Tag Archives: patience

The Tiller

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Hear the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom
without understanding it,
and the Evil One comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

—Matthew 13:18–23

Rosa_Bonheur_-_Le_laborage_(1844)The parable of the sower is a reminder that our own interior disposition will affect how we receive the Word of God. If we are hardened and resistant, it will not find root within us. But if we are pliant and willing, the Word will grow and bear fruit in us, making of us an outward sign of God’s abundant grace.

It is important for us to also remember that God does not simply toss the seed and walk away, leaving us to either flourish or wilt based on the merits of our soil. If we want to try our luck alone, of course, He will leave us be, never imposing Himself upon us. But if we let Him, He will gladly go deeper and till the soil of our hearts—removing the rocks, untangling the thorny ground, protecting the precious seed He has sown.

Johannessen_-_Pflügen_im_Frühjahr_-_1916-18Most likely, our soil is imperfect. We might have some rich, verdant areas here and there, but there are also the rocky mounds, the dried-out patches of dirt, the weeds that prevent anything else from growing. We want to receive God’s Word, but we also know that there is work to do within our hearts to remove all the disordered attachments, sinful habits, and unloving attitudes that prevent us from truly embracing it. But we need not despair. If we have the will to improve, God will meet us where we are, and He will do the work in us. All we need is patience and perseverance—for this process won’t be simple or easy, but it will absolutely be worth it. At first, the soil will appear broken and raw as He reaches in and pulls out the rocks and brambles. But if we remain open to His grace, a verdant landscape will sprout up before our eyes.


1. Rosa Bonheur, Le laborage / PD-US
2. Aksel Waldemar Johannessen, Plowing in the Spring / PD-US

Originally posted at Frassati Reflections.

Imitating the Gaze of Jesus

I used to be (and unfortunately, still am at times) a rather obnoxious Catholic. Fueled by my enthusiasm for Truth — and wanting affirmation of my knowledge — I would loudly proclaim Church teachings urgently, so that other people would no longer live in error. Particularly in a culture of moral relativism and a “do what makes you happy” environment, wanting to immediately step onto a doctrine-blasting soapbox seemed like a good thing to me. Yet, the more I examined my life, heart, and ever-abundant pride, the more I realized that I was going about evangelization in the wrong manner. As I began to read Scriptures more and more, I began to really notice how Jesus interacts with other people.

“Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned,* like sheep without a shepherd.” ~Matt 9:35-36

Jesus’ heart was moved with pity. In Mark’s Gospel, when Jesus encounters a rich young man, we learn that “Jesus, looking at him, loved him” (Mk 10:21). Time and time again, we see that Jesus is moved with love, and pity for the people he meets-and he lets this compassion flow into the interactions he has. He looks at these men and women intently and listens to them. 

As I reflect on the actions of Jesus, I feel challenged. Even when people were living in sin, he didn’t immediately jump onto a moral high horse. First, he looked upon them with love. In our current culture, Jesus’ approach may not seem to initially be challenging — after all, we are living in an age that is all about acceptance and affirmation. “Just love people for who they are and accept them” is a common refrain.  How dare we criticize sinful actions! After all, aren’t we supposed to be like Jesus, who looked on others with love?

Yet, while Jesus looked on people with love, compassion, and pity, he never affirmed the sinful choices and lifestyles that pushed people away from God. The story of the woman who was caught in adultery (recorded in the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel) is fairly well-known and loved, so let’s look at that for a moment. When Jesus encounters this woman, does he say “Woman, I just want to love and accept you; you need to do what makes you feel happy“? No, he does not. Instead, Jesus says: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more” (Jn 8:11). He looks upon the woman, loves her, listens to her, and invites her to become transformed and change her life. 

