Tag Archive: hope

In my work preparing couples for marriage, I have had to account for the unexpected implosion of a marriage where I was once part of the preparation. Sometimes I hear about the troubles first hand, other times when I see one of them meeting with the Nullity Minister. It saddens me every time when those couples who looked and acted so much in love, and desired to dedicate their whole lives to one another in sacramental marriage; give up and quit. I feel I have an investment in each and every couple. I connect with them, and give my whole heart in the work God has called me to.

The work of marriage however, is the couple’s work to do together for the benefit of their own souls, their family, and for society. The work they do will effect generations for good or bad and ultimately the whole world. We see this lived out in today’s culture when parents don’t take seriously their duty to raise up responsible, moral, hard-working future citizens. Those children left to their own devices, can easily become everyone’s problem. Choosing themselves and their personal happiness over working things out with a spouse, can have a devastating effect as children are left in the debris of divorce.

As in every disagreement, there is her version, his version, and the truth. I hate it when I hear cruel accusations lobbed at their spouse. Was this the same couple who cuddled on the couch in my office as we talked about marriage? What happened? What changed, or rather, what finally came to the surface and reared its ugly head? How do two people so in love that they want to be together for life, give up on each other, “fall out of love,” or cheat on their spouse?

It is easy to quit on one another- that is what the world wants and that is exactly what Satan wants! Quitting is easy, staying married is hard. One man told me “if it is this hard, then it must not be love.”
Really? Exercising is hard. What would happen if we quit on that? Just look around to see the fruit of that life style. What about our jobs? They can get pretty demanding. Should we not work? Picking produce, fermenting grapes, stocking shelves, is a real pain in the back day in and day out. No one’s talking about giving up on wine.

Love does not quit, give up, walk out, or point fingers… or lie or choose every other thing including work, children, or friends, over the beloved. Marriage is the sign that God instituted to point most to His unconditional, irrevocable, faithful, exclusive love for each of us. It reflects Christ’s love for the Church. You know Christ, the One impaled on a tree, barely clinging to life, bloody, and bruised. Perhaps there is something to learn in that icon. Love hurts. It hurts like hell sometimes. St. Teresa of Calcutta wrote, “Love to be real, it must cost, it must hurt, it must empty us of self.”

And therein lies the problem, “ self.”

Love isn’t about you, your feelings, your happiness, or unlimited fun. Love is about other. Love is giving, and pouring out without cost, or measure, or return. The word is sacrificial, because not putting me first-hurts. It takes dying to self over and over, until it becomes natural, a habit honed over time. When husband and wife do that very thing, we see such a beautiful, attractive window into God’s marvelous love for us. We desperately need this kind of witness in our world. Married couples have the power to raise up, or warp, twist, pervert, or elevate, how humanity sees God, imitates love, and understands marriage.

Almost always the couple does not make dedicated time for each other, pray together, or practice their Catholic faith regularly through attending mass. There is critical importance in placing each other above all else, of making God, faith, and prayer, a part of your daily existence. After thirty-eight years I can assure you, without God, we would not have lasted long on our own.

I have nothing to lose by being frank in writing these things sent in love, and empowered by truth. I beg you, do whatever is necessary to remain true to the vows you both made in front of God. “For I hate divorce, says the Lord…” (Malachi 2:16). I too hate divorce with all my heart. It leaves everlasting devastation in its wake. It harms children, and grandchildren for generations. It poisons those around us, it poisons how humanity thinks about marriage and a lifelong commitment, and it poisons how people think and relate to God. I have read one hundred raw testimonials from adults whose parents divorced, and the negative consequence it had, and continues to have, on how they think, and interact with others. (Primal Loss-Miller)

With God’s help and the healing power of confession, anything is possible. We believe in the God of Miracles! There is a retreat called Retrouvaille for couples who find themselves in dire straits and who are willing to do whatever it takes to seek help. It means “rediscover”. It is Catholic, but any faith can attend. I know it saves marriages, even the most horrible and seemingly UN-savable marriages.

So if you ever really loved each other, and if you are willing to let God do what He does best, then I invite you to do this, because you both deserve it. It is not magic. Nothing will change if you both are not willing to trust, love, surrender, and do the hard work.

It’s all up to you whether you are a part of a miracle, or just another statistic.


Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry

These five little unassuming words by St. Pio of Pietrelcina, (Padre Pio), are as simple as they are powerful!

