Friday, August 29, 2014

Seven Quick Takes, Friday, August 28

1. I am trying not to lament the end of summer vacation for M. It has gone by too quickly with a 17 day trip to Georgia, Ohio, and Michigan, a 5 day visit from my sister and her family, and our 9 day trip to St. Louis, plus everything in between. It has been absolutely lovely here in Minnesota, which is more that I can say for our winter weather. Our garden is still producing well, and we are taking in the last week and getting ready for a more scheduled school year.

2. August flew by without a trip to any fairs, and while I know the kids will miss seeing the animals, it did not fit into our schedule or our budget. We did however make a visit at the end of July to the farm in Wisconsin to visit our cousins, aunt, and uncle and see their animals. Hopefully the girls won't be too sad when they notice we missed out on the State Fair this year. While it is a big deal in Minnesota, we have only been Minnesotans for two years so maybe we can be okay missing it.

3. Two years in Minnesota! I can't really believe it. Time has flown by since we got here. The kids are so much bigger than they were when we moved here. We own a house. We have survived two winters. M is thriving at and loving his work. And we have found an awesome community of Catholic families to be a part of. We are really starting to feel at home here.

4. This video was going around Facebook this week about how this winter is going to be worse this year, especially compared to last Winter. But this guy, Joe Bastardi, specifically said "it may not be as bad further North and West, as in Chicago, Minneapolis..." Maybe we are getting a break this year in Minnesota. However, I am not going to count on it, and am mentally preparing for at least 100 consecutive days of sub zero morning temperatures...

5. We are getting monster cucumbers out of our garden. These things are like miniature watermelons.  Here is one L picked today with a pen and with my lame phone.
 The girls keep on picking them and bringing them it. But seriously, they are bigger than G's arms!

6. And speaking of lame phones. I am trying really hard to not feel embarrassed everytime I pull my phone out in public. Last week at the baseball game everyone was using their phones to check the weather and take selfies and I was like, it would be fun to get a picture... but my phone there it is... tiny. It does have a fun keyboard that slides out underneath. But really it is much better for my soul and for my children than I have not upgraded to a smart phone. I waste a lot of time online as it is...

7. I was thinking of writing a post about how I organize my life and schedule and then I saw my desktop.
Who left all those files on my children?
I need serious help here, guys. Or I  need to spend about five minutes getting everything into folders or the trash. My first tip is to clean before things get messy... then things will not look like this.

That's seven!

I am linking up with Jen and her Conversion Diary. Head on over for more quick takes!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Blessed is She Daily Devotions: Starts Next Week!

I am pleased to announce and exciting new project I am a part of! You may have noticed this image in my sidebar:
I am honored to have joined an amazing group of writers to write devotions based on the daily Mass readings. We will be applying the Scriptures to our daily lives from the point of view as fellow Catholic women striving to live a holy, Christian life.

If you are interested in receiving the daily devotions, which start September 1, head on over to Blessed it She and sign up!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kindergarten For My Five Year Old: More Play than School

One morning in St. Louis last week my sister, my children, and I sat on my parents' living room floor playing. First, we played the old Marbleworks set. My sister and I reminisced about playing with them as girls while we found a way to use all the pieces and keep the track sturdy and at a height my one year old would not be able to knock over. We were probably having more fun than the kids were. F (21 months) had a blast putting marbles down the tracks, and my sister and I did as well. Then we moved on to the old Lego brick set that we used to spend hours on. I worked on a house built to the specifications of three year old L, and my five year old, G, happily worked on her own. It was nice to have the leisure to not do house work and just play with my old toys with my children. I happily remembered my girlhood and the hours that I spent at play with my siblings. Ever since my oldest two could play together I have watched, listened to, and ignored their games, allowing their creativity to flow.

As I pondered how to home school kindergarten for my five year old, I have heard a variety of things from other mothers. I know a number of mothers jumping into a first grade curriculum for their five year olds, who would normally be in kindergarten this year. At the home school conference I felt really anxious looking through massive math textbooks wondering if I could even do this. But then I heard over and over again from seasoned home school moms that there is no need to rush G into first grade level work, even if she has the ability to handle it. It will be easier to teach her when she is more mature, and she does not need to be a grade ahead. I am seeing for myself her desire to play, to learn things when she is ready, and to keep her own pace.

