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Forming A Habit

There are many habits I’ve tried to conform to in my life: exercising, flossing my teeth, saving money, reading more. There are as many opinions on forming habits as there are good habits to form. For me, starting a good habit or a new habit, so that it becomes second nature, takes time and effort. I have to desire the end result more than anything else for the habit to stick.

Prayer is something I’ve formed as a habit in my life. Daily prayer. It’s become a necessary part of my life and it’s as important as breathing. My habit is to begin each day in prayer, asking God to guide me through my day and to show me His will. I guard this time as if my life depended on it because my life does depend on God. This is my time to talk to Him.

I decided before Lent that I would make my prayer time more intentional by going to a prayer chapel each day. This extra effort would be my sacrifice during Lent to remind me of Christ’s suffering. So far, I’ve been able to keep this up for the 19 days of Lent. I was amused last week, however, when I traveled to Little Rock. This intention required me to make some detours in my trip and it made an impact on my daughters. 

On the drive from Lenexa to Little Rock, I knew if I did not stop along the way, I would not get a chance to be in a chapel. I made our stop for lunch near a Catholic Church and after we ate, I went in the church to pray. Megan and Julie knew my goal and so they did not complain (much) when I stopped. They patiently waited for me and quit asking questions. By Thursday, they knew this was going to happen each day and so they decided to join me. The three of us sat in the Adoration Chapel and prayed. 

On the way back home to Lenexa, Megan started our trip off with prayer. She asked God for safe travels and then she commented to me, “how many days are you doing this?” I told her Lent was 40 days and that’s how long I would be making my visits. She said, “you know, mom, if you do something for 3 weeks, it becomes a habit. Watch out because this might become a habit for you.”

Yes, Megan, with God’s grace, this might become a habit for me!

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 17)

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Is Age A Sign of Wisdom?

There are a couple of websites I’ve visited that tell me my “real age” based on some questions I answer. These are typically health-related questions having to do with my lifestyle. Whatever number shows up as my “real age” is always humorous to me because I know my birthdate. 

Age and wisdom do not go hand in hand. Although society tells us age is wisdom, God does not tell us that. He speaks about age in the Book of Wisdom. He isn’t concerned with the number of years we’ve been on the earth, but with the condition of our soul. In the book of Wisdom, we read that “for the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years.” (Wisdom 4:8)

Wisdom comes from growing in spiritual maturity and age has nothing to do with it. My neighbor’s son reminded me of this ten years ago. He was seven years old at the time and he came to my back yard to play. As he was swinging, he casually mentioned that he had just finished reading the entire Bible. He said it as though every seven-year-old completes this reading assignment. 

Spiritual maturity can come in childhood. The age of our body does not determine the age of our soul as St. Therese of Lisieux showed us. She was 24 years old at the time of her death, yet she left us with a treasure chest of knowledge. Her memoirs, told in The Story of a Soul, reveal an understanding of Christ that was unknown in 1897. 

Wisdom comes from knowing God. Spend some time each day in God’s Word. Pray. Trust God.

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Ash Wednesday

“For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19

After my mother died on July 13, 2012, her body was cremated before burial. Her bodily remains were dust, but her soul had moved on to heaven. “And the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

For me, seeing my mother’s ashes gathered in a tiny box and then buried, brought this day, Ash Wednesday, alive for me. It is this day that I will go to Mass and have dust put on my forehead. This dust will be a reminder that one day I, too, will be dust and my soul will be with God. The daily remembrance of this fact changes how I live my daily life. 

For any of you who have put your mother to rest, you know the pain. The first time my eyes caught site of the hearse that carried my mother’s body, I screamed aloud. Our choice as a family was to have my mother’s body viewed at the visitation service and then cremated before the funeral. So I saw her body in both states — with no life and then as dust. 

Upon seeing her in an open casket, I was joyful because she was so beautiful. Her body had been ravaged with cancer, but that part I did not see. What I saw was the beauty of her face, her fair complexion, her slight smile and her hands. She was wearing the pale pink Chico’s outfit my dad had bought her for Christmas. It was the first and last time she was to wear that suit.

My prayer is that through this Lenten season, you and I will be aware of the shortness of this life and look to that which lies ahead.