Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mission Critical!!

Kristen M. Soley

Years ago, I read that the primary mission of the family is to get each other to heaven. We have seven children, five of whom are boys. Introducing the journey to sainthood as a mission seemed a perfect approach for our family. It also helped to understand that God’s plan is perfect and has chosen each family member for our sanctification (growth in holiness).  

Everything that happens to us, good, or seemingly not so good, is by God’s hand; gently aiding our growth in virtue. For our family, He Wills for us joy through successes, peace through time spent in prayer, safety through our angel's prayers, wisdom through learning, laughter through recreation, character built through work, His love through us given to each other, and ultimately union with Him through full surrender to His Divine Will. He also wills that we grow in patience through trials, fortitude through hurt feelings, perseverance through enduring long days without sufficient rest, meekness when we hit sensory overload, forgiveness when we have things stolen from us, mercy when we lose a friend (if only for five minutes), humility when our pride is pricked, and surrender when we feel unappreciated. These are a mere sampling of all the opportunities family life provides, and are not dissimilar to His life on earth. Each of these opportunities allows us to grow in virtue; to be more like Him.  

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. (Isaiah 48:10 NASB)

Our family has taken this mission, as given directly from our Commander and Chief, God Himself. Therefore, in our home, we begin each morning with family prayer. As we close our prayer, either my husband or I, with team-captain enthusiasm, pose the question, “What is our Mission?” To which we all cheer, “To get each other to heaven!” This is followed by the question, “What are we going to do today to get each other to heaven?” Which is followed with the children cheering loudly the following:

· “Be kind and share!
· Do the right thing even when it is difficult!
· Pray, think, and then speak!
· Pray, think, and then do!
· Build up the Kingdom of God!
· Do something beautiful for God!
· Be charitable!
· And when in doubt, ask the question, ‘What would Jesus do?’”

Finally, we all put our hands in, team-style, and raise them as we cheer, “One, two, three - “Go team Soley!” 

This has helped us to daily embrace our assignment to this critical mission; getting each other to heaven, and helps us to remember that it is a mission we cannot fulfill without each other. 

+All For JMJ+

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Fruit of His Love

Kristen M. Soley

No matter what our vocation, if we are given the good fortune of arising to another day, God has work for us to do, for Him. Borne of the love Jesus has for us, He desperately desires to equip us with the fruits necessary to serve Him in the gift of another day.

Imagine that each morning we arise, we are holding a bag that is utterly empty. This is the beginning of each day for us. Only through prayer, which is quiet, meditative time with Him, is He able to equip us with the fruits needed to serve Him each day. As Blessed Mother Teresa expressed, “In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.” Therefore, in the quiet He waits, patiently and lovingly, each day with the fruits we require to serve Him throughout the day. This time with Him can be as little as fifteen minutes each day.  

Now imagine as we are spending this quiet time with Him, He lovingly fills our bag with beautiful fruit, to overflowing. This fruit is the exact amount required for our service to Him for this new day. Again, no matter our vocation, we were given the gift of another day to serve Him, through those He has placed on our path, and we now have the fruit to do so. Whether we are to allow Him to shine through us at the office, settle a dispute, encourage a patient, assist a student who is struggling, endure a manager who is unable to show love because he or she is hurting, pay for somebody’s late fee at the library, support a friend who has lost a loved one, suffer for offenses against Jesus, lead a parish family closer to Jesus, pray for those who are separated from Him, bring a meal to a new mom, wipe a runny nose, change a diaper (or twelve), or be truly present to our children, we have been given the exact amount of fruit required to serve Him in this gift of a day.

Today at Mass, our Pastor illustrated that Jesus was often exhausted from tirelessly serving. He healed, forgave, fed, prayed, taught, suffered, endured and loved. Jesus was so exhausted for love us that He was able to sleep in the midst of a terrible storm on the Sea.

This is the visual we are to use in our service to Him. As Blessed Mother Teresa expressed, “Give until it hurts.” As our day comes to a close, our bag is to be completely empty, having given back to Him all the fruit He gave to us, to sustain us as we navigated another day.  

