Silent Retreat: Fall 2012 at Featherock Conference Center

My fall retreat took place last week at Featherock Conference Center. They run women’s and men’s retreats at various times throughout the year and I cannot say enough GOOD about this place and the people who run it. The priest who serves the retreat gave excellent meditations. He served the Mass with great reverence and devotion. Confession was available for several hours every day. The participants in the retreat took turns leading prayers and examinations of conscience. It was a time set apart for prayer, for a deeper reflection on the living of life, and an opportunity to resolve to … Continue reading

Gratitude to God for Good Priests

I experienced a marvelously refreshing silent spiritual retreat last week. This quiet time to be focused on God and not on the everyday stuff came just in time to help me find my center for Advent. Besides giving us deep messages from Scripture and Church teaching to ponder, daily Mass served faithfully and reverently, this priest spent several hours in the confessional so that if in our examinations of conscience we found anything requiring confession, that was available to us.  This priest was so dedicated he was in the confessional so long that every participant in the retreat could have … Continue reading

All Saints, All Souls and All Hallows Eve

Someone asked if we celebrated Halloween and how:  A WOMAN’S PLACE… This caused me to think about all the things I love about what the secular world calls Halloween and that we Catholics sometimes call All Hallows Eve. WHERE I AM COMING FROM Well, lets see… I’m a strongly orthodox Catholic and have a masters in theological studies from a nice orthodox school of theology whose professors were all approved by a rather strongly orthodox Bishop; I’ve studied ESCHATOLOGY which is a fancy way of saying I studied the stuff the Church teaches about death and what comes after and … Continue reading

Parenting and the Catholic Christian

I read an article on a report here.  This article makes me very sad because what it tells me is that Catholic parents are giving their kids the SAME upbringing as the totally non-Christian secular culture at large. The research report can be found here. We need to take a look, a good CRITICAL look. The article is about the hook up culture on Catholic campuses and shows that for many Catholics there is no difference between them and those who are of no religion at all. Rather depressing indictment of Catholic parenting in general. Perhaps if we taught children … Continue reading

Old Catholic Music: Dies Irae, dies illa

I love old hymns.  Especially ones that were meant to be sung during worship of God in the holy Mass.  Hymns of the Breviary and Missal is a marvelous site. The web site has tons of historical notes which are just an incredible resource about the music.  It explains concepts that, due to the age of the music, might not be so easily understood. If you love Hymnology I recommend that you go enjoy this web site and explore the depths of the entire project. I enjoy all the music of the Church.  Even hymns which seem dark on the … Continue reading

A Plan Of Life: a review

A Plan of Life by Joseph M. Muntadas, Scepter Publishers, 1997

This is a free booklet that can be downloaded from Scepter Publishers as a PDF.

Everyone seeking balance in their lives comes inevitably to the question of “how do I organize my life to bring about balance?”  This booklet has some considerations for creating a balanced life including moments to place some needed focus on God.

To include God in one’s life, not just on Sundays or the occasional moments of panic when we turn to Him for help but to actually make one’s FAITH an element of one’s entire day is certainly easier dreamed about than done.  Mr Muntadas gives a simple plan, one that a busy mother or career woman can adapt to the daily schedule of activities.  This is what attracted me.

I’ve spent years attempting to keep my faith central to my life and most of that time I must say I failed more often than I succeeded.  I’ve tried a lot of different options.  Reading the Rule of St. Benedict every day I tried to figure out how to apply that beautiful way of living to my housewife, grad student, mom life.  Ever tried managing kids, meals, kid activity schedules, laundry, housecleaning, study and praying the Liturgy of the Hours?  It made me stressed out worse than not praying.

So I looked about and found a wonderful Lay Carmelite chapter.  The Rule of St. Albert is much easier to manage and the instruction for a Lay Carmelite takes into consideration the demands of our station in life, but again, even just managing morning and evening offices of the Liturgy of the Hours gave me fits.  It was too monastic and in my family it simply did not work.   A busy mom is not usually going to be able to apply a rule designed for hermits, monks or nuns to her secular life.

I tried, by using the book A Mom’s Rule of Life to create my own rule of life so that God would be incorporated into my day.  This too fell flat.  No two days in my life are enough alike to create a rule that works.

Yesterday, while purchasing a couple of copies of the book our women’s reading group will be doing, I browsed some free downloads from Scepter.  This was the first one I printed out.  This one has a plan of life that is flexible enough for a mom with a household to run, work to do, kids to teach, and the entire busy array to manage.

In the morning, first thing, the moment your eyes open, you make a morning offering.  What this means is that as you are struggling to sit up in bed and get up quick enough to get some clothing on before a kid screams and you must go rushing into mommy mode– you, in your own words, tell God good morning and dedicate the work of your day to Him.  I discovered that I can do this before I finish getting my feet into slippers.

The second thing is equally easy: Mental prayer.  Mental prayer is when you take a moment to go over what is happening in your day and tell God about it.  The ideal seems to be to swing 15 minutes in the morning and again 15 minutes in the afternoon.  Some women have told me they do their prayer over their morning coffee.  This author suggests using a bit of scripture to get your started if you need help.  I just tell Him all about the worries and schedule conflicts and everything.  It does help me to get perspective.  It is also unscheduled, so anytime I get a breather before Lunch is good.

