Friday, February 22, 2013

Saint John Vianney

In my last post I mentioned five saints that I wanted to learn more about this lent, each of them having a special meaning to me. I begin with Saint John Vianney. He is the patron saint of parish priest and my brother Marc's confirmation saint. I am Marc's confirmation sponsor so I wanted to learn more about this saint that picked him so many years ago...

Yes I did say picked him, it's not a typo. When Marc was preparing for confirmation in 8th grade he research and decided on Saint John Bosco as his confirmation saint, but when he wrote down his confirmation saint on the form he got the names mixed up and wrote down Saint John Vianney instead. I have always believed that the mix up was divine providence. I wondered if he would become a priest perhaps, though he hasn't shown interest in that calling so far. I thought it would be fitting to begin my Lenten saint research with John Vianney as yesterday was Marc's golden birthday.
I read a couple quick biographies on online to begin but it didn't give me the depth I was looking for. Finally I came across this website. John Vianney was an amazing man and priest. I wish I lived in Ars during the time he was priest. I took him about 10 years but he converted the whole town. No one worked on Sundays and everyone attended mass. People would come from all over to have him say hear their confessions.

A couple of quotes from John Vianney on the Our Lady of the Rosary website stuck out to me. First,  “O what a beautiful thing it is to do all things in union with the good God!” he would say. “Courage, my soul, if you work with God, you shall, indeed, do the work, but He will bless it. You shall walk and He will bless your steps. Everything shall be taken account of – the forgoing of a look, of some gratification – all shall be recorded. There are people who make capital out of everything, even the winter. If it is cold they offer their little sufferings to God. Oh! What a beautiful thing it is to offer oneself, each morning, as a victim to God!”

I have often thought about how I should always be asking God to help us with our tasks. Good, hard, or otherwise God should be part of our lives all the time. So how does that work? Cause obviously I am the one acting, so where is God in that? By John Vianney's account he is present because he blesses us and the work that we do. So we should offer everything to God and always ask for him blessing.

The other thing that same website quoted him saying was, “My friend, the devil is not greatly afraid of the discipline and other instruments of penance. That which beats him is the curtailment of one’s food, drink and sleep. There is nothing the devil fears more, consequently, nothing is more pleasing to God. Oh! How often have I experienced it! Whilst I was alone – and I was alone during eight or nine years, and therefore quite free to yield to my attraction – it happened at times that I refrained from food for entire days. On those occasions I obtained, both for myself and for others, whatsoever I asked of Almighty God.”

So as we go through lent fasting keep that in mind because in one action, of giving up food, drink, or sleep for God, we can greatly please God and beat the devil. Saint John Vianney, pray for us.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Let's Lent!


"I’m participating in the Keeping LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by
Raising (& Teaching) Little SaintsTruly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of link-up entries.”

So lent has been going on for a week now. How's it going for you? I have to admit I broke one of my lent sacrifices like 3 times in the first day, but when I caught myself I stopped and began again. I can already tell it's going to be a tough, but rewarding lent.

Every year around lent I hear many people bash others who give up things, especially dietary things. If you are using lent as an excuse to get back on you diet and nothing else I might agree, but I  if you use those sacrifice to discipline yourself and implore God I think they can be great gifts to him. When I think about sacrifice I go back to this passage...

Romans 8:13 says, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."

What should we be doing? Well perhaps we should just simply turn to the Catechism it says "The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church's penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies and pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works)." (CCC 1438)

As my children are getting older and slowly starting to understand more I have been racking my brain trying to come up with a special way for them to celebrate lent also. I googled and came across a couple really good ideas like the jelly bean prayer, the count down crown, or a lent box. Still I think they are a bit young to understand, so we pray with them and do our best to explain, but hopefully next year we will be able to do more with them. If I am able to do something more with them I'll keep you posted!

My focus for lent this year is the saints. There is great wisdom to be found in the lives of the saints. We can learn how to better love God and find strength in their story, knowing we are not alone. I don't know what I will find but I am excited for the journey through their lives. Each week during lent I am going to read up on a different Saint. I'll be learning about Saint John Vianney, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Saint Cecelia, Saint Francis de Sales, and one other that is yet to be determined. They all have a special meaning to me already and I wish I could tell you more then that they are saints.

Do you have a saint that you have been wanting to learn more about?

Check out the Lent reflections participating in the Keep LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013! We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE.

Discover new Catholic Blogs to follow!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Have you ever seen one of those sad movies? You know the one that starts out with a date like December 4, 2009 and a phone call. The broken voice on the line says, "It's Emily, she was in car accident... It's bad. We are waiting, hoping she makes it through the night...Max was in the car he needed some stitches but he will be ok." From the flash scenes they show you gather that Max is her 2 year old son. You see the accident unfold, a car losing control on an icy bridge and then two trucks doing the same. One hits the car from the front the other hits it in the back. You lean towards the screen as the helicopter tries to find somewhere it can land, the bridge is too icy to land on. Even the paramedics slip as they try to make it to the vehicles. More scene flash as the paramedics help both the woman and her child. The woman is revived and an emergency tracheotomy is preformed on the woman, a detail you later learn is pretty miraculous because the paramedics do not usually have the skills to preform such operations. You continue to watch as the family stands together and prays. Watch as the doctors work to stabilize the victim. Then you see her come out, broke but alive. You see Emily talking in whispers over her tracheotomy, learn she is currently a quadriplegic, but there is hope for a greater recovery. You wait for the Christmas miracle.

What do you think? Would you watch it?


Want to live it?

Of course not.

But I did. That broken voice over the phone was my Father's. Emily is my older sister and her son Max is my nephew. Sadly the Christmas miracle didn't come, at least not that we saw. She lived for 2 years after the accident but due to complications they were spent in hospitals and nursing homes. She never walked again, after a high fever her mental state was altered. She lost her ability to speak and though at times she seemed very lucid we never knew what her state of awareness was. She passed away on January 24, 2012, just over a year ago.

I miss her.

Emily was a great big sister. She loved her family and would do anything for them. She loved to teach, and even though they could frustrate her, she loved her students. She taught 8th grade reading. Her passion for her job and reading was easy to see. Her students nominated her for a golden apple award and her school was considering her for tenure the spring just before her accident. She also enjoyed playing board games. It seemed she was always introducing us to new games. She introduce me to my husband and was the first person to ever say my married name, though she didn't know it at the time. She was still trying to convince me to take an interest in him at that point. My married name was a selling point she thought it sounded french. Even though I rolled my eyes I thought it sound cool too. I don't know if she ever knew what a big influence she had in my life, but I pray she is in heaven helping me still.

I love you Em!