Each person we encounter is an opportunity to allow Jesus to love through us. This is the fruit. Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' (MT 25:40 NASB)

Jesus’ life, His Passion in particular, is the perfect example; teaching us to empty ourselves for love of God and man. Beginning His passion, He was beautiful, unblemished, and filled with the fruit that would be our salvation, His love.

His Passion began at the Last Supper, where He humbled Himself by promising to remain with us in the Eucharist.  Jesus teaches, “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body. And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins." (Mark 26:26 - 28 NASB) "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink." (John 6:55 NASB)

Following the Last Supper, Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying and making reparation, offered Himself to the Father for our salvation. He emptied Himself of is Precious Blood, through His sweat, which ran down into the ground, “giving blood for offenses, life for death.” 1

Next, He emptied Himself of more of His Precious Blood as He was mercilessly scourged, crowned, and given the Cross, the symbol of His love for us, further consuming the fruit of His love.

Finally, it appeared He had no fruit left to give, after suffering for us, giving us forgiveness, His Mother, and the promise of eternity with Him in Heaven, they pierced His side from which He was completely emptied. He gave us everything He had to give. His bag was completely empty, for love of us.

Let us thank Him for the gift of another day, by meeting Him in quiet, meditative prayer, where He can give us His fruit -  the fruit we need to serve Him, through those He has placed on our path.


1 – Hours of the Passion - 

The inspiration for this post was from Jesus, through my friend Susanne.

All For +JMJ+

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Titus 3:4-7

Kristen M. Soley

I just felt like sharing some good news today!  :)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Get Happy! The Beatitudes of Life for the Vocation of Wife and Mother - Part VI

Kristen M. Soley

The Sixth Beatitude - Blessed are the pure of heart: for they shall see God.
Merriam-Webster defines pure as, “Not mixed with anything else.” Father Ahern explains that purity of heart lacks actual sin, and affords freedom from affection toward sin. When self-love and the seeking of personal pleasure are removed the passion of love, the human heart becomes crystal clear, 2 not mixed with anything else.   

He further explains:
“In marriage, a man or woman lives to serve and love the other, the spouse or the child. Love leaves no room for self-love, just simple devotion to members of the family. The more perfect this love and service the greater glory is given to God. The lover then sees God now and for eternity. In loving his spouse and children a man pure in heart is too busy loving and providing for his family to be attracted to sins of the flesh; there is no self-love or pleasure seeking in him; this is the first stage of purity of heart… Husband and wife love each other, and the love of each, given, completes the other. They see faults in their marriage partner, but instead of reproach, they simply give more love. Family life, social life, prayer life – each is patterned, geared, and has meaning through love of the spouse and children. As gift after gift of love is given, love of self is forgotten. Happiness is possessed, and purity of heart is found. A man is filled with love for his neighbor and God is glorified. The pure of body, mind, and intention are the happy, the blessed man and women.” 2
Possessing no self-love, St. Joseph served God, with a pure heart, by loving Mary, and Jesus and humbly submitting to God’s Will. After having found Mary to be with child, Joseph, “being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.” (MT 1:18-19 NASB) Through the message of an angel, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” … And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”

In the vocation of wife and mother, purity of heart is simply, humbly surrendering our will to the Will of God, purity of heart, mind and body. We need to seek all that is true, good, and beautiful not only for ourselves, but for our family. When we choose God’s Will over ours, we most assuredly can achieve beatitude. It is only when we are living outside of God’s Will that we introduce discord into our lives.

Begin each day with quiet, meditative prayer, alone with God. Begin by meditating on His Passion and then read a passage from the Gospels. Spend ten to fifteen minutes, quietly reflecting on what we have read. God will take this time to provide all the fruit required to aid is in living in His Will. We can then use the fruits He provides, or give them to those He asks, as we proceed through the rest of the day.

