“Let my name be forgotten.”
It was a prayer of humility that I thought I should be praying, but I didn’t mean it. I was about to speak in front of nearly 25,000 people. I was proclaiming the Gospel message and wanted to do my best. I wanted God to work through me. But I also, in the back of my mind, hoped that people would remember me. I hoped they would love the message I gave.
So I prayed against that desire - the desire to be known - but I didn’t really mean it.
I am the sixth child of my parents, and in my childhood I was surrounded (both in my neighborhood and in my school) by children from large families that looked much like mine. And even though we were not wealthy at all, our parents were comfortable in their role of welcoming, raising, feeding, and forming many children. Whether we were planned or unplanned, we were certainly precious to our parents, and it was obvious that they thought of us as God’s gifts to them.
Africans are the most philoprogenitive people in the world. This reality is perhaps the single most inconvenient truth behind the resistance to population control in various African communities.
In July 1969, Michael took a bus to Toronto to visit the community of seekers for a weekend. A number of young people lived there, guided by a leader, a spiritualist guru. Michael was welcomed, and he was impressed by their efforts at achieving contact with the other world. He stayed up long into the night speaking with them about spiritual matters, especially reincarnation. They did not look like hippies at all and there were no drugs; they were “clean-cut guys”, as Michael later recalled.
Like many women of my generation, I like to imagine that I would have been a suffragette if I had been living over a hundred years ago, though I might have drawn the line at setting fire to post boxes, destroying valuable artworks and throwing myself in front of a horse. Everyone loves a rebel, though usually not when he is in the process of rebelling. As a child of the 1980s, there were certain things I took for granted. Britain had its first female prime minister in the person of Margaret Thatcher; I accepted that a woman could get more or less where she wanted in life if she worked hard and had a forceful enough personality. My own mother worked full-time alongside my father.
Carl E. Olson
“We fear its cancer and we’re really late.” That’s the news we were given, as Angela laid in that sterile hospital room, wide-eyed with a look of surprise. She who had only recently come through a severe two-year bout of depression, but in that moment, she didn’t cry or wail. Instead, Angela said the words that only someone who understood and lived the idea of breakthrough prayer would say, “Jesus still rose, so we will trust.”
Ulf and Birgitta Ekman
A great paradox—perhaps the paradox—of Christian belief and spirituality is that true and everlasting life comes through death.
First, of course, it comes through the death of Jesus Christ, who “by death has trampled death,” as the Byzantine liturgies proclaim during Easter. Secondly, it comes through our own death in this life, when the waters of baptism, through the power of the Holy Spirit, destroy the bonds of original sin and fill us with new, divine life, so we might have communion with the Father.
So in October, I took the opportunity to return to the Bethlehem Sisters in Lourdes, where Birgitta and I had been in 2007. This time I went there alone and stayed for one week.
One day I went down to Lourdes. The evening before, alone in the little cottage, I suddenly had heard within me three sentences as I prayed: ‘‘Go to confession.’’ ‘‘Go to Mass.’’ ‘‘Bathe in the spring.’’ I perceived this as a loving instruction from the Lord, and as a non-Catholic I did not know what I should do about this. It really surprised me, and it felt like an invitation to come much closer to the Catholic Church. How was I to enjoy the graces these words contained? How in the world could that happen? I was curious about what would happen in Lourdes and a bit nervous about how this would come about.
Dr. Patrick Kenny
All through college, I drank and smoked to dull the pain. I nurtured friendships that were rooted in mutual use and convenience. And I never prayed. My participation in the Mass was rote and as basic as breathing. I went on Sundays because it was as deeply ingrained in my person as being a woman, as being a sister and a daughter. All of my relationships were unhealthy during these dark times, perhaps none more so than my relationship with God. If I thought of Him at all, is was with swift, accompanying shame and agonizing pain. I felt utterly and completely lost in life.
August 15 has always been a day of many graces for me. It is the anniversary of my consecration to Mary and of my vows in the Society. . . . Knowing there were a good number of my boys about, I hurried back as quickly as I could and made my way up the long, narrow street. The shells were all coming in one direction, across the road, not down it, so that by keeping close to the houses on the shady side, there was little danger, though occasional thrills of excitement enough to satisfy Don Quixote himself.
