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Living Word

  • Living Word: My New Journey with Prayer

    Nov 14, 2014

    By: Corinne DeLucenay, My New Journey with Prayer

    “For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

    -St. Therese of Lisieux

    College years are the years that “you find yourself.” You figure out who you are, and what you stand for. At least, that is we what think and are told. In reality, it is just the beginning of getting to know yourself. After graduating in May, I found myself learning more and more things about myself daily that I didn’t realize before. As I am transitioning in this new stage in my life, my eyes are open to a new perspective of seeing myself and others.

    One of the things I thought I would have figured out in a more graceful manner is my prayer life. I thought, “Yay! I actually have more time now, it won’t be difficult like college sometimes was.” This is so very wrong. Even though, I, at times, struggled with my prayer life during undergrad, it was still easy to take a walk across campus to a chapel, or somewhere serene. Now, I have realized, that I have to make more of an effort. Not only do I have to find have a place, but my bigger issue: find the time. Somehow, during my time at Marian I could find some time. Even during my crazy hectic semesters or when I needed to have my little revamp on my prayer life, I found the time for prayer.

    Now, there seems like there is not enough time in the day to fit everything. This is not a new feeling, but it is felt in a new way. Not only do I have to pay attention to my own time, but I also have to pay attention to the time to those around me in my community. I live with four others, and it is such a beautiful experience. I learn something new every day. Living with four others, now I have new challenges. Along with balancing my work schedule, I have to balance community time and personal time. I admit, I am definitely still learning, and I tend to choose community time after a day at work. This leaves me with little time to be intentional about prayer and other things. I do not get too bent out of shape because, I see community time as a time to grow in my faith, and I know the Lord is speaking to me through them. I see it as one form of my prayer life that is prominent.

    I take my “difficulty” in truly setting time for intentional prayer throughout my week, besides Mass, as the Lord letting me know that is a choice. It is a choice to follow Jesus Christ. How humbling is that? The omniscient God has given me the opportunity to choose Him, each and every day. This not only means that I say “Amen, I believe,” but that I make sure I foster our relationship, by coming to Him in prayer.

    I see it as a privilege that the Lord has called me to live a life of holiness. Since it is my choice to have a prayer life, I must work at it. Like many choices or decisions in life, it is not always easy. It takes time and effort, and you truly have to be committed. I have chosen to follow through with this commitment, allowing myself to falter.

    In this new time in my life, there is so much room for growth and adventure, this includes my prayer life. In choosing to work on my prayer life, I feel the Lord calling me to be creative, to find new ways to encounter him each and every day. This call has had me to take initiative to find a Spiritual Director in my area. I have only had a couple of meetings with my new Spiritual Director, but I have already experienced the fruits of it. I find this particular part of my Spiritual life to be crucial. I am in such a searching time in my life, so to have someone mediating the Holy Spirit is such a blessing. I try to take time a few times a week to reflect on Scripture, pondering on the Lord’s Word in Lectio Divina. I do this to try to take time to truly listen to the Lord, and try to drown out my controlling thoughts on my life.

    A new devotion to Mary has been brought to the surface, and I give Marian some credit to this. Many things led up to this, and looking back, it is quite obvious. Mary has been a prominent presence in my whole life, not only due to my Catholic faith, but in so many other ways. Because of this, I have chosen to consecrate myself to Mary, and have new found appreciation devotion to Our Mother. Through this I have become closer to Jesus, and learn more about her. It has added a new dimension to my prayer life that is beautiful, and challenges me as a daughter of God.

    In the ways I am trying to enrich my prayer life, I am constantly fumbling. I either miss my opportunity for a good prayer time choosing something else instead, or I rush through my prayer like it is a chore. When these moments happen, I try to pause and take time to talk with the Lord. I try not to worry how short or long my prayer time is, and let him know that I am in this relationship for the long haul. I am still learning. When I stumble, I often remember the words of St. Therese: speak to the Lord from the depths of my heart, even the simplest of cry, whether sorrow or joy, is showing God you love him. That is what I am attempting to do: showing God that I truly do love him. 

  • Living Word: Do unto Others

    Nov 07, 2014

    By: Jimmy Cox,
    Everyone has those sins that they struggle with and I am no different. Recently as I was quietly pondering over a retreat reflection I am giving, I came across two pieces of scripture that related well to my reflection story. I decided writing about this for the blog made the most sense. In addition, for a long time I have felt God was helping me to work on this particular sin; judgement.

    Luke 6: 31-33, 35

    Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.  But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and give, expecting nothing back.

    I am a quick decision and impatient person. In addition, the love for my family and friends can make me irrational as I imagine it can for a lot of us. The situation involved my family and one person in particular who I felt had wronged my family and I multiple times. The challenge was this person cannot exactly remove themselves from our lives. In this scripture, he would be my enemy. While I have tried to pray for him and pray to God that I am going to change, I would be lying if I said my attitudes toward him had shifted. Every time I feel like I am making progress, something happens that makes me revert.

    I have struggled to love those that are my enemies, who do wrong to my friends and family. I believe in terms of sin, this is the most challenging. However, it relates to one of the most fundamental principles that Christ taught us. Christ endured pain and suffering from so many people, but while he was dying on the cross he asked his father to forgive them. It was the ultimate sacrifice and the ultimate expression of love. If Christ can forgive and love those that wronged him and give us salvation, then we must work in our lives to love those that are our enemy and that would see us suffer. Then we are truly living as God called us to live.

