My Triduum Journey of 2009 - Part 2

Posted by Bakersfield Brat on 11:13 PM in , , , ,
Veneration of The Cross , Stations of the Cross & Good Friday Service all in one day!

I started to morning off by over sleeping. I was to have gone on the Good Friday 25 mile walk to 7 local parishes. I had heard about it and wanted to experience atleast a few of the miles. But I woke up 30mins after they had started & not feeling so good. Sleeping was probably the best for the time.

I took an easy morning and then had lunch with my son and my folks. I shared with them my excitement about the previous nights celebration at the church. Both my parents were saddened that they never knew about what a fantastic celebration it had been. Both have been Catholics for over 60+ years and they have been learning along the way with me.

As soon as lunch was over I trotted off to find the perfect Easter Dress. I took my mother with me. She is a true shopaholic who gave up shopping for Lent. She told me she would only go into one store and I had just a short time. I was so proud of her. She has done this for the last few years, it has become a tradition. Part of my Easter Basket is a new outfit for Easter Sunday. Now to understand this fully you need to know that dresses are just not my cup of tea. I try each and every year for a dress and I never manage to find one that I truly am happy with. I just am not the dress kind of girl. After a pain staking amount of time I had found 2 tops. Woo hoo! I was done. I know have to decide which to wear for which service. Decissions, Decissions what's a girl to do.

Afterwords my Mother and I headed over to the last and final Stations of the Cross. This year I had taken my mother along with me. She had been to Station of the Cross before but this time it was different. Once again as we entered in to the main section of the church the lights were off. It was in the middle of the day, you would have thought this wasn't a big issue but it was. The weather had turned ominous. Previous days we were in the highs 70 - 80's. Nice spring weather but a storm had rolled in, which for our part of the area it doesn't rain or storm much after February. As we entered into the church the sky grew dark and made the church even darker. The only light that was of the candles that surrounded the Crucifix which laid at the front of the Alter with two spot lights beaming on it. I myself had never experienced the Veneration of the Cross. Nor had I experienced Stations of the Cross like this. At this point started to think "Wow and I called myself a Catholic all these years".

Two by Two individuals took their turns to go up on one side or the other and kneel beside the Crucifix. As I sat in the crowd watching as families came and spent their moment of praying. I was amazed. I so wanted to take my phone out and snap a picture but I just felt that was not the place or the time to do that this time. I watched as a woman went up and stroked the face of Jesus on the Cross. I watched as she wiped his face. It was as if she was doing what Veronica had done for Jesus on that final day. I watched as others knelt and kissed the feet where the nail was in his feet. I watched as people laid rose petals all over the body of Jesus and took a moment to kiss his feet.

My mother and I were both experiencing this celebration for the first time. I noticed as my mom was sitting on the edge of her seat to see all the excitement. It was so silent and so enormously powerful and moving. I leaned over and told her if she wanted to go up that I would help her up once she knelt down (My Mother is 80 years old and had both of her knees replaced). She looked at me like I was crazy. I could tell she was too frightened but would not say anything. I was hoping that she would go up because I wanted my mommy to go up with me because I was scared. Ya I said it. Yes I was frightened by the shear sight of the pilgrimage up to the Alter to actually touch the Crucifix I have seen for all these years hang way up high on the wall of our church. Just the idea of touching something so special and so delicate frightened me. But I did it. I stood up and walked up there. I knelt beside the crucifix and found my self scared to stretch out my hand to touch the body of Jesus. I was frightened that I might do it wrong or offend someone or something. But I made it past my fears. I touched the nail that was at his feet. I took a moment and said a silent prayer. The only prayer that I could think of at the time the "Our Father" and then I took a few rose petals and placed them on his legs.

I will never look at another rose petal again the same way. I adore roses and have a farely large rose garden but this made me even look at it differently after that. The rose petals were so gently placed by everyone though out the Veneration of the Cross. I watched in shear amazement as one by one each person who stood or knelt there had their moment alone with Jesus. The power of the prayer could be felt. We all were sharing in this experience and even that was powerful.

Stations of the Cross meant more that afternoon, with the weather and the Venerations of the Cross. On this somber occassion I didn't think I would experience anything more moving but I was mistaken. Good Friday service was even more moving.