This is what really challenges me as I reflect on the words and actions of Jesus.  It would be fairly easy for me to, upon meeting another person, jump into an attitude of “I will preach doctrine at you because you’re living in sin and I know better.” I’ve done this far too many times as I’ve sought to fuel my pride and be known as the person who was instrumental in another individual’s conversion. It would also be convenient to fall onto the other end of the spectrum and embrace the all-too-common attitude of moral relativism that’s sweeping our culture.

Instead of these extreme approaches, I’m trying to imitate what Jesus does — and this is hard for me. I’m holding my tongue more and first listening to the stories of the people I meet. I’m seeking to encounter others with an open heart. I’m trying to walk into conversations without the expectation that I’ll convince another person of a certain teaching or doctrine. I’m trying to slow myself down and actually form relationships and build bridges of communication with other people. I’m striving to be more open to the Holy Spirit, and while I don’t back down from my convictions, I’m seeking to gaze at other men and women with God’s love and compassion.

I often fail at this. Sometimes, I should be quicker to speak up about my beliefs, but I’m silent. Other times, I should probably remain silent instead of speaking up in a rather harsh manner! I’m an imperfect evangelizer, but I’ll keep praying and try to let God use me in whatever small ways he can.

Photo Credit: “People” by MabelAmber via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain. 

10 Brilliant Quotes from St. Francis de Sales on Cultivating Peace

There is good reason that St. Francis de Sales is the patron of writers—he really had a way with words. During his lifetime, he wrote pamphlets defending the faith that actually converted many people away from heresy. He also wrote books advising laypeople in the spiritual life, which was a revolutionary concept at the time. These books instructed ordinary people in how to grow in spiritual life according to their vocation, helping them to understand that holiness wasn’t just for those in the religious life. We still have a lot we can learn from St. Francis de Sales today!

1. “Have patience in all things—but first of all, with yourself.”

True growth happens slowly. We are all human beings, prone to making mistakes, and we can’t let our faults frustrate us. Instead, we can acknowledge in humility that we’ve messed up and ask God to forgive us and help us. We can’t expect to be perfect; we must allow ourselves to be dependent upon Him.

2. “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”

St. Francis de Sales struggled with anger. In his youth he was hotheaded, but in adulthood he was known for his incredible patience and calm spirit—a direct result of prayer. When he recognized that his short temper was holding him back and drawing his attention away from God, he prayed for inner peace and made efforts to hold back his anger. As a result, he learned the value of maintaining inner peace in all things.

3. “There was never an angry man that thought his anger unjust.”

When we are consumed with anger, it can blind us to the truth of the situation. Our own perspective always seems right—and everyone else utterly wrong—when it’s filtered through the lens of passionate fury. Only if we remain calm can we see the truth.

4. “Those who love to be feared fear to be loved.”

When we seek power over relationships, it is a sign that we are letting fear run our lives instead of love. Allowing ourselves to be loved means relinquishing control and making ourselves vulnerable, but it is always worth it.

5. “Retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart, even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others, and talk to God.”

If we learn to rely on God’s love to sustain us, even as we are surrounded with other distractions, we will find unfailing support through the ups and downs of our lives. Every so often, we need to take a moment and direct our attention to God’s presence.

6. “Reputation is rarely proportioned to virtue.”

A reminder that we should never be too preoccupied with what others think about us—what really matters is what God thinks of us, and public opinion rarely aligns with God’s opinion.

7. “When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.”

Rather than reacting forcefully in the moment, we can effect more lasting change if we respond with patience and kindness, never allowing the challenges we face to disturb our inner peace.

8. “True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.”

God works powerfully and mysteriously. Often we don’t realize the changes He’s making in our lives while they’re happening, but when we look back, we see how He has led us. But if we despair in the moment that it seems we are making no progress, we might become discouraged and give up. Keeping our focus outward, on God and others instead of on ourselves, will leave room for God to do His work in us.

9. “Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.”

