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.

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!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Next Meeting: January 26, 2017

Happy New Year to all! Our prayers are already with you, that you may continue to walk towards healing and hope in 2017. Our January meeting will be held this Thursday, the 26th, at 6:30pm in the Fireplace Room of the Saint Agnes Parish Center. Please join us for an evening of warm fellowship in the midst of this winter cold! We look forward to seeing you there.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Article: A Stoic's Guide to Becoming Mentally Strong

Readers, take or leave this one as you will! I am posting it here because I've found it useful for myself the past few weeks in trying to overcome some longstanding patterns of bad behavior in response to minor stresses. The author demonstrates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy's (CBT's) link to Stoic philosophy, and gives four "tips" based on Stoicism to help us weather the crises that face us every day.

My favorite tip, and the one I've been using daily, is to begin each day by telling myself to expect the worst - my kids will make a horrific mess, there will be aggressive drivers on the road, other people will treat me discourteously - and plotting out in advance how I'll respond - I'll calmly clean up, I'll patiently distance myself from the bad drivers, I'll respond to others with good humor. I've found that it's made me more equanimous when dealing with difficulty, and made me paradoxically really delighted and happy when my (negative) expectations aren't met!

I hope you find something helpful, insightful, or perhaps even just humorous, in this piece as well!

Article: Praying with Depression (and Children)

When her husband urges her to pray the Our Father with her daughters every day, Gillian Marchenko is stopped in her tracks by her depression: 

I think about hallowed. Hallowed be your name. In my depression, my focus is me. When in the pit, I am thinking about how to get out, not that God is in control. I’m not praying for help, even though I act like I do sometimes. I’m not sure I even want to align myself with what God wants to do in me and in the world, because I’m afraid it will mean more pain.

Read more of her reflections on depression, prayer, and what it means to say, Thy will be done when you are suffering here

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Poem: Notes to Self

A member of group kindly shared this poem, written by Beth Kress, entitled "Notes to Self." I found myself pondering much of its wisdom during this stressful holiday season. I hope you also find solace and comfort in its words!

Notes to Self
Impressive, the number of ways
you’ve come up with to drive yourself crazy.
Relax, there are plenty of other people
willing and able to do this for you.

For starters, knock it off already
with the sugar and all the racing around.
Stay hooked on sunlight and cycling instead,
allow more lead time than you need.

How about this for a new plan?
Speak gently to yourself when you screw up
say thanks for all the times you get it right,
Find ingenious ways to be kind to yourself.

Treat yourself as you would a ditsy best friend,
surround yourself with people who glow,
be ready to laugh at your amusing self, 
never doubt your own essential lovability.

Every day do one thing differently, always
be hatching something: a party, a gift, a trip.
Strive for a 100% result; be thrilled with 80.
Seek out brilliance and connections. Be curious.

Make your time count, for heaven’s sake
pay attention to what actually matters
dive into your communities with gusto
lean in to the light; hang out in zones of gratitude.

Linger where you catch glimpses of grace,
fill your spaces with what brings out the ahh in you.
Give or put stuff away. Don’t be afraid.
Surrender to the mystery of it all.

Know that you belong here,
keep making room for more people,
more love, and for the immensity of things.
live deeply, unhurried, with humor.

Fall into the peaceful, powerful rhythm

of your own right life.

(Beth Kress, April 2016)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

December Meditation

Psalm 23
All: A Psalm of David.
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: “Lost is a Place Too” by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
In many ways, at least in the Western world, the Church is in the desert, in a dark night, lost, being pruned, undergoing a purifying alechemy.
We’re experiencing public humiliation in the sexual abuse scandal, in our greying and emptying churches, and in the strong anti-clericalism inside our culture. We’re aging, unsure of ourselves, lacking in vocations, and becoming ever more marginalized.
But that’s a place too, a good place to be. From the edges, humbled and insecure, we can again become church.
The same holds true in our personal lives. We have our good seasons, but we have seasons too where we lose relationships, lose health, lose friends, lose spouses, lose children, lose jobs, lose prestige, lose our grip, lose our dreams, lose our meaning, and end up humbled, alone, and lonely. But that’s a place too, a valid and an important one. Inside that place, our souls are being shaped in ways we cannot understand but in ways that will stretch and widen them for a deeper love and happiness in the future.
Good wines are aged in cracked old barrels. That’s what makes them rich and mellow. They can, of course, go sour during the process. That’s the risk. The soul works in the same way and, thus, we might ask whether failure and loneliness, as they shape our souls, need to be re-imagined aesthetically: Are maturity and transformation, growth in beauty, not about more than success, health, having it all, and looking like a million dollars?
Beauty is ultimately more about the size of our hearts, about how much they can empathize, and how about widely and unselfishly they can embrace. To that end, the desert-heat of loneliness is helpful in softening the heart, enough at least to let it be painfully stretched.
That happens more easily when we’re lost, unsure of ourselves, empty of consolation, aching in frustration, and running a psychic temperature. Not pleasant, but that’s a place too.

Song: Let All Mortal Flesh Be Silent


Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descending
Comes our homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
Comes the powers of hell to vanquish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Sacred Silence 

Scripture (Romans 8:18-19; 22-24; 26; 28)
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God. . . We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption. . . For in hope we were saved. . . Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. . . We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

The Word of the Lord.

ALL: Thanks be to God.

Sign of the Cross