Friday, October 30, 2009

New found hope?

For me the greatest possible danger along the way of the cross of infertility is not the bitterness or strain in the marriage (both very real dangers) which often happen or anything else, but rather the loss of hope. It is so important to maintain always have hope. But how do we do this? So many times this journey seems hope-less. It seems like "our turn", "our time", "our baby" will never come. Maybe the treatments don't work as fast as we wish they would. We don't see the progress we want. We don't feel any different or think anything is happening. Bottom line, there is no pregnancy. We begin to lose hope.

To stay steadfast in hope is a constant battle. I am so blessed to have a husband who is there to encourage me when I feel like giving up, and I pray I am able to give him the support he needs when he's feeling down. But as anyone who's been on this journey can tell you, it's just downright hard. And in a special way, us women have a unique challenge as our hormones, timed to kick in right around the time we find out yet again that we aren't pregnant, do NOTHING to help us cling to hope. Rather the drop in progesterone gives further temptation to despair. At times it feels like everything is against you. Can't a girl get a break? Hanging on to hope can be so hard. It's a physical and spiritual battle against so much...sometimes even yourself.

As of yesterday, we are 3 months post-surgery and yet we are not where I had hoped we would be. I know, I know...have patience. But I just kept hoping that once my body recovered we'd be pregnant right away. Maybe my body isn't fully recovered. Maybe things ARE happening and it's just going to take more time. I know this and I'm frustrated with myself for not having more patience. (sigh)

I called a friend today who also had the wedge-resection done. In fact Dr. Hilgers has done the wedge-resection on her and all of her (4?) sisters several years ago. Even though we don't talk often, she has been an incredible support to me both as I prepared for surgery and as I have recovered and moved beyond it. In our discussion today she reminded me, as she often does, that it was two years (to the day!) from her surgery that she gave birth to their first child. It takes time. In their case, it was 15 months from surgery to conception. If we were to follow a similar path (mind you I am fully aware that each person's story is different), that means that we could spend another entire year waiting for conception. could happen. And that's the reality of the journey of infertility. It could happen any given cycle. And so your hopes get up...and then when you find out this was not "the month", your hopes crash. And then as the next cycle progresses, you remind yourself, "but it could happen any given cycle." And so your hopes get up...and then?....time will tell.

I confessed to my friend that I was surprised at how hard of a time I've been having lately and her reassuring response was soothing to my soul. She said she too struggled more after the surgery because her feeling post surgery had been "this was supposed to fix it. This was supposed to be the solution. We were supposed to get pregnant now." She put into words what I have been feeling and yet unable to express. Somehow just hearing her say express what my heart was been feeling, validated the experience and has helped me move on. I know that the surgery wasn't a magic spell, or an instant fix, and that it may take years for my body to heal and regain full health...but I never claimed to possess the virtue of patience (right honey?).

It's just so hard to feel directionless. To feel that the cyclical highs and lows will never end and to not have a focus or direction for the future. That's where we were when we met Dr. Parker last December (2008). I was at the point of despair because I just felt so ungrounded and without direction. I just wanted someone to point me in the direction we should go and confidently say, "okay, Suzy and Dave, here's what we're going to do." Dr. Parker did just that. I remember returning from Ohio after our meeting, practically giddy. What he had outlined would be a massive change in medications, diet, and lifestyle, but I was ready and willing. I had D-I-R-E-C-T-I-O-N. And since then he has been wonderful about leading us step by step through this journey. He has been our primary Simon of Cyrene, helping us to carry this cross! We thank God for him.

Through the Winter, we worked through the plan Dr. Parker laid out for us and in the Spring, when we had not achieved a conception, we prepared for surgery. Still, this was part of the plan and preparing for surgery was the direction. Then came the surgery and the recovery was the direction. Now that it's been three months...what's the direction? Where do we go from here? I think this is part of what has been bothering me so much lately. I have once again felt directionless. Like "okay, we've done the surgery, it hasn't worked yet, now what?"

