Wishing you and your loved ones a very Blessed & Merry Christmas! May the light of the Christ Child shine in your life today and always! Thank you for your support of Chronically Catholic Blog! You are all in my prayers this Christmas Season.
Happy Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe or Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe or the Virgen de Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas & the Unborn!
Our Lady of Guadalupe to Saint Juan Diego:
“Know my son, my much beloved, that I am the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God who is the Author of life, the Creator of all things, the Lord of heaven and earth, present everywhere. And it is my wish that here, there be raised to me a temple in which, as a loving mother to thee and those like thee, I shall show my tender clemency and the compassion I feel for the natives and for those who love and seek me, for all who implore my protection, who call on me in their labors and afflictions: and in which I shall hear their weeping and their supplications that I may give them consolation and relief. That my will may have its effect, thou must go to the city of Mexico and to the palace of the bishop who resides there, to tell him that I have sent thee and that I wish a temple to be raised to me in this place. Thou shalt report what thou hast seen and heard, and be assured that I will repay what thou dost for me in the charge I give thee: for I will make thee great and renowned. Now thou hast heard, son, my wish. Go in peace. . . employ all of the strength thou art able.”
-December 9, 1531-
Coronation of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer:
Blessed are you, O Lord,
God of heaven and earth,
who, in your mercy and justice,
cast down the proud,
and exalt the humble.
In the wondrous designs of your providence,
you have offered a perfect model
in the Incarnate Word and in the Virgin Mother:
Your Son, who voluntarily humbled Himself,
even to death on the Cross,
shines in eternal glory
and sits at your right hand
as King of kings and Lord of lords.
And the Virgin, who desired to call herself your handmaid,
who was chosen as Mother of the Redeemer
and true Mother of the living,
and now, lifted up above the choirs of angels,
gloriously reigns beside her Son,
interceding for all men,
the advocate of grace
and queen of mercy.
Look with kindness, O Lord, on these your servants
who, in placing a royal diadem
upon the image of the Mother of your Son,
recognize in your Son the King of the universe,
and invoke, as Queen, the Virgin.
in following their example,
we too might consecrate ourselves to your service,
and make ourselves available to others,
fulfilling the law of charity,
thus triumphing over selfishness,
and in generously giving
we might lead our brothers and sisters to you.
seeking humility on earth,
we might one day be lifted to the heights of heaven,
where you yourself will place
on the heads of your faithful
the crown of life.
Through Christ our Lord.
Feeling distracted and overwhelmed this Advent Season? Loosing sight of the reason for the season? Christmas blues?
-A Poem Attributed to St. Anthony of Padua-
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,
To have a deep soul relationship with another,
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.
But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied,
Fulfilled and content with being loved by me alone,
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to me.
With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with me alone.
Discovering that only in me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,
That I have planned for you.
You will never be united to another
Until you are united with me.
Exclusive of anyone or anything else.
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.
I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow me to give you
The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best. Please allow me to bring it to you.
You just keep watching me, expecting the greatest things.
Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am.
Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you.
Just wait, that’s all. Don’t be anxious, don’t worry
Don’t look around at things others have gotten
Or that I have given them
Don’t look around at the things you think you want,
Just keep looking off and away up to me,
Or you’ll miss what I want to show you.
And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than you could dream of.
You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,
I am working even at this moment
To have both of you ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with me.
You are beautiful. You are enough. You are Made in His Image. Happy Advent!
A medieval tradition, the St. Andrew Christmas Novena or Christmas Anticipation Novena beings on the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle and continues all four weeks of Advent ending on Christmas Day. This novena helps prepare us for the Birth of Our Lord. Tradition states that women used to pray this novena for a good and godly spouse.
Please, join me in praying the Christmas Anticipation Novena!
The holidays are upon us opening doors to joy and blessings and suffering and wounds. Real forgiveness doesn’t equate to the secular quip, “Forgive and forget” which by the way is cognitively impossible unless brain trauma exists. Real forgiveness is an act of the will, an act of love not a feeling or emotion. “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” – Corrie ten Boom.