I had a short break between Stations of the Cross and Good Friday Service. I took this time to actually do my Bible Study homework. I spent the time trying to make head or tails out of Colossians. Thankfully I have several different versions: The New American & The Message. This put me in the right frame of mind. I had given up FaceBook & Twitter for the Triduum and for Holy week I turned my TV & my radio/CD/DVD players all off. I had lots of time to reflect on the reason for the season.

Good Friday Service was so somber but also so powerful. I know I need new words but they are the two words that discribe the mood. Somber that Jesus had to Die for us. Powerful that with his Death he gave us LIFE! The grace that we got from his Death can never be praised enough. Even the Eucarist seemed to mean more to me now. I as just so glad to experince all these firsts during this Lenten season. I was ready and waiting with an open heart. No longer was it just words being spoken. It was truths and it was joyous to know that I was home. With an open heart and ready to except what God truly has in store for me.

The weather just made this holy day so much more exciting to experience. In fact it even lightening and Thundered and poured and hailed for quite some time that afternoon. Made you really meditate on just what was being celebrated. The death of Jesus Christ.

Thank you God for allowing me to celebrate this awesome day with you.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series. Holy Saturday


My Triduum Journey of 2009 - Part 1

Posted by Bakersfield Brat on 9:52 PM in , ,
Holy Thursday - Part 1

I guess you could call me a Holy Thursday Virgin. I have never went to the actual celebration before tonight. I am kind of glad that I didn't because I don't think it would have moved me as much prior to tonight.

As usual the Navy Brat in me made sure I arrived at the church with ample time to get a good seat. The church was bare, dark and quiet. Parishioners arrived quietly and reverently. I had brought a dear friend with me tonight which made the celebration even more moving. I was not expecting to be moved like I was but I am so happy that I was. The friend is someone that gave me the gift of forgiveness. Something that I can truly learn from.

As the procession started I had no clue what I was getting myself into. As they brought all the alter decorations and oils and food and scriptures I thought hum interesting but ok. But then when all 8 priest & 2 deacons came in and laid themselves at the Alter, I knew I was going to be moved. Tears welled up in my eyes. I thought to myself "oh no! am I going to start this ball baby thing again every time I went to church?". Just the shear sight of 10 people laying down with total love for the Lord.

As the night went on I found myself setting on the edge of the pew so as to not miss a single thing. It was so strange to not see the crucifix above the Alter nor to see all the paintings, statues or dressed Alter. But it put into prospective of just what was going on. The words meant so much more to me then they ever had. As the celebration continued I realized that I had not noticed anyone around other then the few parishiners around me. At the time of the part of the mass where we shake each others hands a new friend came over to me and made me feel welcome. It was really so nice to see he and his wife how I have become friends with recently. It was nice to actually share this with others. None of my family member attended the service with me other then the dear friend that sat next to me.

The final procession of the Knights of Columbus guarding and leading our Monsignor with the Eucharist to its new location was so regal. To walk silently with the entire church over to the parish Hall for the Adoration was completely mind blowing. I don't think I can put into words to explain how humbling, moving, enlightening, scared, fantastic, monumental this experience was.

One by One we made our way into the hall silently and so reverently. I sat for a moment and then said the rosary a few times praying for my family & friends. As the crowd died down I made my way up to the make shift Alter to make my moment of Adoration. This is where I was so AMAZED. As I knelt there for a moment and started to pray. I felt tears fall from my eyes. Tears that I had never really experienced. These were not Tears of Fear but Tears of Excitement, Tears of Total Rejoicing. I was home. I had opened my heart and I was listening. I for this moment realized that I do know how to pray. I realized at this moment what I was so afraid of all this time was gone. Gone was the fear of making a mistake. Gone was the fear of being judged for doing it wrong. In it's place was a calm clean excited new chapter in my life with the church. I was home!

What a fantastic experience I had never expected.
Thank you God for allowing me to be open to receiving your messages.
To be available to listen with an open heart!
Thank you! I can't say that enough.

Stay tuned for more exciting chapters of my life with the Catholic Church.
Sneak Preview: My Triduum Journey of 2009 - Part 2 Stations of the Cross & Good Friday Service - Coming Soon to my Blog


Answer My Question

Posted by Bakersfield Brat on 5:26 PM in ,
Several months ago as I was coming back to the Catholic church I wrote down several questions that I was going to ask several of my friends. They are simple questions but I thought it was a great way to get reconnected with old and new friends through religion. So as the list of questions grew so did the people I wanted to ask the questions to.

