Walking on Sunshine

Posts tagged ‘religion’

Weekend Menu

Over at (In)Courage, Ann is asking about our ‘Weekend Menus’.  We’re talking God rather than pizza and ice cream though.

Weekend Menu:

1. What is one thing you really could do this weekend that you would find soul nourishing? Write that down at the top of your to-do list for this weekend! He longs to feed you.

My main need is to get to Confession.  I haven’t done anything particularly awful but it’s four months since I made my First Confession and I’m feeling decidedly grubby.  I have two opportunities to go today so really don’t have any excuse for missing it.

2. How could you offer soul nourishment to one other person this weekend? Smile as you make that one special thing happen for one other person… You are passing His feast of grace to your right!

I’m stumped on this one.  Really stumped.  So if there’s something I can do for you please let me know.

On Sabbaths

Forty Acres, A Husband, & Three Kids · The Sabbath With a Bird, Flowers, and Calves Thrown in the Mix.

The post I have linked to above really got me thinking about Sundays.  Or, perhaps, I had better say Sabbaths. I find it very sad that we no longer keep the Sabbath in Scotland.  And yet I know I would be among the first to complain if I found myself unable to buy a pint milk on a Sunday.  The days when the only person working on Sunday was the Priest are long gone.

I imagine we all have different constraints placed upon us on Sundays.  Perhaps Sunday is a day of work.  Perhaps it’s the day you do your shopping.  Or perhaps, as the weather heats up, you find yourself mowing the lawn.  Maybe your sabbath isn’t a Sunday at all.

My Sabbath is a Sunday.  But I count it from Saturday’s Vigil Mass until the last mass on Sunday evening.  This means I have some ‘ doing time’ on both Saturday and Sunday but I also have  at day of rest.  After dinner on Saturday I try to get everything in the kitchen cleaned up and any washing hung to dry so I have to do is little as possible on my sabbath.  On Sunday itself, I sometimes attend a knitting group with a friend (and, yes, I know this means asking other people to perform servile work — I choose to assume that they have the opportunity to enjoy a sabbath on another day of the week).  If Liz and I are not meeting to knit then I probably spent most of the day reading.

And that’s where Sunday becomes The Lords Day for me.  I don’t read secular books on the sabbath.  Or magazines.  I really like having one day of the week set aside to read Christian books.

I usually go to the Sunday evening mass and I like to have a long, hot shower first so that’s my Sunday treat.  And, when I come home, my sabbath is over and I start thinking about the week ahead.

What’s your sabbath like?

3/3 – Determined!

I have given myself a migraine by drinking caffeine yesterday. I’m also very tired and it’s not sunny so the light isn’t giving me the boost it did yesterday. Nonetheless, I was determined to make it to Mass and I did!

Inspiring Women Every Day for New Christians

I’m working through CWR’s Inspiring Women Every Day for New Christians at the moment.  I know I’m not a new Christian and I know this isn’t a Catholic resource but it’s something I like to work through periodically.  I actually meant to do it during Lent as the study of John’s Gospel lasts 40 days but didn’t (for no very good reason, I may add!)  I’m applying the Bible reading method I was taught in RCIA for each passage the booklet directs me to read.  And then I read the notes that go along with it from the booklet.  This is forcing me to slow down enough to actually read it and think about the message instead of skimming over the words and ticking ‘Done.’  I’ve found I’m getting much more out of it (and it’s taking a lot longer!) than my previous efforts and I actually feel nourished and satisfied when I’m done although I’d often like even more.  I’ve noticed that, since the Easter Vigil, I seem to have a real hunger for God and all things Godly – prayer, Mass, Bible reading – but I don’t feel empty at all.  It’s not that kind of hunger.  Very odd and I’m sorry I can’t explain it more clearly.

Anyway.  I thought I’d share some of the lightbulb moments I’m experiencing.  I don’t have anything very profound to say, mind you, and most of it is probably glaringly obvious to everyone but me!  But, humour me?  Please!  I’ve saved some draft posts and will try to start writing and posting tomorrow. I would start now but my supper and bed are calling …

How Tossing Out My Husband List Taught Me About Trust | Singles

How Tossing Out My Husband List Taught Me About Trust | Singles.

