Tag Archives: Catholic Prayers

Crosses and Trials

Comfort: It’s what our bodies desire and our society cultivates and caters too. I would’ve taken an upgrade to First Class in a heartbeat on either of my flights home yesterday from Vancouver, had it been offered. While I would’ve avoided the manspreading fella on the first flight, I would’ve missed the adventurous couple whose love for life and travel was contagious. The husband gave a compliment to one of the Flight Attendants, the kind where it was visible how much it meant to her. The wife kept beating her husband playing Gin, mocking that her hands were tired from shuffling the cards too much, which amused both of us ladies as he half-heartedly griped.

We crave comfort while the call of the Christian life is the opposite — it is the cross. Christ calls us daily to pick up our cross and follow him, and some days are harder than others. The cross is the school of Christ, while it is painful it is also purifying.

st therese quotes

This quote, “I reserve crosses and trials for you,” is from page 133 of Therese’s autobiography (see more below) and a reference to Luke 22:29. Christ says he appoints us unto the Kingdom that God appoints to him – yet we must be worthy of it. Therese explains that as Christ suffered before he entered into glory, “if you desire to have a place by His side, then drink the chalice He has drunk!”

What if we viewed our crosses as trails chosen by God so that we too may enter into his glory?

I’m not going to say it’s going to feel great, friends. But which is more true – to trust your feelings or God? If we have glory with God set in our minds as the destination, then it can transform us along the journey if we allow it.

I am reminded of how we spent this last heavenly birthday of my Mom, January 21, 2019. It was in the ER with my Dad.

We had just added a Pain Management Doctor to the list of specialists which totaled 15 Doctors including his Primary Care. Dad had been given a new pain med that previous week which caused serious adverse reactions – the worst of which was altered mental status (hallucinations, agitated, very confused). He’d had a lot of Edema below the waist that his Home Health Nurse attributed to not have compression on his lower extremities for a few days. Off the meds, he had been getting better the weekend before Mom’s birthday but felt very weak.

Then that Monday (birthday) morning, an untrained shuttle driver failed to properly strap my Dad’s wheelchair before taking him to Dialysis. He tried to tell her, but she drove off and on the first turn on the road, he fell over in his wheelchair — hitting his head and side on the floor. If it could be worse, she then pulled over, put him back, and continued to drive him to Dialysis without reporting it. It was my Dad that called me on his cellphone from the back of the shuttle!

Infuriated, I called the Director of his facility and things were set into motion there. He complained of pain in his hip and leg, but after an initial evaluation, he thankfully was oriented x3. He had such fluid build-up, that we proceeded with Dialysis with the plan to immediately transport him (not the same driver, of course) to the ER afterward, where I’d meet him. He was taken to the hospital where he had been receiving wound care 2x a week on his feet, and where he finally got into Hyperbaric treatments before they had to do further amputations – to his leg.

When I met Dad at the ER, although I was angry and worried, I was thankful he was alive and lucid. I asked God to not only help us through that day’s trial but to also help us celebrate my Mom’s life. The blessings came, here are a few: Doctors and Nurses that were so kind and accommodating; Dad’s regular (trained) shuttle driver had come to take over and stayed with us the 4-hours in the ER to transport him back properly in his chair so as to not cause more discomfort; my Husband brought dinner to us, ravenous after hours in the ER, and a cupcake for Mom that we sang over and split. We smiled as we remembered her. And back at his Assisted Living, his caretakers were also upset and promised to look after him carefully throughout the night.

Despite what we lacked in physical comfort, the Holy Spirit – the Comforter, provided graces for the moment in abundance. Here’s the thing — I had to ask, and receive it, which is possible even amidst the chaos.

If you’ve followed my blog at all (thanks!), you’ll know I have a devotion to Doctor of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux. If you’re new, a hearty welcome and I hope we’ll connect here or elsewhere more, I’ve posted links below to former posts – which were daily reflections during the Novena to St. Therese. Today I begin the Novena to St. Therese, the Little Flower – as it ends on her Feast Day, October 1st. Some other wonderful resources, such as Praymorenovenas.com, started yesterday — either way, it’s a beautiful time of prayer that I encourage you to take advantage of.

While I do reference St. Therese throughout other posts, these writings I’ve compiled on the Little Flower will pass along bits of her spiritual insights. You can follow along on the links below, and I’ll be posting more of my hand lettering quotes on my Instagram, so follow along there too @lisanch

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Feeling Restless? This is How We Overcome!

Just before 2:00 am last night, I finally got out of bed. It was my second consecutive restless night. Just when I think I may kinda-sorta be able to hit cruise control for a little bit, WABOOM, curve ball. When life gets like this, I know what helps me begin to reset — STOP, write in my journal.