Pray– God is waiting there beside you, closer than the very air you breathe. Speak, but learn to listen. Ask, but don’t be afraid to act. Trust and surrender, God is in control.

Hope-A light at the end of a tunnel so dim and far away that we don’t always wait for it. Or perhaps, so close and blinding that we ignore it. Never loose hope, because sometimes it really is darkest before the dawn. When hope wains, pray harder!

Don’t Worry-Seriously, don’t! Nothing comes of it. It is counterproductive, stressful, wastes time. When you begin to worry, repeat in your head as many times as you need to eradicate worry; Jesus I trust in you.  He said to say this, He usually means what He says!! Still worrying…go back to prayer.

In the end, it really IS that simple. We try to complicate things too many times. I have seen it work in my own life, yes even with really major things. We have so little control and we need to realize that. Everything is in God’s hands. Repeat after me, “Everything is in God’s hands and serves a purpose beyond our understanding.” A good purpose, a purpose for our good. If you don’t believe in God, then it must get pretty heavy out there all on your own. For that I am sorry. It doesn’t have to be. You need not go it alone in the small, temporal box you may exist in.

This life is but a journey and there is a destination not of this world. One greater than any of us can imagine and I’m going to place my wager there. If I am wrong, I have little to loose. But, if you are…..

Kind of rhym-mie isn’t it? It is part of the “Come Holy Spirit Sequence” said each year on Pentecost. It sounds wonderful and mysterious in Latin, Veni, Sancte Spiritus.

The rest of this particular sequence is this: “Where you are not, we have naught, nothing good in deed or thought, nothing free from taint of ill…”

That little piece packs so much wisdom!

Where you are not Oh Lord, we are blind and lost. On our own we wonder off the path, into the unknown dangerous darkness. Without your light we stumble and fall and get ourselves into all kinds of trouble. Our pride gets in the way, we refuse to ask for help we remain in our sinfulness, ignorance and shame.

We have naught.  “Apart from God, you are nothing” Jesus says. Apart from Him we are cut off from life-giving water, nourishment, aid. Can a branch that has fallen from the tree continue to grow and produce fruit? Christ doesn’t say without me you just won’t do as good as you could, or get as far as you hoped. He says we can do “nothing.” Is He being harsh, exaggerating, or just trying to scare us? Those Christians can be such downers. Jesus is simply telling it like it is. Reality right between the eyes. Not sugar-coated, rolled in chocolate and sprinkles and dressed up pretty to fool us. Nope! Just the whole truth, nothing but the truth and wrapped up in love. The truth sets us free. We recognize the truth. We yearn for the truth to be told. I think we are getting tired of deceit and games.

Lord I need you, oh I need you…every hour I need you.

Nothing good in deed or thought. Only God is good. No God, no good. Think empty wasteland. Zero life, dry, parched producing nothing of worth or value. If we do not have God’s goodness in us we cannot produce good. We lack a key ingredient. No substance that makes the deed worth doing or the thought worth thinking.

Nothing free from taint of ill. Defective, stained from its very origin. Tainted, blemished, without purity of intention or effectiveness. Ruined from the beginning. Sure we can cover the stain,pretend its not there, but it won’t withstand the process and will come out twisted, perverted. Doomed from the start if you will.

It doesn’t end there on this hopeless note.

“…Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour your dew; Wash the stains of guilt away: Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray. On the faithful, who adore, and confess you evermore. In your sevenfold gift descend; Give them virtues sure reward; Give them your salvation, Lord; Give them joys that never end. Amen”

Yes, give us joys that never end.

Lord I need you, oh I need you…every hour I need you.

Never forget us, never give up on our stubborn wills. Never ever Lord, we need you!

Love Creates

At least one hundred times or more I’ve said, “We are created by Love for love.” While I would love to take credit for such a simple yet profound statement I would be lying and taking credit for someone else’s inspiration.

Caryll Houselander, a deceased  British mystic and poet writes this, “The meaning of Creation is love; God created for love, and what he created is love.” There is so much packed into that short statement it is mind-boggling.

God doesn’t need us.

We were created out of the very heart of Love itself. Incredible when you ponder that. I was loved into being. I was conceived in the mind of Love before I ever came to be. I am wanted, worthy, dignified, precious and priceless.

Guess what? So is each and every one of us.

Yes, even the annoying, the creepers, weirdos, and green-haired people.