One of the first people I asked was my youngest son God-Father. The one person that I really felt could understand my questions. The next was a friend that I had become acquainted with through my knitting several years previous but hadn't seen each other in ages. She actually was also returning to the Catholic church as well after 40+ years. We both kind of buddied up as our Journey began coming back to the church.

The next few people I asked were individuals I had just met. They were part of a ministry that I had gotten involved in at the church. It was fantastic insight. I didn't just leave it to Catholic, I also discussed them with a very dear friend who was raised Jehovah Witness. With him it felt more of a debate then anything. Which was fine I was looking for really anything other then the comfort of discussing my faith, my belief, my religion with him. I have several more friends to ask the question to I just haven't found the time. But beleive me I will.

As I was reflecting on this Lenten season and the coming to an end, I thought I would post them here if anyone wanted to share their answers with me feel free to leave me a comment.

Questions about Your Faith & Your Religion
(Most of the individuals I asked were Catholic so it is directed as so you are Catholic)

1. What does Religion mean to you?
2. What does the Catholic Church mean to you?
3. Have you explored the idea of other religions? (If so what did you find out?)
4. Why do you go to church?
5. Tell me about prayer? (How? When? Why?)
6. What do you get from your faith?
7. What are you feelings about Saints? (Do you have a favorite or patron saint?)
8. What is your feeling about Angels? (Do you believe in or have a guardian angel?)
9. What is your favoirte Bible verse or chapter?
10. What is your favorite prayer?
11. Tell me a story of your adventure with church. (Optional)
12. Anything else you might want to add or ask?
**13. What is your belief on Abortion? (Optional: This question was optional only because I am one that has a firm belief in the Pro-Life movement but don't want to get into a heated debate, so I left this one as optional.)

If you are intersted in discussing this with me in detail and don't want to leave your answers via a comment, let me know and I will give you my email address so we can corrispond via that or you can always DM me on Twitter . I look forward to you response.

Thank you!


The "Lil' Box" They Call a Confessional

Posted by Bakersfield Brat on 10:05 AM in ,
My journey with Confession...

Well I would love to start by telling you how I always make it to confession but if you have read my previous post then you will know that I have been absent for some time from the Catholic Church. I went to confession on Ash Wednesday with out really expecting to but I did. I really didn't think that I needed to go so soon since it had been 20+ years since my last confession. So why go twice in one lent season. Right? In the back of my mind I knew I should go I just wanted to walk down that line that I am so good at for all these years. Why change over night? I can answer that myself. Because my heart tells me so. Or for that fact, I feel that God is telling me in order to heal I need to. Or it could just be the good old Catholic Guilt. I'm thinking it's not the Catholic guilt but something much deeper.

So today I thought it would be fitting to start off by making it to confession on my own before Triduum begins. To get a fresh start. In order to do this I would have to subject myself to the "lil box". I told myself as I was getting ready "I can do this""I know I can do this". I felt like the little engine that could. As I got ready I took a moment to print out on a peice of paper (Ya I need a cheat sheet of prayers) the Act of Contrition. I increased the font because this being 40 something sucks. My eye sight left me high and dry a year or so ago. I also took time to print out this great PDF "A Guide To Confession" to read as I stood in line before entering the "lil box". (please take a moment to look at that guide because the cover is something I am going to refer back to later).

Confession has never been my strong suit, I'm thinking I avoided it like the plague. But I realized that its not meant to be comforting or so I thought. Over the years I have learned so much from going to confession. Times have changes from when I made my first confession around the spring of 1975. Just before my first communion. I would love to say that I remember that one the best but sad to say that I can't remember it. I do know that I made my first confession in the "lil box" and even at that age I didn't like going into the lil dark room with only a dim light and a kneeling pad and a screened lil window that would open up when it was my turn. I think what I remember most from that is the smell of the confessionals. You know that "lil box".

I can remember in elementary school going into confession. Confessionals at that time were temporary structures made of a box fan on legs, draped with a black linen cloth over it. A chair behind for the priest or monsignor to sit on and the tile floor for us to kneel on. I remember this only because of the emotional scar that I have from it ((as you will learn I am being very sarcastic when I say emotional scar)). Our monsignor at the time was a fairly older gentleman who I respected deeply. Maybe I should use the word feared deeply. Not because he had ever done anything wrong to me or anything but for the fact that he ruled our parish with such honor, dignity, respect and royalty. So I found myself doing the usual confession on one occasion "Bless me father..." and as I was confessing my sins, a hand came from behind the black cloth and slap! I guess I deserved it at the time. I honestly don't remember what I was confessing but I am sure it was something that deserved more then just a slap. But to this day I remember that slap. Not because of the thought of being hit but because I needed something to knock some sense into me I am sure at the time, I was a wild child. I admit it freely and now that I am a parent I can only imagine what my parents said back then. 30+ years later I see that I needed the sense knocked into me. I don't remember this as a bad thing, just as a monumental pivotal point in my journey with confession.