Enter: Dr. Parker.

(This next two paragraphs might be a little confusing for you non-Creighton Model NFP folks, but I'll include it anyway for those that care or might be interested.)

I contacted Dr. Parker yesterday and emailed him my Creighton charts because I had begun to bleed (Day 28) and yet we hadn't seen anything we'd consider peak-type during this cycle. What was going on? Was it an estrogen excess bleed or a progesterone withdrawal bleed? Why hadn't we seen peak-type? And yet, I was encouraged in some ways because this bleed came on its own without having to be induced and had all the characteristics of having decent levels of progesterone (it's amazing what you learn about color through Creighton!) That seemed good. Add to this that for the first time EVER in my four years of charting Creighton, we had NINE consecutive days of green stamps (Days 8-16). Normally I am the utter Queen of Yellow Stamps. But surgery has definitely changed my mucous patterns and I am thrilled to see even this improvement and new clarity in charting.

Today Dr. Parker called me back and we had a 20 minute conversation that lifted my spirits more than I can express. Why? Because once again, he gave us direction....and this in turn gives me hope. It's an entirely new plan of attack. Out with the Clomid. In with the Femera. Out with the Dexamethosone. In with the Mucinex (yes, you read correctly, regular over the counter Mucinex), high dose Vitamin B6 sustained release, a round of antibiotics and subcutaneous injections of HCG (on Peak +3, +5, +7 and +9.) It's an entirely new plan of attack...but it's direction! To top it all off, after looking at my charts, Dr. Parker thinks that the bleed is Progesterone withdrawal and not Estrogen excess, so that is good news as well! And all of this without using supplementary Progesterone support this cycle. So maybe things are improving and my body is regaining hormonal balance? Maybe good things are happening and I just haven't seen them all and they haven't been brought to completion yet.

I called Dave and shared Dr. Parker's instructions. Dave was practically giddy and moved to tears. I asked him why and his response was, "because it seems like there's hope again." It really is amazing what comfort it brings to couples going through infertility when someone "gets it" and can look at a situation that is seemingly out of control, can assess it, make sense of it (or at least seem to) and then confidently say, "here's where we're going." In just 20 minutes today, Dr. Parker was able to do just that. Praise God for NaPro Technology! Dave and I will be forever grateful to Dr. Parker and all of the wonderful NaPro doctors we've worked with who have done just that for us. They help to give us hope. They remind us to Hang On...Possibilities Exist.

God Himself only knows where this new direction will take us, but I am again filled with hope and am confident that His grace will sustain us...that He will strengthen us with power through His Spirit according to the riches of His glory! That He will continue to dwell in our hearts, when they're overflowing with joy and when they're breaking with sorrow. That in both the mountains of joy and the valley of tears He will use those moments to reveal to us how immense His love is for us; it's infinite breadth and length, height and depth. That He will fill us with Himself even while we are waiting, teaching our hearts to rest in Him and to be content with the present moment. This new direction may bring about the baby of our dreams and it may not. But possibilities DO exist and even if this new direction doesn't bring about the desired conception, our God's power extends beyond medicine and in His love and goodness He could bring us our son or daughter in a manner only He knows or could bring about. God will always and forever be able to accomplish more than we could ever ask for or imagine. His love is truly extravagant.

Peace be with each of you.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

Speaking with the heart

Pray, hope, and don’t worry! Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer. Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips but with your heart. In fact, on certain occasions, you should speak to Him only with your heart.

~ St. Padre Pio

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One act of trust

Once when I was being crushed by these dreadful sufferings, I went into the chapel and said from the bottom of my soul, "Do what you will with me, O Jesus, I will adore You in everything. May Your will be done in me, O my Lord and my God, and I will praise Your infinite mercy." Through this act of submission, these terrible torments left me. Suddenly I saw Jesus, who said to me, I am always in your heart. An inconceivable joy entered my soul, and a great love of God set my heart aflame. I see that God never tries us beyond what we are able to suffer. Oh, I fear nothing; if God sends such great suffering to a soul. He upholds it with an even greater grace, although we are not aware of it. One act of trust at such moments gives greater glory to God than whole hours passed in prayer filled with consolations.