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 – NRSV

I never had a husband list.  I was never really sure I wanted to be married and I’ve always known I don’t want children.  One of my mother’s friends has a signed statement from Laura-aged-10 stating that I’ll never have kids.  She said she’d wave it in front of me the first time I waddled my 8-months-pregnant self past her but she’s never had the pleasure.  I’ve had a couple of episodes of ‘baby rabies’ and I’m trying to learn to love babies and children because God does but I want to be blessed with one of my own the same way I want to be blessed with an opportunity to suffer for Christ.  They’re both blessings from God but I’ll be at the back of the queue when he’s handing them out.  Bless me with something else, please, God, I’ll say.  And God is good – no children and only the same amount of suffering as everyone else gets.

Husbands are a different matter.  I’ve never had one of those and I did, desperately, want one.  I’ve had boyfriends and friends who were boys.  I’ve been engaged (I was sixteen and it’s a long story) and I’ve had one other proposal (I turned it down and don’t regret it).

When I started taking my faith seriously I read a lot of books and a read a lot of blogs.  And it looked like God’s intention was for women to marry.  So I labelled myself a ‘wife in training’ and tried to become the Proverbs 31 woman.  Every man I met was a potential husband.

And then my faith developed and I realised I belonged in the Catholic Church.  So, if God was going to bless me with a husband, he’d expect me to be open to babies.  In fact, for a Catholic, a marriage isn’t ‘valid’ if one of the partners enters it with the intention of remaining childless (just to be clear, if they’re open to having children but none come then that’s fine).  So it seemed I had a problem.  And I did a lot of reading and thinking and praying.

I thought God would change me so I’d want children and I’d then convert, marry a nice, Catholic bloke and pop out a couple of babies before hitting the menopause.  I had it all planned out.  But that’s not what happened.

I started noticing the good things about being single.  And the less good things about being married.  And I started thinking that, really, I liked my life fine the way it is.  I like being single.  There – I’d finally said it.  I don’t really want to be married.  So God did change me but not in the way I expected.

I like being single.  And I love being Catholic.  And now I know why the relationships of my youth failed.  I’m not made to be married.  And I’m looking forward to the next adventure God has planned for me.

Phases of Womanhood – A Catholic perspective on women, faith, work, relationships and real life | Blog

Phases of Womanhood – A Catholic perspective on women, faith, work, relationships and real life | Blog.

Sylvia says:

God inspires.

I obey.

Everything works out.

How good is that?  It’s one of the things I believe the Pentecostals and Evangelicals have got right.  In my experience, they tend to be very much ‘led by the Spirit.’  Or their imaginations.  Or what seems good to them at the time.  Because their are abuses – I’ve seen them.  And that saddens me greatly.

So I do believe that the Holy Spirit can guide us.  But I need to know, for myself and those about me, that imagination and expediency haven’t taken over.  Since reading Sylvia’s post I’ve been thinking about how to know what’s the Holy Spirit’s leading and what isn’t.  I suppose one could call it discernment.

1 John 4:1 tells us that not every spirit or prophet comes from God and, if you read on, the passage explains that what comes from Jesus will confirm that He is the Risen Christ, what doesn’t come from Him won’t.  It sounds almost too easy, doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s why it’s never registered with me before now.  How many times have I followed a leading without asking a question first.  How many times have I led myself into trouble?

But I’m open and willing to heal and to learn.  Jesus has already done so much for me – too much to tell in one blog post.  Too much to tell in a lifetime.  And today He’s giving me a lesson.  If it proclaims Him, if it knows Him, if it loves Him then it is of Him.  And if it doesn’t, and doesn’t, and doesn’t then it is not.

I feel such relief at this discovery.  Another healing.  Another learning.  And peace.

How am I Measuring Up?

Acts 2:37-42

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  (http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Acts+2:37-42&vnum=yes&version=nrsv)

I looked at this passage this afternoon, applying the way I’ve been taught to read the Bible in RCIA.  Incidentally, I’m finding the technique really helpful so remind me to share it with you soon.

The passage tells us that, as a result of Peter’s preaching, about 3,000 thousand people became Christians.  They were Baptised in the name of Jesus and received the Holy Spirit.  It’s what happened next that really interests me.  The new believers are said to have ‘devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.’  (Emphasis added.)

