On October 7, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed St. Hildegard of Bingen a Doctor of the Church.
How magnificent! I love Hildegard! Christie and I are so excited. She is my hero and favorite saint!!! Hildegard was all about balance, prayer, humility, and believed in holy listening. She was a woman so ahead of her time, a joyfilled, loving, servant leader.
Hildegard is the 4th woman of the 35 doctors of the church. The doctors of the church, saints honored for particularly important contributions to theology and spirituality, come from both the Eastern and Western church traditions.
In A Spiritual Reader: Hildegard of Bingen, author Carmen Acevedo Butcher, describes Hildegard as the ultimate in multitasking! She was amazing..."this Benedictine nun founded two convents; organized the first-ever public preaching tours conducted by a woman; authored nearly four hundred bold letters to popes, emperors, abbesses, abbots, monks, nuns and laypeople; worked as a healer, naturalist, botanist, dietary specialist, and exorcist; composed daring music; crafted poetry; wrote the first surviving sung morality play; and spent decades writing three compelling theological works."
Wow, what a powerhouse!
Here is one of my favorite passages from Hildegard's writings...
"...Continue to follow Him steadily. Love the One who is your Creator. After you become happy in God, He'll give you everything good. Life. Whatever you're looking for and whatever your heart most wants. Your trust in God permits only those things that are good to search you out.
Contemplation teaches spiritual confidence and pursues only what pleases God. So complain to God as much as you need to. Don't forget to cry out to God on behalf of your needy brother and sister. Then the aroma of good deeds - through God's love in you - rises, and God never stops fulfilling the requests you make out of kindness. A dependable person pays attention to these things and remembers them well."
Hildegard is absolutely the reason I returned to nursing. She inspired me when I felt vulnerable and had lost all confidence. At a time when women had no say in education, politics, and religion, relying on God's counsel and strength, she became a renown author, speaker, and holistic healer. She is a shining example of courage, leadership, and compassion.
Hildegard, above all, used the gifts God gave her. We are called to do the same. I am always reminding Christie to lean into and grab all the graces God is just waiting to give her. And she does! And look how God is using her life in concert with Bobby! Christie daily steps out of her comfort zone, growing and stretching, absolutely depending on God's guidance, energy, and wisdom.
Pope Benedict called Hildegard "a woman of brilliant intelligence, deep sensitivity and recognized spiritual authority. The Lord granted her a prophetic spirit and fervent capacity to discern the signs of the times."
We are thrilled to call Hildegard a Doctor of the Church! I encourage everyone to research this wonderful woman, a treasure of the catholic church. I am grateful for the example of such a God driven servant. (I must tell you about Hildegard's analogy of the "feather" and our lives! It is so lovely...next time!)
"Through your awesome deeds of righteousness, you respond to us, O God, our Savior; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth..." Psalm 65:6
Having had a few weeks now to reflect on my 2nd RAGBRAI experience, I thought I might share a few thoughts.
The end of July, I rode 471 miles across Iowa with my husband and perhaps 20,000 other crazy people. The ride is called the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. This year RAGBRAI celebrated its 40th anniversary. Matt does this almost yearly, but the only time I joined the fun was 15 years ago on the 25th anniversary. While Christie and Bobby continued the fight for freedom and liberty, Matt and I communed with nature for 7 days, enjoyed the 100 degree days (sort of), and became one with our bikes!
Here are a my Top 10 Thoughts...
1. Wow, am I glad Matt made me start training right after Christmas.
2. Iowa is a beautiful state...and NO it is NOT FLAT! Boy, were there killer hills...and this was an 'easy' RAGBRAI!
3. RAGBRAI-ers will do almost anything for a fellow RAGBRAI-er...I saw so many acts of kindness: picking fallen comrades up out of the ditch, helping with an impossible tent, fixing a stranger's flat tire, random sprinklers set out for us along the route so we could cool off, farmers setting up stands in their yards with free water, juice, fruit and cookies, and on and on...
4. Bananas and chocolate milk are a cyclist's life source.
5. I love BUTT BUTTER, DESITIN, etc. ...my bottom did not hurt nearly as much as 15 years ago - thanks to #1.
6. Iowans are very, very patriotic...we saw American flags EVERYWHERE, at the end of huge extension ladders on fire trucks, attached to bicycles, cranes too and found flags lining corn fields...it was touching!