Don’t have time to pray? That means you need to pray even longer than usual. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s actually true—when we are overscheduled and overstressed, the only way we can survive is if we abandon ourselves to God. Time spent in prayer will help us to step back and see our lives more clearly, and we will be able to discern which things deserve our attention and which things just aren’t necessary. Only prayer will help us get our priorities in order.

10. “Be who you are and be that well.”

Each of us has different gifts to offer the world, and comparison will only distract us from the amazing gifts we’ve been given. Instead of trying to be someone else, strive to become the best version of yourself. Recognize that God has given you a very particular mission, one that only you are equipped to carry out.

Waiting like Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

During this season of Advent, we are reminded of “waiting.” Each year I find myself getting more and more excited for Advent. While most people are focusing on Halloween and Thanksgiving preparations, I am anticipating a season of anticipation. As children, we love the excitement of anticipating Christmas and, for many, Christmas is celebrated for one day only. One of the things I love about the Catholic Church is that we know how to celebrate! First we celebrate in anticipation the celebration of Christ’s birth, the Incarnation! For four weeks we prepare our hearts for this joyous occasion and the celebration continues long past the single day of December 25th.

As we are well into this Advent season, I would like to share a reflection on Luke 2: 41-52 – the finding of Jesus in the Temple. No doubt, Mary and Joseph had experienced many things from the moment they realized Jesus was missing to the time they found Him. I’d imagine they experienced fear and anxiety as they searched for Him. They must have felt relief and peace finding Him (perhaps something we should reflect upon as well). However, most striking to me is what they learned after they found Him and brought Him home – patiently waiting and longing for Jesus to fulfill His mission. In this passage, we read:

51Then [Jesus] went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Jesus could have begun His ministry at the age of 12 or 13 (the age of adulthood in the Jewish faith). He was already teaching the doctors of the faith in the Temple. However, he listened to his parents and grew as any other human would. So what does this have to do with waiting? Think of Mary and Joseph. They both knew that God had sent Jesus to them. They knew He had an extraordinary mission on this earth. “Jesus its your 15th birthday, are you going to begin you mission? Jesus, you are 18…21…25..28. Jesus you are 29 years old and you still live at home????”

Imagine what Mary and Joseph must have longed for. I am sure they longed to witness Jesus fulfill what the angel of the Lord had told them. Yet they waited patiently for his hour to come. For 30 years Mary waited, “keeping all these things in her heart” as Jesus “grew in favor with God and men.”

What is it that we are waiting for God to do? Lord, when will I get that job? When will I graduate? When will I stop suffering with this sin? When, when, when! Perhaps as we begin this new year, we should reflect on what we are right now. We are not at the next step in our lives, but we are here, now. Jesus recognized the fact that he needed to be the best son he could be for Mary and Joseph. He needed to grow in wisdom and favor–so He did. He waited for His hour to come, and when it did, He acted.

So patiently we must wait on the Lord. Perhaps our hour has not yet come. We wait in joyful hope for Jesus to reveal his plan for us at 15, 21, 25, 30, 45, 60, 99! God bless you in this beautiful time of waiting; it is a blessing not a burden.

This Light, Momentary Affliction

“For this slight, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

I never realized until I became a parent just how much discomfort is involved in growing up. Having lived through the process myself, I never gave it another thought, merely thinking of my childhood and especially my teenage years with a, “Thank God that’s over, and now I can get on with doing things” attitude.

Incidentally, I cannot understand those people, and I know more than a few, who tell teenagers to “enjoy highschool and college as much as you can. They are the best years of your life.”

WTH? I had a reasonably happy and unusually smooth and effortless adolescence, and I cannot imagine going through it again. You could not pay me enough to go back to being the ignorant, self-absorbed, narcissistic little know-it-all that I was.

She can open the book if it is on the ground, she can pick it up if it is closed, but she can't pick it up and open it ate the same time. It just isn't fair!
She can open the book if it is on the ground, she can pick it up if it is closed, but she can’t pick it up and open it ate the same time. It just isn’t fair!

