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Divine Mercy Novena Day 1: Good Friday

If you are not familiar with the Divine Mercy chaplet, please refer to this older post. Once you are familiar with the chaplet, you can prepare yourself for Divine Mercy Sunday with this beautiful novena. I call it beautiful because it allows you to bring souls to Christ with the hopes that they may experience Christ's grace and his mercy. If you take this novena seriously, you will find yourself not only benefiting your own soul through a deeper understanding of Christ's mercy...but you will benefit other souls as well. These souls may not have anyone else to pray for them. These souls may be one prayer away from that crucial metanoia that will ultimately lead them to Christ. Conversions isn't something that just happens...it is a process that may be initiated by prayers for these individuals and a bunch of prayer warriors storming heaven on behalf of souls in need of conversion.

God loves every soul out there....and it is up to us to vouch for souls who cannot vouch for themselves. With that said, please consider praying this Novena with me. You pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for nine days, starting on Good Friday and ending on Divine Mercy Sunday. You can find the details here, but essentially you fulfill a few conditions along with prayer of this Novena (confession, Eucharist on Divine Mercy Sunday, praying for the pope's intentions, etc) to attain plenary indulgence as well as many other graces. In previous years, I have kept particular souls in mind as I have met the different conditions of this Novena with the intention that any graces I could receive, are instead given to these souls. I believe that God is merciful beyond my understanding and, as such, believe that prayer and suffering on behalf of other souls is a powerful help for these souls.

The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good  Friday and, according to the diaries of St. Faustina Kowalska, "by this Novena [Christ] will grant every possible grace for souls." I know I am one of those souls in dire need of Christ's mercy because I am nowhere near perfect and I cannot rely on myself to change this. I must rely on God and, in order to do so, I must trust in His mercy. The promise of grace through this Novena is a powerful thing. I think of it as that hand that Christ extended to St. Peter when he started to flounder in the water. He had faith and this faith is what led him to attempt to walk on water with Christ. Yet, it was his doubt and his fears that caused him to sink even in the presence of Christ. We may not think of our own faithful life as being similar to those great apostles from the New Testament...but it is very similar. We face temptations, we find strength in Christ, and we rely on his friendship (grace)...as St. Peter relied on Christ's friendship (grace).

The souls we are asked to pray for on the first day of the novena are the souls of all of mankind...especially sinners. Let us pray that all of these souls are brought to Christ that his mercy and compassion wash over them.

Papal Favorite: Marc Chagall’s “White Crucifixion” depicts Jesus, wearing a tallit instead of a loincloth.
Marc Chagall's  White Crucifixion (1938)
A favorite of Pope Francis

"Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners,and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me."

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

Pax Vobiscum

(For previous reflections for the first day of this Novena, click here.)

Learning from Hannah

The odds are certainly not in my favor with regards to fertility.

I know science will only be able to do so much for me, and I absolutely refuse to even consider IVF for faith-based as well as experience-based reasons. Experience-based reasons include countless hours of labwork. I know the techniques involved, the materials, the tools, the protocols, etc. With that said, even if I wasn't Catholic and even if I could have this procedure performed with the guarantee that no embryo would be destroyed in the process....I could not bring myself to do it. Firstly, IVF is an industry. Second, the entire procedure is too "Brave New World" for me. Too many microscopes, pipettes, incubators, cell media, etc. and not enough humanity. Too many non-human steps to create life and too little emotion. I don't care how caring an IVF specialist claims to be, at the end of the day, the whole procedure is just that...a procedure. It is simply a procedure that involves a specimen from a male, a specimen from a female, pipettes, microscopes, sterile dishes, a punched in time card...and that's it. I am not going to judge you if you have had IVF performed or think any less of children conceived through IVF. Knowing what I know and experiencing what I have experienced in a lab...and even reading the dystopian novels that I have read...I just could not do it. 

In short...I understand and agree with the Catholic teachings on IVF....but even if I didn't know or agree with them...I still could not go the IVF route.

The husband and I are open to adoption and, if the whole fertility thing doesn't pan out...well, adoption it will be. I have always loved children and been considered the "soccer mom" among friends (for my ability to always supply snacks and beverages, my good birthing hips, and other fine qualities). 

Yesterday, I went to confession and as part of my penance, I was asked to go down and pray before the tabernacle. Christ was on display for an all-day prayer service that was taking place and the group in the chapel was in the middle of praying the Divine Mercy chaplet. At the end of the chaplet, this group had an open discussion. An older Filipino woman brought up abortion as a topic. She emphatically expressed sadness for the loss of so many children and as she spoke my heart cried out.

"Give me those children. I will take those children!"

Tears formed in my eyes as this silent prayer was raised up...

As hectic as my life may be, I still yearn for a family. I want to start a family and raise children. Yes, I am working on my PhD...and yes there are quite a few people that will tell you to put a family on hold in order to obtain a PhD. I don't care about what these people say and have, thankfully, known a few very wonderful women with doctorates as well as families. I look up to these women and know that both are possible. I am not yet 35, but going by age, but am already on the decline as far as fertility goes. Add polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis to the mix...and well, things don't look too fantastic. That's not even counting any environmental or occupational exposures to potential toxins that could have affected fertility.

