Pumpkin Pie

Radiating Christ 

Dear Jesus,

Help me to spread Your fragrance wherever I go.

Flood my soul with Your Spirit and Life.

Penetrate and possess my being so utterly

That 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 will begin to shine as You shine,

So to shine as to be a light for 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 in which You love best:

By shining on those around me.

Let me preach You without preaching,

Not by words but by example,

By the catching force,

The sympathetic influence of what I do,

The evident fullness of the love

My heart bears for You.  Amen

A few weeks before she died, Grandma Jane did something my son Drew remembers as one of his favorite things.  She made him his favorite thing– a pumpkin pie– for his birthday.  It wasn’t a years long tradition, but a one-time gesture of love delivered to our house on his 14th birthday.  As only seemed fitting, we covered it entirely with whipped cream and served it to D instead of cake.  He described it that night as “perfection!”

Twenty-four short days later, she would be gone.

It’s exactly a year later now.  My tall, lanky, middle kiddo is celebrating his 15th birthday.  After 9am mass this morning, his effervescent, joy filled cousin Katie whispered to me, “Don’t leave after mass, Aunt Shelly.  We have something for Drew.”

To my immense pleasure, Katie, who is 12, has taken to sitting with us at mass while her parents sing in the choir.  I suppose, as a mother of 3 smelly boys, I cannot resist the sparkly headbands and bright pink sweaters– even if for only an hour!  She’s a ray of sunshine in my week, holding my hand during the Our Father and giving me a bug hug during the sign of peace.  She is girly to her core.

This day, Katie did something else incredibly meaningful.  She brought Drew the PERFECT birthday present.

Any guesses?

Drew, left, with his little brother, Zach, holding the "goods"!

Drew, left, with his little brother, Zach, holding the “goods”!

Yep, homemade pumpkin pie!!  The happy Grandma Jane memory that sparkles for Drew is a tradition Katie decided to carry on.  I for one happen to think that act by my favorite 6th grader is a great big piece of LOVE!

My favorite saint is St. Therese, the Little Flower.  I have been praying for their help of late that I can always believe, as she did, in God’s great love for me, so that I might imitate her “little way” in my life– radiating Christ.  Small acts, big love.  That’s the idea.  We don’t have to be someone popular, or rich, or important to be Christ to someone else.

Thanks for reminding me, Kate, that it can be as simple as baking a pumpkin pie.

Nicely done, sweetheart…..and props to our Awesome God for using such gorgeous bundle of sparkly love to show us Your face today!

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Pray for us!


 (Radiating Christ, by the way, is a prayer which was written by John Henry Cardinal Newman, and was a favorite of another pretty awesome chick who knew just how to do small things with great love..........Mother Teresa.)

You are Very Welcome!

“I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child.  Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.”  (Ps 131:2)

I wish.  That sure sounds good, though.

“Women’s Devotional” was the subject line of the email that contained this scripture passage, from my girlfriend, as I awoke to a gray day in Carmel, Indiana this morning.  Accompanying it there was a brief note that said, “Thanks for being my prayerful friend.”  It followed a lovely note from a second friend yesterday that struck me as ridiculously over the top in terms of gratefulness.  I quickly shot back, “Thanks are unnecessary.”  My instinctual response, interiorly, was one of rejection.  Oh, no, I haven’t done anything to warrant gratitude.  What’s wrong with these friends of mine?  I know they mean to be nice, but I just wish they wouldn’t.  There’s nothing special about me.”

Then, knowing the priests of the diocese are on retreat this week and that I wouldn’t be attending mass this morning as normal, I looked up the readings for today.  It’s the feast of the Guardian Angels.  How sweet and sentimental, I thought.

It wasn’t until I read the gospel that I woke up.  He called a child over, placed it in their midst and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven and whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”  See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly father.” (Mt. 18)

In the kingdom of God there exists complete, humble trust in the ways of the Lord.  That’s the path to holiness we are meant to notice this week.  First, there are the Archangels, then my beloved St. Therese of Lisieux with her “little way”, and then finally today the feast of the Guardian Angels.  They might seem all rather mild and sentimental, but I believe we are meant to realize that what they have to show us is at the heart of our faith tradition.

In the eyes of the world, and yes, sometimes in even our own eyes, we are nothing.  Our contributions feel negligible.  But I realize this afternoon that whatever enhances life, whatever affirms goodness, is the Holy Spirit working in our world.  We are God’s children, and our every small act of love is a step on our path to Him.  We may feel small, in fact, we are….but the feasts of our Church these last few days remind me of Mother Teresa’s famous quote, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”   We are not meant to deny the grace filled affirmation our friends bring to our lives any more than we are meant to loathe ourselves, denying His goodness and love in every small work done through us.  That line of thinking is arrogant, and lacks humility.  It’s false humility, and it is not of God.

