Recently a good friend suggested I read, "The Discernment of Spirits" by Timothy Gallagher. Though I do not have amble time to read; I carve time out most evenings or during nap time.
One particular chapter was very applicable; Spiritual Desolation: A Time for Resistance. My understanding of Spiritual Desolation is an intense feeling that lasts either momentarily or at length and makes us feel our efforts to get closer to Christ no longer seem to be worth it or needed. As though God isn't listening to us during our times of trial.
One week before I had gotten to this chapter, she called me in what proved to be a very powerful conversation. She felt strongly that our family was going through Spiritual Desolation. She mentioned to me that during times of Spiritual Desolation we should make NO LIFE CHANGES and pray out loud to admonish the evil spirits and invite the Holy Spirit to takes its place. During moments of Spiritual Desolation, it would be very possible for the master deceiver to work within us.
Then she told me something I had never heard before! THE DEVIL CANNOT HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS. So, all those times that I pray a Hail Mary in my head to fight some temptation, he doesn't hear it. Of course, Our Lord does. I would much rather, as silly as it looks; say it out loud. Rather like in the awesome christian movie, "War Room," where the wife walks around the house demanding the devil leave her home; it's not his to rule.
It's outstanding.... I had never heard this. I hope I don't stand alone on this astonishing revelation.
I am now keenly aware of my feelings of desperation, sadness, depression, and hopelessness as a direct attack from the evil one. During these times, as difficult as it is, I acknowledge these feelings are not true and instead beg the Holy Spirit to relieve me of my desolation. It always minimizes the anxiety I am feeling.
Consequently, I am also aware of the moments of Spiritual Consolation. Those times when unexplained peace comes into me. When I feel a calm and presence; even in the midst of stress and uncertainty.
I have been given a huge gift; a grace that I wanted to share with all of you.
St. Mother Teresa was canonized on Sunday. I was thinking of the spiritual dryness she had for so many decades. Really amazing the faith she continued to have and the good she achieved while feeling nothing from her Heavenly Father. How often do I feel like he isn’t hearing my prayers or answering them?
She gave a “business card” to Raymond Arroyo some time ago which said, “The Fruit of Silence is Prayer, The Fruit of Prayer is Love, The Fruit of Love is Service”
These words strike me as quite a remarkable thing. I love silence… or maybe I wish I did. Sometimes just sitting there bores me. Naturally I’m a pondering individual. I like to look at the world around me and wonder why? Quiet moments in an adoration chapel work for me, I frequently feel that my prayers need to be organized or that they aren’t “good enough”. Many times it takes real effort finding time for prayer. It generally involves me forcibly sitting myself down and waiting….seeing where the spirit leads me. My mode of prayer changes too depending on my mood; holy cards, rosary, Magnificat, journaling? I like all of them and yet none of them when I first sit. It’s a lack of practice. In my defense, being home with a large family doesn’t exactly get one used to silence. My mother would say that even as a child I didn’t like being quiet.
So at this exact moment as I am writing this ……In the midst of prayer time, come knocking and knocking at the bedroom door. One “emergency” after another.
1. I need a hug,
2. ( Exasperated voice) I have needed to be logged onto the computer for the last three weeks and now I need to wait another three weeks because mom isn’t available. ( cause the ipad was so important earlier… and you couldn’t have gotten on the computer then, right?) Why do children need to wait until you are otherwise incapacitated to ask for something. Because out of 15 hours that I see them during the day; there might be one hour that I am “unavailable”
3. Mom, the phone is for you
4. Mom, the phone is for you; its dad.
5. Mom, Brendan wants you
6. Mom, so and so called; can I babysit their kids tonight. ( Totally, cause there aren’t enough kids here to watch. What do you mean I don’t pay you to watch your little brothers?) Actually, they are really good about watching little brothers when we need them to!
OK, so focus now on prayer. My go to prayer… is to Our Lady of Knots. I feel somehow “connected” to her. I didn’t actually search for her, she just made herself known to me when our oldest lived out of state. She brought clarity and peace when I needed it. I can talk to her about anything; exactly like a mother-daughter relationship should be. She understands my issues. She loved, worried and was frustrated. She has Christ’s ear. She petitions for me.