7. You can get used to using a corn field as a Porta Potty...just bring your own toilet paper...really, I'm serious...there is never a line ;) AND I did see PINK Porta Potties too...my favorite color!
8. Remember to train your thighs for hill climbing (I didn't do so good on this one...I'll do better next year!)
9. RAGBRAI is a very spiritual experience...I did indeed pray a lot...Please Jesus, help me up this hill...please help me to not wipe out...please help me not to melt...thank you for helping me make it through this day....thank you for this amazing homemade pie and Mr. Pork Chop...I mean, you get the idea...
10. But the best part of RAGBRAI, hands down, 100%, was spending time with my husband...and we only had one fight...and it was kinda, sorta, maybe, my fault...I love you, Honey! Thanks for a great RAGBRAI!!!
Now try to hold back those jealous feelings you are having...I know you all want to camp out every night in 100 degree weather and blinding thunderstorms that break your tent poles and completely flood your tent like we experienced on night 5...so go to the RAGBRAI website...next year's route will be announced in January...start training after the holidays...and perhaps I'll see you out there next July among the other 20,000+ RAGBRAI-ers!
God bless America and Iowa!!! And...God bless RAGBRAI!
"Keep me safe O God..." Psalm16:1 :)
A friend recently loaned me her copy of "The Gift of the Red Bird," by Paula D'Arcy, Crossroad Press, 2003. What a gem! I cannot recommend it enough. Paula shares her journey through and beyond tragedy and deep loss to new beginnings and hope. Her writing is easy to take in. I read the book in an evening.
"Look at yourself," I hear God gently saying. "Really see yourself. See how you hold on to things. Whatever comes first...whatever you want the most...whatever you have to have, becomes your God. Put me first. That will change everything..." p.38
As a hospice nurse, I encounter much sorrow, endings, grief, and letting go, but also great love, healing and courage. The author's story gave me encouragement that when tragedy strikes one can survive and even triumph on the other side ... changed, yes, different, of course, but intact. Sadness and grief create new perspectives and clarify life for us.
"...I struggled with great sincerity to let my childhood ideas about God expand and growup, as I had. I had been taught that specific interpretations of God were the only ones which were correct. Yet God had already revealed himself to me far apart from those slim definitions. In many places where my religious programing insisted issues were black or white, I kept finding a great Mystery. The old, narrow and certain understandings were no longer big enough to contain this incredible, loving Spirit..." pg. 75
I love the way D'Arcy describes that God gently woos her to Him. This happens over several years. Living through grief can take a very long time. Everyone's experience is different. She has so many insights to offer, my book is glowing from all of the fluorescent yellow paper-sticky-arrows marking them!
"The hardest to admit is that I have often found truth in places (people/traditions) about whom I've had a lot of judgment. God is in everything. That knowledge alone, if grasped, is enough..." p.136
Paula's experience caused me to reexamine my routine, to look for God's extravagant love and expect it, and reminded me I need to let go of that prideful drive toward perfectionism that clouds good judgment.
I won't tell you what the significance of the red bird is. I will let you discover this for yourself.
I found used copies on Amazon and have already given several copies to friends. The back of the book features questions for reflection also.
I promise you will be uplifted and inspired to step outside the box. The hunt for this jewel will be well worth the time and effort. The stretching and growing are worth it. We all need a little red bird in our lives.
"The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
I just came across this lovely prayer that speaks of a complete turning over of our lives in service of God and others.
We should not hide our light under a bushel basket, but stand tall with arms open wide, letting God's light emanate through us out to the world in every single moment and situation.
This prayer was originally composed by John Henry Cardinal Newman, chosen by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, to be recited by the Missionaries of Charity every morning at Holy Mass.
The Missionaries of Charity have a very, very special place in my heart, as they cared for three of our kids in Manila, just before we adopted them and brought them home. So...here is one of the most wonderful prayers I have ever read. Blessings to you all!
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly
that all my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me and be so in me
that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me
but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
so to shine as to be a light to others;
the light, O Jesus, will be all from You;
none of it will be mine:
it will be You shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise You in the way You love best:
by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching,
not by words, but by my example, by the catching force,
the sympathetic influence of what I do,
the evident fullness of the love my heart bears for You.
"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:33
Christie is so right! ALL issues are women's issues!
I wish you could all see firsthand what a magnificent job Christie is doing defending faith, family and country.