Since last September we have made it through 85 of the 100 lessons in "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." The lessons were not always easy for G. Looking back I think that maybe it would have been easier if I would have waited to start the book with her. She is still so young, still below the age of reason, and I want to give her time to play more before the stress of full-on home schooling. This year we are going to do some work, but mostly play.

I especially want the kids to be outside while the weather is nice. I want to see them gleefully swinging and hunting for natures treasures while I tend to the chores in the kitchen. I know if we did first grade they would not lose that, but I also know that G will be just find with another year of simple school preparation. I am also going to plan a weekly craft day so that I actually have to face the set up, mess making, and clean up instead of avoiding it entirely.

My main goals for school this year are for me to keep to a daily schedule. If I do not set daily goals for myself, I am likely to spend the day reading or putzing about the house. I am inclined to stay inside and relax if I am given the choice. So, to know that I can and will home school my children for years to come, I need to discipline myself now. One day I hope to be that seasoned home school mom who can do it without thinking, but for now I need to plan and plot my day carefully, so that when we finish our short, one hour-ish school day, my kids can go and play and play and play.

We are starting next Tuesday, the same day as M starts his semester.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, August, 22, St. Louis Doings

The prairie of Shaw's Nature Reserve.
In light of our visit to St. Louis, I am going to tell about some of our favorite things to do in St. Louis. If you have been reading my blog since the beginning, you may find this to be repetitive. We normally visit my home town twice a year, and there are several things that we always try to do. Here they are in maybe a particular order:

1. St. Louis Cardinals Baseball: We cannot do this when we visit at Christmas time, but we definitely can in the summer. In fact, I often choose travel dates around home stands so that we can get to a game. In the past we have taken the kids with us, but the past two years M and I have made a date of it since free grandparent babysitting is hard to come by most of the time. I recapped this year's game yesterday.

2. Ted Drewes Frozen Custard: Even people from Canada and New Hampshire come to Ted Drewes. It is the best frozen custard you will ever eat, and if you want the best of the best, you have to head over to the original location. I grew up on this stuff and I will never find a better frozen custard, ever. We go about every other day when we are visiting. So, that balances out to less than once a month. I am pretty sure that is not gluttonous.

3. Amighetti's Specials: Amighetti's is an Italian sandwich shop on The Hill. My parents have been getting the Special for as long as I can remember. Taking a bite out of a special brings back every memory of eating them on special outings and picnics growing up. They are nostalgic and good.

4. Cecil Whittaker's Pizza: This is a St. Louis style pizza which uses the yummy cheese blend of cheddar, swiss, and provolone called Provel. St. Louis style pizza has a cracker thin crust with a delicious sauce and the yummy cheese. We always, always order when we visit. We almost did not get it in January after the blizzard that hit St. Louis, but thankfully they ordered for pickup only and M braved the winter roads to get it. And we were like, blizzard, shimizzard, no blizzard is going to keep us from our pizza! After living in Buffalo, NY and St. Paul, MN we will not be stopped by snow...

5. Toasted Ravioli: Yummy! This is another St. Louis Italian thing. We have no Italian in us, but we sure love the Italian foods. Take ravioli pasta, bread it, and fry it. Top it off with a meat sauce and Parmesan. Yum, yum! I was so excited when I found frozen toasted ravioli at Aldi this winter in St. Paul, but it was not the same as the authentic St. Louis recipe.

6. And now that we are stuffed from eating amazing food, I will tell you about the places we like to do walking: We like to go to the Science Center, the Botanical Garden's, the free Zoo, the Art Museum, and this summer we went out to the Arboretum (now called Shaw's Nature Reserve). These are all impossible to do every visit, but we like to do a couple per visit.

7. Best of all is St. Francis de Sales Oratory: We absolutely love the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priests. One of our dear friends was ordained a deacon for the order this year, and we hope to see him ordained next summer if they do them in St. Louis instead of Italy. Getting to a couple of the daily Low Masses they have there is awesome and beautiful, if not a little nerve wracking with three little ones. If they ever open an oratory in St. Paul we are going to have to be torn between them and our beloved St. Agnes.

That is all for now folks!! Thanks for reading!

