Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Up hearts!"

Today is Transfiguration Sunday and how apporpriate that it come in the midst of Lent... the second Sunday of Lent! Luke 9:28b-36.."Jesus went up to the mountain to pray. While He was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white." How often do I feel like this upward motion in being on the mountain as I gaze at the tabernacle or the monstrance or the grouping I shared with you that I see as I sit on the couch to say my rosary and prayers.... Rising in prayer..."rising to the heart of God". Yes, also when Pat, I and John say morning prayer around the breakfast table we are feeling our hearts take flight up to the heights... above the hard and scarey situations that we encounter or the day to day dullness that we face in the recovery and returning to the "real world".

Fr Simon Tugwell... a Dominican priest and author... says it better than I can:

"If we have real hearts, hearts purified of all that is not heart, they would gravitate towards God as naturally as ham to eggs.... It is a measure of our humanity that we should come to be facinated by God, and then all our life will fall into place, all our faculties will function in the way God intended them to function, we can then also put up with an awful lot of tiresome things in life, because they pale into insignificance beside the wonder of God. In that light, even pain and failure and betrayal cease to matter too much. Even they can be seen to shine, when they are seen in God, because even they have been accepted by God as the price of union with our world."

The sacraments are so powerful to me this lent.... I was really touched by the Eucharistic prayer that Father has been using this last week at Daily mass... I looked it up and brought a song book/mass book home so that I could read the words over and over and marvel at their beauty and deep meaning...Eucharistic prayer for mass of Reconcilliation I.... " When we were lost and could not find our way to you, you loved us more than ever: Jesus, your Son, innocent and without sin, gave himself into our hands and was nailed to a cross. Yet before he stretched out his arms between heaven and earth in the everlasting sign of your covenant, He desired to celebrate the Paschal feast in the company of His disciples...."

Jesus, Our hearts and souls rise to you out of the smallness of our lives.... You certainly embraced a "small and humble" life for 30 years on this earth. Yet, we know that you would go to that "mountain top of prayer" and become dazzling in the presence of your loving and forgiving Father! We find joy and hope and trust in our times of prayer even if it is in the car as we travel from here to there... It is all so wonderful and makes us realize that out of the humble places of our hearts we come to You... Jesus we trust in You. Amen

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A change of direction - Lenten thoughts - Jesus comes to me in a personal way!...I am His!

Often I have marveled at the way the Lord has directed my life.... so obvious to me as I reflect back. Growing up as a minister's daughter was a good start to live a Christian life... that is what my dad did for a living, and he could and still does give great homilies! Still does because he is now a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church! I have shared in the past that just about 40 years ago my entire family of 13 converted to Catholicism... these were the events leading up to that point on my own personal journey...

The summer after I graduated High School in Flint, Michigan... my family moved to Minneapolis. My dad was still a minister, but had started working with alcoholics. They asked him to come to Minneapolis and start a Chemical Dependency unit at General Hospital. I worked a year, so that I could be a resident of the Minnesota and go to the U of M for a lot less. I got a job at General Hospital charting lab results in the charts... I would go to all the big wards and the units and with my little tape dispenser put the lab slips in the charts... I started to think that the nursing part looked like a way that I could help people, and so I trained as an aide and worked the big wards on Men's Medical. It led me in the direction of nursing and so I started at the U with nursing as my goal!

During welcome week I met Pat's sister, Marge. We stayed friends... she lived in a dorm and I lived at home, so I spent a good amount of time there hanging out with her. When the summer came around we told our mother's that we were going to hitch hike "out west" to their horror. You have to understand that this was 1971 and this was just what everyone was doing... going out to see the flower children I suppose or to become one.... We ended up getting a ride with someone that we knew... as we camped on the way... The place we ended our journey was Boulder,Colorado. A group of Christians had set up a commune there for all these kids that we "heading out west".

The first night there I was prayed over to stop smoking... I had smoked for that first year of college and haven't smoked since. After about a week there I called my boyfriend, and told him that I wouldn't be moving in with him... he was upset and mad... I was relieved. We lived in a strict setting... the guys and girls were separated, and we had times for chores, bible reading and prayers... the women wore long dresses. I started to think that this is how it is if you are a nun, and that I would like to be a nun.... My parents and I had been attending a charismatic prayer group in Wayzata at a Cenacle Convent of Sisters. It was my first exposure to Catholic Sisters and they were wonderful!

I returned home after about a month of living there... My parents had a surprise for me.... they shared the experience that they had while on retreat at the convent doing the Ignation Silent Retreat Exercises and how my dad was led to join the Catholic Church... My parents said that I could decide if I would join them and my younger siblings since I was soon to be 20yo... "I want to be Catholic, because I want to be a nun." Eventually all of us decided to join and the rest is history!