The next memory I have of confession is going into the usual "lil box" confessionals at our local parish which many other love to do confession like that but not me. One word "Claustrophobic". I can, to this day remember the smell of the old confessionals. Man... the statement "If these walls could talk" comes to mind right now. I trudged through confession like a good little catholic school girl. Going when told to go and doing my penance when told to do them. I always seemed to have longer penance then everyone in my class. I always wondered why that was. Had I told them more terrible things? Had I sinned more then my best friend? I don't know but I know this much, my penance must have fit the crime.

As I became an adult and was attending the Newman Club at our local college I discovered FACE to FACE confession. Most people at the time feared the idea of FACE to FACE but I rejoiced at the idea of getting out of the little box. I was able to avoid the box that had frightened me. It had become a thing of the past. I loved the idea of FACE to FACE. I think also because it put it into actually making eye contact. I know now that it made me be more accountable for my sins then previously in the little box.

Well as the story went I feel away from the church and didn't go for 20+ years. I don't believe I gave it much thought. When I started into my annulment years after my divorce I felt that I was not excepted by the Catholic church. Little did I know at the time it was on my own thinking of that. I was going through an annulment but I was not doing anything wrong to the Catholic church other then staying distant. I didn't even think I could take communion during this time. But I found out I was wrong. One of my many mistakes in my belief system I had created over the years. I guess a system of protection but I now know just how wrong I was on these stupid ideas or theories I had. Which over this Lenten season I have answers to so many of my questions and corrections to some many of my mis-beliefs.

On Ash Wednesday I went to confession with out the intentions of going to confession. I had a meeting with new much younger monsignor and during this meeting I was offered the blessing of forgiveness. I realize just what a weight had been lifted off my shoulders with that simple yet moving blessing. Not that 20+ years had just been wiped away but a new fresh starting point. I guess I look at it that I had some major penance to do over the next few weeks of Lent. As the weeks passed I started to think that I was moving in the right direction. Like usual I jump in with both feet and then figure out what I am doing. Not that this is a bad thing but I usually don't give it much thought. So over this Lenten period I was really able to look at what I want and where I have been and where I am going.

I am home! I am cleansed. I look forward to all the new door openings my life is leading. I have been attending RCIA (even though I am already a Catholic, its a great educational service) over this period and learned about the Triduum. So I thought I would add confession to that list of things to do. So my schedule was:
Holy Thursday: Confession, Service and some adoration time after the service. (Not sure if adoration is the right word to use. But some praying time after the service.
Good Friday: 25 mile walk to all the local parishes, stations of the cross and evening service.
Holy Saturday: Easter Vigil

So this brings me to this morning. The morning of Holy Thursday. I got up and realized I would have enough time to go to confession before my meeting. I was passing on going to lunch in order to make my appointment. I felt a tug-a-war going on inside myself. I wanted to go to lunch with my Mom but I had an appointment. Ok lets spell it out. I didn't just have an appointment I had COUNSELING. There I said it. I feel weakened by saying it but oh well. I have not missed one but I just did not feel the energy to focus on negative stuff today of all days. The beginning of the Triduum. I finally just put peace to the fact that I was going to miss out on lunch with my Mom. There will be many other days to have lunch with her. So as I got ready I felt this doom and gloom come over me. I was thinking about going to confession. I was thinking about that lil box that I feared. Oh how will I survive that lil box.