This is brought home to me by watching my daughter Evie. That poor baby has struggles! The other day she spent 10 minutes trying to eat my nalgene water bottle, and the whole time it simply refused to be eaten. She could barely lift it because it was half full of water and therefore too heavy for her and her shrieks of frustration got louder and louder until she finally dropped it and broke down in tears.

This is a daily occurrence. She cannot sit herself up yet, so if she topples over while reaching for a toy, she is stuck until someone rescues her. She can pull herself to a standing position if someone gives her a hand to pull on, but if Daddy is being mean and cooking food or something, she is stuck on the ground.

She tries to stand and pitches forward or backwards, and she bumps her head. Her gums get sore because razor sharp teeth are chewing their way through them, from the inside. She gets strapped into car seats, locked into high chairs, taken out of the bath before she is finished playing, and made to wear clothes!

The struggle is real, people!

insideout556500e6a2be0-647x434
“What’s Puberty?” “Oh, Probably nothing.”

Discomfort is part of the process. It is how we grow, and God has so designed it that as our level of strength and maturity increases, so does the level of discomfort. Think infancy is uncomfortable, try toddlerhood on for size! Take a few years off for “normal” childhood, but don’t get comfortable because, Oh, Hello Puberty! Just a few short years around the corner and let’s just say it gets mixed reviews.

Of course, I reassure her, using the Bible verse quoted above, but what I am really doing is reassuring myself. Take learning to walk, for instance. It involves gravity, which means it involves bumps, bruises, dings, scratches, and pediatricians trying hard to maintain their composure while you explain that all those bruises really do come from her running into furniture and walls. But the end result?

riverdance3jpg-19d4455dafefdc10

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P18-120624-a5

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Of course Evie cannot imagine dancing, or sprinting, or hiking a mountain, but none of those people in the pictures above questions whether learning to walk was worth it. They don’t even remember the agony, which seemed like the most terrible thing imaginable at the time. No thinking, reasoning adult would ever even consider wanting to go back to the pre-walking state because “it just wasn’t worth it.” The glory of being able to hike up a mountain and survey God’s creation not only renders learning to walk worthwhile, it retroactively makes it glorious. The first step a baby takes is her first step on the journey to that magnificent summit.

This is why Paul’s statement is amazing, and why we need to take it at face value, and really meditate on what it means. Paul is calling all of life a light, transitory affliction. It’s nothing, not even worth mentioning. Elsewhere he says, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us, for all creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:18-19.

Jacopo Palma il Giovane, Martirio di San Lorenzo, 1581-2
Coffee not fast enough in the morning? Traffic a little backed up? Boss in a mood? St. Lawrence sympathizes.

He wasn’t talking about the terrible inconveniences that we like to complain about either. He was talking about the sufferings of the Apostles and Martyrs.

What a claim! The suffering of a family where a young wife is dying of cancer, is to the glory of Heaven as an infant bumping his head on the carpet is to Riverdance. The rape and murder of Christian and Yazidi women and children in the Middle East is a shin bruise compared to the glory of Heaven! I saw a little girl in the Philippines once who had literally hundreds of cigarette burns all over her legs, and I couldn’t do a damn thing about it. In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan I saw the corpses of hundreds of innocent people, including children, wiped out by an unstoppable force of nature. And God says that this too is only a slight and momentary affliction! Is He crazy?!

Am I talking like a crazy man yet? Are you disgusted by how cavalierly I dismiss the suffering of these innocents?

Believe me, I am not minimizing their suffering. St. Paul does not say that suffering is nothing, but that it is nothing in comparison to the glory to come. My goal is not to make you say, “Oh well, I guess what they are going through isn’t so bad.” No. It is so bad. It is terrible and a crime that calls out to heaven for redress.