Psychologist believe about 90% of hurts inflicted are unintentional, leaving room for 10% of intentional wounding and maiming. But people still feel 100% of the hurts whether intentional or unintentional. When a person feels threatened (i.e., someone is about to learn something that they don’t want as public or private knowledge,) they react. As you approach a wounded dog, even with the best intentions, the dog either runs away (flight) or snaps at you (fight.) People “act out” too, in various methods and manners. Except, with our God-given intellect and cognitive capabilities, humans can be crueler and more calculated in inflicting hurt. This is where forgiveness come in.
Forgiveness acknowledges wrong-doing or bad behavior and does not excuse it. Uncover the wounds by listing “who?” and “how?” Articulate the “how,” “why,” etc. This knowledge is followed by evaluating whether your personal behavior needs to change or boundaries set in-place. Make decisions. Sometimes this step involves seeking professional counseling or pastoral care. God didn’t request us to be doormats. He did ask us to turn the other cheek, but then what?
My counselor describes: “Your friend is sitting next to you and keeps poking your eye. You shouldn’t let your friend keep poking you in the eye (if you do, that is a a deeper issue.) You have a few options. 1.) Tell your friend to STOP! and your friend stops and can remain sitting beside you. 2.) Tell you friend to STOP! but your friend still pokes occasionally. You request they move across the room from you. 3.) Tell your friend to STOP! but your friend keeps poking whether next to you or across the room from you. You need to ask your friend to leave the room, i.e. BOUNDARIES.
To achieve forgiveness you don’t need reconciliation or an apology. Why? People apologize all the time without meaning a word. A sincere apology is rare. Sometimes apologies do more harm than good. For example, a women or man who has experienced intimate partner violence does not need to reconnect with their abusive partner to gain an apology. Reconnecting could be dangerous and harmful to the wounded person. Reconciliation requires repentance. Repentance is a free-will choice, and even God can’t make a person choose reconciliation and repentance. So neither can you or I.
Embracing an attitude of forgiveness frees the wounded. And allows for healing. Forgiveness, the person it frees is yourself. Authentic forgiveness allows people, like you and I, to make a choice in a bad situation. A choice that will either free us or shackle us. To take responsibility for my sins and transgressions but to embrace mercy and compassion. To forgive myself and others as Christ forgave. We are all sinners. And God loves us all. In the end, God is the judge and juror of our lives, but he did ask, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Amen.
*** This post was inspired by 4+ years of clinical, Catholic counseling. Don’t know where to start? Try searching for faith based, Catholic counselors @ LINK. May God bless you and keep you all.***
Born: Cher, France, July 18, 1880
Died: Carmel at Dijon France, November 9, 1906
Feast Day: November 8th
Patron Saint of: Sick Persons, Loss of parents, Against Illness
The eldest child of two girls, Elizabeth Catez was born and baptized on a military base in France to her parents- a self-made decorated military officer Jospeh Catez and his wife Marie Rolland. Following the unexpected death of Jospeh Catez in 1887, Marie Rolland moved her family to the less expensive Dijon, France where Elizabeth studied at the local Conservatory and excelled in music. During her childhood, she displayed a fiery temper and strong-willed temperament which caused her mother even threaten sending her to a house of correction for reform. Despite her strong-willed, fiery disposition Elizabeth was a generous and warmhearted child contrite and loving. When Elizabeth received her First Holy Communion and Confirmation in 1891, she began developing better self-control.
During her adolescence, she developed an ardent devotion to the Blessed Trinity. She visited the sick, sang in her Church choir, and taught religion to children who were factory workers. During one her visits to Carmel in Dijon, the mother superior provided Elizabeth a copy of the “Circular Letter of St. Therese of Lisieux” which was the first edition of what would become The Story of A Soul. This exposure to St. Therese’s writings brought clarity and courage to pursue her vocation. Elizabeth desired to enter the Discalced Caramelite Order and refused multiple offers of marriage. She respected her mother’s wishes and delayed entering Carmel until she was twenty-one years old. She entered Carmel at Dijon on August 2, 1901 and donned her habit December 8, 1901.