~ Diary of St. Faustina

Do what you will with me, O Jesus, I will adore You in everything. May Your will be done in me, O my Lord and my God, and I will praise Your infinite mercy. Amen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Treadmills, Diaries & Veggie Boxes

I realized today that it's been two weeks since I posted anything. I think in part this has been because I've been having a rougher time lately. Perhaps it's the point in my cycle, perhaps it's other stressers in life, perhaps it's because Perma-Cloud (you know, the clouds that perpetually cover the skies of South Bend from October through April?) is starting to set in and the weather is colder and wetter, perhaps it's seeing so many of our newly married friends blessed immediately with a baby (we are thrilled for all of them by the way!, it's just hard for us to swallow as I am sure you can understand) perhaps it's the holidays approaching and wishing so much that we had a little person to share it with. I don't know what it is, but for some reason, the weight of the cross has been extra heavy the last few weeks. Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been all doom and gloom, and there are, of course, still wonderful things happening in our life, but I can't deny that it has been a rougher stretch and I have found myself at a loss for what to post that would not sound too depressing or without hope. Sometimes when you're in a funk, you just need to step back from everyday life and deal with it. So that's what I've been doing.

There is much good news in our life though. First and foremost on my mind and something that has made a huge difference in how I feel....I have begun running again. My first run post-surgery went better than I had expected honestly, and I was thrilled. I've hit a few speed bumps along the way, but am up to about a mile and half a day right now and am increasing steadily. I am back in Pilates weekly now as well and am able to do almost all aspects of the class with just a few modifications while those ab/core muscles are still knitting themselves together. Praise the Lord!

My prayer life has regained it's balance...starting each day off with morning mass is a huge centering force on my day and I have been much better about praying a daily rosary. Sometimes I am able to devote 20 minutes of quiet time for my rosary, other times its prayed while washing dishes, driving across town or even while proctoring an exam while subbing for the local high school. But praying the rosary has been richly rewarding and I ask myself again and again why I ever resist this devotion. It's amazing how the events of life appear so differently when you contemplate them against the background of the mysteries Christ's life.

I am also knee deep in the Diary of St. Faustina right now. I have started the diary several times, but have never finished and this time am determined to do so. Wow do I love the mystics! Their relationship with the Lord is so powerful, so intense, so beautiful. I wouldn't be surprised if you all hear a lot about St. Faustina and the Diary in the coming months, because I keep finding passage after passage after passage that really strikes me and that I find life-changing.

And finally, as silly as this might sound, one of the big joys of our life right now is our Organic Veggie boxes. About a month ago we began ordering Veggie Boxes from a local Organic organization. We have wanted to do something like this for years, since seeing at Dave's sister's in Davis, CA, but have never lived in an area where they had something like it. In South Bend, the way it works is that you get a list on Monday of your options --Veggie Box, Fruit Box, Combo Box, or Just-for-Two Box (combo box for 2) -- and you have until Friday to place your order that you'll pick up on the following week. What we love about this is the wonderful variety of produce that we are getting. It's pushing us out of the same ol' rut of carrots and broccoli and making us venture into the world of Kale, Red Swiss Chard, and Ginger...tons and tons of Ginger (in fact I think I have 3 pieces the size of my hand in the fridge right now). We have had so much fun opening our box each week and getting creative with what we're cooking. Each week is it's own Top Chef-like challenge as we race to use the produce before it goes bad (or the next box arrives) and has become our new favorite website as we hunt down recipes that will help us win the game. :) It really has been a blast! We are expanding our veggie horizons, exploring new recipes, and best of all we are eating organic for cheaper than what we would pay for non-organic at the grocery store!