But I believe that God will answer that cry with redress, with redemption. My goal is to encourage you to wonder, “What glory could possibly make this worthwhile?” and then to believe that even though we cannot imagine such a glory, it does exist, and has been promised to us. The same God who rewards an infant’s teething pains with a lifetime of bacon and pizza and carrots and apples, will likewise reward all the growing pains of all His beloved Children with some equally unimaginable glory.

Patience in the Desert

Desert-stock6785-large

For forty days Christ suffered in the desert, fasting and depriving Himself of comfort, choosing to undergo hardship and temptation for the sake of teaching us the importance of fortitude, penance, and trust in God alone.  Christ made Himself uncomfortable to show us the importance of doing the same, of not being afraid to do the difficult for the sake of greater sanctification, and to not shy away from suffering which redeems to remain in excessive comfort which weakens.  During Christ’s forty days in the desert He was a model of perseverance as he endured the necessary trial, embodying patience as He waited on His Father to make the next move, in order to lead by example and show us how to use adversity to grow in virtue.

In the same way, especially during this season of Lent, we are called into the desert.  Some of us are called to journey into the desert, leaving behind peace in prayer and letting Christ’s suffering make us uncomfortable, inspiring us to renew our efforts to remain in His grace by reminding us how incredibly unworthy of Him we are.  Others of us are already in the desert, struggling to make it through, thirsting intensely for a single drop of blood from His side to show us He is still there. In this dryness Lent calls us to unite our sufferings to Our Lord’s, thus being saved through them.  Still, others of us are called to thrust ourselves into the desert that comes with recognizing that something in our lives needs to change, to leave behind the suffering that comes with knowing a difficult, dreadful decision must be made, and take on the trials that come with finally making the decision.  This kind of desert involves a leap of faith, plunging into the barrenness without provisions or directions, literally surrendering it all to His Providence, and trusting that He will guide your paths to their right conclusions, even if the direction you decided to start walking was incredibly far from right.

Each of these struggles, each type of desert, when experienced during this Lenten season and united to Christ’s own desert tribulation, becomes a sanctification.  Each trial can become a wellspring of grace, and at the end of each desert there is the promise of respite.  For some this Lenten dryness may only be a continuation of a spiritual low-point which seems to have no end; for them, Lent is a reminder that the desert will end, that even in the desert life can be found, and if they only hold on to the Father as Christ did, He will send angels to minister to them as well, when the time is right.  For those who choose to seek out the desert, because their spirituality has been on a high and they are ready for new, rigorous ways to awaken new parts of their soul, the desert is humbling, for even Christ could not go through the desert without suffering, and even their shining souls can profit from the buffering of the sands of sacrifice.  And for those who walked into the desert, hearts already in pain, and knowing the way was only going to grow harder before it became easier, this is the time for patience.

Patiently wait upon God, in faith await His guiding hand, He will not allow you to perish on the way.  He holds you in the palm of His hand, and whether He uses the desert to guide you back to true path you left behind, or to reveal a new way to you, you will be stronger for having braved the desert, and He will reward your faith.  May we all, at our different stages of the journey and within our different deserts, join together under the Holy Church, embrace her liturgical seasons and the lessons they are meant to teach, and emerge from the desert strengthened in faith, proven in hope, and full of love for God and neighbor, love we are ready to extend in the spirit of Christ’s sacrifice.

God bless you all on your Lenten journeys!

When Waiting is Really Hard

love gives lust takes

In reaction to the increasing physical immorality spreading through society today, and in an attempt to counter the message  constantly being sold through advertising, movies, music, and even best-selling books that says sexual intimacy is not only okay, but expected, outside of marriage, the Catholic online world has been buzzing with all sorts of articles on how to stay pure.  Each week it seems Jason Evert’s online blog for young adults comes out with a new list of suggestions for how to become pure, remain pure, return to purity, or increase in purity.  And while this is an incredibly important message, it can be a little discouraging when you prioritize purity as a couple, but still find it very hard to do so—not because you’re tempted to break the rules, but because saying no to what feels good and natural is hard.