Amidst my restlessness, my writing becomes an outpouring from mind and heart, which turns then to prayer. A prayer that opens me up to hear the Lord again above the noise. And His words are usually powerful in these moments.

These sacred words are something that I always keep between us, in the pages of my journal. But there were a series of things that I felt, heard, and saw that have prompted me to share a few of these precious morsels here, with you. The primary one being that today begins a lovely devotion close to my heart, and hopefully yours – the Novena to the Sacred Heart. If you’d like a simple way to follow along with this 9-day prayer, sign up here.

So, fresh from my journal pages, here are some words from His heart to mine, to yours:

“Beloved, light a path of love from within. Follow the light of your heart inward to peace. Find blessing in all things, and all things will bless you. Know that in the secret stillness, I am there. Seek me. Find me. I’m waiting. Looking for you. Will you run after me? Or will you be chased away by fears, distractions, or the Enemy? Little one, rest in my love.”

I opened a beautiful meditational I have, called “He and I,” and meditation from September 18th leaped off the page. The first words were this:

While that entire meditation is powerful, these first words cut fast. Do I truly understand this? If so, I wouldn’t be so restless. As St. Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”

I’ve recently been watching various “great minds of today” share how they begin their day, or exercises they do in order to better themselves, and the other best “lifehacks”. And while they inspire me and motivate me, this kicked my butt. Perhaps it will kick yours too, in the best sort of butt-kicking ways. Because life will threaten to keep you on the run and restless – it will rob you of peace and joy, if you allow it. So we must remember how we overcome – go to our place of refuge – His Heart.

I hope you’ll join me in praying the Sacred Heart Novena.<3

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3 Things Lent Taught Me About Prayer

What we learn from LentPrayer is not something new to me. My Catholic resume has some pretty decent bones to it. Even so, I do believe we tread on dangerous ground when we feel like our faith cannot teach us something new. As a lifelong learner, I love when old “practices” can bear new fruit.

Sometimes simply making a few changes feels like opening wide the windows, allowing bright light and fresh air to pour in. Spiritual refreshment is an important part of our faith walk, otherwise we can experience pitfalls, such as mindlessly go through the motions or getting stuck in a spiritual rut. This Lent, my approach to prayer was different {read more here}. For 40 days, I prayed for 40 people and their at least 40 intentions — my 40/40/40 Lenten Prayer Pact.

It was a beautiful time of intercession, and I’m really grateful to all who participated – either through asking for prayer, or hosting your own. My heart swelled when my Sister-in-Law told me that she had her whole South Florida Catholic grade-school class doing the 40/40/40 for Lent.

What did I learn during the 40/40/40? Here are three things that Lent taught me about prayer:

1. Generosity and reciprocity.

My 40/40/40 in no way suggested to participants that anything may be expected back from those submitting their prayer intentions. This was not framed as, “Let’s pray for each other this Lent.” I told people that I wanted to pray for them, and that was that; yet I found that prayer begets prayer more often than not — reciprocity.

Many signup forms or emails were returned telling me, “I’m praying for you too!” Whether you call this show of generosity “Pay It Forward”, Karma, or the Law of Attraction — I know it was a blessing for all involved. Some of the intentions tapped into such a personal part of my own journey, so my heart was moved with compassion many times throughout Lent.

2. Outward focus begins in the heart.

If you do a Scripture search on “heart”, you will see from all the results that the Lord addresses the disposition of our hearts frequently in the Bible. As the central part of our person, that is intentional. Scripture affirms that our actions, thoughts, and words all flow from the heart. It follows that if we are to follow Christ’s example of Servant-Leadership, then our hearts need to be focused on others.

Prayer is a movement of the heart, so interceding on another’s behalf inclines the heart outward, which brings us to a frame of mind to be focused on others before self. When our heart, mind and prayer is not consumed by our own desires and thoughts, we become less self-seeking and desire to serve and help others more. I found myself participating in more ways than normal to support and help others that were in need.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” – Matthew 5:8

3. Prayers prepare your heart for the answer.

We all can relate to asking others to join us in praying for something that we want God to provide for us. Whether our heart is seeking a general provision, like God send me a spouse, or a specific provision, such as heal this person of Cancer, our hearts are set on the answer of YES. Should God provide another answer it can be painful.