So much more has happened with each passing year.... I am filled with such appreciation and love for the Lord and how He has personally been so involved in my life and bringing me from a brink of a life that would not have been anything like the one that I have been blessed with! How I love to share it far a wide and how I love to hear the way the Lord has touched others! There is a God and He is alive and well and crazy in love with each and every one of us! Jesus we trust in You!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Going along to a Cow sale

So much was in my heart to share with you all, and my husband came in and asked me to go with him to Pipestone to a cow sale... Some of our best visiting happens when the two of us go in the pickup to a sale in some neighboring towm... It was a great time to share going and coming back... We shared morning prayer from our Magnificat and then a few chapters from Rediscovering Catholicsm by Matthew Kelly... And before we left I asked him if he would mind if I just sat out and read in the sun while he went into the sale... That was fine with him, and wow did I ever hit the jackpot in readng material! I had literally a bag full of books that I had come across before we left... I was looking for a specific Stations of the Cross book by JP2 and I never did find that... but found a lot of others that I had in a pile on the table.... Instead of trying to decide what to bring along I stuck them all in a bag....

So in the quiet of the parking lot surrounded by empty trailers... I sat engrossed in a couple books written by my hero, John Paul the second. The sun was so warm that I had the window cracked a bit, and the fresh air was wonderful and gave me hope for spring. First I read a small book that he put out shortly after he had added the new mysteries to the rosary... the luminous mysteries or the mysteries of Light! Today at mass I had thought a lot about the cross and the stations of the cross as I mentioned yesterday... I stood under our huge crucifix in the empty church and took a picture from the perspective of Mary... as she stood at the foot of her son's cross and watched him die! The Cross is so close at this lenten time of year... I especially was touched by what he shared pertaining to the Crucifixion... "Mary's gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, never left him... at times it would be a look of sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still be that of a mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to her in the beloved disciple (you and I)."

Next a encyclical on the Eucharist... Every word was a gem and the highlighter in my hand was writing WOW and exclamation points everywhere...I cannot hold myself back from quoting this marvelous paragraph, but before I do... I want to encourage all of you to get a copy of The Encyclical Letter on the Eucharist and its Relationship to the Church... it is probably on line... he wrote in it 2003:

"When I think of the Eucharist, and look at my life as a priest, as a Bishop and as the Successor of Peter, I naturally recall the many places in which I was able to celebrate it. I remember the parish church of Niegowic, where I had my first pastoral assigment, the collegiate church of ST Florian in Krakow, Wawel Cathedral, ST Peter's Basilica and so many basilicas and churches in Rome and throughout the world. I have been able to celebrate Holy Mass in chapels built along mountain paths, on lakeshores and seacoasts; I have celebrated on altars built in stadiums and in city squares.... This varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist has given me the powerful experience of its universal and, so to speak, cosmic character. Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world! In unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates creation. The Son of God became man in order to restore all creation, in one supreme act of praise, to the One who made it from nothing. He, the Eternal High Priest who by the blood of his Cross entered the eternal sactuary, thus gives back to the Creator and Father all creation redeemed. He does so through the priestly ministry of the Church, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. Truly this is the supreme mystery which is accomplished in the Eucharist; the world which came forth from the hands of God the Creator now returns to him redeemed by Christ."

So beautiful and amazing... too much to share and digest.... Something that I wish I could carry in my heart and soul when I come to receive our Lord in the Eucharist! "For the most Holy Eucharist contains the Church's entire wealth: Christ himself, our passover and living bread. Through his own flesh, now made giving and life-giving by the Holy Spirit,offers life to men." I will leave it here...

I have had people ask how to go about getting the Magnificat for your daily prayers and the readings of the mass... you will find all you need there.

Loving Lord thank you for the blessings of a quiet haven in the sun... Life is good and a blessing with all there is to learn, and the fact that the Church is so wide as to cover the whole world... so far back as to encompass all the saints that have gone ahead of us as well as your Blessed Mother... our Spiritual Mother.... and up to heaven where we long to be united with you for eternity! We are surrounded by your love and how can we go wrong with all of that support and endless love? Jesus we trust in You! Barb and family

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lent is a gift!