Most mornings I am on the computer either playing around with FaceBook or Twittering. Today I would do neither. I had my cheat sheet in hand and my Guide to Confession in hand. I made my way to the church and went in, head held high as I walked past the "lil box" and felt a knot in the pit of my stomache. I went and knelt down and just took a moment to tell myself "You Can Do this". I then went and got in line. I did it. I got in line... hey baby steps remember. The line went around the church wall. Chairs were lined up along the wall as they are there for the over flow of parish members during mass. I took my seat and sat down. Just as I sat down I noticed the beam of sun light coming right down in the area I was sitting in. I then took out my "Guide to Confession" and noticed the sun beam on the cover. I felt so warm and I felt at home a calming peace was with in me. As it became time for Confession priests made their way to their set locations - 6 priest in total. Much to my surprise 4 FACE to FACE and 2 in the "lil box". Woo hoo I have escaped the "lil box" I can do FACE to FACE. I have a reprieve. Thank you GOD. As it became my time, the first FACE to FACE priest came open, I jumped on it. I had never meet this priest before. I was just so glad to be able to go FACE to FACE instead of that "lil box". I sat down and started... It didn't take much time to figure out I was at an ONLY Spanish speaking priest. Yeap here I was. We both struggled but we got the gist of things. I got my blessing and I was done. OR was I?

Does it count if you go to confession and you say your sins and you get your blessings and you say "The Act Of Contrition" but you don't understand a word that is said by the priest?

I was done. I went and said the rosary since I didn't understand if he had given me penance or not. I figured I would cover my bases (You know cover your butt). As I was finished I noticed it only took a short while from the time I sat down to the time I was finished. I had made it. All on my own and I was spared the "lil box". Thank you God! I went and said the rosary and took a moment to thank God for getting me through this moment in time.

As I left I phoned my mother who still needed to go to confession but was struggling to fit it into her schedule. I told her how quick it seemed to be going. She is one that loves the "lil box" she says she can never do the FACE to FACE. She's old school and that's OK.

SIDE NOTE: Remember that tug-a-war I told you about earlier well I received a phone call from my Counselor having to reschedule because something had come up. I was able to make it to lunch with my Mom after all. Lunch was awesome because my mother got to tell me about her experience with confession which was new to her. She went to a confessional that is one that can be either old school or FACE to FACE. She talked to the priest I guess for quite sometime about the fact that she was not comfortable with FACE to FACE but she liked this less formal setting then the "lil box". The priest gave her her penance on a little card Psalm 51 with brief suggestion of Prayer. I'm proud she tried something NEW. I love my Mom and I am happy she gave me the gift of being Catholic. Thanks Mom. Thank you for teaching me and leading me to God.

So here was my adventure with Confession. May you have a wonderful day and a peaceful Triduum.


40 Days For Life Ending Celebration - Spring 2009

Posted by Bakersfield Brat on 8:14 PM in ,
"I knew you even before you were conceived." ~God
Jeremiah 1:4-5

Sunday night- Palm Sunday was the conclusion of this years spring 40 days for Life at our local Family Planning Association - FPA. What an amazing experience it was for me.

At the beginning of Lent I signed up to do my weekly hour of saying the Pro-Life Rosary at our local FPA clinic. I am not one the like confrontations so I did my hour before the clinic opened. I was praying for changes. I was praying for all the lost babies. I did this quietly so as to not get grief from too many people. I did it every week. In fact I went down several other time even though I wasn't scheduled. I did it silently to my family. My parents knew but I did not share with my children what I was doing. Until Sunday evening.

Sunday evening was the closing celebration. What a celebration it was. My Palm Sunday started out rather hurried and only got crazier as the day went on. I knew the celebration started at 5:30pm and I didn't want to miss out. BUT other matters came up. First my sons car died. And then the plumbing in my 7 year old new home backed up. I didn't see how I was going to make it to the celebration but I felt like I needed to go. Finally by 7pm I had managed to settle down all the life issues around me. I ran down to have some dinner that our local Knights of Columbus had put on for the celebration. I sat and watched with amazement of all the families coming together to help fight this thing called ABORTION. I took a moment out and went over and sat on the grass by myself to say the rosary one last time by myself. I watched as the leader was rounding up kids to come over, stand on the side walk and blow bubbles towards the building. ((earlier a week or so ago a security guard at the FPA had said that bubbles were trespassing on private property - something so innocent as a bubble.)) The bubbles that night at the celebration floated freely innocently in the sunset towards the FPA Building. What's the saying "Out of the mouth of babes". What one breathe could make a celebration so moving.

The schedule was to concluded at midnight. My thought was that I would come back at 11:30pm to help with the final celebrations. 150+ people were needed at 11:30pm we were asked to bring anyone that we could. My first call was to my Mother but she was tired and who could blame her. It was cold out and really she didn't need to be out in the cold since she just got over pneumonia. She was worried that I would go down there by myself but I was safe and I knew it. I call my youngest to come. He said "Sure". Wow I never expected that.

