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Archive for April, 2014

Guilt is a problem many of us grapple with.  As George Michael sang in his eighty’s song, Careless Whisper, ‘the guilt that time can never mend’  prevented him from ever dancing again.  My brother, Elbert, was a Viet Nam veteran and his  guilt from his experiences there was a yoke around his neck until the day he died from a drug overdose when he was 42 years old.

My brother was a machine gunner on the helicopters and one day he had severe bronchitis and was unable to fly, so his best friend went up in his place.  Unfortunately his friend’s helicopter was shot down and he was killed, leaving a heavy burden of ‘survivor’s guilt’ on my brother which he was simply unable to shake.  Elbert believed in God, but his experiences left him a broken shell of a man.  On one mission his superior instructed him to aim the machine gun on an area he knew was filled with our men and he refused to fire.  The officer was outraged and swearing furiously, grabbed the machine gun out of my brother’s hands and commenced shooting himself.  Unfortunately my brother was right, and it was ‘friendly fire’, and our own men were killed that day.

When Elbert came home in 1971 there was no transition; he simply left the battlefield one day, hopped on a plane, and came home to a jeering public who spit on him calling him names such as ‘baby killer’.  It was all too much for this sensitive soul, and one night he simply snapped.  His visit to the Veterans Administration Hospital triggered life-long mental illness and an endless round of visits to the hospital accompanied by a stream of prescription drugs to help numb his emotional pain and stabilize his post-traumatic stress.

The guilt and horrible images haunted my brother so much that finally he inadvertently or intentionally overdosed and ended his tortured life.  Sadly he never understood the good news of the bible that Jesus came to set the captives free and save us from our sin.

Guilt weighs us down in so many ways.  As parents we let past mistakes dominate our parenting styles and let our children run out of control; they become disrespectful and demanding.  As my friend Heather wrote in her blog Guilty Parenting, “Parenting should be love based, never guilt based.”

Like cancer, guilt can destroy us from within.  I knew of a woman whose husband ran over their two year old little boy and tragically killed him by accident.  The wife was so overcome with guilt for not watching over their son, that like my brother, she became mentally unhinged and spent the rest of her life in a mental hospital.

Some other tragic consequences of guilt:

  • Loss of self esteem and self-confidence
  • Creates a negative self-image and can lead to self-hatred
  • Paralyzes you from making decisions
  • Triggers severe anxiety, panic and depression
  • Causes feelings of worthlessness and shame
  • Loss of physical health

But in John 14:27 Jesus tells us “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  So how do you get rid of your guilt?  The first step is quit running away from it and sit down and either journal the source, or discuss it with a friend or counselor.  Let God’s healing light into those murky, shameful places; the sacrament of confession is an outstanding way to allow God’s overwhelming mercy and grace to penetrate and heal your agony.  If you aren’t Catholic, make an appointment to talk to your minister; after all in James 5:16 we’re told to “confess our sins to one another“.

Another way is to meditate on Christ’s passion.  One day while meditating before the massive crucifix at our Christ Carrying Crosschurch, I heard Jesus gently explain that if I couldn’t forgive myself and quit wallowing in my guilt, then he died on the cross for nothing.  So when guilt rears its ugly head I pull out my cross and visualize him being nailed to the cross to take away my guilt and shame.  “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed.” 1st Peter 2:24

After King David committed adultery with stunning Bathsheba, he confounded his sin by arranging to have her husband, Uriah, killed in battle.  When the prophet Nathan pointed out David’s sin, the king was overcome with remorse and wrote Psalm 51, The Miserere: Prayer of Repentence.  “Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me…wash me, and I will be whiter than snow…A clean heart create for me God; renew within me a steadfast spirit.”

Only God’s power can cleanse our hearts of the boulders embedded deep within.  Only the saving power of Christ can set us free to live the “abundant life” Jesus promised in John 10:10.  Only through grace can we lose our shame and become a better parent, spouse or friend, and experience the “peace which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).

So if guilt is an issue, repeat The Miserere and ask God to give you a squeaky, clean heart, and trust in his overflowing, never-ending mercy!

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Gigi Taylor will sign this wonderful book which is amazing for helping you learn the rosary. Perfect for children for Easter or First communion

 

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I started gardening around twelve years ago, and now spend most of my free time weeding, planting, pruning and tending my many gardens.  I am a huge environmentalist and constantly pester my husband to quit using weed killer on the weeds ruining the beauty of his lawn.  The weed killer flows into the creek and enters our water supply.  Many scientists link weed killer and pesticides to cancer, parkinsons disease, and other disease, and believe it to be part of the reason bees and frogs are disappearing.

Usually when I find weeds I can easily dig them up.  But wild onions and dandelions are a different matter altogether.  When I see the long tail of the onions waving in the wind, or the pretty yellow flower blooming from the dandelion, I grab my shovel and start digging.  Those two plants embed deep into the soil, and don’t come up easily.

Last week while laboriously digging up the tough roots and bulbs of these noxious weeds, I started thinking about my sin.  You know, those deeply rooted bad habits that we just can’t seem to break.  For some it is the compulsion to turn to tasty treats for comfort when stressed; hot buttered popcorn and root beer is my absolute favorite!  For you it may be jalapeno chips, or strawberry ice cream, or maybe your downfall is chocolate chip cookies.