Creation is here for us. It is God’s gift. It wasn’t an accident or afterthought or randomly occurring cosmic event with no purpose or meaning. Everything God does has meaning and intention. He doesn’t abandon us to prod around in blind desolation, ceaselessly wondering about the point of our origin with no answer to be found. How cruel would that be?

The answers are all around us. The Artist has left his signature everywhere. In all times and places, in every single face, old and young, lost and confused, painted and twisted. It’s like He is shouting in a whisper barely audible “I Am.”

I Am in your laughter. I Am in the quiet breeze. I Am in a newborns cry and the dying sigh of the seemingly abandoned soul. I Am infused in every cell of your being, every thought you think, every word you speak. I Am! Why do you look in all the wrong places? Why do you remain in darkness? Why do you not feel or notice or care? Why?

I long to tell you of My love. I long to wrap you in Love’s warm embrace, to protect and lead you on road’s never taken. To show you My plan’s for your life, everything I imagined for you if you would but ask, and trust, and let go and let Me guide you.

God doesn’t need the warmth of the sun, water to refresh or wine to soothe His weary soul. God doesn’t require the night to repose, bread to satiate, oxygen to gasp and fill His lungs.

Love created these things for us to enjoy and relish in. How thoughtful, how kind, how utterly generous. A disinterested gift, bestowed on humanity out of His boundless depths. God literally says, “See this lily? I created it just for you”. You were on my mind when I formed the islands, how I knew you would laugh and play on its beaches and take your respite there under this very tree. And God smiled to Himself at the thought of you there.

And chocolate, yes, He thought of me. How many times I would taste and savor and squeal with joy. That made Him smile to Himself at the pure unadulterated pleasure it brings me.

So thank you, Amazing Love.

Thank you for it all. For what I have been blessed to experience thus far; the good and the bad. It has made me who I am and who I will become as the days go by, and the wrinkles increase and my pace slows, and my mind goes.

May I never, never forget Your Love. So as You willed it from the beginning, we may one day be together for all time, and share all the stories You want to tell me and remind me of all the things I never saw or noticed or paid any attention to. You were there in everything just watching and loving me all along.

Everything New

Driving down the road yesterday I couldn’t help but notice the brilliance of the colors as they exploded in the morning sunlight. The San Diego Reds were on fire, the Palo Verde burst forth green and yellow buds, even the normally dull grey mountains seemed to stretch forth towards the heavens. Everything seemed lighter, more animated somehow.

Spring is here and each day is a new beginning. To be honest, each moment is a new beginning, a fresh start a renewed hope. We can begin again in Lent, start anew, and let all that we are meant to be move in the direction towards that end.

I had a chance to look at the Christmas family pictures the other day and was amazing at the girth of my being. When did all that generous poundage apply itself to my midsection? I know it did not happen over night, rather over years of stuffing whatever I want into my mouth without a second thought. It is one thing to look at myself in the mirror disgusted, cram myself into clothes that are clearly not going to stretch over the canvas of my current self; but looking at photos illuminates reality no matter how I cover it up in the now. I do not seek to be a bikini model, or a competitor in the fitness circuit. I simply want to finally be, the best healthy me I was meant to be.

I want to stick around for the future of my kids, and grand-kids. This week two of our sons got engaged. How fun! Our family is growing. One of the greatest ways we can be good stewards of the life we are given is to strive for excellence in our humanity. To be fully alive, to be all that God imagined for us when he conceived us in his mind. I believe that means becoming the best me, physically, mentally, spiritually. It means I need to be putting the good things God provided for us into the human machine so that it produces the best results. What we eat directly affects many of the functions of the body and mind. Chocolate bars and cookies, does not a brain surgeon make. Exercise, keeps the blood pumping the pressure down and the muscles stretched and strong. Reading and increasing my knowledge will help keep the brain active and alert. Spiritual practices remind me that we are not just flesh and bone but spirit meant for an eternal reality.

This life is only the journey, the true destination is heaven but we don’t get there by accident, or default. It takes work and determination to do good, be good and  make a difference where we are planted. We are to be Christ’s hands, feet, and heart to a hurting world. People need models to follow, leaders to lead and witnesses to observe.

What are we reading? What are we watching and letting into our hearts and heads? How do we treat one another? How do we respond when we are rejected, dismissed, persecuted? Do we turn the other cheek, or flip the bird? Patience only grows when we practice it. Love only expands when we open our hearts to let others in.