For couples who have been dating long enough to be past the “he’s perfect, she’s perfect, we’re perfect for each other and neither of us can find fault in the other” phase, the struggle to remain pure becomes hard on a whole new level when you reach an understanding that comes with trusting each other with more of yourselves.  While physical attraction tends to be an initiator of relationships, and the main facet in them in the beginning (which is perfectly acceptable, as long as there is a desire to know the person better individually, and not just use them for their appearance), the temptations to take things too far tend to center around the “newness” of it all.  You’re both excited to be discovering each other, you’re not serious enough yet to be having intimate conversations or discussing deep mutual feelings, and simply touching each other sends electric sparks through the air.  During this phase, purity is hard because it puts a limit on how many new things can be experienced, but it is also the beautiful restraint which forces the couple to look beyond the physical attraction and truly learn to love each other’s hearts and souls.

But after the two of you have your first fight, endure hardship together, and start to learn all the “perfections and imperfections” (to use a beautiful phrase from Inception) that make your partner who he/she is, you start to form a deeper bond with him/her.  The deeper it goes, the more intimately you begin to know each other, and the more you desire simple affections, quiet moments, and complete closeness.  Your hearts start to feel so intertwined, you become so familiar with the quirks and little things about the other one that make them so unique, and you start to share things together more exclusively.  And as this emotional nearness increases, the longing to physically be as close as possible to the other person, to physically become close to them in the way you are becoming emotionally close, can often be even stronger and harder to resist than the initial, flirtatious, excited temptations.

When your longing to take the next step in the physical area of the relationship is based on a desire to complete the feelings of unity that the two of you have been building, when it comes from an almost spiritual yearning rather than just base attraction, it becomes easy to justify the temptation in your mind.  It’s easy to think “I’m not lusting after them, I just want to be close to them”; while this is a beautiful desire, outside of marriage it is a very persuading argument for impurity.  When thoughts like that take over the mind, not only does it become harder to say “no” when you both feel so united, but it also becomes harder to keep your thoughts pure—because when you’re thinking like an engaged couple, but not actually engaged, your mind starts dreaming of and preparing for things upon which it is not yet appropriate to dwell.

This is a very personal topic, and it is easy to feel alone in this struggle when so many articles and talks about purity make it seem like if you’re following the rules, everything should just be easy.  For those out there dating, trying to do so in a holy, pure, Catholic way, but still finding it incredibly hard nonetheless, do not be discouraged.   As paradoxical as it may sound, a date cut short because temptation was particularly intense is more rewarding than a date that went too far.  When you both look at each other at the end of the night, hold hands, exchange chaste kisses on cheeks, and know that you both want so much more but are offering it up for the sake of pleasing God before yourselves, then kneel before your separate beds to pray, being able to say to God “We took care of each other, Lord.  I put his/her soul before my own desires tonight, so I could take care of him/her for You.  Please see the sacrifice and give us grace instead.  Bless her/him, who I miss so much already, and thank you for the gift of true love stronger than lust”, nothing is more rewarding.  And should God join the two of you together “until Death do you part” one day in the future, the reward will be tenfold when you can pull each other close and come together as husband and wife, giving each other the gift of yourselves so carefully preserved, and showered with grace as you unite both body and soul.  So do not feel guilty or alone when your God-centered relationship still hurts sometimes when yearnings cannot be satisfied: purity is extremely hard, but it is so worth the wait.

St. Joseph, Most Chaste Spouse of Mary, pray for us!

Learning Patience

{Warning: I mention miscarriage in this post – not mine – but it comes up.}

There we were, waiting in the waiting room. Waiting rooms make me nervous. I’d rather sit in my car until its my turn and then just go straight into the appointment. Doctor, dentist, ultrasound, doesn’t matter, keep me out of the waiting room. In any event, that day I was ridiculously excited about our appointment: we were finding out the gender of our baby! Our appointment was at 3:30pm, the very last appointment of the day since the office closes at 4pm. I got there first and my husband, Anthony, met me in the waiting room. I waited. We waited. I impatiently text my friend and complained/whined about how things were running late.