Looking at the Litany of Humility this morning... the word calumniate just escaped me... looked it up... to utter false malicious statements about a person in other words - slander. I remember well when my mom sent me the litany and I read it for the first time! I had been dealing with a personal blow to my pride and it was a rough thing to accept. When I read it for the first time... I thought; "How can anyone pray this and actually ask for it in their heart?" I also mentioned to my daughter, Maria, that it seemed Humility was always the virtue being asked of us... her responce.... "I read that one of the saints is known to have said that there are three virtues we need to have... humility, humility and humility!" So true and so very hard! Blessed Theresa of Calcutta - The Missionaries of Charity pray this once a week in their community! They are about as humble as it gets and their lives are spent serving the poorest of the poor! Lord, give us the strength to ask for a humble spirit, and live closer to You as a result!

Today I slipped in for daily mass... as Pat headed out to get a new baby calf into the warming box and out of the -11 degree COLD! We are blessed with a wonderful GIFT this calving season with a surveillance camera that rotates back and forth and allows us to see the cows near calving right on our TV screen in the comfort of our family room. A few times a night we can wander out and sit on the couch and watch them undesturbed and see if any are calving or getting near to calving.... Pat loves the fact that they are not aware that we are watching them, because as soon as he would go out there they would stand up and get nervous to have someone turn on the light and walk around checking on them. "I would get them up, and couldn't get near as good a look at them and what is truly going on. Now they are relaxed and I can tell a lot better just what is going on." It is wonderful! The days of having to get up and dressed, and go out every few hours to check them during the night now is merely walking out by the warm woodstove and looking at the TV! He still has to go out during the night, but now knows that he has a reason to be going...How we are in love with modern technology around here! How we pray for warmer weather for our little babies however at the same time. We are in the midst of a cold cold spell right now!

Mass was a special gift today as we reflected on the story of Jonah... no not the whale part, but the part about how when he finally said "yes" to the job the Lord had for him... that he was used to bring the entire huge city of Ninevah to repentance and forgiveness! I am truly asking the Lord to help me do a better job with my fasting this Lent, and allow me to get myself under my spiritual thumb! I can and do on a regular basis become very indulgant with feeding me and giving me anything my little heart desires.... Lots of work needed here, Lord.

I sat after mass feeling the peace of the tabernacle drawing me to it... How I Love to sit in your presence precious loving Lord! I became aware of three men that were intent upon their devotions! It suddenly struck me how that is not what you would normally expect to find.... One was a young man... younger than me by a ways... kneeling and deeply involved in saying his rosary. Another closer to my age was gazing at the tabernacle with his book of devotions in his hand... A retired man had stood up and was starting to do the stations of the cross... walking around the church with a book of the stations following the journey that Christ made from being condemned to his death and burial... The Mel Gibson... The Passion of the Christ... is truly a live following of the Stations and we that have seen it will be forever changed by it! To remember how He suffered is so powerful, and so much a part of how we are called to penance during this wonderful yet hard Lenten season! Thank you loving Lord! Jesus we trust in You! Bless-bless, Barb

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

God's amazing Word!

Once again there is a constant prayer in each of our hearts for our precious grandson, David Lanoue. We are all pulling together to support not only David but his parents and two siblings... Simon and Mary. He is going to take a while to recover... as the virus he has is "slow moving" as the doctor told Ruth this morning. Ruth is now determined to get to the real root of David's problems, which he has been struggling with always with his breathing and just not as healthy as we think he should be... we are encouraging them to take him to Rochester... as after our experience with John we see how thorough they are and how they see everything there! Please lift this always happy and sweet little gift from God up for healing with us!

In today's readings... the OT reading is from Isaiah, and just a few verses after the ones my dad read on retreat at a Cenacle Convent in Wayzata about 40 years ago! I am speaking of Isaiah55:1-2. "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without price." In reading these words... my dad, who at the time was a Protestant minister, heard the Lord calling him to join the Catholic church. Within a few months... my parents (my mother had a desire to be Catholic for years - she had a devotion to the Blessed Mother and there is no other place to be if you are called by her)and all 11 of us children took our first communion as new Catholics at the same convent at Christmas Midnight mass! Looking at these scriptures in the years since... I see that they are very Eucharistic!

Today Isaiah speaks of the Word and how is goes forth to "water the earth, making it fertile and fruitful. Giving seed to the one who sows, and bread to the one who eats." verse 10 There are so many places in my life that the Word is all this and more to me! Growing up Protestant... I did read the Bible more than probably Pat did, but I do see that the Word needs to be protected and interpreted so that we do not take it into our own hands and twist it to our own purposes.

I have loved to daily follow the readings of the Church even when I cannot make it to mass that day. Today I use the Magnificat... I mention it often... it has become a powerful source of strength and shared prayer for my husband, Pat and I as well as now our son, John, who is back with us after an 8 month battle with cancer of the brain... The three of us share the morning prayer each morning around the breakfast table and this has been a huge source of strength for us... we always end the time together by reading the Gospel for the day... Christ with us!