    Just think what would happen if the world practiced love more? We have so much war, hate, jealousy, and anger out there. We try to fix it while failing to realize that the only thing that fixes it, is loving one another the way God wants us to. My challenge to you is to practice love more. Ask for forgiveness for those times you have failed to do so. Sit down with those who have wronged you. Talk to those whom you would rather not. Most importantly, work to forgive these people and yourself. I know I still am.  

  • Living Word: Which Brother are You?

    Oct 02, 2014

    Ginny Smith, School of Mathematics and Sciences administrator

    The last two Sundays of September’s gospel readings have been parables that transpired in the vineyard.  The vineyard in these teaching moments is symmetrical to the seasons of a Christian’s life.  A seed is planted in fertile ground, watered by the rain, nourished by the sun, pruned by human hand, blessed with bounty and then shrivel and lay dormant for another season. So too, our Christian lives are grounded in rich soil (the Church/Jesus) and God provides all the tools we need to become bountiful.  Our responsibility is to feed our souls daily with praise to the Father, humility, grace, compassion, patience and more.  Easier said than done – right?

    In this past Sunday’s gospel by Matthew (21:28-32), the story is about two brothers who are asked by their father to go into the vineyard and work.  The first brother said “No!”, but later went and did as his father asked.  The 2nd brother said ‘yes of course’, but never completed his father’s bidding.  The question is asked ‘which brother are You’?

    So I’m asking you which brother are You? Are you the self -righteous one or the obedient one? Do you let excuses live your life? Are you a hypocrite saying whatever anyone wants to hear, but never showing up?

    Are you impatient or critical of others because you think you can do it better or that you are smarter, faster, or prettier than another? Maybe it’s time for you to use the gifts God has blessed you with and I have 2 methods that can help you become more patient, less self-righteous and obedient to God’s will:

    1. Use the sign language for the word ‘patient’! Put your right hand in a fist with the thumb out. Slide your thumb downward across your lips toward your heart.  This sign will remind you to silence your lips, remembering what’s important and that all good things lead to your heart. A beautiful gesture!
    2. You are responsible for your own actions and reactions!  So when life gets frustrating, throw off the bad, the impatient, the self-righteousness, the pity, the anger…by throwing up your hands and saying “praise Jesus”. 
  • Living Word: The POWER of YES: Reflections on the incarnation and the free will of Mary

    Sep 17, 2014

    By Jeanne Grammens Hidalgo

    I was recently co-facilitating a retreat for student leaders who want to be involved in ministry at Marian University. John Shelton (Campus Minister) was presenting on tenets of effective Christian leadership, and the final point was how vital it is to a relationship with Mary, the mother of Jesus. I was to "bring it home," by offering an activity regarding this idea. As John spoke, I felt that warm sensation, which I have come to recognize as the Holy Spirit, which lead me to ask the students this question: “What do you and Mary have in common?" As they threw out a wide variety of responses, I cut to the chase, stating two simple, yet profoundly powerful words, "Free Will." This is not something we often reflect upon, in regards to Mary and her unbelievable response to God’s invitation. It is easy to assume that the conception of Jesus was a done deal and tend to disregard the power of Mary’s YES. The students were silent. Yes, Mary had free will. She was free to say Yes or No to the offer to carry the savior of the world in her womb!! 

    In my own humanity, I have often wrested with free will and in my less inspired moments, questioned the value of my “YES.” I have been greatly formed by the spirituality of an amazing Christian artist, Amy Grant. In fact, I have been known to joke that if she only knew me, we would be best friends. She has seriously impacted my faith journey over the past 30 years and I have been privileged to hear her sing in person on several occasions. At one of her concerts, years ago, I Iooked upon Amy in all her talent, her beauty and her incredible ability to impact the spiritual lives of what I believed to be millions of people. I marveled at her gifts and her willingness to use them for God’s glory. Yes, I was COMPARING myself and my value with Amy Grant’s! And what I was doing in that moment, was also questioning God's ability to use whatever has been planted in me, for fruitful completion (Paul's letter to the Philippians). It was a low moment for me, but what followed was a conviction, (yes, again the Holy Spirit) that my YES, my willingness to offer whatever I have been given for the good of all, was just as important as Amy Grants. As Mary says in her magnificat, “my soul magnifies the Lord…” God can and does magnify all that we willingly offer, no matter how humble the offerings.

    This reminds me of my favorite Christmas story rendition in clay mation; (very popular back in the 1960s—to date myself); the Little Drummer Boy. An angry, resentful young lad, living in first century Palestine, has lost his home, family and now, one of his beloved animals. He approaches one of the wise men, at the scene of the birth of Christ, and asks for help. The very wise man redirects the lad to the stable where Jesus is lying in the manger. The boy hesitates, saying, “I have not gift to bring,” and suddenly, he realizes that he can offer what he has, the gift of a song played on his crude instrument. He is told that Jesus favors this gift and alas, his pet donkey is restored. The point for me? Be willing to say YES to utilizing what we have, no matter how seemingly insignificant. God can and does magnify our gifts. It will be done!

    So the lesson of Mary's "Yes"? In a chapel in Italy at La Verna, Italy, is a rendition of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in order to invite her to allow the incarnation. God is up above her with his ear inclined, waiting to hear her response! This is what I shared that day with the students. Mary had free will. She had a choice! This is a stunning concept for us to consider! We are all glad that she said yes. And it is humbling to remember that we have a choice as well, to say Yes or No to blessed with the power of free will. We can say Yes or No to God’s invitation. Either way, He will never give up on us and will keep offering opportunities for us to respond in the affirmative, to allow God to live and move and have his being within us.....in our own "small" way, to allow the incarnation to have a home within us! It is our choice and I believe our free will makes our Yes (es) all the more valuable!

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