It was 3:35pm.

3:45pm.

Seriously? What on earth was taking so long? No one else was in the waiting room and I hadn’t even seen another soul enter since I arrived for my appointment. More texting, more talking to Anthony about how excited I was and how I just wanted to start our appointment already.

3:50pm.

3:55pm.

Now I was just annoyed. Didn’t they know I made an APPOINTMENT? And how dare they give me such a hard time for taking the last appointment of the day and then pulling me in so late? This was their fault that they were going to leave late today. I wasn’t sacrificing my appointment time just so they could leave on time when they were the one running behind in the first place.

4:00pm.

Finally I get called back to be weighed in (my not-at-all favorite part of being pregnant) and ushered back into an exam room. Finally the waiting was over and it was my turn. Me. All about me and my baby and figuring out if the little one is a girl or a boy.

The technician got up and apologized that things were running behind, she told us that they’d been dealing with a woman who miscarried.

My heart sunk. What a piece of work I was, sitting there in the waiting room blaming the staff and being so focused on what I wanted that I never stopped to think of what might be going on behind the counter. Instead of being patient – even though I was undeniably excited – all I could be was impatient and rude, even if the thoughts stayed in my own head. All the while there was a woman in the office who found out she’d lost her child. I can’t even imagine the pain she must’ve been going through.

Sure, our appointment went on, our little girl (!) was as cute as ever, but I still couldn’t shake the other woman from my heart. Even now as I recall that appointment, I can’t help but think of her, whoever she is, and how foolish I’d acted because I couldn’t bother to be patient.

On that day at the ultrasound office, and in the days that followed, I’ve thought a lot about my lack of patience. I get so focused on what I want to see or what I’m waiting for that I miss what other people are experiencing. I miss the woman miscarrying, her heart breaking. Sitting in traffic when I just want to be home, I miss the accident up ahead and the person who is now paralyzed. It may not always be that drastic, but I have no doubt that my own impatience has blinded me to countless other things – things, perhaps, that Christ wanted me to see. So in this season of waiting for our daughter to be born, I’m doing my best to be more patient, to open my eyes to the things beyond what I want to see and trying to see, even if in some small way, like He sees.

Why You Need a Wish List . . . or Two

wish-listThis year Jane and I will celebrate our first Christmas as husband and wife and so we have been busy arranging our ‘wish lists’ for distribution to each other and our respective families. What I have discovered though is that my version of a wish list and Jane’s version of a wish list are two very different species. The truth is I don’t really have a proper wish list, I simply cobble together a few things at the last moment and pass that on. Jane’s wish list on the other hand is more of an art form that is compiled after much time, and consideration. In fact she has several wish lists depending on the occasion; a Christmas wish list, a birthday wish list, a jewellery wish list and even a song wish list, (and I might add that these lists are fully costed and researched so there are no surprises for the gift buyer).

You may surmise that the gifts listed are likely to be fancy and expensive ones, but on the contrary, they are all reasonable and simple gifts, particular DVD and book titles, chocolate coated almonds and a paper trimmer for craft projects are among them. When I saw this detailed array of lists I was rather amused and one of the first things I said was, ‘Why don’t you just go out and buy these things instead of waiting for someone to give them to you’? It dawned on me soon after that my comment said more about my general outlook than Jane’s lists. I realised that the reason I don’t really have a wish list is because if I had wanted a book or a DVD or a paper trimmer I would just go and buy it at that moment – and I mean at that moment – Jane will tell you how I can have an item searched for and purchased via the ebay app before she’s even finished talking about how much she likes it.