I have shared in the past... a big way the Gospel has become so beautiful as Christ here with us in reality... through my daughter, Susan now Little Sister Hallel's, joining the Community of the Lamb... ... I would encourage you to go and take a look at them on line... they represent Christ knocking on the door of the poor... they take the Gospel from each day and pray over it and meditate on each and every word and line and look at "echoes" throughout the Bible and Church Fathers that reflect more deeply and further on it.... Powerful amazing stuff, and it has made me hunger each night to read the Gospel for the next day as they do in their community and start to take it deep deep down... letting the seed be planted and give forth fruit!

Enough for today... I could obviously go on and on! I would encourage one and all to get a Bible and a list of the readings for the day and look them up and prayerfully read them in the quiet that you carve out for yourself at some point of your day! Just before bed is a nice time to do some spiritual reading for me. And I would definitely call reading the Bible readings for each day the epitome of spiritual reading! You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Jesus we trust in You! Barb and the Verlys

Monday, February 22, 2010

St Peter's Chair feast day! - Monday Feb 22,2010

Mixed feeling flooding us today as we woke to discover that our grandson, David Lanoue... 19months is in the hospital with pneumonia. John was very concerned and wanted to run right in there to see his Godson. After talking to Ruth... David's mom... we decided to bring her in lunch at about noon. We arrived just as the anethesialogist came to try to put in his IV for the 6th time! Ruth held him down, and John was able to sit there and take it, but i had to go down to the family room to say some prayers... it was too hard for me to listen to his screams!... Success after two attempts.... he now has an IV in his foot and is getting the fluids that he needs along with the medication.

It was interesting to me to see John there, and how he spoke to Davey about how this hurts, or that hurts, or that he will get over it because it will soon be over... meaning the pain. Yes, John has spent many times in the hospital, and been poked for IVs and blood draws over and over... In a way he knew just what David was going through, but yet he also knew that feeling when it is done and the pain is a ever fainter memory.... I think that for him to be back sitting in a hospital so soon is a bit hard to take... His sister commented on it to him.

Many beautiful moments shared in prayers lifting up our precious little grandson... in the kitchen with David's other grandma and his 3yo sister, Mary. Praying out loud together for him, and sharing a "Hail Mary". Then with Pat and John as we shared morning prayer and each prayed. As we spoke to the girls... David's 3 other Aunties to let them know to be praying... even speaking to LS Hallel in Kansas City. All concerned and all praying.. of that we are comforted and sure! Calling Michigan to speak with my parents, and Pat's mom too here in town...It is so wonderful to have such a supportive and strong prayer network just in the midst of our own family!

Such a powerful day today in our Church... looking to the one who accepts the "cross" to occupy the chair of St Peter... the Pope! John reflecting back to the times that he has had the opportunity to visit Rome and St Peters and see the Chair... not only that but the times that he attended mass with both JP2 and Benedict! As he has been to Rome twice in his young years of life already. It is a crazy generation and the way the world is so small to them... John has been to Guatemala, NewZealand/Australia, Rome twice, and last August to France!

Many times working TEC retreats... together Encounter Christ retreats.... we are struck with how the leaders are truly the servants of all that attend! In that light what was shared about the Pope today in our morning prayers really was a powerful thing to consider. I have heard how huge and terrifying it is to accept the Vicar of Christ - Popeship... for these men when they are elected! It is an agonizing decision, and it is hard to realize the weight of the world that is put upon their shoulders. Fr von Balthasar (1988) wrote:

"Peter is led where he does not wish to go and even the papacy today.... The lowest place, which is where , the servus servorum(pope)must stand, the place of final comtempt and insult, the rubbish-heap on which one is "a worm and no longer a man," this place where no man willingly occupies, is precisely the place where the office... as St Paul says: "For this reason I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with hardships, with persecution and fears for Christ's sake, for if I am weak, then I am strong"(2Cor12:10)... for this is the meaning of the authority of the ministerial office, which is a Christian spiritual power only to be exercised as one undergoes humiliation oneself,.... ultimately means that for them too that they must become weak, that they must be crucified with Christ, that they must share in bearing the guilt of all."

Dear Lord... we should remember every day to pray for the head of our Church... your servant of all servants... Pope Benedict the XVI... His cross in huge as it embraces the whole world and all the many hardships and problems... How hard and huge is his job! Thank you for his prayers and guidance in our lives and the Wisdom of our Church! Jesus we trust in You. Amen Barb... united with the family of prayer!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The new beginning....