This author’s third point is about managing to get to Daily Mass.  I WISH.  I know people who can do this, but they live nearer to Church.  My schedule is not totally my own to create and my husband likes our time to be in the evening, so making the 7AM Mass is not happening here, and as he likes the evenings as a family, that puts the 6PM mass out too.  Luckily, there is a 12:15 Mass twice a week and today I arrived just a bit early.  My entire list of errands was done on the way home afterwards.  I need to find a mid-morning Mass I can attend on days I am in town, but every day is not likely to be possible.

The next point, Spiritual Reading, will be familiar to most people.  Taking some time to read a part of the gospels and a bit of other Scripture is spiritually uplifting.  This author suggests reading the same passage over and over again to gain new or more complete insights into the passage.  This is very similar to what the Lay Carmelites meant when they said to practice Lectio Divina.  In either case, one reads a scripture passage and prays silently about it, then reads it again, repeating the pattern several times and giving the Holy Spirit your attention so that you can learn to understand and live the scriptures more deeply.

This next point, much like Daily Mass, is going to be easier for those who live in town and near the Church.  The author recommends dropping into the Church briefly to pray before the Tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is kept.  This is a wonderful spiritual practice and when I worked at a place just a few blocks from a Church with Perpetual Adoration I would stop in a pray after work.  The practice left me feeling energized and more able to be present to my children in the evenings.

Devotion to Mary is next.  We are mothers, our Lady was a mother. We work to maintain a home, our Lady worked to maintain a home. We can take Mary as our example. Her focus was on God both in her faith practices as a Jew and in her vocation as the mother of God in the person of her son Jesus. How might we be different as mothers if we are thinking about her? This author recommends the Rosary, a beautiful scriptural prayer in which we walk through the gospels thinking about each scene from the point of view of Mary. Another Marian devotion is the Angelus, a lovely prayer whose words are taken almost verbatim from the gospel account of the visit of the Angel to Mary and the response of Elizabeth when Mary visited her before the birth of John the Baptist. The Angelus is brief and prayed at noon.

Before bed the plan of life includes a brief period of thinking over the day and examining one’s conscience to evaluate if one met one’s goals for the day.  In what ways did I fail to live up to Christ today?  How might have I handled those situations differently? What is my intended game plan if I happen to find myself in that situation again? And asking God for His mercy and forgiveness.

The examination of conscience leads into the practice of frequent confession.  This sacrament fulfills the scriptural obligation to “confess to one another” in a gossip free manner. The priest is not going to blab and serious sin requires that one fulfill the commandment to confess to one another in order to be forgiven serious sin.  How often one avails oneself of this sacrament varies but the advice I recently received was weekly, previous advice urged monthly.  For me, I think weekly is probably a good idea, but monthly is likely good for nearly anyone.

Lastly, the author writes on certain small things that enable us to keep God in mind all day.  Just as a mother is always tuned to sounds from her child, so we might practice the presence of God in the same manner; contemplating our divine filiation which means contemplating that we are children of God, will also influence how we act throughout our day. We can give our Work to God and we can work cheerfully.  These help us to keep God in the plan for the day.

The great thing is most of these elements in this author’s Plan of Life can be done in our minds, while on the run, or while waiting in the car, or in that ten minutes we get to enjoy a cup of coffee before the next major push to get everything in the day done.  It is flexible and yet still effective.

I recommend you take a jaunt over to Scepter Publishers, click on Scepter Booklets and download the PDF of A Plan of Life. It is free and his version is better written and more complete than mine here.  Enjoy!



Retreat–Holy week

A retreat is a special time spent in prayer and in seeking clarity.  This retreat was no different. I signed up for it not knowing much except that this center was known for really well done retreats.  I found out on arrival that it was a silent retreat.  WOW, several days of not talking? I am so glad I went!

There were meditations to think about several times a day deep ones, and during silent prayer in the chapel there were examinations of conscience, so many things to think about, to consider one’s life in the light of these things, passages of scripture presented with words of wisdom that brought home how these lessons were meant for our lives now, today, and not only for the past. The meals were wonderful, and social without speaking.  During meals we listened to Scott Hahn’s newest book on tape and I need to buy a copy.  Mass and Adoration of our Lord were uplifting and we had enough time between activities to journal and to think.

As in any examination of one’s life, there were the uncomfortable elements.  I found myself becoming aware of several serious flaws in how I was living and the need to make some changes of habits.  In the long run these issues will work out for the best, meanwhile, seeing myself in a clearer way was uncomfortable.

After three days of silence, we had a fun time at the last breakfast before we all headed home. I didn’t just take insights into myself away with me, but some new friends too.

The Yearly Retreat

Tomorrow is the day I go on retreat. Once a year it is good to get away for a couple of days and take the time to think about where life is going and if changes are needed.   I’ve not done this exact type of retreat before, one that is directed and intended for spiritual growth.  In the past, I have attended various conferences, taken a room by myself and taken time between events and in the evenings to do my thinking and praying about the direction of my life.  Done this way even a conference without any religious component … Continue reading