So that's pretty much it as far as an update. We're keeping on keeping on and thankful for the many blessings in our life! We pray that you are all well and thank you for your continued prayers! (In case you're a foodie like us, I've listed the Veggie Box options below for your amusement! :) And if you're in the South Bend area and are interested in knowing more, just email me.)


2.5 Lbs Bananas
Apple Cider 1/2 Gallon
1 Lb Limes
1 Pomegranate
1 Lb Kiwi Fruit
3 Asian Pears
1 Pineapple
3 Lbs Red Pears
1 Mango
3 Lbs Gala Apples
2 Grapefruit
2 Fuyu Persimmons
1.5 Lbs Red Grapes
1 Broccoli
1 Cucumber
1 Red Bell Pepper
2 Zucchini
2 Avocados
1 Celery Heart
1 Pkg Romaine Hearts
1 Pkg Baby Spinach
1 Pkg Cherry Tomatoes
1 Lb Baby Carrots
1 Piece Ginger Root
1 Green Kale
2 Lbs Yukon Potoates
2 Red Onion

2.5 Lbs Bananas
1 Pomegranate
2 Grapefruit
3 Lbs Green Pears
1 Green Kale
2 Zucchini Squash
1 Pkg Baby Spinach
1 Pkg Romaine Hearts
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Pkg Cherry Tomatoes
1 Broccoli Head
2 Lbs Yukon Potatoes
1 Piece Ginger Root
2 Red Onions
JUST-FOR-2 BOX ($28)
2.5 Lbs Bananas
2 Valencia Oranges
1 Pomegranate
2 Grapefruit
3 Lbs Green Pears
1 Red Onion
1 Cucumber
2 Lbs Yukon Potatoes
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Pkg Cherry Tomatoes
1 Pkg Romaine Hearts
1 Avocado
1 Piece Ginger Root

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Only in God...

Somedays are just rougher than others. Today I find myself in a whirl of conflicting emotions. On one hand, joyous over the blessings and wonders God is performing in my life and in the lives of those I know and love...and on the other hand, feeling the weight of this cross in a very intense way. In the midst of my tears, the Pslam from today's mass seems every so much more the cry of my heart. May it be yours as well. God bless you.

Responsorial PsalmPs 62:2-3, 6-7, 9

Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.

Only in God is my soul at rest;
from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,my stronghold;
I shall not be disturbed at all.

Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.

Only in God be at rest, my soul,
for from him comes my hope.
He only is my rock and my salvation,my stronghold;
I shall not be disturbed.

Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.

Trust in him at all times, O my people!
Pour out your hearts before him;
God is our refuge!

Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.

To hear a beautiful rendition of this Pslam, which brings peace and comfort to my soul each time I hear it, listen to singer/songwriter John Michael Talbot...

or listen to the beautiful rendition I found online.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On Earth as it is in Heaven

Friday night found me in an airplane from South Bend to Cleveland and then Cleveland to NYC (LaGuardia). I was on my way to visit a friend in Connecticut to hang out and help her move. The flights were some of the bumpiest of my life due to the horrible weather that's plagued the Midwest for the last several days, and considering the dense clouds out the window, I had pretty much given up hope of being able to star-gaze like I love to do on night flights.

For some reason, however, I found myself staring out the window into the dark abyss...and my eyes caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a star, trying to shine through the thick clouds. I looked away and looked back, thinking that perhaps my eyes were playing tricks on me, but when I looked for the light again, it was even brighter than before. Then in the blink of an eye, we emerged from the clouds and the entire night sky, vibrant with an incredible number of stars, was laid out for me to enjoy. It was stunning. Off in the distance, was a very thin line of light which I assumed was the last remnants of the setting sun. Now thinking about it further, I'm not sure what it was. It would have been either the beginning of the rising sun, or perhaps I was already getting a glimpse of NYC in the distance. Either way, it produced a very thin but noticeable band of of light at the horizon, and then above me were thousands of stars in the sky. It was so beautiful. I pressed my face to the window and pulled my rain jacket over my head to create a "dark room" of sorts so that I could admire the constellations ever more. I was moved to tears, it was just so beautiful.

