Walk this way

Asian girl holding mom's legAs Mass begins, a new crop of Christians-in-training processes into Our Lady of Mercy Church in what has to be one of the most moving ceremonies of the church year. They stand in the center aisle, facing their sponsors, who begin by tracing the sign of the cross on their foreheads as the priest prays, “It is Christ himself who now strengthens you with this sign of his love. Learn to know and follow him.” We pray as the sponsor crosses the catechumen’s ears, eyes, lips, shoulders, heart, and hands, ending with: “Receive the sign of the cross on your feet, that you may walk in the way of Christ.”

A blessing of such beauty and power makes me wish that all Catholics could get one like it every year or two, to strengthen and focus our faith. Consider for a moment just the blessing of the feet. Let’s be concrete: Where might the way of Christ take my feet during the months ahead? To what places are our family’s calendar commitments actually bringing us? Continue reading

Even Jesus listened to his mother

Senior adult woman talking to her son.The gospel of Jesus turning water into wine gives us three strong messages: Jesus, an adult, taking the advice of his mother; Jesus “revealing his glory” publicly for the first time; and Jesus serving the people of God by making sure the celebration of the wedding could continue.

Yes, you’re the Messiah, but I’m still your mom. Thirty-year-old Jesus had a different perspective than did his 40-something mother on how involved to become in the problem of the wine shortage. He said that the time wasn’t quite right; she nudged him to do the miracle anyway. His change of mind showed the value he placed on his relationship with his mother. We would be wise, in our own decision-making, to consider the advice of our parents, who may see talent or opportunity where we miss it. Continue reading

When your spouse is suffering

couple in trouble  RGB mhGwPtWWhether it’s a diagnosis of serious illness, a car accident, or job loss, every marriage will eventually include suffering. While moonlit walks on the beach are undoubtedly a more enjoyable way to build closeness with your spouse, suffering has equal or greater potential to bring spouses together. “How you suffer matters greatly; suffering can drive you apart or it can draw you together,” says Mary Jo Pedersen in For Better, For Worse, For God (Loyola). When pain and difficulty make their presence known in your family, enter into the pain together.

Do not flee. Denial is helpful for a very short period of time to keep functionality in the face of immediate crisis. Once the initial shock of the circumstance is over, though, don’t use extended work hours or busyness as a substitute for talking about the problem with your spouse. Pretending everything is normal when it is not leads to a build-up of anger and sometimes depression. Continue reading

Take two, add grace, and stir, part two

couple sunsetGrace beyond this moment. Brigid and Bob, married 19 years with four children, believe that part of being open to the grace of God in marriage is understanding that bumpy times will not last forever and good times should not be taken for granted. “In good times, it is good to stop and ask, ‘Why is this good? What are we doing right? Can we replicate and maintain the qualities of this time?’ ” Brigid says. In asking what we are doing right, we avail ourselves of what being open to God’s grace looks like in real life, and we can more easily hold on to what we learn. Continue reading

Take two, add grace, and stir

couple leaningJennifer and Dave, married 14 years, with two boys ages 10 and 8, rely on their differences to build a strong marriage.

“Dave always says to me that together we compensate for each other’s weaknesses,” Jennifer explains. “Dave is more relaxed and does not worry as much. I am more structured and want a plan. The longer we are married, the more we realize that working together we can get through life, because I keep us organized and Dave makes sure we take time to relax.” Continue reading

That sinking feeling

p4 walk on waterAmanda, mother of two teens, can relate to Peter’s sinking in the story of Jesus walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). “During those times in my life when I am not as connected to God, I tend to feel more stressed and irritated. Things don’t go as well.” She admits that her faith life is not where she’d like it to be.

Amanda’s story is a common one. While Jesus is eager to walk with us on the water of seemingly impossible challenges, we often struggle to believe he can truly help us. Like Peter, we are frightened by the strong winds—whether they are challenges with our family, our health, or our jobs—and we take our eyes from Jesus. We may stop going to church regularly. We may give up our moments of prayer. We may try to do it all ourselves. And we start to sink. Continue reading

Give kids the good word

bubble boy• “Do your best and let God do the rest.” Sharen, mother of two, says this with her children every day before school. She says the first part, and the kids respond with the second part. “If I don’t do it, the girls will loudly exclaim, ‘Say it, Mama!’ as if they can’t leave the car and go into school without it,” Sharen says.

• “What’s one way you helped someone today?” Continue reading

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