My husband and I are not actively trying to have children right now....but we aren't avoiding children either. Still, my mind has already started to wander back to Hannah...the mother of the Prophet Samuel whenever another cycle begins uninterrupted. I know I should not worry too much about fertility until after at least a year of actively trying for children...but every new baby on my friends feed and every child I see these days brings me back to Hannah. The woman who made such a spectacle of herself in the temple, sobbing as she begged God for a child...the woman who finally got to be a mother after years of being barren. The same woman who, when her child Samuel reached the right age, gave him up so that he could serve God as one of His greatest prophets. 
File:Gerbrand van den Eeckhout - Anna toont haar zoon Samuël aan de priester Eli.jpg
Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the priest Eli
Gerbrand van den Eeckhout ca.1665
God knows what He is doing and I trust in Him. I know my chances for children may not be too great from a purely scientific perspective...but everything is possible for God. He knows me and knows the love in my heart as well as he knows the longings in my heart. He knows the pain I feel when I hear of unwanted children that had been aborted, abandoned, hurt, or neglected by people in this world who really do not know the value of the treasure they were given. He knows that I will literally stand next to an abortion clinic with a sign reading "Infertile couple with loving home! Will adopt your baby!" if that is what it takes to bring my children home. He knows I will deal with all of the lengthy, bureaucratic red tape necessary to bring home my children. He knows exactly how much I can put up with to ease this longing in my heart...and maybe that is why I was given this particular cross to bear. 

I have not given up hope on children yet as I know it is too early in the game to even be too worried about it. Who knows, I may already be bouncing a baby on my knee a year from now. Only God knows...and I just have to trust Him in the meantime.

Pax Vobiscum

God help Pelosi...because she needs all the help she can get

Sacramentals, like blessed rosaries, carry a source of power that cannot ever be ignored or subdued by evil. When our Lady of Lourdes appeared to St. Bernadette, it is said that this miraculous encounter was imitated by children who also professed to hear and see Our Lady as well. These children were either hysteric, under demonic possession, or simply seeking attention. Their purpose in the events that followed this apparition was simply to discredit St. Bernadette and the apparition. God grants great miracles, but challenges certainly tend to follow these miracles. Just look at the trouble preceding the acceptance and mass publication of Sr. Faustina Kowalska's Divine Mercy in My Soul! This book was once banned by the church due to a misunderstanding following faulty translation...until Bl. JPII intervened! Just look at how many trials the saints had to go through before achieving sanctity! Just look at the persecutions that had to take place before people were even allowed to publicly practice Christianity (and the persecutions that occur even today)!

I don't want to get too off topic here, so I will just get to the meaty part of the St. Bernadette copycats story. It was difficult to distinguish right away whether or not these St. Bernadette copycats were actually experiencing visions as well or if they were frauds. However, one thing that stood out between these children and St. Bernadette was that these children would not pray with blessed rosaries. They had many new rosaries they prayed with, but for some reason, they avoided the blessed rosaries and would not pray with them. After noticing this aversion to sacramentals, people soon started picking up on other attention-seeking behaviors and actions that did not add up. Suspicions continued until it was finally revealed that these children were frauds. However, even with these pseudovisionaries, the words of Our Lady of Lourdes withstood the test of time and St. Bernadette attained sanctity. The site is still a site of miracles and there are countless pilgrims that keep going back to that grotto every year. Truth works like that....regardless of how much evil tries to tarnish it. God works like that....regardless of how people try to take him out of the picture.
Nancy Pelosi 2013.jpg
Which brings me to Nancy Pelosi. I know a lot of people aren't too happy that President Obama passed off rosary beads that had been blessed by Pope Francis to Pelosi this Tuesday. I know where she stands in terms of abortion and all I can say is that she is going to need all the help she can get when it comes to conversion of heart as well as mind. With that said, as much as I envy her for getting these beads....these beads could not have gone to a soul in more need of help and intervention than Nancy Pelosi (given her status as both a Catholic and politician). I do not believe that this rosary was given to her by chance or by accident and I have a feeling that Pope Francis knew exactly what he was doing when he passed off the rosary as a gift.

A rosary blessed by St. Peter's successor, I'd imagine, is a very powerful sacramental and I believe that there are many graces that can come from this gift. I have faith that Nancy Pelosi may one day turn her back on PP and all those other pro-abortion interest groups if this rosary leads her to prayer and if this prayer, in turn, leads to a St. Paul-like metanoia. She could have declined this rosary and it could have gone to Biden or any number of other Catholics in DC that have focused more on the self-interest groups funding their elections than they have on the Church they claim to follow (whenever they want to garner that Catholic vote). However, I am sure that God is taking care of these individuals considering how many times I've been asked to pray for them and have participated in prayer for them.

Instead of pushing God out of the picture here by protesting how little Pelosi deserves this sacramental, how this is all a travesty, and how she should be denied sacramentals/communion/etc...how about we focus on her conversion? How about we begin to consider that this may all be part of God's plan for ultimate good? How about we pray for her to pray with this rosary, that she may be enlightened by the Holy Spirit as she prays each decade. If you've ever heard of what the green scapular and the Miraculous medal are capable of in terms of conversion....you should not doubt that this rosary should be able to pull this very misguided soul back to God so that she may one day actually surprise even her biggest naysayers. I don't know about you, but I would LOVE to see her working on legislation to protect the lives of the unborn...rather than sending them to slaughter for the sake of PP and other self-interest groups with deep pockets. Pray for her conversion and pray that this sacramental may protect her soul from peril.

Think about it, unlike the fraudulent visionaries in Lourdes...Pelosi actually accepted the rosary. She could have avoided it...and this, I believe...must mean something.

Pax Vobiscum