Perhaps your sin is feeling resentful and complaining a lot because your life didn’t turn out the way you planned.  Maybe you are controlling or judgmental, greedy or jealous.  It could be you have a serious addiction to pornography or alcohol, or severe anger management issues.  Usually deep seated sin has its bitter roots in our past.  You may have grown up feeling unloved or unwanted, or that you didn’t matter, especially if your parents had their own demons of addiction.  Perhaps your father ranted or raged, and you take after him.

The bible warns about the “bitter roots” in Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled…”.  Stubborn weeds like wild onions can’t simply be pulled up; if you try pulling them from their stems, the bulbs break off and remain in the ground, and the onions grow back again in a few weeks.

Getting rid of annoying, tenacious weeds takes preparation.  The best time is just after it rains, when the soil is softer.  You have a to have the right tools; my favorite is a funny shaped one that has a fork on the end, and an arch on the side to give it leverage.  You have to be careful to get all the bulbs, since if you miss one, the obnoxious weed will grow right back.

Similarly, areas of deeply rooted sin such as gossip, bursts of rage and envy will take time and lots of patience to dislodge.  You need to be equipped with your tools of fasting and confession, daily mass, lots of prayer and spiritual direction.  (If your trauma is severe, you will probably need counseling as well).  Fasting from your favorite food, or perhaps the computer, helps you to learn discipline and self-control.  Confession and daily mass give you a greater abundance of God’s supernatural grace, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit:  wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, piety, fortitude and fear of the Lord.

Time spent in prayer softens the heart and allows God to pull out the sin from the root.  The Examen Prayer from St. The Examen Prayer: Ignatian Wisdom For Our Lives Today  -     By: Timothy M. Gallagher<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Igantius is extremely valuable in pinpointing our selfishness, resentment and other baggage that we have lugged around for so many years.  The best time to do the Examen is at night, right before bedtime.  But if you are like me, I prefer morning when I can think more clearly.  It should take around 15 minutes to review your day asking yourself

  • How willing was I to reveal myself openly and fully to God?
  • Were there resistances within me to such self-revelation before God?
  • If so, did I know what they were?

Fr. Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V. outlines these questions in his book The Examen Prayer with the explanation “I knew that these were key questions and that if I desired growth in relationship with God, I needed answers to them.”  Fr. Gallagher further explains that it is a “way of praying” that gives us greater clarity; the greater the clarity, the greater our “freedom to respond and so to progress in our relationship with God”.

The outline of the Examen laid out by Fr. Gallagher is as follows:

  • Transition:  I become aware of the love with which God looks upon me as I begin this examen.
  • Step One – Gratitude:  I note the gifts that God’s love has given me this day, and I give thanks to God for them.
  • Step Two – Petition:  I ask God for an insight and a strength that will make this examen prayer a work of grace, fruitful beyond my human capacity alone.
  • Step Three – Review: With my God I review the day.  I look for the stirrings in my heart and the thoughts that God has given me this day.  I also look for those that are not of God.  I review my choices in response to both, and throughout the day in general.
  • Step Four – Forgiveness:  I ask for the healing touch of the forgiving God who, with love and respect for me, removes my heart’s burdens.
  • Step Five – Renewal:  I look to the following day and, with God, plan concretely how to live it in accord with God’s loving desire for my life.
  • Transition: Aware of God’s presence with me, I prayerfully conclude the examen.

In the examen basically you would review your day, giving thanks specifically for the blessings you received.  It could be you were given a nudge to stop for a minute and listen to your teenager voice worries about an upcoming test, instead of rushing out the door because you were running late.  Perhaps a stressful situation was resolved, or some other prayer was answered.

Then  think of those times when you were harsh or impatient, when you were stressed and yelled at your husband.  Or perhaps you felt moved to send an impromptu gift to a friend who was in a bad place, and it gave you a warm feeling that you brought joy to someone else.  At these times did you feel close to God, or far away from Him?  Make a resolve for the next day to work on being more patient, loving and kind and thoughtful.  Look at your prayer time; were you faithful, or did you slack off?  Do you need to be more disciplined and not stay up so late surfing the web?

Daily self examination gives you greater awareness of your faults, giving you the ability to zero in and make the proper adjustments.  Some bad habits can be deadly, ruining relationships and hurting yourselves and others.  Some people turn to alcohol to drown out their pain, which can be just as destructive for our world, as weed killer is for the environment.  Working to improve yourself  helps you to grow in holiness and draw closer to God.  So get out your tools today and get to work!

 

Related articles:

  • Touching the Hem of His Garment http://maryscatholicgarden.com/2012/08/12/touching-the-hem-of-his-garment/
  • Consolation or Desolation http://maryscatholicgarden.com/2013/02/21/consolation-or-desolation/

 

 

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BOOK SIGNING

Mary’s Garden Gifts and Books

Saturday, April 12

From 12 – 2 pm

Come meet author Polly Harper and get a signed copy of her new book, Lifestyle Networthing, an inspirational new take on ‘networking’.  This book is perfect for graduation, birthdays, Father’s Day or any other special occasion.

“This book leave you inspired and uplifted. In it you learn how Polly has used her strengths to build meaningful relationships, solid business growth and a joy-filled life. She shares real-life examples that demonstrate the power of taking time to invest in others, in giving without an expectation of immediate return and in trusting in Divine Guidance, even in the rough and tumble world of business.  LifeStyle NetWorthing can help you find ways to gain joy on the job and mold a legacy of hope for living.”

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