Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009 ~ Fourth Sunday of Lent

Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).

John 3:14-21

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
"Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.


"For God so loved the world..." One of the most favored Scripture verses by all Christians is John 3:16. It sums up God's entire design and our entire lives. This is the simplest way to explain the magnitude of God's love for us. "God is love." (1 John 4:8) We only must believe and live in the truth, coming to the light of Christ.

This past weekend I was privileged to attend a silent retreat specifically for Catholic homeschooling mothers. It was led by the Holy Spirit, and He entered my soul in a way I can not even begin to describe. Most of the women experienced a deep conversion and renewal to love God with a passion. Our time of Adoration was a time of complete submission to our Heavenly Father, as a bride submits to her Beloved spouse.

Once God began to reveal the amazing intimacy of His intensely passionate love for me (and others), I had only one thought. The question that consumed my heart and soul with fire was --- How do I respond to His love? It is a simple question, but it was one that I did not completely comprehend nor consider fully until this weekend.

God is passionately in love with you! He desires you. He calls to you. He is desperate for your response. The consummation of His love for each soul was on the Cross. He thought of you. He begs us to draw near to the Cross of Love. There is no love without the scandal of the Cross, and the Cross is the perfect manifestation of His infinite love of each human soul.

I believe this means there is no love without bloodshed. There is no love without hardship and suffering. There is no love without complete and total sacrifice to the will of the Father. He is asking us to lay down everything...especially what is most dear to us...before the Cross and allow Him to reign in our lives, just as Jesus submitted to God.

What does this mean for me, as a mother? It means enduring the humiliations and hurt of my children's backtalk and disobedience with gentleness. It means closing my mouth and relying on silence when I want to speak harshly to my husband. It means preparing myself daily to be in the presence of the Lord all day long. He died for me. The least I can do is get my lazy body out of bed an hour earlier each day and give it to Him. That has been my Lenten goal, and it has transformed me.

I take copious notes. My mind remembers best when I have written it. So, on retreat last weekend I took 28 1/2 notebook pages full of detailed notes on the five meditations the spiritual director gave, the prayers I was offering, and the inspirations I received. My final line was unintentionally but powerfully a clear statement that revealed my response to the sacrifice of the Cross of Love --- "My life will never be the same."

Lord, help me to meditate on this Sunday's Gospel as the ultimate proof of your love for me. Give me an even deeper understanding of the extent of your love, and bless me with the grace to respond as you desire. Send the Holy Spirit to infuse my soul with a fire of love that will endure all things for your glory.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Beautiful Story for St. Patrick's Day

Pain and Suffering

A story about St. Patrick and the Prince on pain and suffering. This is a good story to use to teach your child to offer up pain, like shots from the doctor's office...

Does someone in your house have to have a penicillin shot, or boosters for all those things you get booster shots for? Or is there one who is chronically ill and has frequent pain, perhaps every day? Here is a story to help the fearful grow stout of heart and the stout-hearted to endure even when they grow weary of offering up.

It is told of the time when St. Patrick baptized Aengus, prince of Munster, at Cashel. As you know, St. Patrick was a bishop and in addition to mitres and copes and rings, bishops always appear for ceremonies bearing their staves, or crosiers. Apparently St. Patrick's crosier was sharply spiked. On the day he was baptizing Aengus, he reached that part of the ceremony where he needed the use of both hands, so he stuck his crosier firmly into the ground — or so he thought. Unknowingly he had stuck it through Aengus' foot! The prince said not a word. The baptism continued and only when the final words and the pouring on of water was done and the birth of the new Christian was completed, did St. Patrick discover what he had done. He was horrified! Full of concern and pity for the suffering prince, he asked why he had not cried out? Aengus replied simply. "But is this not part of the ceremony? I thought it was, and since Christ whose feet were pierced by nails shed His blood for me, I am glad to suffer pain at Baptism to be like Him."

Oh glory — what a wonderful thing to do with shots and all our suffering! In pain and suffering we can be like Him!

Activity Source: Saints and Our Children, The by Mary Reed Newland, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, New York; reprinted by TAN Publishers, 1958

Online Activity: Catholic Culture

Fun! - It's Signing Time!!!

Last week when we went to the library, I was browsing the educational DVDs. Our branch is newly built, so they are adding new materials all of the time! The children's librarian was working nearby and told me about Signing Time.

She said her two children, preschool and elementary, love the videos and that they have learned to sign to one another as a kind of secret language. :) So, I checked a few episodes out (there are 26 in all), and my two children watched one today. They did not want to watch it until I told them about the idea of a secret language.

What fun! The approximately 30 signs per episode are all taught with the help of two children, one hearing and one deaf, and a mom and reinforced with songs that repeat the signs over and over! They both learned several signs and were using them just before dinner (the episode was Let's Eat).

They also have Baby Signing Time, which is four episodes and for ages 3-36 months. It is designed for moms to watch with babies. But the original series is designed for ages 1-8, and is wonderful! I highly recommend trying it out. I have never seen something done so well teaching signs to children.

Here is the website - Our library has all of the first series (13 volumes). Check your library. Enjoy!