Linking up with Jen at her Conversion Diary.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

At the Old Ball Game: Our Annual Visit to Busch

Two summers ago at a sweltering 97°F day game.
M and I went to our annual home St. Louis Cardinal game last night. It was an exciting game (for Cardinal fans), with an early lead in the third and great pitching by Lance Lynn of the Cardinals. M and I managed to do our whole date for less than $50 including two tickets, parking, two Goosehead IPAs, and Ted Drewes at the original S Grand location after the game.

Our adventure at the ballpark began that morning when we drove out to the stadium at 9AM (after Low Mass at the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales) to get our KMOX First Pitch tickets. You pay $11.20 for a voucher for two tickets and find out 15 minutes before game time if you have seats from anywhere in the infield boxes to standing room.

We left for the 6:15pm game at 5:20pm, parked, and began walking by 5:40pm. After circumventing the stadium, and eying the new Ballpark Village, we were admitted into the stadium, and upon receiving our surprise tickets headed over to our left field bleacher seats. We stopped along the way to purchase our over priced beer. It was my first beer at a ball game. You see, since I turned 21, I have only been to a handful of baseball games, most of them while pregnant. And last year we gawked at the price. This year we decided to go for it. It was an enjoyable experience to sit out in the bleachers, keep score, and sip a beer that was rapidly turning from cool and fresh to warm and warmer. So, in the end it was like drinking beer at a cricket match.

As for the game, it was exciting, thrilling, and we even had a lovely light show given to us by nature, herself. We watched the lightning to the South of the Stadium beginning in the bottom of the fifth, and the roar of the crowd overpowered the thunder in the sky as the Cardinals milked three more runs out of Johnny Cueto of the Reds. Fans checked the radar on their phones, and we knew that the thunderstorm was unavoidable. The cloud crept over the stadium and darkened the sky around us. we stood to sing "Take me Out to the Ballgame" while the thunder rumbled. Then as the Cardinals finished batting, up 5-0, at the bottom of the 7th the grounds crew came running out to roll out the tarp. M and I left our seats behind to find shelter and were safely undercover when the rain came pouring down. Huge, heavy drops drenched the field and fans who did not make it to cover in time. Lightning lit up the sky. It was glorious.

After a half an hour of pouring the rain let up and the crew went out to prep the field for the resuming of play. M and I found some dry seats as the Cards scored two more runs in the 8th, and became slightly anxious when the Reds scored three and had the bases loaded with two outs. Mike Matheny was forced to bring out Trevor Rosenthal. He was able to get the last two outs, but only with the help of the fans who had outlasted the storm clapping and cheering through every pitch.

I then realized that part of the thrill of going to the game is getting caught up in the cheering of the crowd. Everyone is your friend when you are rooting for the home team. We give high fives all around and join in with the cheering. We even did the wave. It is a wonderful feeling to be united as a fan with fellow fans.

After we made it safely back to our car (my poor injured toe managing the whole way), we went over to the original Ted Drewes to have the smoothest, tastiest frozen custard ever. My late grandmother always said the original machines made the best Ted Drewes and she is right.

Ask Not What You Can Get Out of Mass, But Whether Due Worship is Given to God

One of the problems with contemporary Christianity is that too often Christians focus on what they “get out of Church.” I am thinking specifically of the plight parents find themselves in when their sweet newborn grows out of sleeping at Mass and becomes the loud and active baby. Their experience of Mass changes from one of focused prayer with very involved participation to distracted prayer and focus on keeping a child quiet in church. And while negative comments to parents about their children are rare, those are the comments that stick in parents’ minds, much more so than positive comments and encouraging smiles.

One cranky fellow parishioner can take away a parent’s comfort with bringing their little baptized Christian to Sunday Mass. So the parents start going to separate Masses or take the baby to the back, fearing that their child is disrupting the personal prayer of those around them. It seems to the parent that as long as they bring little ones to church they will not be able to pray. This is not the case. They just need to learn to pray differently and realize that Mass is not about personal prayer but it is a place of public prayer.