"Every virtue in your soul is a precious ornament which makes you dear to God and to man. But holy purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue, is a jewel so precious that those who possess it become like the angels of God in Heaven, even though clothed in mortal flesh."
~ St. John Bosco

Sources –
2. Eight Happy People, Reverend John J. Ahern
6. Happy are you Poor, Dubay
7. Volume 6, Direction for Our Times – Anne the Lay Apostle
8. Courageous Virtue, Stacy Mitch (A Bible Study on Moral Excellence For Women)
11. The Twenty-Four Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Luisa Piccaretta
12. Michele Szekely -  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Get Happy! The Beatitudes of Life for the Vocation of Wife and Mother - Part V

Kristen M. Soley

The Fifth Beatitude - Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy

Mercy is a virtue “influencing one's will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another's misfortune.” 9

 Living a life, filled with mercy and love, St. Martin de Porres enjoyed true beatitude. Famous for his love of the poor, he ministered to and comforted the dying and would bury the dead with his own hands. He begged the money for an orphanage to house the orphans of Lima, Peru. He begged and distributed $2,000.00 per week to the needy. With God’s grace, he healed the sick. He even tried to “rescue rats and mice and would transport them to open areas in the country where they would not become spreaders of disease or the hunted prey of me.”2 

St. Faustina teaches, there are “three ways of performing an act of mercy: the merciful word, by forgiving and by comforting; secondly, if you can offer no word, then pray - that too is mercy; and thirdly, deeds of mercy. And when the Last Day comes, we shall be judged from this, and on this basis we shall receive the eternal verdict. 

Applying this beatitude to the vocation of wife and mother, we can rely on the words of Blessed Mother Teresa, “Help on person at a time and start with the person nearest you.” Typically this is our husband, then our children.

To understand Mercy in our vocation, it is useful to study the corporal (body) and spiritual works of mercy. 

The Corporal Works of Mercy

· Feed the hungry – Make good, healthy meals for our families, and pack a well-balanced lunch for them, including our husbands, home-prepared meals are typically more healthy and easier on the budget. Remember at each meal eaten together, always praise and thank God for His generosity and ask Him to bless the food. Make a meal for a sick friend, relative or a new mom.  

· Give drink to the thirsty – Our children’s body weight is between forty-five to seventy-five percent water and adults are around seventy-five percent. It is imperative we remain hydrated for good health and proper body function. Ensure we are well hydrated and there is quality water readily available for everybody.

