Spencer said Happiness is bread

Anna said Happiness is reading

Ethan said Happiness is seeing things that he builds work

Jake said Happiness is Legos

Aaron said Happiness is napping

To me happiness is hearing my children laugh and hugging my husband

Happiness is different for everyone.

Finish this sentence…happiness is….

Last night I watched the movie Big Hero 6 with my children. It is a MUST see precious movie. One of the themes of the movie is letting go. As sad as it is to let go of grief, people, grudges, hurts, or other things we grasp too tightly, it is the letting go that gives us the ability to receive fully. When are hands are closed and grasping those things in life, they are not open to anything else. It is a process, to let go of relationships, people who have passed away, the childhood of our grown children, and so many other people and ideas we hold so dear. The irony lies in the reality that the only way we will discover complete freedom is to let go and open our hearts to the hurt, healing, and ultimately the growth.

What do you need to let go of in your life? Is it the idea of your perfect life? If you let it go you can be open to embracing and appreciating the life you are living right now. Is it a grudge that you now feel is part of your identity? Letting it go will help you to mature, grow, and develop into the person you are meant to be. Is it a loved one who has died? Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting, or loving them any less than you did when they were alive. It just means allowing yourself to grieve, mourn, and to learn to live without them here. It means you are open to living your life here on this earth without their physical presence and being ready to move forward with your life.

Letting go is the only way that we can truly be open enough to receive all those new experiences, emotions, and new people into our lives now and in the future. Today, reflect on what you could let go that will help you to grow.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Jesus gave us the beatitudes so we would understand how to live a life of selfless love for each other. If you know me, you know I don’t believe in any type of violence not even jokingly. Peacemaking not only brings you peace of mind, it also alleviates the pain of grudges and revenge. Instead open your hearts to others. Try to see other’s as God sees them. Then you too can be a peacemaker bringing much need love and peace to our broken world.

Last night I attended a parent meeting to prepare my youngest son for his first reconciliation. It was an enlightening evening. The priest was answering questions the parents have about the sacrament. One of the questions that intrigued most of the parents was, “Why do I have to go to a priest and confess my sins if I have a good relationship with God? Can’t I just confess my sins to God?” The priest noted that he was impressed that the person has a great relationship with God and that we should always confess our sins to God in our prayers. However, he said, “Reconciliation allows us to own our sins.” When we own our sins they become our responsibility. It becomes our responsibility to change that behavior in our lives for the better. He went on to say, “Penance is not a punishment but a challenge to help one overcome and move passed that sin.” Confessing our sins to a priest is allowing our hearts and minds to be open to a way to repair the damaged relationship with ourselves, God, and others. We should take the penance and allow it help us to grow closer to God.

He was also asked, “Do you remember the sins of the confessor? Do you look at them differently because of those sins?” The priest responded, “Honestly, I am there to listen to your sins, to comfort you, give you penance and help you change that behavior, but more than anything I am there to give you God’s mercy. I do not try to remember any of the sins or who confessed them.”

Reconciliation is truly a human process that I believe has such psychological benefits. We have to own our bad behavior by confessing it to another person. We have to listen to an objective person’s perspective of it. We have to then talk about how we can change our hearts. We receive forgiveness from another person (and God) and forgive ourselves. We are absolved and take that feeling along with the new ideas of how we can live a more virtuous life out into the real world. It has lots of similarities to counseling.

Reconciliation causes anxiety and fear for many of us. However, if we get to the true focus of the sacrament what we will find is healing, of our hearts, relationships, and lives. Consider going to Reconciliation this Lent to turn your lives back towards God and loving others, (including yourself), once more.

My students, studying Catholic Morality, recently had to write a research paper about a saint who lived an immoral life, experienced a conversion, led a virtuous life, died and became a saint. One of my scholarly students came to me and shared her concern that her saint did not have a true “conversion.” He just became a more generous and caring person when he became a Cardinal. She was searching for the “conversion of Paul, being knocked to the ground with a vision and blindness.” Frankly, that’s what I thought my students would discover with the majority of their saints. Continue reading

“For through the law I died to the law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.”

Galatians 2: 19-20

There is a song we sing at Church during the Easter season that has this line: “For I no longer live but Christ lives in me!” Each time I hear it or sing it I get goosebumps. I feel that this is so true, in my most clear moments of the presence of God in my life, I feel this completely. That Christ is the motion, inertia, and energy of my life. I want to live out his call in my life with the purpose that God created me for.

As soon as you allow this to occur, to accept the invitation, and open your life to Christ, you no longer live for yourself but for Christ. It is in that moment that you will begin to live the life you were made to live. Can you allow yourself to take this leap, God will catch you and you will live like you have never lived before. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me!”

We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to be in the presence of God. If we slow our lives down and prioritize our need for God we can spend much more time with God here on earth. God can be discovered everywhere, it’s just a matter of taking the time to search. There are so many different methods to become aware of God’s presence and grace in our lives. Silence is a simple method that people are no longer comfortable with in our loud society but it is effective. Meditation, prayer time, a walk with nature, and taking the time to reflect on the gifts of your life. All of these methods will lead you to the presence of God.

God surrounds our lives daily. We rarely notice because we don’t make an effort to listen or look for God. But we don’t have to wait until we die to be with God. We can do it in the here and now. Today, commit to using a method to become aware of God in your life and you will find some much needed comfort and peace.

Henrietta the Hippo

Last night I was exhausted from grading tests. I was closing up my class work and thinking about writing my blog. When I spotted her, Henrietta the Hippo. My daughter, Anna, is an athlete, a pianist, and an artist, of course she is all of that and so much more! She created Henrietta the Hippo. Henrietta made  me smile, relax, and chuckle a bit. There is nothing like a little laugh to calm your body, relieve your mind and discover a bit of joy.

Today, I will share Henrietta the Hippo with you. Take a look, smile, relax and let Henrietta bring you a bit of joy. She’s adorable!