Here is the thing: the liturgy is about the Body of Christ as a whole giving due worship to God. It is about the Sacrifice of the Mass being made, which requires only that the priest make the actions of the liturgy in a fitting manner and that the baptized members of the parish be present. It does not matter for the due worship of God whether that I am pacing in back with a child or parenting my 21 month old into quietness in the pew. My inability to focus and my not “getting anything out of Mass” is not taking away from the due worship of God. But my child not being there, my child being sent to children’s church or a nursery, takes away from the fullness of the Body of Christ being present at our obligatory Sunday liturgy. Children as baptized members of the community should be at the Mass, as Canon 1247 states, not excluding people by age, “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.”
Tuesday Night Mass by Ben SmidtPhoto by Ben Smidt. In the Creative Commons.
I discovered as a young parent that while personal private focus on the liturgy is important and good, it is not the purpose of the liturgy. The liturgy is the public worship of God, and while private consolations at Mass are a good thing, that is not the purpose of Mass. The Mass will go on. Personal, private worship of God is just that: something we can do personally and privately outside of the context of the liturgy. My husband and I have found that when we are able to set aside time for private prayer when our children are asleep and when we take time to go to a chapel alone, we have a deeper more personal relationship with God than when we worry about “getting something out of Mass” in addition to teaching them how to behave.

And as for everyone else, who is not the parent of the active and loud or fussy child, please be patient with families. For all Christians, the liturgy is not primarily meant for private prayer, but for all baptized Christians to pray together (even the non-baptized who are present worship God at the liturgy). It is an awful thing for Christians to criticize parents who have loud children. None of us know what it is like to parent each individual child; all people are different. We do not know if a child is teething and impossible to soothe or a child has allergies or any of those things, but we do know that children are meant to be in Church just as much as adults should be. Children are our hope for the future, and we should welcome them, with their non-adult behavior and all.  Since the liturgy is a place of public worship, all attending need to remember this and not be upset if they lose their personal focus on prayer. If we need quiet for prayer, then we should take time to pray in in addition to our attendance at Mass.

I am not advocating that children run wild in Church, I am trying to explain that the distractedness that even disciplined children cause it Church is okay, because they do not take away from the due worship given to God. I try my best to keep my children from distracting others, ask other parents to do the same, and ask the whole community to be welcoming of children and encouraging to parents. And cry rooms, nurseries, and children’s church (during the Liturgy) do not make children and parents feel welcome. When someone tells a parent pacing in back where the cry room is or to take their child behind the glass window in the back of Church, a parent feel ashamed to have children there and feels exiled from the body of the church.

If everyone were to realize that it is not about what one personally gets out of Mass, but giving due worship to God, then everyone would not feel like they need to create a space to for parents and children but would welcome them into the main body of the church. And parents can learn how to focus on the public worship in the liturgy, modeling it to their children, and stop fretting about what they “get out of Mass” and think more about what they bring to God.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On Cucumbers and Bees

I am so glad that we decided to really have a vegetable garden this year. There is nothing like freshly picked vegetables everyday, and it also has turned out to be very educational for me and for the children. I am learning about things like cabbage worms and finding organic ways to kill them. My children are learning all sorts of things.

We impulse bought a cucumber plant in June. I thought that it would grow upward on the small trellis I put out for it. Instead it took over half of the raised garden. The great thing about the cucumber is that it attracts all the bees. Everyday it has lots of beautiful little yellow flowers (that is another great thing about vegetable gardens), and everyday the kids and I go out and watch the bees pollinate the flowers. We have learned that there are female and male cucumber flowers.
We spotted this little female flower one morning as a bee landed on a neighboring male flower. The bee flew directly to this flower, and the girls and I got swept away in the delight of the moment. I realized that gardening is just preparing a good place for plants to grow, tending to them, pulling up weeds, and then nature takes care of the rest.
And while the eating of the vegetables is good for us, the learning about God's creation and the way plants grow is even better. I am so thankful for the blessings of a stable home and a stable society in which we can enjoy growing delicious foods.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, August 8

Our rainbow...
 1. So, the reason that I did not write quick takes last week was that we have been extremely busy since the last time I wrote them. I finished my last ones talking about how we decided to repaint the exterior of our house. Minutes after I published it, M found rotten, disintegrating wood around four of our windows. The wood was under a metal cover that was put on when the windows were last replaced. We did some Google searches of rotten wood and stucco houses and saw some pretty awful scenarios. We were envisioning two whole sides of our house having rotten wood underneath the stucco, and then having to spend all of our money and more to fix the house. As it turns out, we found a really nice carpenter to come out assure us that it was just the wood around the windows that was bad, make a good offer to fix it that same week. So, we took him up on it, and while he did the work he told us that the stuff (I don't know what it is called) behind our stucco is made of some indestructible material they used to make back in the day and even if water did get back to it, it would never rot out. And the day that we learned that the wood was not rotten beyond the windows, a rainbow appeared in the sky.