  1. Another beautiful view on thirst is taking Jesus’ words from the Cross, “I thirst.” Jesus was not asking for a sip of water, He was asking for souls. He thirsted for souls. We too should thirst for souls to come to Christ. With God’s grace, our example of living out our vocation with joy, both at home and in the public eye, can draw souls to Him, through us. The abundant joy that we have in our hearts, Jesus in us, will draw souls to Him. If we are happy when we are out, patiently enduring our little trials, then being our vocation looks appealing and will draw souls to Him. However, if we are disheveled, short, and impatient with our children, then our vocation looks more like a cross. Sometimes, we must put joy on, if we do not feel it authentically. Again, Jesus is peace and joy (beatitude) and allowing His peace and joy to shine through us, will draw souls to Him, satiating His thirst. 
· Clothe the naked – Ensure that our families have clothes that are comfortable and fit well, have warm enough clothes in the winter and modest but cool enough clothes in the summer. Make sure they have good shoes for their activities, so as to prevent injury. If you have more than you need, or they have been outgrown, share them with another for hand-me-downs or donate to charity. Donate quality clothes; nothing immodest, with holes or overly worn out. Each of us desires to dress with dignity. 
· Visit and ransom the captives – As a family, pray for those who are separated from Christ through sin or suffering from addiction; they are suffering greatly, feeling powerless; this is a form of slavery. Pray for those being held captive for religious belief, as we now are seeing in the Middle East. If we can, visit those in prison, or as a family, adopt an inmate; our families can become his/her pen pal. If this is not reasonable given our season in life, simply pray for them. 
· Shelter the homeless – If we have an aging parent, open our homes to them, rather than placing them in a retirement home. The gift we will give our family through this time is invaluable. 
  1. We are called to be hospitable. As Our Blessed Mother told St. Catharine Drexel, “Freely we have been given, freely give.” Open our homes to family and friends. Share Jesus with them through the gifts God has given us and find Jesus in them. This enables us to live out the gospel truth that Blessed Mother Teresa taught, the Gospel in Five fingers, “You did it to Me.” (based on Matthew 25:40)
· Visit the sick – If we have a sick parent or friend, visit them or pick them up and bring them to dinner in our homes; if they cannot get to Mass, offer to give them a ride. Prepare a meal for them or deliver flowers. As a family, pray for their healing. 
· Bury the dead – Given the Mass is the most powerful prayer we can pray, it is vital that we attend the funerals of those we know and love. It is also important to have Masses offered for our deceased loved ones. Bringing our families to the graveyard to pray for and visit our loved ones leaves lasting memories and traditions in our little ones. If you are unable to stop by the grave yard, pray for the souls at each grave yard you drive by. Simply pray, “Jesus and Mary, I love you! Save souls!” This is a simple act of love and charity, interceding for souls not yet enjoying eternal beatitude. 
The Spiritual Works of Mercy
· Admonish sinners – As a family, work together to grow in virtue by overcoming faults. Lovingly correct our children and spouse when we see a character flaw, and point them toward the virtue that opposes the flaw. Remember to do this in a private and loving 8manner, as much as possible. 
· Instruct the ignorant – Teach our family the faith! God created us to know, love and serve Him, that we may be happy with Him in Heaven. Our family needs to know Him in order to love and serve Him. One of the best ways of teaching the faith, is knowing it and living it ourselves. Our children are going to parrot our behavior, best they parrot good behavior.  
· Counsel the doubtful – Be a source of encouragement for our families. Remind them that God’s plan is better, even when we don’t understand it. 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB)

· Comfort the sorrowful – Visit a friend who has lost a loved one. Work together as a family to make a gift to lighten their heart or deliver a bouquet. After the funeral is over, the reality of life without their loved one will settle in, after everybody has gone home. If possible, drop by on major holidays to deliver a simple treat or card. Be a light for this person through prayer, fellowship, and charity; especially the first year.

· Bear wrongs patiently – Assuming that somebody is well intended, even when this behavior seems contrary; this will enable us to bear wrongs with patience. It is common for each of us to have our actions result in an outcome that was not intended. Remember this in others; for very seldom, if ever does our spouse, family or friend intend to hurt us. By striking back, we create two unhappy people, not just one. As we talked about in the second Beatitude, Blessed are the meek, “Be silent when your speech will make another unhappy. Remember, all men search for happiness, or beatitude.” 2

· Forgive all injuries – To be forgiven, we must forgive, as we are taught by Jesus, in the Our Father, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are also taught in scripture the number of time we are to forgive, "…I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22 NASB) When we do not forgive those who have hurt us, the only person suffering is us. Holding on to these feelings creates a block, preventing the flow of grace that God so desperately wants to shower upon us. 

· Pray for the living and the dead - Create a family prayer book, listing all those God has place on our paths needing prayer. Hold them in prayer daily. Each day, pray the rosary as a family, we can offer each decade for a different intention. Pray for our family. On our way to Mass, remember to ask our children for whom they will offer this Mass. When we are doing chores around the house, ask each of the children for whom or for what intention they wish to offer this work. 

In both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, remember to pray, think, and then speak, to be sure our words are loving and guided by the Holy Spirit.

In Summary, mercy is a virtue “influencing one's will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another's misfortune.” 9  Let us then, in both our home and our surroundings, with God's grace and compassion, try to alleviate other's misfortune and spread His love, wherever He guides us.

Sources –
2. Eight Happy People, Reverend John J. Ahern
6. Happy are you Poor, Dubay
7. Volume 6, Direction for Our Times – Anne the Lay Apostle
8. Courageous Virtue, Stacy Mitch (A Bible Study on Moral Excellence For Women)
11. The Twenty-Four Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Luisa Piccaretta
12. Michele Szekely -