The past several weekends I have had the pleasure of traveling with Christie and our sweet friend Ginny, who you will find in Bobby's campaign office, to various speaking engagements that Christie has had.
She is always so well received, delivers a rousing speech on Bobby's extensive Congressional record, and graciously fields questions and comments of all sorts both personal and pubic. I am so proud of her.
One of my favorite events was the inaugural event of the new Illinois United to Restore Freedom Women's Network , or URF. We were thrilled to meet politically conservative women who were dynamic, enthusiastic and informed on the issues that can renew, grow and propel Illinois forward. The mission of URF is to be part of a change agent that limits government, protects individual freedom and free enterprise and restores traditional values. Christie very articulately spoke of her and Bobby's life journey in defense and promotion of these values.
As Pope John Paul II stated in his cutting edge, life affirming and very freeing, Theology of the Body, the driving force of culture is marriage and family. Both are sadly under assault by the liberal media, academia and Hollywood. We can no longer sit on our hands and do nothing in defense of traditional marriage, the family and values we hold dear. URF Women's Network is worth supporting. Find them at www.urfwomensnetwork.com.
Thanks Christie, for being salt and light in defense of family and freedom!
"But Wisdom delivered those from tribulation those who served her." Wisdom 10:9
Easter Blessings to everyone!
During this holy season, I am reminded again of the power of God's word in our lives. Yesterday's Gospel reading for the Mass was about the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Remember, Jesus appeared to the two confused disciples on their way to Emmaus.
They were so down, questioning and debating whether the crucified Jesus was truly the Messiah.
Jesus, unknown to the two, spent the day explaining the recent events of his life.
Later at the table, "Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him...
Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"
How near to us Jesus is in His Word.
His Word is so alive!
The Magnificat, a daily devotional, states, "...in the disciples' disillusionment, Jesus Himself drew near and walked with them."
Jesus is with us in every aspect of our lives, in our joys and disappointments and in our abundance and want. His Word is God's love letter consoling, encouraging, counseling us. His Word is new and applicable for each situation in life. How does He do that? How awesome is our God.
Every time I open scripture, God has something to tell me.
God's word always, every single time, applies to what is current in my life,
a particular struggle, blessing, predicament, challenge, or praise.
Pope Benedict puts it this way...
"We see once more the grandeur of something which we take too much for granted in our daily lives:
the fact that God speaks, that God answers our questions. The fact that, with human words, He speaks to us personally.
We are always aware that we can never entirely exhaust that Word, and that it has something new to say to each generation. If our hearts are alert, and our inner ears are open, we can learn to listen to the word He personally addresses to each of us."
My prayer for you this Eastertide is for a deeper love and connection with God through His Word.
Meet God in His word...go to the Psalms, a great place to start! There is a psalm for every life situation. Bring all of your life to Him through Scripture.
"Your commands have been my delight; these I have loved. I will worship your commands and love them and ponder your statutes." Psalm 119: 47, 48
Wow...where do the days go??? How is everyone out there? We are zooming through Lent aren't we?
So how is your Easter preparation going?
I am so excited to be giving a presentation tomorrow on The Seven Last Words of Christ for Women at the Well, Christ the King Church, Moline, Illinois. Preparation for this talk is what pretty much has caused me to be so behind posting new entries for this blog. Yikes!
Anywho...the other reason why I have neglected Lisa Levy's Life Lessons is I had the marvelous opportunity to make a girls' TEC this past weekend with my husband and it ROCKED!!! (We had to prepare a talk for this weekend too...It was a blast! Thank you, God!)
TEC is a unbelievable weekend that draws teens 16 and older and challenges them to make Christ a part of their lives and then live out their faith.
I was sooooooooooo inspired by these beautiful young ladies...I heard one story after another of how Jesus has changed their lives...such renewal, hope, healing, and forgiveness only God brings...Several of these teens have faced heart wrenching situations in their lives, yet they shine their lights brightly in a sometimes very dark world.
Matt has been the Spiritual Director for Northwest Area TEC for 10 years, having been on over 70 weekends. He is continually amazed and uplifted by these awesome young people. As this group is on fire for Jesus, I was reminded again this weekend why he is devoted to this program.
The words to a song one of the girls' used following her meditation sums it all up...
"It's so much brighter living in your world
Savior what you did for me
You gave me something I want everyone to see
When we stumble and it all goes wrong
Only you can make it right
So I say
Oh oh oh oh oh
I'm learning to be the light..."
