Friday, June 30, 2017

Updates to Blog

Thank you to all who came to our meeting last night.

The blog has been updated with the Meditations from our January through June meetings. I hope you enjoy them, and I apologize for the delays in getting them posted!

Our next meeting will be July 27th at 6:30pm in the Parish Center. If you are new to our group and our blog and are having trouble finding our location, here are directions to the Parish Center: If you are standing on the steps of Saint Agnes Church and facing the school, the Parish Center is the building to the left of the school. There is a statue of the Blessed Mother and a small stone bench to the right of the entrance of the Parish Center. Ring the doorbell for admittance.

June Meditation

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
   He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
   he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
   for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
   I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
   your rod and your staff—
   they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
   my whole life long.

Meditation (Adpated from New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton)

How many people. . . place their hope in a certain sense of spiritual peace, of comfort. Then when they begin to struggle with the real difficulties and burdens of mature life, when they become aware of their own weakness, they lose their peace. . . That is to say: it becomes impossible for them to comfort themselves.

Place no hope in the feeling of assurance, in spiritual comfort. You may well have to get along without this. Place no hope in those inspirational preachers of sunshine, who are able to pick you up and set you back on your feet and make you feel good for three or four days – until you fold up and collapse into despair.

Self-confidence is a precious natural gift, a sign of health. But it is not the same thing as faith. Faith is much deeper, and it must be deep enough to subsist when we are weak, when we are sick, when our self-confidence is gone, when our self-respect is gone. I do not mean that faith only functions when we are otherwise in a state of collapse. But true faith must be able to go on even when everything else is taken away. Only a humble man is able to accept faith on these terms. . . If we are not humble, we tend to demand that faith must also bring with it good health, peace of mind. . . But if we insist on these things as the price of our believing, we tend by that very fact to undermine our own belief. . .

This is where so many holy people break down and go to pieces. As soon as they reach the point where they can no longer see the way and guide themselves by their own light, they refuse to go any further. They have no confidence in anyone except themselves. . . But when the time comes to enter the darkness in which we are naked and helpless and alone; in which we see the insufficiency of our greatest strength and the hollowness of our strongest virtues; in which we have nothing of our own to rely on, and nothing in our nature to support us, and nothing in the world to guide us or give us life – then we find out whether or not we live by faith.

It is in this darkness, when there is nothing left in us that can comfort our own minds, when we seem to be useless, when we seem to have failed, when we seem to be destroyed – it is in this abandonment that we are made strong. This is the night which empties us and makes us pure.

Hymn: Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley 
Jesus walked this lonesome valley.
He had to walk it by Himself.
O, nobody else could walk it for Him.
He had to walk it by Himself.

We must walk this lonesome valley,
We have to walk it by ourselves;
O, nobody else can walk it for us,
We have to walk it by ourselves.

You must go and stand your trial,
You have to stand it by yourself,
O, nobody else can stand it for you,
You have to stand it by yourself.

Sacred Silence

Scripture: James 1:2-12

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 

Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Next Meeting: Thursday, June 29

I apologize for being so remiss in updating this blog - it's been a crazy month! But I hope you will join us for our meeting tomorrow, June 29, from 6:30pm-8pm in the Saint Agnes Parish Center Fireplace Room. With the long summer days upon us, come refresh your mind and spirit with peaceful evening fellowship and prayer. We look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, May 26, 2017

May Meditation

From Psalm 118
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
His steadfast love endures forever.
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
Than to put confidence in mortals.
The Lord is my strength and my might;
He has become my salvation.
I shall not die, but I shall live,
And recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has punished me severely,
But he has not given me over to death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
That I may enter through and give thanks to the Lord.
I thank you that you have answered me
And have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you.
You are my God, I will extol you.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
For his steadfast love endures forever.

Meditation: Adapted from “A Reflection on the Solemnity of the Ascencion” by Thomas Rosica, CSB
On the day of the Ascension, Jesus was lifted up into the heavens before his friends. Just imagine the awesomeness of this scene! But also, imagine how it must have felt for the Apostles to watch their Lord and Master leave them once again. Jesus has now disappeared from bodily view. But for us, that means that he has left us here as orphans! 
Or has he? On the day of his Ascension, one might conclude that Jesus removed himself into a new form of divine exclusion, abandoning us to our earthly loneliness while assuming his glorious throne. But the case is exactly the opposite. Rather, his disappearance is but a preparation for him to come to us again in a new, even more intimate way – in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And it is only through his physical separation from us that his spiritual union with us and with all the world can be completed and fulfilled. 
The mysterious feast of the Ascension reminds us that those moments when Christ feels far from us may, in fact, be his way of preparing us for his coming to us in a deeper, fuller way. The Ascension reminds us that Christ accepts our lack of self-confidence. Through his Ascension Christ teaches us how to love and let go. He loved his Apostles, but he knew that if he stayed with them on earth they would cling too tightly to him and fail to reach out to those around him. In a similar way, our moments of feeling lost and abandoned can open us to compassion, to see and respond to the suffering of those around us. In those moments, we can learn the grace of surrender.
On this feast, let us learn to revere all that we have with deep gratitude, and to hold everything in open hands. 