Sometimes, I am overcome by an incredible yearning to be in heaven. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I want to end my time on earth, but rather I just get a glimpse of how incredible heaven is and my soul just longs to be there. This was exactly one of those moments. I was listening to the new Matt Maher CD (Alive Again) and the song Letting Go provided the perfect soundtrack to the experience. The lyrics are below, but you can go to and select "Click to Listen" and go to Song 9 to hear the song.

Letting Go
(Matt Maher)

I stand in awe of you, and everything you've done for me. you speak your words into my life, and where you are is where I want to be. I stand before you, Lord. Humbled by the love you give away. A widow's mite, my will and pride. It's all I have to offer anyway. I'm holding onto your love. I'm letting go of myself. I'll say so long to everything else. I just want to be in your arms. I just want to be in your arms. Moving ever closer to your heart. To your heart.

So there I was, tears streaming down my face. Tears of joy and wonder and of love for my God. And then as soon as the clouds had parted, they were back again and the turbulence started. This happened again and again in the plane that night. Each time we went back into the clouds, I would fix my eyes on the brightest star in the sky and keep my eyes focused there, waiting for it to return. And sooner or later, I would start to see that star's light through the thick clouds. It would pulse brighter and then dimmer as the clouds varied but I kept my eyes focused there, just waiting. Eventually, I was rewarded as the light of the star gained rapidly in intensity, the clouds broke and I was able to again behold a beautiful view of the heavens which brought the tears anew.

The entire experience seemed to me to be a metaphor for life. We go through our storms, we have our rocky moments and times where we wonder if we'll make it and then, at a time we could never have predicted, the storm ceases, the clouds part and again, we are sailing smooth. We must only fix our eyes above on the brightest star in the sky...the Morning Star...Christ Jesus. In the midst of the clouds of life, we must fix our eyes on him the author and perfecter of our faith.

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

The entire experience is one that I will never forget. I felt so close to if my soul wanted to leap out of the plane and into His arms. As the song was saying, "I'm holding onto your love. I'm letting go of myself. I'll say so long to everything else. I just want to be in your arms. I just want to be in your arms. Moving ever closer to your heart. To your heart."

And then as if to top it off, we had the most incredible views of NYC on the approach to LaGuardia. It was truly breathtaking. We flew up over the West side of Manhattan following the Hudson River. I could see everything. The Empire State Building, Times Square, Central name it. It was stunning. I didn't have my camera with me to capture these shots, but the images will always remain in my mind, and I was able to find a few (that don't do it justice at all) on the Internet.

We even flew right over Yankee Stadium during the playoff game shortly before Mark Teixeira completed the dramatic 4-3 Yankees walk-off, come-from-behind victory in the 11th inning. Go Yankees! Wow! The entire thing was just stunning...

The whole experience was incredible and breathtaking. But in the end...even with all the glamour and glory of NYC at night, I will still always prefer the beautiful canvas of the heavens that God laid out for me. The simplistic beauty of God's night sky trumps even all that man has created (even though is was incredible). Keeping both in mind, I do have a bit of glimpse of one more meaning of "on earth as it is in heaven."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ask and you shall receive

Today's Gospel was yet another wonderful opportunity to reflect upon our journey through infertility, and the concept of asking and receiving.

Luke 11: 5-13

"And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?"