I am beginning anew today. I am hoping this time it sticks and it becomes a habit for the whole of my life, however long that might be. I hope to make it something memorable, something worth witnessing and something that becomes a little sign that points to the ONE road that leads to eternal happiness and joy.

Happy new beginnings, happy lent, happy today!!

Superbowl Deflated

I am not a sports fan. I have what might be labeled a nostalgic affection for the Broncos because I grew up in the Mile High City.

We attended a Superbowl party and mingled with the few people we see once a year at this party.

For all the hype this event gets, it’s no wonder that we can easily dismiss it and move on to other things once the game fails to deliver. Several folks I spoke with turned it off by the first half and found other things to preoccupy their free time. Every year I choose to give it only superficial attention at the party and then quickly forget it when I leave, not caring who won and who didn’t. This year, my husband flipped it back on once we got home and I sort of began to watch as I was doing other things. At one point I actually yelled at the box. My daughter came running upstairs to see what would cause such an outburst. Finding that it was the game that brought me to such volume she stood their in utter disbelief. She knows I care zero, so this was quite unusual.

Frankly, I felt sorry for the Bronco’s. They seemed to have lost their mojo and couldn’t get it back for anything. I found no pleasure in watching them struggle and Seattle crush them without mercy. I know sports is about winning at all costs, and mercy is a word and work that simply does not apply there. None the less, it is over and nothing left but tears, regrets and  disappointments. Millions were lost.

There is good news however…
The sun will always come up tomorrow.
And more importantly…
The Son, will always love you.

In “His story” we are all winners and His mercy flows abundantly. His sacrifice was the game changer of all time and the only one worth all the hype the world can muster; and didn’t involve a “pigskin” at all.

Prayer, Faith, Hope and Love

“Faith and hope are given to us in prayer. So without prayer, we are unable to love.” (S.O.G. Madeline Delbrel)

I never thought of it in this way and yet I know it to be true. When we pray we tap into the single greatest source of hope- the Lord. Our faith might be a step into the unknown, but not the Unknowable.

We know God, we really do deep inside. We came from Love itself, our hearts know this at their very center. We march through this world day in and day out, searching, yearning, filled with desire… an insatiable desire to taste again that supreme Love.

We can’t re-cognize something we don’t know, but only something we have known before. We know it when we feel it, sense it, experience it again. It is Divine Truth, Divine Love, an experience that cuts to our very center and we KNOW unequivocally and recognize it.

Prayer is the pathway. It is the reaching out, the step forward, the new breath. “Speak oh Lord, your servant is listening.” (1 Sam 3:9)

Like a spider waits on the web, attentive and sensitive to even the slightest movement, we too must be to the whisper that our Lord may wish to impart to us in prayer.

“It is our faith and hope, growing through prayer, that remove the obstacle that most blocks the road of our love; namely, a concern for ourselves” (Delbrel)

Faith then, I believe, is a surrender of myself, a letting go, a falling back into the waiting arms of my beloved Lord. A free fall in the truest sense of the word. A free fall into the safety of the hands of the One who will never let go, never leave, and never give up on us…even when we give up on ourselves and Him.

Trust that Divine Love awaits, thirsts for you, pines for you and desires to be in conversation and relationship with you. This is our hope, our faith, and ultimately our prayer.

A Misunderstanding

It has happened to all of us…more than once. More times than I can calculate.

We think we are helping, but sometimes we are not…and a big ‘ol ugly mess ensues.

Hurt feelings, lost tempers, words that cannot be taken back. They are out there in the oxygen floating around and the more they are repeated the more damage that happens. Little bubbles bouncing around in an enclosed container spreading the words that contaminate the whole project.

This project however, is no simple high school science experiment…no, the container is the world and we are the bubbles. How we interact, collaborate, forgive…it all makes a difference. When we hang on to that hurt, when we let it fester; we turn the whole mix sour and affect the air we all breathe. Green poisonous plumbs infecting mankind, making it hard for us to see clearly through the intoxicating fumes.

When we forgive we allow the purifying ruah of God to refresh our souls, cleanse our very air, making whole and new everything in its path.

Once again anything and everything is possible. We can start fresh, inhaling deeply the profound love of the Father,  permeating every cell of our being and spilling over into our dealings and doings and whispers.

May the light of the new day be filled with His hope, love, and merciful tenderness.

Jesus meek and humble of heart- touch my heart and make it like your own.

Barbara Lishko-