Hello all,
Returning home after 5 weeks away in Rochester, Mn... as John took the final step in healing.. a stem cell transplant.... WE are trusting and hoping that this marks the end of our son, John's cancer. It has been an 8 month journey with many twists and turns along the way. In the need to get some of the cancer, John has been left with ataxia on his left side of his body... after a brain biopsy was done going through the back of his brain at the end of July in Rochester. If not for that he would have been totally normal in every way, but the fact that he had lymphoma cancer of the brain. His only symptoms to indicate that something was wrong up til then was double vision and fatigue.

John has entered the rehab and finding his "new normal" part of this journey and other than maybe weekly updates on our caring bridge site.... the need to write you has now diminished hugely.... John now wants to claim his healing and start facing his road ahead as one that with hard work he will regain all that he has lost in his ability at this point to run and jump.... For a young now 21 year old college student, who enjoyed broom ball, and soft ball, and every other activity that came along while a member of the Farmhouse Fraternity... he is now realizing that there is no magic cure for him... it is going to take hard work in physical therapy, and much more just work on his own at home or wherever he finds himself. His goal is to return to life at college with all that means for him with his Ag Ed Communications major.

Along the way with John... I, Barb, have found huge "therapy" with being able to share with so many on the caring bridge site. It was gut wrenching for me to think about not having a way to continue to share with those that have been with us so loyally praying and supporting us on the way... Yet, it does seem that we are no longer needing the caring bridge... John is cancer free, and we want to claim that healthy attitude and trusting the Lord that we are now no longer in that chapter of our lives! I want to say here that hearing from you in the guestbook has been huge for Pat, John and I... so please share here or on our email at any time... we love and need to hear from you!

So with all this said... I will start sharing with those with an interest here and we will take it as it comes with each day or week. I can already see that my life will be much more demanding with now back to work, and all that things going on here with calving and then into "spring work"... doesn't that sound impossible with all the mountains of snow out there? John on the other hand is so glad to be driving in to therapy, and taking care of his needs for the most part except for mom getting him his meds and meals, but next weekend he has plans to attend his Fraternity's formal, and will be on his own with his meds, so maybe a start of total independence!

I would just like to end for today with a bit about the name of this blog and how it all came about. I had no computer for a week just after John said that we should end our CB site as he was cured and just going thru rehab.... I knew that the Lord was telling me something so I started to pray for an answer and felt that I should ask two people to help me with a decision... my husband and the Bishop of our diocese... I knew he has been following John....

The Bishop kindly wrote back suggesting one of three things being to start a blog... the Verly Family Story... I had been thinking that I wanted "Soul" in it... growing up in Michigan... my siblings and myself always considered ourselves having "soul" growing up with Motown music... I am in the midst of reading Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly, and he speaks often in terms of our souls as does the beautiful humble ST Therese of Lisseux in her book, The Story of a Soul, as well as ST K and her divine mercy diary.

As I was reading Matthew's book...I started jotting down soul this or soul that... ideas for the title of this blog... Soul disciple, soul work, soul free, soul moments,soul fully,soul creature, soul be saints!, soul glory,soul happiness,soul value, soul catholic,soul desire, soul prayerfully, soul holiness, soul service, soul satisfy, soul peace, soul purpose, soul faith, soul desire, soul cry out, soul be all, soul truly ourselves, soul aim, soul new self... but when I thought about it I wanted it to be simple and humble so following in ST Therese's thoughts... Soul Story... and my daughter, Maria here for the weekend said;"Mom, you want it to be soul family as that is what you write and share about!" So true! So with the Bishop and Maria helping me.... Family Soul Story...

My husband, Pat, had more wisdom yet... he thought a blog would be OK... "if you don't spend hours each day at it." And he also felt that I or John should update you weekly or so on Caring Bridge also to let you all know of the progress that he is making. That is good, we think, as you have all been such wonderful faithful followers and fellow warriors at our sides in the battle and now victory!

After a weekend with all 5 of the grandkids and family meals and fun including Pat's sister and his 90 year old mom.... and just getting off the phone with each of the two that we unable to be here with us... yet always with us.... I am filled to the brim with all the blessings that family holds for us! Good and tired after all the "work" it takes to feed and pick up and go outside on "adventures" with three of the grandkids each day! I am so filled with joy and thankfulness for the craziness and then the peace that has followed. One would not be near as great without the other. Life is a gift! John has made us realize that more than ever before! Now to allow and watch him as he becomes the man the Lord is calling him to be after cancer! Jesus we trust in You! Bless-bless, Barb and the Verlys... every last one of them!