So I went home to relax and rest before for the ending celebration but I fell asleep. At 11pm I was awaken by my smoke alarms going off in my house. They happen to be very temperamental but boy was I wide awake. My son was already to go and thought it was hilarious as to how I was woken up. I honestly think had that not happen I would have just stayed right there curled up in bed. But I was awake and so was my son.

We bundled up and made it down there by 11pm or so. We got there in time to listen to the reading of the stations of the cross. I looked around to hopefully find a familiar face in the crowd. I finally did. And then the magic began.

At about 11:30pm we were all asked to go over to the sidewalk that surrounded the FPA. One by one we all started the pilgrimage over and what an amazing site this was. We all were singing Divine Mercy as we made our way around the building. There was enough people to completely surround the building. We were given candles. As the leaders moved to each person lighting the candle one by one. We sang and prayed. It was a windy night but some how most of us were able to keep the candles glowing. My son stood next to me and helped everyone out. A elderly couple came up next to my son. The wife was in a wheel chair and I gladly gave her my candle. We stood there everyone praying in both English & Spanish. My son turned to me and said "Thank you Mom for not aborting me". Wow not that was ever a thought or a choice but my son felt the need to say that. As if that was enough the celebration continued until 12 midnight.

At midnight we all were asked to blow out the candles and join hands. As we did the energy and feeling was so powerful. Nothing like I had ever experienced before in my life. My son on one side of me and a total stranger on the other. Strangers every where with one common thread Pro-Life. As all the candles were put out we started to say the "Our Father". With each word, with each line one more moving then the previous. Just to think about it now gives me goosebumps. With each word it seemed as though the energy of the crowd could have moved mountains. With the final AMEN it was over.

As we all went our separate ways we all walked away with the power of prayer. Many of us helped clean up. Amazing what a crowd can do with everyone helping. The celebration was over but not the fight.

For more information about 40 Days For Life
The Leader of Bakersfield - 40 Days For Life can be found at LifeHouse
Their twitter is LifeSaverMin

Until next time. Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings.


St. Martha - My Patron Saint

Posted by Bakersfield Brat on 2:52 PM in ,
I can still remember when I found this passage. I got my first Bible when I was very young. It was a gift from my Grandma "The Golden Children's Bible". In first grade with Sister Anna I discovered the story of Martha & Mary found in Luke 10:38-42 that was my story, that was my favorite passage. I have a sister and she and I are so different. But my life has always been like Martha's, I am the one that cleans, cooks and etc while my sister just sits there enjoying the gatherings. This has been this way my entire life. I don't really mind though. That's been my one connection to the bible over all these years.

Luke 10:38-42 (New American Standard Bible)

Martha and Mary

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.

39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word.

40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me."

41 But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;

42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Luke 10:38-42 (The Message)

Mary and Martha

As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. "Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand."

41-42 The Master said, "Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it's the main course, and won't be taken from her."

A Prayer to St. Martha

O blessed St. Martha, your faith led Jesus to proclaim, “I am the resurrection and the life”; and faith let you see beyond his humanity when you cried out, “Lord I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” With firm hope you said, “I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him”, and Jesus called your brother Lazarus back from the dead. With pure love for Jesus you welcomed him into your home.
Friend and servant of our Saviour, I too am “troubled about many things”. (mention your intentions) Pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love, and that Jesus, who sat at your table, will hear me and grant me a place at the banquet of eternal life.

Novena to St. Martha
(pray for 9 consecutive Tuesdays)

St. Martha, I resort to thy aid and protection. As proof of my affection and faith, I offer thee this light, which I shall burn every Tuesday. Comfort me in all my difficulties and through the great favors thou didst enjoy when the Saviour was lodged in thy house, intercede for my family, that we be provided for in our necessities. I ask of thee, St. Martha, to overcome all difficulties as thou didst overcome the dragon which thou hadst at thy feet. Amen.

Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory be

St. Martha
Feast day: July 29
Patron of cooks

"Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique statement in John's gospel tells us of the special relationship Jesus had with Martha, her sister, and her brother.

Apparently Jesus was a frequent guest at Martha's home in Bethany, a small village two miles from Jerusalem. We read of three visits in Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-53, and John 12:1-9.