Song: “I Know that My Redeemer Lives,” performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

I know that Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my ever-living Head.
He lives to bless me with his love.
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed.
He lives to bless  in time of need.
He lives to grant me rich supply.
He lives to guide me with his eye.
He lives  to comfort me when faint.
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart.

Sacred Silence

Scripture (Acts 1: 6-11)
So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

Friday, April 14, 2017

Next Meeting: Thursday, May 4

Happy Good Friday! Though our next meeting of the Group was scheduled for April 27, due to a schedule conflict that just came to my attention we are going to reschedule our meeting for Thursday, May 4. The time (6:30-8:00pm) and the location (the Parish Center Fireplace Room) remain the same! Please join us, and spread the word about the schedule change!

This morning I encountered the following words of wisdom from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which I share with you in the spirit of Good Friday: 

Whoever enters discipleship enters Jesus' death, and puts his or her own life into death; this has been so from the beginning. The cross is not the horrible end of a pious, happy life, but stands rather at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ.

May all of us who suffer from mental and physical afflictions remember that our suffering is never an end, but always points with hope towards the Resurrection.

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Meditation

From Psalm 102
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
   let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
   on the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
   answer me speedily on the day when I call.
For my days pass away like smoke,
   and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is stricken and withered like grass;
   I am too wasted to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning
   my bones cling to my skin.
For I eat ashes like bread,
   and mingle tears with my drink,
because of your indignation and anger;
   for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside.
My days are like an evening shadow;
   I wither away like grass.
But you, O Lord, are enthroned for ever;
   your name endures to all generations.
You will rise up and have compassion. . .
He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
   and will not despise their prayer.
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
   so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord:
that he looked down from his holy height,
   from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
   to set free those who were doomed to die.

Meditation: “Meaning and Happiness” by Ron Rolheiser
Even saints who suffered with depression had trouble praying and believing God cared about them or that they were any good. St. Gregory Nazianzus once wrote: The breath of my life, O Lord, seems spent. My body is tense, my mind filled with anxiety, yet I have no zest, no energy. Dark thoughts constantly invade my head. Lord, raise up my soul, revive my body. In the early 1800s, John Vianney, the CurĂ© of Ars, was the pastor of a tiny village in France. Streams of pilgrims made their way to Ars for confession and advice. Despite his holiness, Vianney felt God to be so far from him that he was afraid he had lost his faith. Vianney feared he was ruining everything and had become an obstacle to God’s grace. There was not a moment when he felt that God was satisfied with him. When depression seemed to overpower him completely, he would throw himself down before God like a “dog at the feet of his master,” and weather the storm with a persevering resolution to love and serve God if he could.

What would help you to be more at peace with yourself right now? Are you self-critical? Ashamed? Angry with yourself? Frustrated? What would help you to be able to live each moment with a little bit of hope?

Song:  What Wondrous Love is This, performed by the St. Olaf Choir

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,What wondrous love is this, O my soul?What wondrous love that caused the Lord of blissTo bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soulTo bear the dreadful curse for my soul?When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking downWhen I was sinking down, sinking down,When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frownChrist laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soulChrist laid aside his crown for my soulTo God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will singTo God and to the Lamb I will singTo God and to the Lamb  who is the great I AMWhile millions join the theme I will sing, I will singWhile millions join the theme I will singAnd when from death I’m free I’ll sing on,And when from death I’m free I’ll sing onAnd when from death I’m freeI’ll sing his love for meAnd through eternity I will sing on, I’ll sing onAnd through eternity I’ll sing on.

Sacred Silence 

Scripture (1 John 1:1-5; 3:1)
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and revealed to us – we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. . . See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Next Meeting: Thursday, March 30

Please join us for the next meeting of the Saint Agnes Depression Support Group this Thursday, March 30, at 6:30pm in the Fireplace Room of the Parish Center. As we journey through Lent, we recall the salvific suffering of our Lord and seek to unite our suffering to His, knowing that He walks with us every step of the way. Together we will celebrate this holy season in prayerful meditation and solidarity with each other and with all those who suffer from depression. We look forward to seeing you, getting to know you, and praying with you tomorrow night!