theROCK

Faith. Hope. Perseverence.

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On August 27, we celebrate the feast of St. Monica. I “met” St. Monica a few years ago. While I knew of her, I took the time to learn more about her in order to establish a friendship. I now call upon her daily as I try to live with and understand the changing nature of my role as mother, now that my children are adults. This is a struggle for me; the balancing act between continuing to teach but doing it in a way that will not be seen as too pushy. The life of St. Monica sheds some light on how to navigate this tenuous terrain. After all, I only want the best for my children, all children, and that is a life rooted in Jesus Christ. 

St. Monica was married to a pagan man who respected her beliefs but was unwilling to have their three children baptized. Their children were Augustine, Navigus, and Perpetua.  Monica would pray fervently for her husband’s conversion, and one year prior to his death, he was converted. In that time, Navigus and Perpetua entered into religious life, but Augustine was nothing but lazy and uncouth. Worried, Monica sent him away to Carthage for an education. Unfortunately, Augustine established an appreciation for a philosophy of life that was not Christian. Upon returning home and telling his mother, she kicked him out of the house. Feeling remorse, she reconciled with her son and pursued a different approach. She sought counsel from many people and  eventually forged a relationship with St. Ambrose. Augustine was eventually brought to conversion after seventeen years of persistence. Augustine went on to become St. Augustine.  (www.catholic.org).

What was the secret? Faith. Hope.  Perseverance in prayer. St. Monica found every avenue to teach in subtle and not so subtle ways. She called upon the Saints. She asked for help.  She sought support. She relied upon the Mass and making sacrifices. Her story demonstrates how even when you don’t think your children/next generation isn’t paying attention or listening, they most certainly are. If you read Confessions by St. Augustine, you will definitely see that St. Monica’s actions had more of an impact than her words. She never gave up on her son, because God never gives up on us. 

St. Monica,
I need your prayers. You know exactly how I'm feeling because you once felt it yourself. I'm hurting, hopeless, and in despair. I desperately want my child to return to Christ in his Church but I can't do it alone. I need God's help. Please join me in begging the Lord's powerful grace to flow into my child's life. Ask the Lord Jesus to soften his heart, prepare a path for his conversion, and activate the Holy Spirit in his life. Amen.

What Kind of World Do You Want to Build?

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What kind of world do you want to build?

I posed this question to a woman I am currently mentoring in discipleship. It is a question I find myself pondering a lot. It guides much of the ministry work I do here and in my personal life. What kind of a world do I want for my kids? And how am I helping to build that?

The question was posed during a conversation we had regarding a T Shirt I recently made and started wearing around. The shirt says “Free Prayer – Honestly, please ask”. It was inspired by the buttons some of our parishioners wore at our summer festival, offering prayer to festival goers. One of the participants in the current Missionary Discipleship Training Group asked if the group thought there would be any takers if people wore those button out in public. To which I responded: “I don’t know. I’ll make a shirt and find out.”

The point of the shirt isn’t just a sociological experiment or a fun little challenge. It’s part of my answer to that initial question. What kind of world do I want to build?

I recently took a Target run to buy school supplies for my own kid for the first time. My little 5 year old, going off to school. Being the emotional mama that I am, I started crying. My baby girl. Going to K-4. Where has the time gone?! She’s basically got one foot out the door already! And as fellow school shoppers passed me by I got averted gazes and weirded-out looks. Not one person asked if I was okay or sympathized with what was obviously a young mother’s breakdown over her growing children.

What kind of world do I want to build? I want to build a world where we are constantly supporting each other with prayer. Where we reach out when we see someone in need, not pretend not to notice. Where people readily risk being awkward for the sake of being loving. Where seeing people pray for each other, right there in the Target aisle isn’t weird or unusual, but is in fact the norm. I want my kids to grow up feeling and believing that praying for strangers is perfectly normal and is in fact beautiful.

So I’ll keep wearing my T Shirt as one small step to build the world I want to live in, knowing I am taking many other such steps to improving this world with the love of Christ.

What kind of world do you want to build, dear reader? And how are you helping to build that?

in Prayer

A Still Small Voice

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What do you hear when God speaks to you? What does the voice of God sound like to you? Do you know?

I frequently tell people stories that include phrases like: “and then God said to me…” or “I could feel the Holy Spirit nudging me…”. More often than not, if people say anything, they tell me God doesn’t speak to them. I know this to be impossible because there is absolutely nothing special about me. If God speaks to me, He speaks to you. He speaks to all of us.

I wonder if part of the problem is that we listen for His voice in the wrong places or ways. Like today’s first reading. The prophet Elijah is waiting “for the Lord to pass by” on Mount Horeb. Strong winds sweep the mountain, crushing stones.
But God is not in the wind. An earthquake shakes the very ground he stands on. But God is not in the earthquake. A fire breaks out upon the mountain, but God is not even in the fire. Instead, Elijah hears a whisper and bows before the Lord.

Don’t we often expect God’s voice to come to us in big, pronounced ways? Like our own burning bush moment or a James Earl Jones voiceover from the clouds. While God is certainly capable of big revelations like this, most often He speaks to us in that whisper—sometimes translated “a still, small voice” spoken in our hearts. We only need to be looking, listening, quiet, and calm enough to hear it.

 Instead of looking for God to set up a billboard for us, let us create that time and space to listen for His still, small voice speaking to us in our hearts.

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