unwavering faith, trust, submission to the will of God, and purity...all things I need more and more of. It is very hard to explain, I just love Mary. She IS my second Mommy. Our Lady is a rare and beautiful jewel given to man kind by Jesus, and she loves each of us as if we were her only little child.

No matter how lax I can get in my daily prayer or procrastinate praying the rosary, this part of my morning routine never changes. When awakening, I kiss an image I have hanging of the Blessed Mother and I also kiss the crucifix on my bedside table. I need to remind and challenge myself every day to love Jesus and Mary more ardently. I need to remind and challenge myself to strive more for holiness as the two most perfect examples I have; Jesus and Mary. I need to remember to surrender my day, my life to Jesus and Mary. And most importantly, I have to remind myself, that without the help and intercession of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother, I am spiritually lost.

So just as you love Jesus, honor and love His mother too! For truly, that is what He desires.
"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for ME a sinner!"

***This past Lent, I wrote an article for a Catholic newspaper. May reading it for you call and inspire you to love and know OUR Blessed Mother more in your own life***

Monday, August 30, 2010

Called by God

This past weekend I went on a camping retreat at the Sleeping Bear Dunes with forty some other young adults; it was amazingly fun and spiritually refreshing. It was so much fun coming home smelling like camp fire and getting to climb the sand dunes late at night with flashlights...however, nearly drowning in Lake Michigan was something I could have done without (let's just say I should have payed better attention in all those swimming lessons I was forced to take as a kid).

But really, in all seriousness, there was a particular moment that really struck me and made this retreat for me. The Friday evening meditation and talk was based upon the Gospel of St. Luke 5:1-11, 'Jesus calling the first disciples.' One of the questions offered for our personal prayer and reflection was, "How am I called?" It was at this point the Holy Spirit whacked me over the head with a two-by-four piece of heavenly wood and made me think. I like when the Holy Spirit does that and grabs my attention :-)

So I thought and prayed, "How am I, Patty Breen, a 24 1/2 year old woman 'called'?" Usually when I hear the word "calling/to be called by God," I think of this relating to one of two things: being called to marriage or being called to religious life. For me, right now in my life I am called to just do what God has put in front of just "be" in the present of my life here and now. The more I sat with this over the weekend, the more it resignated with me; just this very strong sense of Christ saying to me that I am called "to just be in praise and prayer, don't keep looking for you cannot see what is ahead of you." I have a certain amount of certainity of the direction and vocation of my life. I am blessed to have a wonderful spiritual director who helps guide me in my relationship with Jesus, as well as be a prayerful support. I think I have a sense of how I am called through my own prayer with Spriture and spiritual journaling. Right now, Jesus' call to me is to be with Him in praise and prayer, to grow myself and serve in ministry, and try and experience new things. Do I have a sense of where my life is going, my vocational call? Yes. But that doesn't mean, I am called to that immediately. For me right now, Jesus is letting me know that he is calling me to just "be" with and fall more deeply in love with Him and to work in ministry and service for the Kingdom of God.

Throughout life, I think perhaps we go through different degrees of being called by God...more than the typical call to either marriage or religious life, as I had previously thought. God called me to different things 5 or 10 years ago, and He will call me to different things over the next 5, 10, 20 years of my life. Our God is a God of mystery :-)

So just as Jesus called Peter, James, and John from their fishing boats to come and follow Him, He continues to call each of us in beautifully, unique ways. Perhaps take that same question to your own prayer and reflection I did: "How am I called?"