I know I’m treading the right path.  I was Baptised a few years ago and Confirmed at the Easter Vigil this year.  But how do I measure up as a new Catholic when compared to these believers?

  1. The apostle’s teaching:  I think I’m doing quite well with this.  I’m spending at least an hour reading and studying and chewing over the Bible.  I’m reading Christian/Catholic books and I pay attention at Mass and RCIA classes.  I’m not so good at applying what I learn and I know I tend to lean on my own understanding of the Word rather than being led by the Holy Spirit.  I think I need to adopt a more prayerful attitude to my work.
  2. Fellowship:  Now this one is not so good.  I’m a very shy person and have been turning down invitations for fellowship with the other members of the Parish.  I deliberately sit alone at Mass.  I’m avoiding interaction as much as I can, while still wanting to be involved in the life of the Church.  What can I do to change this?  Well, there’s tea and coffee after Mass on Monday and Friday mornings so I shall commit to attending one of these each week.  Hopefully this will get easier as time goes by.
  3. The breaking of bread:  I love, love, love that I can now receive the Eucharist.  But I feel guilty for not taking all the opportunities I have to do so.  I’m really fortunate to be in a Parish where Mass is celebrated every morning but (despite making daily attendance part of my Lenten intention) I don’t make it more than once or twice a week.  And I don’t have a good reason for not going – all my ‘reasons’ are excuses and whinges – so that is something I’m going to work hard to change.  Going daily will also help me meet more people and give me some exercise, both of which are good.
  4. The prayer:  I find it very interesting that the author says ‘the’ prayer rather than ‘praying’.  To me, the implication is that there was a set format of prayer for members of the early Church.  Sure, they’d talk to God outside of those formal times but ‘the’ prayer was made by the whole community.  The Catholic Church holds this tradition with the Divine Office and I’ve tried to get with the programme by using The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Unfortunately, this practice has fallen by the wayside even though I found it to be something I enjoyed and understood.  So that’s something else which needs to change.

I have, then, four resolutions:

  1. Continue in Bible study.
  2. Go for coffee after Mass.
  3. Attend Mass daily.
  4. Practice The Little Office.

The most  challenging is really coffee after Mass – isn’t that silly?  But I am who I am – an animal person rather than a people person.  The other three require commitment and a decision to submit to God’s will rather than indulging my own.  I notice that the early believers ‘devoted themselves’ to these practices.  And I resolve to doing the same.

How do you measure up?

Top 15 Misconceptions About Catholics – Online Christian Colleges

Top 15 Misconceptions About Catholics – Online Christian Colleges.

As you know, I’ve recently converted to Catholicism.  So I was very interested to read this post rebutting some of the common misconceptions about the faith.

Lent: How was it for you?

This is the first year in which I’ve tried to keep Lent.  Well, I’ve occasionally said I’d give something up in other years but my resolution has only held for a day or two, if that.  This year, at RCIA, I was given proper instruction about the season and I really wanted to do it.  It seemed especially important as I knew I’d be received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil and so I made a proper effort.

I decided to give up caffeine and attend Mass daily.  Now, I have to confess vested interests in both cases.  I suffer from migraines and anxiety which can both be exacerbated by caffeine.  And daily Mass makes me feel wonderful.

And how did I do?  Well, I managed fairly well on the caffeine front.  I had the occasional Diet Coke or ‘proper’ coffee on a Sunday but, other than that, no caffeine passed my lips during Lent.  And I got through the exhaustion and headaches giving it up caused.  I have picked up the habit again now Lent is over but am having maybe one coffee a day and drinking decaff the rest of the time.  The migraine clusters have gone and I’m just having the odd headache and the anxiety is much improved.

Daily Mass was less successful.  I didn’t count, but I’d estimate I made it to weekday Mass three or four times at most.  And I don’t even have a good excuse for missing it.  I’d sleep in or not feel well or the weather’d be horrible.  Or I’d fall into the ‘I’ll start again on Monday’ syndrome of perfectionism.  It isn’t that I don’t want to go – I do.  But I’m finding the getting there harder than I thought it would be and that has continued into this Easter season.  On Monday I went at the wrong time and found the Church locked.  Tuesday, I slept in and today I’m nursing a cold and don’t plan to go out (or get dressed!)