Learning to Be the Light by NewWorldSon
To learn more about TEC go to northwest-tec.com.
"For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord will give grace and glory;
no good thing will He withhold
from those who walk uprightly."
I love Valentine's Day! I love LOVE!
I love red! I love pink!
I love flowers! I love Jesus!
I love my husband!
I just love February...soooo I thought I'd share a sweet thought about God's love from Julian of Norwich, 14th century mystic, from her writings entitled, Revelations. Julian lived during the time of the Black Death. It is estimated the plague killed nearly one third of England in a single epidemic. Her writings show a deep sensitivity to suffering and dying. She received sixteen visions on the Passion of Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Would you like to know your Lord's meaning?
Okay, then know it well.
The Lord's meaning is love.
Love is his only meaning.
Who shows this to you? Love.
What did He show you? Love.
And why does He show it to you?
Stay in God's love then
and you'll learn more
about its unconditional,
unending, joyful nature.
And you'll see for yourself,
all manner of things will be well.
incandescence:365 readings with women mystics (A WONDERFUL book by the way!)
by Carmen Butcher
"The only ones among you
who will be really happy
are those who will have sought
and found how to serve."
Everyday is a messenger of God. ~ Russian proverb
This morning I was getting ready for the day and was listening to Christian music. I heard this song for the first time -Walking on the Stars. This song ROCKS! Watch it on YouTube.
Group 1 Crew does a terrific job describing what life with God can be like... truly at times, our spiritual journey is so uplifting, consoling, and joyfilled, it is as if you are walking on the stars...
God loves us sooooooooooooooooo much and longs for us to reach out to Him. Once we do, even in the slightest way, He rushes in and scoops us up and loves us to pieces. God loves you no matter where you are on life's journey!!! Talk to Him! It's not hard. Just talk. Then look for Him in all that is good and lovely. That's God!
My job transition continues and has been challenging as I try to grasp new concepts and learn how to handle a complicated schedule. This job is multi-tasking at its finest, not to mention having to bend and flex!
I HAVE to say here...I am in utter awe of the hospice team. They are so devoted, commited, selfless, and very caring. Our staff works in a hospice house or in the community and I have found them all to be people of tremendous compassion and integrity. They inspire me daily...hourly! (:o)
...last week, I did a very poor job of spending time with God and boy, did I notice the difference in my spirit, demeanor, ability to cope and my frustration level. It was a bad week as far as my spiritual health goes.
So I am back to my prayer schedule, coping much better with God's help and direction. When I found this song it really touched and inspired me. Enjoy!
"Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. " Romans 12:2
On January 20, the Obama administration decided to go forward with it's plan to force all Americans (including the Catholic Church) to pay for birth control, sterilization, and some abortion-inducing drugs.
The following is from Catholicvote.com
"January 25 New York's Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan authored a blistering editorial in the Wall Street Journal in which he concluded;"
"This latest erosion of our first freedom should make all Americans pause. When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental to the life of our nation, one shudders to think what lies ahead."
The assault on our religious freedom may not come as a surprise to many of you. For years, hostile groups and some elected officials have been working to destroy the influence of the Church in America. For years they have flaunted our social teachings, insulted our clergy and hierarchy, and mocked our Pope. The attacks are endless.
And now they want us to fund their agenda.
I want to share a quote from Pope John Paul II:
"Life is a talent entrusted to us so we can transform it and increase it,
making it a gift to others.
No human is an iceberg drifting on the ocean of history.
Each one of us belongs to a great family,
in which we have our own place and our own role to play.
Love opens eyes and hearts,
enabling people to make that original and irreplaceable contribution which,
together with the thousands of deeds of so many brothers and sisters,
often distant and unknown,
converges to form the mosaic of charity
which can change the tide of history."
We must act now. We are not a lone iceberg drifting in the sea of humanity. We have a voice. We must not allow the government to trample our right to religious freedom. We must defend the most defenseless. The right to life is the underpinning of our very existence, as is the right for a pharmacist to refuse to dispense an abortion-inducing drug, if doing so is against his religious beliefs.
Please contact your elected officials as soon as possible with your concern and adamantly disapprove of the current administration's assault on our religious liberties.
"... Each one of us belongs to a great family, in which we have our own place and our own role to play...(above)"
Pope John Paul II