Sometimes I think my life is pretty unremarkable. Not really in a bad way -- I come from a great family, am surrounded by the highest of caliber of friends, have done relatively well in the things I’ve pursued, and overall am generally pretty “good.” I just don’t have a story of facing the odds, achieving the impossible, or overcoming the greatest of obstacles. I have a simple story of what can happen when a young girl is placed in front of the person of Jesus. I pray some of this resonates with you and draws you deeper into His heart.
Walter was hardpressed to find any place that made him feel closer to his people than church. “It was a place where you could go and be with your own, and Christ was celebrated.”
It was a place of refuge. Racism wasn’t the only factor that deepened Walter’s appreciation for his church. At the peak of his rebellion, when school and discipline appeared to be the enemy, when he fantasized about the rewards of being Bad Walter, there was one problem: he wasn’t any happier. He wasn’t any more popular than before and still had very few friends. The sense of identity and belonging that he had sought on the streets had eluded him. He felt anxious, confused, and sad. He was beginning to see that apart from his family, the only other place that offered him real support was Hartford Avenue Baptist Church.
While watching Breakthrough I kept on thinking about a saying in Spanish I hear often: “Teniendo fe en Dios, todo sale bien.”
“Having faith in God, everything will work out fine.”
That saying has always bothered me.
Many times I have heard it used to mean, “Having faith in God, this will turn out the way you want it to.”
That is just so wrong.
I moved out of my mother’s after freshman year and rented a room in an apartment building just off campus. The three-story complex was something of a student slum. My unit, on the top floor, had sticky linoleum flooring, cheap broken fixtures, and inoperable air conditioning that left it baking in the dry heat of the Utah summer. I didn’t mind, though. It was better than that ignominious trailer park, and I reveled in the new freedom that came with flying out of the maternal nest.
The ultimate breakthrough is death. Not the death of the body, after which our fate is sealed, but death to self.
As we journey through life with many tears and smiles, the Lord time and again provides opportunities for us to claim this death. His whisper is always there for the one who is willing to hear. His grace is always within reach for the one who is willing to extend a hand.
Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
It is said that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I believe it is also true that what can and will kill you, can make you stronger. My beautiful sons are living proof of this.
I was regaining my strength. Matthew was still busy investigating places for potential robberies to fund his drug addictions. One such place was a parish church. He wanted to steal the Oriental carpet under the altar. He continued to have drug and alcohol parties at the apartment, which made me feel sick on many levels.
I held the ultrasound probe on the mother’s stomach and her 13-week-old baby popped up on the screen. The doctor told me to move the probe exactly he wanted so he could properly place his instruments where they needed to be in order to quickly do the job and move onto the next woman. The baby jumped, tried to move away from the instrument.
John R. Wood
Early on in my return to the Catholic Church, I thought I had paid my dues, had seen the light, and had a pretty good understanding of what God wanted of me. When you come right down to it though it was really my own justification for wanting my world a certain way.
There is nothing more we can do... I heard these words from a doctor regarding my father’s cancer prognosis in 2008. In the movie, “Breakthrough,” a doctor gives these crushing words to a mother whose son fell through the ice, spent 15 minutes underwater, and another 45 minutes with no signs of life before his pulse miraculously returned. I was moved when the mother in the movie responded to these words with the same words my own mother always used to encourage me when I encountered a situation that seemed too hard: Try your best and let God do the rest.
At the beginning of 2010 I was a resolutely Church-hating atheist. In March of that year I began a conversation with a Catholic priest for some research I was doing. The encounter provoked an upheaval in my personal philosophy as a feminist poet, and therefore in my work and my life. It led, quickly, to one major breakthrough: I understood that God exists! But instead of bringing me lasting relief, this disclosure turned everything further on its head. I felt as though I were trapped in a labyrinth, trying to find the right door. If so much that I once believed had turned out to be false, how could I know now what was true?