2. We went ahead with the painting, but first there was power-washing. Our awesome friends T and F own a power washer, which they lent to us in exchange for garden lettuce (well that is not exactly how it happened, but T sure likes our lettuce). Here are some post power washing photos (the paint was not this bad before:

Back of the house

South side of the house

Up close
3. We started painting Tuesday afternoon, doing the first coat on one side. Then we did all three other sides on Wednesday. M worked on the second coat and the windows yesterday. Tomorrow M, my sister S, and my brother-in-law are going to finish the second coat and the house will be repainted! Hooray!
The South side with one coat.
The back all finished up!

I did not realize how bad it looked until we did the painting. We have been getting comments from neighbors that we have not even met yet on how good it looks. So, of all the good things to come out of our repainting, besides maintaining our house, is that our neighbors really like the way it looks and our house will blend in really well with all of our snow.

 4. Remember my best squash friend, good old mother blue hubbard?

I was inordinately excited two weeks ago to discover female flowers on my squash plant. And now we have three baby blue hubbards. I am so excited for grotesque looking squash to grow in my garden and to make delicious pies, breads, and soups.
Tiny squash!
This one is trying to get out of the yard.

The biggest so far. And my does my plant need some water....

5. In addition to painting this last week, I have been getting ready for our summer visit from the W's (my sister M, her husband J, and their four lovely kids) and my sister S. It is a lot of work to get a whole house ready for guests with a broken toe (which still needs the funny shoe but not hurting anymore). We had a birthday cake for three year old B yesterday and went to the zoo today. Mostly, the kids are just happy to be with each other. And the weather it absolutely lovely outside in the shade. We are going to try for a sisters' outing one of these evenings. Hooray!

6. I think I can handle home schooling this year, and I am determined to follow a schedule. People tell me again and again that I do not need to do much for kindergarten, but the thing is, my kids do better with a little structure in their lives. And I am pretty sure and hour of structured school time for a five year old will not ruin her experience of childhood. Not that anyone is saying that it is, but it seems that a lot of seasoned home schooling moms think that kindergarten should be really laid back. We are going to stick with simple science, math, and catechism, and solidify reading and printing. I think that this kindergarten year is largely for me to realize that I can do it. I can teach and help my children learn. It is very intimidating to take home schooling on, and I have been trying to get a mental handle on it for over five years.

7. Finally, I have to confess that I had writer's block. The piece I wrote for Truth and Charity yesterday took a lot of mental energy and I think it was met with a lot of spiritual resistance. But I persevered, and if you did not get a chance to read it and you care about traditional prayer or charismatic prayer, I hope that you will.

Linking up with Jen! Head on over to find more Quick Takes!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How the Charismatic Renewal Led Me to a Traditional Life of Prayer

Praying by John Simoudis. In the Creative Commons.
Recently a friend from church asked me about why I started a new household when I was a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville. At Franciscan, households are groups of men or women who share a common spiritual devotion and way of praying. Usually students join an already existing one, but sometimes a group of three or more students will start a new one. My friend wanted to know if I found all of the other households to be too “charismatic,” but the thing is, my household was extremely charismatic. A lot of our prayer together came from what some of the other founders learned as they grew up in the Charismatic Renewal. During my time in college, I transitioned to a more traditional understanding of prayer and liturgy, but I never gave up entirely what I learned from a charismatic life of prayer.

My charismatic story begins with my parents meeting at a prayer gathering back in the late 70s in the basement of a church in St. Louis. Then there is the story of them getting married, having four children, and raising us all Catholic. They became less and less active in their charismatic community as my childhood advanced, but I still was prayed over every night, with my father laying hands on me. When I had nightmares about evil spirits, my parents taught me how to command them to leave me in Jesus’ name.

