Friday, November 29, 2019

Help for When You Feel Like Less Than Enough

If you have a strong sense of self-worth, please feel free to stop reading this now. On the other hand, if you struggle with feeling worthy of love or frequently compare yourself to others, only to find yourself lacking, please know that you are not alone.

 In Enough as You Are: Overcoming Self-Doubt and Appreciating the Gift of You, long-time Catholic writer Peggy Weber shares her own story of feeling unworthy. "How many times I have felt unworthy in my life, not just of God's love but of love from others, too, and how many times I have failed to love myself . . . I have spent a lot of time wondering if I am any-number-of-things enough. . . I should have figured out a long time ago that God loves even me and that, all along, I am enough."

Weber explores a number of ways in which we women tend to think we are not enough. We struggle to feel worthy of love, experience loneliness and being unwelcome, and wonder if we are smart enough, good enough, or holy enough. We sometimes think that we don't have enough material goods or that we are not impressive enough to other people. At other times, we may be drowning in the pain and suffering of hard times and feel like we simply don't have enough resources to cope. 

Weber speaks with honesty and the wisdom of years and perspective, sharing anecdotes from her own life to illustrate how she has faced each of these issues. She also offers spiritual wisdom, beginning each chapter with a quote from St. Frances de Sales and ending chapters with an Ignatian examen to aid in personal reflection.

As someone who has suffered from a poor sense of self-worth for much of my life, I could relate to so much in these pages. I often read while waiting for my daughter at her activities; I found myself crying while I read Enough as You Are while waiting outside of gymnastics, dance, and acting class.

No one book will cure you of your struggles with self-worth (I wish that it could), but Weber wrote this book so that you can "explore why you might also be comparing yourself to others, feeling inadequate, or wondering if you are enough." Understanding can help on the road to healing. So can prayer. It can also be helpful to know that you are not alone in how you feel. 

St. Francis de Sales said that you should "be who you are and be that perfectly well." Enough as You Are can help each of us who have a poor sense of self-worth to appreciate the gift of the person that God made us to be.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

November 27th is the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. My parish includes a novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal during its Saturday morning Masses (which I usually try to attend), and I've recently begun saying those prayers on a daily basis for some special intentions. I also wear a Miraculous Medal around my neck (along with a Crucifix and a medal and Our Lady of LaSalette, who I wrote a book about).

For those reasons, I thought it would be interested to share some background on the Miraculous Medal. Our Blessed Mother appeared to St. Catherine Labouré on November 27, 1830, in the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac in Paris.
Mary appeared standing on a globe with light streaming from her hands. Around her was an inscription: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." Mary spoke to St. Catherine: "Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck."

Mary then turned to show what should appear on the reverse of the medal: the letter M with a cross on top. Below the M were two hearts: the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The first medals were made in 1832. So many healings and conversions were attributed to it that it soon began to be known as the Miraculous Medal.

Mother Teresa is known to have had a great devotion to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. She would carry many medals around with her. Rarely would anyone leave her presence without having a Miraculous Medal pressed into his or her hand. Her Missionaries of Charity continue to hand out Miraculous Medals. Mother Teresa and her sisters consider the medals to be a tool for evangelization.

For more information on Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, please visit The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal.

Novena Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother, penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession, manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal, we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this Novena, if they be beneficial to our immortal souls, and the souls for whom we pray.
(Here privately form your petitions.)
You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity. Obtain for us, then, a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone, so that our every thought, word and deed may tend to His greater glory. Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial, that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of angels and of men. Amen.

An Act of Consecration to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
O Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, we dedicate and consecrate ourselves to you under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this Medal be for each one of us a sure sign of your affection for us and a constant reminder of our duties toward you. Ever while wearing it, may we be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your Son. O most powerful Virgin, Mother of our Savior, keep us close to you every moment of our lives. Obtain for us, your children, the grace of a happy death; so that, in union with you, we may enjoy the bliss of heaven forever. Amen.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Searching for an Advent Devotional?

Are you searching for an Advent devotional to aid in your preparation for Christmas? The Living Gospel: Daily Devotions for Advent 2019 by the Carmelite Sisters of The Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is a lovely little book featuring prayer, scripture reflections, and suggestions for actions to help you keep the focus on Christ this Advent. 

The central message of Carmelite spirituality is that "God is the soul's health." The sisters write, "If you frontload the first days of Advent with care for your soul, you will be amazed how you will stay grounded for all four weeks." They suggest that before Advent even begins, decide when you can set aside some time to be alone with God each day. They also recommend setting a date to go to Confession.

One of the reflections that spoke to me was written by Sr. Regina Marie, O.C.D. for December 5th based on Matthew 7:21. This is a brief excerpt:

The answer to all questions in life is "to do the will of the Father in heaven." Only in this do we find our true happiness. . . Can we trust him? Do we trust him? . . . At times, his will is challenging. . . He may be calling us to love ourselves or another is a deeper, more sacrificial way. He sometimes allows nature, darkness, or others' sin to cause us pain and suffering. . . In all of our difficult moments in life, we can entrust ourselves to the Father and know that he will bring about good. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Learn about St. Zelie Martin, St. Therese's Mother

Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, were canonized on October 18, 2015, but they were not canonized because they had a saintly daughter. They were canonized because of their own holiness and the way they sought God in all things, including their marriage and the way they raised their children. 

In The Extraordinary Parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Helene Mongin offers an intimate portrait of a man and woman who deeply loved each other, but who were most focused on loving and serving God in their daily lives. "Their ordinary lives [were] an adventure of love in which they raised up their family, their neighbors, their friends, their employees, and even the whole Church."

Zélie Martin can serve as a saintly role model for modern mothers. After surviving a childhood she described as "sad as a shroud," she hoped to enter religious life. When she attempted to enter the Daughters of St. Vincent de Paul, the Superior didn't feel she had a vocation. Instead she became a lacemaker, establishing her own business at the age of twenty, a business she would continue until her death.

She met and married Louis Martin in 1858. The two created a home based on "three principles: the sovereignty of God, confidence in his Providence, and abandonment to his will." Together, they had nine children, four of whom died young. The five daughters who lived all entered religious life. St. Thérèse was the youngest. Zélie viewed each pregnancy [as] a joy, each new child a gift from heaven."

This does not mean parenting was always easy. Zélie especially worried about her middle daughter, Leonie. Zélie wrote of Leonie, "She only does what she wants the way she wants." In the midst of her difficulties, Zélie put her trust in God. "The more I see how difficult she is, the more I persuade myself that God will not let her stay that way. I will pray so much that God will allow herself to be touched." For the record, Leonie is now considered a "Servant of God," a fact that should give hope to all of us parenting challenging children.

Zélie also experienced great emotional and physical suffering. Her great grief at the deaths of her children caused her depression, headaches, toothaches, insomnia, and a loss of appetite. Even though she believed her young children to be in heaven and she resolved to carry her cross as bravely as possible, she still experienced great heartache. She also suffered from breast cancer in the last year of her life. The pain at this time was so extreme that she felt abandoned by heaven. She died on August 28, 1877, trusting "that God could take better care of her family than she could."

Zélie Martin wasn't born a saint; she became one. Over the course of her life, she learned to surrender to God and put her faith in His will for her life, rather than her own. In canonizing St. Zélie, the Church has made a strong statement that the life of an ordinary mother can be extraordinary and a path to great holiness. 

The Extraordinary Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux is recommended to anyone interested in learning more about Saints Louis and Zélie Martin.

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