Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: a Silent Retreat & a Birthday

How did your week go?  Here are a few highlights from mine.

  1. I recently returned from a silent retreat in South Dakota.  This is a picture of Sts. Isodore and Maria Catholic Church where I did the majority of my holy hours.  I snapped this shot as I was pulling up last Thursday evening, for as you know, phones are verboten during a retreat, so I couldn’t take any more pictures.

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2.  Who needs a phone during a retreat anyway?  Even if one were to say to me, “But, but, but I need my phone for an alarm clock and to look at my sweet breviary apps.”  I’d still say nope.  We all know that screens do something to us.  The constant scrolling with endless options are tiring.  Rather, you might consider saving your money and buying this and learning how to use it.  Flip some pages.  Be uncomfortable.  And as for an alarm…where I went on silent retreat, they had old-fashioned alarm clocks in our private rooms, and they had cheap watches for sale in their book store, should you not have one.

3.  There is a misconception about silent retreats.  Some people are inclined to think it like a vacation.  Let me tell you, it is not.  It is work; it is a labor of love.  My spiritual director recommends scheduling 5 holy hours during the day, wherein one prays before the Blessed Sacrament.  This is in addition to Mass and Confession.  Then there are other devotions one may want to do–Stations of the Cross, Rosary, ect.  Not to mention fasting in some sort of way.  No, it is not a vacation.

4.  But it is worth it.  We may not always be faithful to God, but He is always faithful to us.  He loves us dearly and sees our little sacrifices.  He is quick to stoop down to His little ones and hold us, should we want Him to.  If you’re thinking of a silent retreat, just schedule it and go!

5.  And lastly, the Eldest had a birthday this week.  She turned 13, and I finally have a teenager!  (Her birth story from 13 years ago is HERE.)

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And here she is, modeling her new watch, given to her by her grandparents.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Maria!

Book Review

Book of the Year: Schneider’s Christus Vincit

Angelico Press recently released Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s book Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age this last September.  Click HERE for it on Amazon.

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I am so thankful to God and to Bishop Schneider for this clear and moving account of the affairs in the Church.  Seriously, this is the best book I’ve read in a long while.

I came across this book in an interesting manner.  Of course I had heard about it’s coming release this last summer, but what with Paul’s medical problems, I couldn’t pay much attention.  Then a friend, who knew how our family suffered by lack of a regular Traditional Latin Mass in our diocese, read this book and found much hope in it.  She mailed me a copy by way of a gift.

The book, however, sat on my shelf for about a month, for the simple reason that I was trying to force feed myself Cardinal Sarah’s book.  (Not worth it, by the way.)

Then one night I couldn’t sleep.  As this happens to me a lot, I’ve tried to just accept it and be grateful for it.

I have a plan, though, for when it does strike:

  1. If I’ve been lying there for about 15 minutes or so, I force myself to get up.  (I hate getting out of bed.)
  2. Then I walk to the living room and kneel before our icon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in complete darkness and cold.
  3. I tell Jesus what’s on my mind, and He looks at me.
  4. Then I pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet for all my intentions.

Normally I can then walk back to bed and fall fast asleep.  But not this night.  No, I was wide awake.  So I sat on the couch in complete darkness and watched the stars out of the window.  It was quiet and beautiful.

Then I remembered Schneider’s book, sitting on my bookshelf.  I picked it up, out of curiosity, and couldn’t believe the story I was soon reading.  The story of a family surviving cruel and inhumane gulag camps in the Ural Mountains.  The story of persecution and faith in communist Russia.  The story of a young man experiencing the liberal craziness of 1970s Germany.  The story of a bishop shepherding his flock in the midst of raving wolves.

I’m telling you, it’s gripping.  It’s clear.  It’s prophetic.

It’s the best book I’ve read all year.

Parting Note

I’ll be on silent retreat for 4 days, starting Thursday.  I am looking forward to it, as it’s been 2 years, I think, since I’ve had the opportunity of attending one.

Have you ever been on silent retreat?  If not, I recommend it.  I know of no one who has ever regretted giving time to God in this way.

Call Me Catholic

Jomo and Silent Retreats

Jomo What??

The other day I came across a curious acronym – JOMO.

Now I know that some of you are much more up-to-date on these things than I am, so you likely have an idea of what it stands for.  For the rest of you (and me) it means: Joy of Missing Out.  It’s a play on the famous “Fomo,” Fear of Missing Out.

This caught my attention because my husband and I joke about Fomo every time we get a new email suggesting another activity for our children, or I listen to another podcast about someone else’s family doing great things out in the world.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I am glad that extra activities exist, and I am glad that other families do great things, but I also know that I’ve got to be comfortable with where we’re at and not fear missing out.