In high school I attended Life Teen Masses on Sunday evening, and started participating in praise and worship-style prayer. I went to the Steubenville Youth Conference in St. Louis and had powerful experiences in Eucharistic Adoration. At the youth conferences and Masses, I learned the emotional aspect of praising God in a setting of modern Christian music. It was not until college that I learned about the “charismatic gifts” of the Holy Spirit.

In my first month at Franciscan University of Steubenville for college, I met a group of kids, many of them raised in the charismatic communities in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We held prayer meetings outside all over campus, and when the weather turned cold we found off campus houses to pray in (we were very loud and did not want to disrupt the dorms). It was from them that I learned about the receptive yielding one must have to the Holy Spirit to receive what St. Paul calls the “spiritual gifts.” These are called by the Charismatic Renewal “charismatic gifts,” by St. Thomas Aquinas “graces,” and by those who commented on St. Thomas “graces freely given.” The gifts are identified in First Corinthians:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:4-12
In the Charismatic Renewal there has been an emphasis on receiving these particular gifts for the good of the Church and the community. It seemed to be a renewal of the receiving of these gifts in the Church. When you read about the lives of the Saints, you can see how they received graces from the Holy Spirit, some of them being those specified in First Corinthians and others not specific to this list. But it does seem that St. Paul is saying that all Christians can be and are meant to be given these spiritual gifts: “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” We are all called to holiness, and we should seek to receive graces from the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments and through other forms of prayer.

Back in college, while I spent a lot of time in praise and worship settings, it was really in my experiences of praying over and for others that I received some of the listed spiritual gifts. When my friends and I started our household, based out of our praying with each other, our main focus was healing prayer ministry. The Holy Spirit used our prayer ministry to bring healing to all of the ladies of the household, and to any person who asked us for prayer. It was all very beautiful and all very emotional. I believe that the spiritual gifts I received were authentic, as they expanded my life of prayer and increased my love of God.  But I could not have had this experience had I not had a habitual, disciplined life of prayer in which I sought spiritual union with God and submitted myself to the graces being offered to me by the Holy Spirit.

I have written before about how my study of theology and my habitual prayer life led me to desire more from the Church. Through prayer and reason, I became convinced that I should start covering my head in Church, and became drawn to attending the Extraordinary Form liturgy of the Latin Rite. I was led to these through the charismatic prayer that had formed the foundation for my relationship with God as an adult. From my youthful emotional relationship with God I was lead to a deeper, more rational relationship with God, which I was able to express in the solemnity of the Old Mass.
While I was starting to attend the EF Mass as much as possible, I was still active in my household prayer ministry. In my intercession for those whom I was praying over, I offered them words of wisdom or other prayers. When I would attend traditional liturgies, I would yield to the Holy Spirit during the times of beautiful chant or intense quiet, and I would find myself united to God in a prayerful praise. I found that my charismatic experiences were not specific to the prayer that takes place in the Charismatic Renewal, but I that by participating in charismatic prayer that I learned better how to pray in all circumstances.

I have been formed by the charismatic way of praying, and while I no longer attend prayer meetings, I do pray over my husband when he asks, and ask him to do so in return. I listen to and pray with contemporary Christian music as I cook my family dinner or run errands. I take the advice of St. Francis de Sales and remember the presence of God throughout my day. The more saints I read about and the more I seek to pray better, the more I realize that the fruits in my life of prayer from my involvement in the Charismatic Renewal are similar to, although much lesser than, the fruits of the lives of prayer of the most mystical of the Church’s saints. I know that my life of prayer will always be significantly less than that of the saints, but a greater prayer life is something for which I should continually strive.

So many of the saints had a rich prayer life, and yielded to the guidance and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Many of the Church Fathers, when giving guidance on how to pray, explain how to submit oneself to God in prayer, and to remember God at every moment. The phenomena of healings, prophecy, locutions, and consolations have long been a part of the life of the Church, and when one has a habitual and devoted life of prayer, they are a part of the individual’s prayer as well.

These spiritual gifts were present in the time of St. Paul, were present in the lives of saints throughout the Church, were possibly present in the life of the simplest devoted lay person, and are present now. They bring the individual closer to God, and they build up the whole of the Church. I am blessed to have experienced these spiritual gifts and am glad that I can seek them still for the building up of my domestic Church and the universal Church.

Originally published in full at Truth and Charity...

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