Many of us find it easy to identify with Martha in the story Luke tells. Martha welcomes Jesus and his disciples into her home and immediately goes to work to serve them. Hospitality is paramount in the Middle East and Martha believed in its importance. Imagine her frustration when her sister Mary ignores the rule of hospitality and Martha's work in order to sit and listen to Jesus. Instead of speaking to her sister, she asks Jesus to intervene. Jesus' response is not unkind, which gives us an idea of his affection for her. He observes that Martha is worried about many things that distract her from really being present to him. He reminds her that there is only one thing that is truly important -- listening to him. And that is what Mary has done. In Martha we see ourselves -- worried and distracted by all we have to do in the world and forgetting to spend time with Jesus. It is, however, comforting to note that Jesus loved her just the same.

The next visit shows how well Martha learned this lesson. She is grieving the death of her brother with a house full of mourners when she hears that Jesus has just come to the area. She gets up immediately and leaves the guests, leaves her mourning, and goes to meet him.

Her conversation with Jesus shows her faith and courage. In this dialogue she states clearly without doubt that she believes in Jesus' power, in the resurrection, and most of all that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and the life and then goes on to raise her brother from the dead. Our final picture of Martha in Scripture is the one that sums up who she was. Jesus has returned to Bethany some time later to share a meal with his good friends. In this home were three extraordinary people. We hear how brother Lazarus caused a stir when was brought back to life. We hear how Mary causes a commotion at dinner by annointing Jesus with expensive perfume. But all we hear about Martha is the simple statement: "Martha served." She isn't in the spotlight, she doesn't do showy things, she doesn't receive spectacular miracles. She simply serves Jesus.

We know nothing more about Martha and what happened to her later. According to a totally untrustworthy legend Martha accompanied Mary to evangelize France after Pentecost.

But wouldn't it be wonderful if the most important thing that could be said about us is "They served"?

Martha is the patron saint of servants and cooks.

In Her Footsteps
Dorothy Day said: "If everyone were holy and handsome, it would be easy to see Christ in everyone. But it was not Christ's way for himself. Ask honestly what you would do when a beggar asked at your house for food. Would you give it on an old cracked plate, thinking that was good enough? Do you think that Martha and Mary thought that the old and chipped dish was good enough for their guest? It is not a duty to help Christ -- it is a privilege." In what ways do you serve Christ others grudgingly or sparingly? How can you serve them the way Martha served Christ, putting her whole self into it?

Saint Martha, pray for us that we might serve Jesus better. Help us to overcome our distractions and worries to listen to his words and be present to him this day. Amen

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The New Beginning! I was lost but now I'm found.

Posted by Bakersfield Brat on 8:00 AM in
It all began about a year ago. I found myself going to Easter Mass. Why? Well for a selfish reason, too possibly run into someone who just the week before made it known to me that he would be attending 10am Easter Mass. I hadn't gone to church since my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary Blessing, several years before. I never gave it much thought as to why I just stopped going but on this Easter Sunday I felt something. At the time I didn't know what it was.

So to give you a little background before I jump into telling you my story of return to the Catholic Church.

I am a cradle Catholic who attended Catholic elementary school & Catholic high school up until the last semester of high school. I was one of those girls who in the 80's got pregnant at 17. My life changed at that moment. I was still Catholic I thought but I wasn't sure. Ya, I never do things in the right order but that seemed to be my life story.

I started attending College just 20 days after giving birth to my son. A week later, I started to go to the Newman club on campus. I never really gave it much thought about being Catholic at the time. My life was an average kind of life. I participated as much as I could in the Newman club but being a single parent & going to college full time was a struggle. But it was a great Catholic experience as though I thought. I got to meet a young guy who was at that time not yet a priest but in the final stages. I would rely on this friendship over the next 20+ years.

As I continued with college and attending the Newman club. I started to date. At the time I was not so sure as to who was going to want me. I was a single young mom. I slowly started to date 2 individuals: One being the Average Nice Guy who was Catholic and the other a Surfer Catholic Dude that also was Average but just laid back. I made a decision that would change my life. I choose to go with the SAFE guy. The guy that everyone liked and seemed like he did everything right and was just the perfect guy that everyone liked. I could have gone for the Surfer, hang loose Catholic guy who was totally my style but I didn't. I choose to make a conscience decision to go with Mr. Safe. I fell in love with who I thought was the love of my life. We were both Catholic and were engulfed in the Catholic Church and the Newman Club. Mr. SAFE helped me with my son with no problems or at least I thought. We married 4 years later almost to the day of our first meeting. A year later I gave birth to our son. When our son was born he had complications which made us call on the church for the Anointing of the Sick for my son and who should be there but that “Not yet a Priest” and our other friend who was a Priest who had ran the local Newman club. The church was there for my family but I guess at this time my life started to drift away from the church.

