Thursday, June 7, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
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Divorce can be so painful that after it is over we can fall into the trap of always focusing on what we lost. When that happens we have to stop looking behind us and turn our heads to look at what is in front of us. Helen Keller said it best; “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us."
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Family members can be a great support during and after divorce. They can also be a source of discomfort, disappointment and frustration. They may make a judgmental statement; give a look; ignore your feelings. Their responses can aggravate, disappoint, frustrate and sometimes drive you crazy. When these emotions well up inside of you, try to relax and be patient with them. Your family views your marriage from the prism of their vantage point – not yours. Also try to remember this line: Your family knows how to push your buttons because they installed them!
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
I clearly remember the day when I walked through the cloistered convent doors for the first time. It was September 8, 1965. I shed my ‘civilian’ clothes in exchange for a black dress, black stockings and black oxford shoes. There were fifteen of us doing the same thing that day. It was called “Entrance Day.” We robed ourselves in this simple dress. We then opened the large swinging doors – turned and said goodbye to our family, our past, and even our name. Then, that large, swinging door closed behind us and a new life began. For the next nine years, we prepared for the day when we would actually say ‘forever’ to this way of life. Up until that time we had been making yearly promises, but not final vows. The day would come when we had to make a decision as to whether we were ready to take that step. There was a popular book out that summer – it was called “Should anyone say forever? “ by Isaac Haughey. Whenever we had any free time, we found ourselves heading toward the resource library to read a section of the book to find out the answer. Should anyone really say forever to anything? All things in life seemed uncertain. Certainly ‘forever’ seemed like such an unknown territory to all of us. In preparation for this moment our formation director had an idea – and that alone always made us nervous. That idea was set in motion when nine of us set off for a trip to Mount Savior, which is a Benedictine monastery located near Elmira, New York. It was there that we gathered that last summer before final vows to see if we were really ready for this commitment. In preparation, we were to enter into an experience of solitude- on the mountain. After all, Jesus went up the mountain to pray before making a serious decision – and that is what we were going to do as well. So - we gathered at our little house which we rented from the monks and we were told to pick a mountain, take our gear, and set up a tent. Now – I don’t mean this figuratively – I mean this literally – we were actually told to pick a mountain ( we were surrounded by them), take our gear (the equipment needed to set up a tent), and spend the next 14 days in solitude contemplating the meaning of the word ‘forever’. So – off we went – on a pilgrimage – from mountain to mountain, helping each one set up their tent – praying with them – then, moving on, until we were each alone on our own mountain with the stars as our only companion, along with the strange creatures of the night, and, as Simon and Garfunkel often reminded us – alone with the ‘sound of silence ‘as our guide. There is a lot to be said about those next 14 days. We had our manual labor each day along with daily prayer with the monks. But the rest of the day was spent at our tent – alone – asking ourselves and our God if we were ready to say forever. Oh, there is so much to say about the experience. Some funny things happened that week – like wild dogs sniffing my tent and I stopped breathing for quite a while. Then, Sister John Baptist attacked a snake in the middle of the night. That poor sucker (the snake I mean) didn’t have a chance. But, if I learned anything during those 14 days I learned how to pray. Most often my prayers went like this: O my God I am heartily sorry O my God I am hardly sorry. O my God, what am I doing here? O my God, please help me O my God, who ate my shoes? O my God, what is that noise? O my God, please don’t let it rain O my God, I’m afraid of thunder In case you’re wondering, we all survived, and all of us (but one) made it to final vows – but only by the grace of God. And, that summer I learned how to pray. Certainly I had prayed before. As a child I learned how to pray. My Mom taught me the rosary, and when days were tough we would pray with her as we knelt together pleading to the Blessed Mother for enough money to pay the bills, for our dog Lucky who disappeared, and for the violence on our street to end. I learned all of the decades of the rosary from Mom. And, from Dad I learned that “singing is praying twice “as he and my sister and I would rehearse the hymns we would be singing in the church choir the following Sunday. Then, of course, the nuns taught me how to pray. We would recite our prayers every day in school. We learned the importance of memorizing prayers so that, when life became too difficult to even remember how to pray, the words could just flow from our lips as a rhythm of tenderness into the heart of God. These early rituals became a part of my life and formed within me a certainty that God cares about me, and that my prayers can reach God wherever God may be. Of course, entering the convent was like entering a school devoted to the art of learning to pray. Certainly prayer is truly an art, which only comes with practice and experience. This I learned in the convent, and in the chapters of my own life. Yes – I learned to pray from my parents, from the nuns who taught me, from my earlier days in the convent, and I learned how to pray in a tent on a mountain many years ago. I learned, and I continue to learn today, that God does not need to be told anything about what I need and want. My words in prayer are not for God’s instruction but my own. I learned, from reading the lives of the saints that there is no right or wrong way to pray – that we can each find our own way and that God does the rest. Thursday of this week is the World Day of Prayer. If the world needs anything today, it is certainly our prayer. The world seems to be slowly abandoning simple acts of kindness, as well as respectful tolerance for differing languages, cultures, beliefs and opinions. We need to beg for forgiveness and mercy. Maybe it’s time for all of us to find the tent of our own longing, on the mountain of our own place of solitude –and pray that in our place of work, in our place of worship, in our homes, in our churches and on our planet - that we be granted the grace of God's loving care. God knows we need it.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Prayer is communicating with God. So we should talk with God and spill out our emotions to God. It can be very healing. The closer we get to God's heart, the more we understand how safe we are in God's care. We can let all our emotions out – those that feel good and those that do not feel so good. Whether we smile and laugh with God, or yell and scream to let out our emotions, we are completely safe. God comprehends our entire situation – from beginning to end – all the time loving us.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Be kind and gentle on yourself. Going through a divorce is very painful on many levels. One of the harshest pains is the fear of other peoples’ judgments. The same can be said about going through a church annulment. What will people think? However don’t be harsh on yourself because of what other people may think. You lived the realities of your marriage and you alone know the truth behind what led to the divorce. Please don’t judge yourself harshly… Be gentle on yourself. God knows what is in your heart and loves you more than you can imagine.