I slipped into another change during Lent – I didn’t read any secular fiction.  I did read Christian fiction/non-fiction and some secular non-fiction.  And I enjoyed it.  I rather think I may do the same at Advent and Lent in future.  It was really good to focus my leisure on the worthwhile rather than the froth of the literary world.  I’m actually feeling rather reluctant to dive back into my usual reading habits – and that’s something I wasn’t expecting.

And it all culminated in the Easter Vigil.  But that, as they say, is another blog post!  How was Lent for you?

I’m Fading Fast …

This post is destined to be a bit of a ramble so, if you’re short of time:

I’ve had a busy day.  I’ve had the cold for a while and am feeling ill.  I don’t know if I have the stamina to make it to SlimmingWorld tonight.  And then I’m going to ramble about ‘real food’ for a bit before moving on to talk about Lent.

Today started at 5am.  My days are meant to begin at 6am but, lately, I’ve been waking up earlier which is kind of OK.  So I woke at 5am, snuggled with the cats for a bit and then got up.  My cleaner came this morning so we’re all spick and span.  Then Sainsbury’s delivered groceries and I put them away – I love knowing I’ve got lots of food in the house.  And having food means I’ll be cooking for the next few days till the freezer’s stocked again which is fun.  And then we’ll go on to the eating …

But moving on.  Lunch happened and then I thought about studying but didn’t actually open the books.  I wrote yesterday about bringing prayer into my daily life and to this end I decided I needed a prayer book.  Shopping or study?  Shopping or study?  Shopping won.  It usually does – just ask my Bank Manager!  So I trotted off into town and chose a really lovely (but suitably simple) prayer book.  For those that are interested, it’s this one.

Once I’d made my purchase, I realised that I was starting to feel really ill.  So I came home via a pet-sitting job (little old man called Tigger who is missing his mummy very much).  I fed myself some painkillers and had a coffee before hitting the shower in the hope that this would revive me.  It didn’t – although I now smell of coconuts which is always good.

Meds for me, meds for cats, dinner for cats, dinner for me.  And I neglected to use my new prayer book to say Grace.  Bad Laura.  I now have seven minutes before I have to leave for SlimmingWorld if I’m going.  After the recent feline interruption we’re now down to three minutes but I can have more painkillers now …

I am not going to SlimmingWorld tonight.  I’m ill.  I’m tired.  And I just want to veg out in front of the TV and then go to bed.  The diet will still begin tomorrow since I now have suitable food but I will go it alone for a week and see how I do.

OK.  So on to the other topics I’ve been thinking about.  I read a very interesting blog post last night and, unfortunately, can’t remember where it was so that I might give credit where it is due.  Ah well …  The writer was talking about her experience of ‘real food’ which she described as being unprocessed wholefoods.  She had become interested in the real food movement after reading The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin and claimed various benefits including weight-loss.  And she got me to thinking:

Could my health problems (in particular the constant migraines) be connected with my diet?

So I’ve done some digging on the internets and there are mixed reports about The Maker’s Diet.  I think the basic premise:  eat what God intended a human being to eat instead of chemical-laden rubbish, is good and I’m very interested in the whole concept of ‘real food’.  I’ve just ordered a copy of the book from Amazon and we’ll see how I get on with it.

And this brings me nicely to the question of Lent.  I haven’t had RCIA instruction about Lent yet (we’re doing the Sacraments at the moment) but I believe one should give something up for it and also do something positive?  And I’ve been wondering what to do for a while.  I’ve decided I’m going to take a big, deep breath and give up caffeine.  Now, I have to confess here that I’ve done this before and felt fabulous once my body got used to it so I’m not being entirely selfless.  But it is something I will find very hard and should, therefore, turn my thoughts to Christ’s passion.

For the doing of something positive I’m going to commit to daily Mass during Lent with a ‘missed for good reason’ caveat as I can do without feeling guilty if I’m sick and so can’t go.  Again, this is something I’ve done before (although not at Lent) and it made me feel really good and behave like a nicer person.  Being in Church at 9:30am every day will also help me stay awake without umpteen cups of coffee!

Once again, the pieces are falling into place.  Life is good – even if my throat does hurt!