This weekend God further reminded me of how we ask people to pray for one thing, but it can be at work in another way. On Friday night, my husband and I decided to drive to Austin to see some properties we were interested in touring with our Realtor. Everything fell into place (thanks to a friend, with 3 hours notice, that responded, “You’re staying with me!”) On Saturday morning, after viewing a few lemons, we walked into a beautiful home that felt perfect. We agreed — we could live here — felt excited, and made an offer on the home the next day. Considering that we weren’t the only offer, even though the home was on the market for only 2 days, we immediately began asking our closest family and friends to join us in praying that they would accept our offer.

There was no lack of prayer, yet several hours later we learned the news that our offer was their 2nd choice and the home-owners were going with another offer. I believe that my prayer and the prayers of others afforded the grace to receive the news and remain positive and open to God’s provision still. The home for us is still out there, exactly where we are meant to be. My heart was readied by prayer to hear and accept the news that I did NOT want in that moment, but answered the greater prayer of moving exactly where we are meant to be. Was it disappointing – sure – but was I devastated and thinking God had failed us, certainly not. Everyone’s prayers lifted us up, and are still at work for the overarching prayer.

When we pray, we must also be open to the answers of no or not yet.

A BIG thanks again to all my 40/40/40 participants. Know that as the Triduum began on Holy Thursday, I also spoke each of your names and petitions before the Altar, laying each of them there.

Even though I am a planner and like to get all my ducks in a row in advance, I was the one that suggested we travel to Austin this weekend on a moments notice. Everything fell together beautifully, in that we were able to still spend time with family (even family I had never met before!) and friends. Sharing a few of the sweet moments that we spent in Austin over Easter weekend:

Home Slice Pizza Austin Things to do in Austin St Mary's Cathedral Austin cowboy boots in Austin S Congress St Austin

Kirby Lane Breakfast

It may be blurry, but the flavor of Kirby Lane’s Chicken Biscuit topped with Eggs and Green Sauce is crystal clear in my mind.

With Bill Williams family in Cedar Park

What did you learn this Lent? Please share in the comments — I would love to hear!

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The Hardest Prayer for Me to Pray

Prayer is not something foreign to me, or that I struggle to formulate. There is one prayer that, if I’m being honest, has been difficult for me to embrace — The Litany of Humility.  Gosh, it’s humbling even to admit that.

Throughout my waking hours, as well as the moments where I’m drifting off to sleep, there are often little and then longer prayers interwoven into the rhythm of my day — many of which are never spoken aloud. The prayers vary: It may be the scriptures in Morning Prayer, offering up a friend that suddenly comes to mind, begging for grace needed at the time, entrusting special ongoing intentions, prayers from the heart with my husband before bed, and many types in between…

But have you heard the caution: “Be careful what you pray for”?  Unfortunately, this is the main prayer I associate with that warning. In praying this particular Litany, part of my hesitation lies in what opportunities I’m inviting beyond my normal humbling moments. Scratching beneath the surface, it’s likely because not until I pray these words do I fully realize exactly how prideful and sensitive to forms of rejection I am. If I’m being really honest, I think that this Litany throws a right hook square at my old people-pleaser tendency. WALLOP! Ouch!!

Humility

Photo: How to Nest for Less

Click this link for the FREE printable format of The Litany of Humility.

Where did The Litany of Humility first originate? Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val wrote this prayer which he recited after every Mass he celebrated. The sweet irony is that he is said to have had “one of the fastest-moving careers in all ecclesiastical history.” In fact, he was chosen by St. Pius X to serve as Secretary of State, a position of honor and authority, serving as the right hand to the earthly head of the Catholic Church. What generosity was shown to the man who daily prayed, “From the desire of being honored and from the desire of being preferred to others…Deliver me Jesus.”

“Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine,” was a prayer I recited often with my household in college. It’s one thing for me to say it, it’s a whole thing to embrace the opportunities to live it.  After all, beyond our own desires, how many voices in the world bombard us with opposing messages…we want to be esteemed, preferred, praised, and noticed!

This is the model of humility Christ gave us:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 
– Philippians 2:5-8
 

I understand this, but how can I overcome my fleshly aversion to this prayer and what it really calls me to embrace?

Enter this new song, I Shall Not Want by Audrey Assad, that I LOVE. Another irony — it’s based on the Litany of Humility. Yet there’s an echoing of Psalm 23 as the refrain, which is a Psalm of comfort:  “When I taste your goodness, I shall not want.”

What a beautiful approach to the Litany, challenging my perspective: Why narrow your view coming from a place of pain, from suffering various forms of rejection? What if you approached it instead from a stance of fulfillment in the Lord, of wanting for nothing?

BOOM – the uppercut that rounds out the hit to the ol’ people-pleaser!  If nothing more, the best place to start is the final line:

“Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.” 

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