The Church and Carmelite communities in France were racked with social upheaval and uncertainty racked with the effects of corruption, scandal, and division. The secular State prepared to take legal action against the Church including the potential confiscation of Church property and the exile of the Carmelite Order from France. While the French Church crumbled into anxiety and confusion, St. Elizabeth witnessed the mystical power of the peace Christ’s presence in a soul could instill. As she explained to her community and friends, “Everything is a sacrament that gives us God.” She believed God was present in the distress. She wrote letters and retreats for her community and friends which emphasized contemplative prayer- loving awareness and silent surrender to the loving gaze of the Father.
St. Elizabeth was influenced and inspired by the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux including her prayer and poem “Offering to Merciful Love” and “Living by Love.” Elizabeth, like Therese, believed in the mystical power of prayer and the salvation of souls. Elizabeth also embraced a “Little Way”- a radical approach to love. “I find Him everywhere while doing the wash as well as while praying.” Or another selection from her writings: “We must be mindful of how God is in us in the most intimate way and go about everything with him. Then life is never banal. Even in ordinary tasks, because you do not live for these things, you will go beyond them.”
St. Elizabeth wrote: “I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them to go out of themselves in order to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within which will allow God to communicate Himself to them and to transform them into Himself.” She practiced a profound devotion of the Blessed Trinity which she referred to as “the furnace of an excessive love.”
As she neared the end of her earthly life, St. Elizabeth referred to herself as Laudem Gloriae or “praise of glory.” On November 9, 1906, at the age of twenty-six, after arduous and painful suffering, St. Elizabeth, the Mystic of Dijon, died of Addison’s disease an adrenal disorder which in the early 20th century no treatment existed. She accepted suffering as a gift from God. Her last words were: “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life!”
Her beatification process started in 1931 and her manuscripts were carefully investigated over the next ten years and approved for her cause for beatification in 1944. October 25, 1961 Pope Saint John XXIII declared her Servant of God. On October 12, 1982 Pope Saint John Paul II declared her Venerable and Beatified her in Paris on November 25, 1984 after the investigation of her first miracle was verified. After a second miracle attributed to the intercession of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was verified and approved, Pope Francis canonized her on October 16, 2016.
St. Elizabeth of the Holy Trinity, pray for us!
Here is a LINK to her Holy Trinity Prayer.
November begins with two important Church Feasts: The Solemnity of All Saints & All Souls. Within the month of November, we strive to remember the souls of the faithful departed and the holy souls in Purgatory. Our souls on Earth, the Saintly Souls in Heaven, and the Holy Souls in Purgatory are all connected within the Communion of Saints. Our prayers impact souls.
According to tradition, St. Gertrude the Great was told by Our Lord that the following prayer, each time she devoutly recited it, would release 1,000 souls (or a vast number) from their suffering in purgatory:
August- a month of opposites. The Creighton Method and Naprotechnology treatment requires a huge helping of patience and humility with a hefty sprinkling of courage and trust. In these moments of increased suffering and confusion, my relationship with God shifts into a more pristine focus- better aligned and less muddled by my pride and control.
For a moment, I thought my body and reproductive track considered cooperating. Somewhere between the travel adventures and joyous occasions my body found enough time and energy to protest my Napro treatment for PMDD. About 6 months ago my PMS diagnosis was revised to a PMDD diagnosis. For those who may not be familiar with PMDD or Post-Dysphoric Menstrual Disorder in the most simplistic definition PMDD is a more severe and volatile version of PMS. After I passed with flying colors the screening for PMDD, my local napro doctor prescribed a medication which used in minute dosages can help your body reset the bio-chemical endocrine processes surrounding the transition from one cycle into the next. But it’s a medication to be respected.