Fr. Robert Barron, the soon to be installed rector at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois, and creator of the amazing series “Catholicism” (which I recommend every Catholic see), has spoken periodically about the devil.  He eloquently explains that the devil tempts us, afflicts us, and wounds our world often indirectly.  He reminds us to check ourselves.  The Holy Spirit affirms someone in their personhood, says Fr. Barron, while the influence of the devil will wound us with untruth.

Who have you wounded with untruth, gossip or insinuation?  Are you listening to archangels or fallen ones?

The next time a friend says “Thanks, Shelly, you’re the bomb” I plan to change my response.  “Thanks aren’t necessary” will henceforth be amended to “You are so very welcome!”

When I do that, it’s a prayer of thanksgiving to my love and my savior, for choosing to use me for His purpose, and for the grace that caused my “Yes, Lord!”

This afternoon, I am praying gratefulness for the attitude adjustment and the peaceful spirit I seem to have acquired.   That’s weird.  Gratefulness to God brings me to calmer waters?  As my 8-yr old son would say, “WELL, DUH!”

Somewhere in heaven there is a beautiful, but exhausted guardian angel assigned to me who deserves a nap.

“I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child.  Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.”  (Ps 131:2)

Now, I’m off to make some turkey soup– small thing, great love.  Yum.

Loving like St. Therese of Lisieux

Gratefulness overwhelms me today.  I wish I could say I thank God each morning like I did on this one.  It is my 18th wedding anniversary.   My husband, Tom, remains the love of my life and one of the most honest and authentic people I have ever known.  To say that we are blessed is a ridiculous understatement.  It also happens to be the feast day of my favorite saint, St. Therese of Lisieux.  It was a holy and very funny priest who introduced me to her just a few years ago.  I don’t happen to believe in coincidence.  Like any deeply Catholic person, I am a supernatural thinker.  God’s plan was that I celebrate my marriage on the feast day of the saint who loved her bridegroom with stunning devotion and with joyful self sacrifice.  I remember reading her autobiography, Story of a Soul, and being blown away by her pure heart and passionate love of Christ.  Today, as I find myself filled with gratitude for the beautiful life and challenging, but rewarding vocation He has called me to live, I uncovered this old editorial I wrote about loving Christ with abandon.  It ran with a photograph of St. Therese, the Little Flower, which I am including in this post too.  I hope you enjoy the message.  What better day than my anniversary to share what I’ve learned about love.  St. Therese, Pray for Us!

Is Jesus Going to Spit Me Out?

Reassurance from others can lead us to believe we are in decent shape as far as “godliness” is concerned.  When we compare ourselves to those around us, we might even convince ourselves we stack up nicely compared to our neighbors.  Our security lies in our church attendance, generosity with others, work ethic, service to our parish, family or community.
Here is the rub, though.  Jesus wants ALL of us.  He wants us to love him with abandon, like our very lives are at stake– because they are!  Lukewarm people love Jesus, believe in him, and desire to do what is good.  We are often even moved to tears by stories of radical faith.  Surely, compared to those who don’t make it to mass at all, or who don’t raise their hand to help, we with caring hearts who share from our abundance and love our Savior, though safely, are in fine shape as far as eternity is concerned.  What does Jesus say?
As challenging as it is, it’s pretty clear the Lord is nauseated by us.  Uncommitted faith is an abomination to our Lord.  The word of God is absolutely concise.  “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either cold or hot.  So, because you lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15-16)
Frankly, that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up to attention.  Jesus wants to spit out the half-hearted?  Yikes.
Two amazing saints are St. Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower) and St. Augustine.  These two are clarifiers for me on the issue, because though they are very different from one another, their commonality is loving Jesus with relentlessness.  The former was a contemplative who lived what most would say was an outwardly unspectacular and truly pious life inside the walls of a convent.  She very simply offered her every tiny daily sacrifice out of genuine love of God.  Her God given gifts were quiet, and she lived only 24 years, but her soul cried out to Jesus as spectacularly as anyone about whom I have ever read.  As for Augustine, through the powerful intercession of his mother, St. Monica, he overcame a life filled with sinfulness.  His love for God shines in his words, “I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.”  None of this sounds like halfhearted commitment.
To give Jesus ALL doesn’t mean we must do it in quiet hours of prayer and reverence like the Little Flower, or with bold panache and fantastic conversion like Augustine, it simply means our Savior wants us to use the grace and gifts He has given us to let Him be known.  To do so, we must look to the saints and love God passionately. The purpose of our very life should be to point to Him.
Here’s a good litmus test.  If we are obsessed by God, nothing else can get into our lives— not tribulations stress or worries.  Worry and stress reek of arrogance.  How can we dare to be so absolutely unbelieving when God totally surrounds us?
Are all we hopelessly lukewarm then?  What can we do?  Here’s some sage advice to ponder:
Be not afraid to tell Jesus that you love Him; even though it be without feeling, this is the way to oblige Him to help you, and carry you like a little child too feeble to walk.
 –St. Therese of Lisieux