( I’m going to ignore all the chair banging that I am hearing in the kitchen… and howling. And the fact that Elizabeth needed to put little brothers in time out for some reason)
Our Lady, while I am up here praying, could you just please babysit my children? Please make sure they don’t hurt each other or make “too” big of a mess. She knows how much I miss Jeff when he doesn’t get home till midnight or 1am. She knows how much I pray for her help to get Jeff out of the Paradise and grow Agnus Dei to support the family. She also reminds me that it is not in my time, but Our Lords. My job is to have faith in Him. She reminds me to be thankful for every blessing and sorrow of each day. To love the children unconditionally; to be gentle and kind to them in word and action. And to extend all that and more to Jeff; even when the days feel unbearable. Yeah!
Lord, I love you. My prayers always seem insufficient. But this is the life that you have blessed me with.
"You brought me this farSo why would I question You now
You have provided
So why would I start to doubt
I've never been stranded, abandoned
Or left here to fight alone
So I'm giving You control"
These are the words of one of my favorite songs, "Lift my Life up"
Days can be rough; but they can bear sweet fruit if we try to remember in the midst of struggle that THIS day God made. Praise Him! Even if your van air conditioning breaks down, battery dies and transmission lines have a leak; JUST PRAISE HIM.
Even if ants come crawling out of the baseboards; JUST PRAISE HIM
EVEN if Donald Trump gets the nomination; JUST PRAISE HIM :)
Because at the end of the day our children are happy, healthy and our marriage is probably better than most. Thank you God for all the struggles because they bring me closer to you. Because I would rather struggle here than in purgatory.
Why did it take me this long to understand? He always protects us, watches over us and guides us. God is so good.
We know God leads our family well. He leads Agnus Dei Communion breads & incense well. We see all the fruits the work is bearing.
Pray for us.... you are in our prayers.
Jeff, Erika and children
written by: Erika April 2016
ON THE HOME FRONT
March is one of our favorite months. The weather is turning, Easter week events at church, break from school, first mowing of the year, buds on the apple trees emerging and planning our family vacation for the summer.
Last week our dining room got a SERIOUSLY NEEDED overhaul; sanding, patching, more sanding, painting, chair moldings, and new baseboards. Very beach themed; we love it! See pics on left. We recycled some paint; Angelica mixed new colors. She got that ability from her Opa; ( my father) because only God knows it isn't from me. Eventually we will replace the blinds and get some additional wall art.
Jeff's work is going fairly well, he is still trying to get more than 32 hours a week; but he has much less third shift hours than he did 13 months ago when he started. Thank goodness! It is a cross for him to carry each day; environment is tough to work in. He keeps his chin up... providing for the children and I the best he can.
In the meantime..
Sun is shining, windows open, Jeff’s got first shift hours; hooray! Awesome nephew and a friend of the family are updating the website to make it more maneuverable. Soon I will include incense descriptions on the main incense page so that clients don’t need to go to the online cart.
Order came in for communion breads, nice priest; long time existing client. My dad has known him for years. Those are my favorite kind of orders; people that love the family and enjoy “shootin’ the breeze” on the telephone. You really get to know who they are. Offered him some free incense samples he can try for Easter. He’s thrilled! I’m happy that I made him happy.
Was fortunate this morning… I got to speak to a couple of newly ordained priests at two conservative US seminaries. I love their enthusiasm in trying some incense gift packs that we sent them. They get me excited to work with the incense and communion breads. You can hear the dedication to the priesthood in their voices. I LOVE IT!
And on top of all that awesomeness……
“I hope you’re having a blessed, miserable Lent!
Yours in Christ,
A wonderful client of ours sent me this cheerful note this morning in the midst of giving us a very positive testimonial.
It got me thinking; while I don’t think we need to be genuinely miserable; we should be uncomfortable. Some of our younger kiddos choose Lenten penance along the lines of,
Moms favorite time of day is when the kids are sleeping and………….. Yes, there is more.
When the kids are sleeping, I seek refuge in a quiet place with most typically a bible, Fulton Sheen book and a censer. It is a necessary part of my evening. Sometimes it doesn’t occur till 10 pm and only last 1/2 hour. But that’s ok.
“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” St. Francis
Awesome quote, right? It’s MY motto. Learn it, live it, love it I say.
The saints can give such strength on tough days; days of uncertainty, dimness and indistinctness. Recently I have had more of those than I would like. But, its about Faith isn’t it?