I have struggled with this scripture throughout our journey, because I know that what I am asking for, a baby, in and of itself, is good and not bad. It’s hard not to ask God why He would deny us a child, when in the Scriptures He says he will grant us good things if we ask...that if only we would ask or knock. Well, we’ve worked with several of the best Catholic NaPro doctors in the country who have an incredible pregnancy success rate, I’ve taken medications that have improved my health in some aspects, but have also, at times, made me ill from side effects, and have lead to large ovarian cysts. I’ve adhered to a strict diet and exercise plan and lost 30 pounds. We have prayed novenas and rosaries, we've been prayed over numerous times, I’ve received the anointing of the sick. We've been asking and we've been knocking…in every way we can think of...and still no baby.

Thus, it is all too tempting at times to think that maybe not everyone who asks does receive. It's tempting to fall into despair and say, "Oh poor me, maybe God forgot about me." And this is exactly where Satan wants me to be..doubting God’s care for me. And so when I am tempted to doubt God's love for me, and am tempted to despair that maybe I'm the one exception to the promise of these Scriptures that those who ask will receive, I push Satan out of my thoughts, and I again put myself at the foot of the cross, at the exact point where He proved the magnitude of His love, and I say, even through my tears..."Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I trust in you."

You see, as I have prayed and prayed this Scripture, and as I have continued to contemplate Our Lady’s example of simple trust, surrender, and spiritual joy, it has become clear me that God does not promise we will get what we want, when we want it. That's not what this Scripture is asserting. But rather, as someone once put it, when God delays in answering our prayers, He's either saying "No", "Not yet", or "I have a better plan." So we must always trust that our heavenly Father, knows how to give good gifts to His children. That in all things, His plan is best. And what He says, even in this Scripture, is not that we will get what we want or ask for, but rather, an even better gift. What is this gift? He knows what we are asking for. He knows the desires of our heart and how good they are. What could be better than the gift of life?...the Holy Spirit and union with His heart. And this is exactly what God promises us in the Scriptures today. "If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?"

Over the course of our journey thus far, I have come to realize that while it seems that God is not answering our knocking or our asking in the way that we would deem best, He is answering it in an even better way. He is omniscient and omnipresent and omnipotent. While His permissive will has permitted us to be without child yet, He has given us an even greater gift--the Holy Spirit and union with His heart. He has given us the even better gift and continues to draw us ever closer to His heart. For this I am eternally grateful.

Jeremiah 29:11-14
For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the LORD, and I will change your lot.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Reflections of a friend

A friend of mine recently sent me an email talking about her own way of the cross that she is going through. While not related to infertility, I think that her reflections are beautiful and I asked her permission to share them. I pray they encourage you as well.

There's something I'm meant to learn by going through this, of that I am certain. The pain sucks, but it has to hurt less than being nailed with the entire sin of the world, right?! I certainly want to make the pain go away or at least find a good way to manage it; but, I have to say, the process so far has been really effective at increasing my faith. I think I'm really ***starting*** to maybe learn what it is to say "Thy will be done" and abandon the results to God. Before, I was all tied up in anxiety and would have worried myself sicker. It's fascinating to be up to my ears in crap and have a lot of my world teetering on the edge as it were, but still have hope and see joy. I can't say that I'm particularly "happy" to be going through this, but it's my lot and it's clearly meant to change me. I prayed that God would increase my faith and help me do His work on Earth -- at the base of it, I believe that this is somehow an answer to that prayer.

During Stations one week of Lent, one of the reading made this claim: All creatures can feel pain -- dogs, cats, etc. Not all creatures can feel suffering. The difference between pain and suffering amounts to the ability to ask "why?" The suffering comes from that deep question. On the one hand, I do ask "why?" On the other, I trust that there is an answer that is profoundly right and intended and divine. I don't really know the answer, but I deeply trust that the answer does exist and that I will know it one day, and more importantly, that it is His perfectly right answer. So, despite the pain I feel, I don't actually find myself suffering too much. That is where I find my comfort; I cling to that rock, and by knowing that the answer is out there and perfectly true, I think I'm learning to abandon myself to it. As much as it confines me in the day to day, I do feel strangely liberated in a way I've never really known. There is a strange beauty to the process -- I just need to reminmyself of that on my bad days. What I've really learned is that as long as I have Jesus and A., the rest of it's details, and it's still a very blessed life. It will be what it will be... that is, I hope, according to His will which makes it perfect in its own way.