The reason Jane tells me she keeps a wish list is because it helps her separate what she actually needs from what she actually wants. I think I have realised then that a properly kept wish list is actually a subliminal sign of patience, it is a list that demonstrates a person’s ability to exist without the ever growing amount of ‘stuff’ that we all seem to compile. Just as “Video killed the Radio Star” back in 1979 perhaps a lack of contentment with life and the convenience of MasterCard has killed the wish list. One of the aspects I found most fascinating about Jane’s wish lists is that some items have been on the list for years…yes…years! So if something is not given at a particular occasion it becomes a reminder to simply make do without that particular want and focus on using ones current possessions well. Perhaps you all have thought out and venerable wish lists and this article is only serving to show my personal weaknesses, but with a national credit card debt hovering around the $50 billion mark, I am guessing it isn’t just me.

Perhaps our love affair with credit cards and new technology and buying ‘stuff’ all the time is the underlying fruit of a people who are selfish and individualistic. Instead of believing that we can be happy the way we are, instead of keeping our iPhone 4, instead of waiting for someone to gift us with what novelties we would like, we label our wants as needs and convince ourselves that our personal satisfaction is dependent on that latest product we must possess. I have a room full of books and while they are excellent books I certainly have not read them all. Perhaps the growing unread quantity should serve as a reminder to me that not all of life’s bookshelves must be filled in five minutes. After all, if we don’t have the ability to say no one thing, to wait patiently for another, then how will we cope when the big trials of life come our way, trials that often cannot be resolved with ebay and a credit card. How do we cope when waiting to meet the right person, dealing with trials in marriage or looking for work if we have no practice at the art of hope-filled patience?

So perhaps I have been inspired to start a proper wish list for the future. I might see it as an opportunity to build character and learn to wait patiently for the good things in life (and to be understanding when they do not all come my way). I just hope I don’t still have the same items sitting on my list in five years’ time!

So . . . What Do I Pray For?

Everyone knows it’s easy to pray for material things. Cars, houses, money, you name it, it’s been prayed for. But when it comes down to praying for grace to help with the spiritual life, what do we really need and what should we pray for?

rosary-prayer

Humility: Humility is one of the most important graces, because it reveals who we really are compared to God. If we sincerely ask God for an increase in humility, He’s going to see that we aren’t prancing around like a prideful Pharisee preaching on how good we are, but actually turning to Him for the help only He can give. Through humility we can give God the glory He deserves, progress through the spiritual life, love our neighbour more rather than thinking we’re better than them, and set ourselves free from the bonds of pride.

Perseverance: No matter how far we’ve gotten in the spiritual life, it doesn’t matter if we give up later on and go back to our old ways. Praying for the grace to persevere everyday will help us to get through even the most difficult trials, and bring us to eternal happiness.

Love of Neighbour: The second most important commandment from Our Lord is to love our neighbour, so it’s quite obvious that we should pray to love them. Always keep in mind that you must love everyone and wish them to get to heaven, even the most annoying of your enemies, forgive them if they’ve done any injustice towards you, and not speak unkindly about them. Hard to do? Well… that’s why you’re praying for it!

Patience and Long Suffering: Praying for patience should always be on our list because we get annoyed very easily. Not only do we get annoyed easily, but we find it hard to suffer for a long time patiently. Therefore beg Our Lord for the patience He had when He was enduring the three hours of agony on the Cross. I know sometimes it seems like life is too difficult to bear, but give it to Christ and ask Him to take over!  Ask Him to do all things you think impossible, as there’s nothing He cannot do.

Love of God: Since this is at the bottom, it must be pointed out that this must be the foundation of all the rest. We need a reason to have these virtues and to live in the spiritual life. Asking for an increase of the love of God will always be given, in fact, whatever is good for the soul will be given! A burning love for Our Lord will continuously give us the strength to humble ourselves, continue to the end, love all, and bear all through Him and His Blessed Mother.

God always wants to help you with anything you need. He is constantly waiting for you in the tabernacle! So go! Ask and it will be given you! God bless you all!