This is where Jomo comes in.  For it’s true, there is great joy in missing out.  We say no to many things and prefer to be together as a family.  Instead of running our children to multiple sporting events or musical performances, we limit these things and stay home.  Our children ice skate in the backyard and build snow forts.  We have friends over for coffee.  We pray the rosary together every evening.  We play Up and Down the River with gummy bears.  We laugh with our children.

No, our home isn’t always peaceful.  Quite the contrary.  Most evenings someone’s crying or whining.  My point is that family life seems to have been lost or tossed aside in this modern world, and it’s worth fighting for.  It’s worth it, to be home with the children in a meaningful way.

So the next time you’re tempted to say yes to another commitment, maybe pause a moment to reflect.  Will this bring joy to your lives?  Or will it result in more running?

Silent Retreats

One beautiful thing you might consider doing this Lent is signing up for a silent retreat.

As we’re now in the middle of Lent, and most of us are trying to step it up a notch, I want to strongly encourage all of you to sign up for a silent retreat this year.

You all know how important it is to step back in silence from time-to-time to be with God.  I’m sure I don’t need to convince you.  The hardest part, however, is actually going.  Of course Satan hates silent retreats.  He’ll do anything to prevent you from spending time with God.  In fact, retreat masters will often tell you to expect all kinds of obstacles to appear, especially at the last minute.

Let me give you an example.  Two years ago I was signed up to attend a private silent retreat with a small group of mothers, but just hours before the retreat was to begin, our Retreat Master was forced to cancel.  So we were left wondering if we should still go, without a Retreat Master?  Well, we decided yes.  After all, what harm could come from spending time alone with God for a weekend, even if it wasn’t directed?  And I am so glad we did!  For God always provides, and He sent an excellent priest at the last minute to replace the previous one.  We had a Shepherd and the Sacraments.

In any case, you all need to go on retreat, or into the desert, if you like.  And since I can’t ever get enough of Cardinal Sarah, I’ll leave you with a quotation from his book The Power of Silence.”

It is vitally important to withdraw to the desert in order to combat the dictatorship of a world filled with idols that gorge themselves on technology and material goods, a world dominated and manipulated by the media, a world that flees God by taking refuge in noise.

Did you read that?  It is vitally important!

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This is a life-changing book.

Cardinal Sarah

Cardinal Sarah has two of the greatest books ever written out now – God or Nothing and The Power of Silence.  Buy a copy for yourself and your priest.  You won’t regret it.
I understand he’s got a third book in print too, but it hasn’t been translated into English yet.  When it is, I’ll be sure to get it.
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Now here’s a Man of God, let me tell you.  This book is awesome.

 

Call Me Catholic

You Need a Silent Retreat

As we’re now in the middle of Holy Week and most of us are trying to step it up a notch, I want to strongly encourage all of you to sign yourselves up for a silent retreat this year.  Yep, just look at your spring and summer calendars, and do it.

Unfortunately for me, I’ll have to wait until my latest baby is done nursing before I can go, but for the rest of you, just do it!

You all know how important it is to step back in silence from time to time to be with God.  I’m sure I don’t need to convince you.  The hardest part, however, is actually going.  Of course Satan hates silent retreats.  He’ll do anything to prevent you from spending time with God.  In fact, retreat masters will tell you to expect all kinds of obstacles to appear, especially at the last minute.
Let me give you an example.  Last year I was signed up to attend a private silent retreat with a small group of mothers, but just hours before the retreat was to begin, our Retreat Master was forced to cancel.  So we were left wondering if we should still go, without a Retreat Master?  Well, we decided yes.  After all, what harm could come from spending time alone with God for a weekend, even if it wasn’t directed?  And I am so glad we did!  For God always provides, and He sent an excellent priest at the last minute to replace the previous one.  We had a Shepherd and the Sacraments.
As an aside, It should also be noted that we had coffee available all day too.  This is important because during day two or three, when you’ve already put in a few holy hours, read your Bible, prayed a rosary, walked a few miles, and spent an hour sitting on a rock pile at the end of a tree row, you will need coffee.

In any case, you all need to go on retreat, or into the desert, if you like.  And since I can’t get enough of Cardinal Sarah lately, I’ll leave you with a small quotation from his latest book The Power of Silence.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)

“It is vitally important to withdraw to the desert in order to combat the dictatorship of a world filled with idols that gorge themselves on technology and material goods, a world dominated and manipulated by the media, a world that flees God by taking refuge in noise.

Cardinal Sarah

By the way, have you ever read anything by Cardinal Sarah?  He’s got two of the greatest books ever written out now – God or Nothing and The Power of Silence.  Buy a copy for yourself and your priest.  You won’t regret it.
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Now here’s a Man of God, let me tell you.  This book is awesome.  I’d post a picture of his other book too, but I’ve lent it out to a friend.