~ S

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Respect Life Sunday

In honor of Respect Life Sunday:

The Evangelium Vitae Prayer

O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life. Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick, killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy. Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life.

Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Feast Day! - The Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux

Happy Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux!

St. Therese is my patron saint and even though she died at the age of 24, she lived a very holy life as a Carmelite sister, was canonized a saint, and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church. Her Little Way encourages us all to do small things with great love. Below is an article I came across today on "AmericaNeeds". I found it truly inspiring as we each learn to carry our crosses and serve our Lord in suffering. I pray that it will inspire you as well, and that through the intercession of St. Therese, we will each grow close to the heart of Jesus our Savior with a humble and child-like faith.

* * * * *

There is a valuable deposition from the canonization of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, given by her sister Celine. It reveals aspects of the saint’s life about which few are aware and to which, even less give due importance.

The following text is taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio CorrĂȘa de Oliveira gave on July 16, 1970. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed.

The information contained in this document is ironclad. Not only was Celine closer to Saint Therese than anyone else, but she gave this testimony in an official Church inquiry. Thus, it is scrupulously accurate. A part of this document states:

"The servant of God followed a path of simple confidence and total abandonment to God. She named this her little way of spiritual infancy. She continually corresponded to grace and performed generous acts. This is how she formed herself and her novices."

This shows the role that correspondence to grace plays in the little way. Most people are very familiar with the sweetness of Saint Therese’s spirituality, but neglect the roles of correspondence and suffering.

However, doing so denies almost every page of Saint Therese’s writings. In fact, she prized suffering so much that it became an integral part of who she was. Celine shows how this sweetness and suffering coexisted in the life of Saint Therese.

She says that Saint Therese always corresponded to grace. This correspondence is an act of the will. It consists in accepting the invitation to grace. This requires sacrifice, because frequently it forces one to behave contrary to his desires. Though Saint Therese was not the saint of great sacrifices, she constantly accepted little, simple and unpretentious ones.

Since these were unceasing, they weighed more heavily on her than great sufferings would have. At least these would have come in waves with periods of respite in between. Saint Therese’s life of constant sacrifice demonstrates the great-little suffering of her way.

Celine continues:

One day, I read a passage on the Eucharist that said Our Lord’s mercy will be granted to each according to the merit of his works. I asked the servant of God why mercy would be given according to the merit of one’s works. She was emphatic and immediately responded that confidence in God is nourished on sacrifice.

Pay close attention to her response. Saint Therese sustained herself on sacrifice.

She went on to say that each should give himself entirely and constantly renounce himself. In a single word, he should prove his love in every way and always do every good work that he can. This is the desire of little souls who run along the way of spiritual infancy. She finished: “I intentionally said that these souls run, because they never lag behind.”

Thus, the spirit of sacrifice is key to the little way. It means constantly offering little sufferings, and at times big ones, in a spirit of spiritual infancy, abandonment and confidence in God.

Saint Therese exemplified this spirit. She resolved always to ask for nothing and accept everything. Once, a nun was helping her arrange her habit and inadvertently stuck a pin through her flesh. Faithful to this spirit, Saint Therese never complained and left the pin where it was until she retired for the evening.

So, the relationship between the little way and suffering is clear. Nevertheless, there is still something mysterious about it, because Saint Therese’s life and writings, which are filled with affliction, are also imbued with a perfume of roses.

When one reads the Spiritual Exercises of the great Saint Ignatius, who I hold in highest esteem, it makes one’s hair stand on end. However, when Saint Therese writes the same thing, somehow it comes with a smile.

Click here for a Novena Prayer to St. Therese