Medical need finally tipped the scale outweighing my reservations, and I successfully took the medication for 5 months before the final hurrah. Looking back at my chart, a few positive affects can be noted. ***And I should disclaim this medication has been beneficial for many women undergoing Napro treatment without or with minimal side-effects.***
This month I only made it through 3 days of my 10 day course before having cardiac and neurological symptoms. I ignored the fluttering heart rate and palpitations the first 3 nights before the neurological symptoms hit which were harder to ignore. On night three, I felt a sudden decline in my mental acuity and a heavy mental fog descend, my rate of exhaustion skyrocket, followed by slowed speech and thought, catapulting into decreased balance and increased dizziness. This led to falls, topples, and bashed knees (and a rather scared and confused Hannah.) Two weeks later I regained my mental acuity and the fog dissipated. It took one week to regain my balance in full. My darkened mood hasn’t rebounded yet. I discontinued my med, consulted with my doctor, and spent time recovering. My doctor and I will need to re-evaluate and discern the next steps.
In many ways, I know I am blessed that nothing more severe or life-threatening happened. In other ways, I recognize my medical de-sensitivity played into my ignorance of the severity of my drug reaction. A hard lessen to learn but an important lessen to know when and what your limitations are and when you should seek professional medical help.
I am frustrated by this set-back in my treatment. I am concerned what the next step will be or if there is a next step. I am worried what the ripple affect will be. Already my cycle has changed without the drug treatment. The brokenness is coming back more recognizable and distinct in my charting. The weakness if pouring into where the healing was. I offer up my cup of brokenness and weakness to God. He makes all things good. Everyday He keeps repeating, “Hannah, you are good.” And to that light of love I cling.
“Though my flesh and my heart fail, God is the rock of my heart, my portion forever.” – Psalm 73: 26
Watching EWTN’s daily Mass with my Mom, we learned about an unique Saint with a profound story and witness. My monthly NFP update involves drug reactions; therefore, I decided to chose a saint of the month that lived heroic virtue in the face of unthinkable odds. St. Mark Ji Tianxiang died a martyr and an active opium addict. How does an active drug addict barred from the sacraments become a canonized saint? Heroic virtue.
A once respectable Chinese Christian with resources and educational advantages during 19th century China, Ji’s successful medical career including caring for the poor pro bono. He was a leader in the Chinese Christian community- respected and admired. He developed a volatile, painful stomach ailment which he self-treated with the treatment of the period- opium. This approved medical treatment turned into a full-fledged addiction. His life circumstances deteriorated under the weight of his addiction.
Ji fought against his addiction. He attended confession regularly. The cultural mindset and misunderstanding of the 19th century that drug addiction was not a disease but rather a lack of will caused his confessor to doubt his intention to sin no more and his resolve to repent (without the resolve to sin no more & repent the confession is invalid.) Since he kept confessing the same sin, the priest doubted his resolve to do better. After a few years, Ji’s confessor instructed him not to return until he could fulfill the requirements for confession. Drug abuse is sinful behavior, but drug abuse also is a complex disease of the mind and body. A concept unknown in the 19th century.
Ji didn’t abandon his faith. He couldn’t remain sober, but he could still be present with Our Lord. For 30 years (yes, you read that right) . . . 30 years Ji went to Mass unable to receive the sacraments due to his opium addiction. For 30 years, he prayed for a martyr’s death for he believed in that way only could he be saved.
The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 broke out. Chinese nationalists known as the Boxers, or the Militia United in Righteousness, expelled missionaries and persecuted Christians across China. Thirty-two thousand Chinese Christians and 200 foreign missionaries were killed. Ji and many of his village’s Christians, including his son, 6 grandkids, and 2 daughter-in-laws, were rounded up by authorities based on their Christian belief. Even while waiting in prison for their execution, Ji couldn’t break his addiction. Still, he was granted a heroic sense of perseverance.
Once taken to their place of execution, he begged his captures to execute him last so none of his family members would die alone. He stood beside all nine members of his family as they were beheaded. He went to his death singing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was canonized on October 1, 2000 by St. John Paul II.
St. Mark Ji Tianxiang is a beautiful witness to the profound mystery of God’s mercy and how our sufferings can be turned into something profoundly good. His testimony to unwavering perseverance in his faith should kindle a fire in all our hearts. His witness brings hope to those suffering from addictions. May we all rely and believe in Christ’s mercy like St. Mark Ji.
St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, pray for us.
Feast Day: July 9th