The CHURCH became a not so happy place for me over the next couple of years. Not that the church had done anything to me but the fact that I was living in a very abusive relationship. The first real sign of abuse started the night before I got married. I was slapped by my then fiancé Mr. SAFE. This was a moment in time that I wish I could go back and change but it was just one of my many journeys that I have experienced. It's amazing how CHURCH was so much a part of my life and I quickly drifted away.

I think I drifted away from the Church because I saw it as a part of my abusive relationship I was in. Not that the church was the abuser but the fact that I hid the abuse from all my friends and family. I closed up deeper inside myself. I stopped going to church altogether.

Years later after I finally put a stop to the abuse and got out of the marriage I never looked back. I didn't even turn to the church at the time of my marriage crumbling. I took my vows very seriously. At the time it was not the intention to divorce but for him to seek help for his behavior. But as the story goes one does not want to admit to having a problem nor did one want to see that there was a huge problem. As the story goes how quickly I was replaced. There were numerous wounds to heal for both of my sons and myself. At one point I would call up on that old friend who was now a priest of our local parish that I had met through the Newman club to help with my son who was struggling to survive. The wounds of the divorce had taken a toil on all of us.

I feel that I let my children down in a way by not giving them the gift that my parents gave to me freely, the gift of being Cradle Catholics. They both were baptized but that was about it until years later. From the wounds of the abuse I just could not get myself back to church. In fact I went the completely opposite way of the church. I some how had placed blame on the church for the problems with in my marriage. I some how placed blame on the church for allowing me to marry such a monster.

10 years later after our divorce, my ex husband started the Catholic annulment process. I realized that I was loosing a part of my sacraments which were so devastating. Some how I could not put my mind around the fact that my belief of an annulment was that you could not get annulled as long as there were children of the marriage. I immediately called my local parish and after a long phone conversation my fears were put to rest. So in 2005 I started the process of going through a Catholic Annulment.

I would love to say that 4 years later the annulment is done and over with but that would be too easy. That puts us back to Easter of 2008 where I found my way back to the church, to the Catholic Church.

By the summer of 2008 my life had gotten so crazy. My sister attempted suicide where she flat lined and had to be revived, my diagnosis with Cervical Cancer, the demise of a relationship, the canceling of my engagement & my wedding, plus trying to go back to college carrying 14 units first semester back to college after 20+ years and then end of yet a second relationship and other family drama. With all that on my plate you would have thought I would have put on my running shoes back to the church but I just was not ready.

So Easter 2008 was a fantastic start to finding my way back to church but that was only a start. For the rest of the year I did the Holiday Catholic attendance. I only went on major Holy Days to church. I felt that was enough until the beginning of this year. My THERORY was that my annulment would soon be over and since they were building a new parish in my area I would go back at Easter 2009. Fresh new start at a fresh new parish would be what I had in mind. Little did I know that even that would change.

In January I called our local parish to make an appointment with the Head Pastor of the parish just to see what all I needed to do. I refer to him as the pied piper. He has a following that is so great. He had been there so many times before in my life so why not one more time. At the time of the phone call all I could do was leave a message because this great priest had just been made a monsignor. So I would have to wait until he returned from his vacation and celebration before I could make my move over to the new parish. Late one evening in February I received a call back. We talked briefly and scheduled appointment. I didn’t really pay attention to the day we just scheduled it. Little did either of us know but it was scheduled for his last appointment on Ash Wednesday. Wow what a start back. What a great time to start back.

Ash Wednesday finally came. I thought that I had better get ashes before the meeting and not after. I didn’t know what state I would be in after our meeting. The meeting AWESOME and it was so cleansing. After having a great conversation with Monsignor (who I have a hard time calling him that) I felt a major weight lifted of my shoulder. I knew this was the right place to be.

So this brings me back to the beginning. Here I am. I have found my way back into the church. I feel like I am home.

PS… Every time I ever went to church over the past 20+ years I would hid in the way back pews and I always seem to be tear-y eyed. My heart was broken I guess. I was lost but now I am found.

Thank you God!

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