“Give Me Your Heart” — St. Faustina Kowalska (The Love Project, Day 42)

divine mercy

To stay at Your feet, O hidden God,
is the delight and paradise of my soul.
Here, You give me to know You, O incomprehensible One,
And You speak to me sweetly: Give Me, give Me your heart.
Silent conversation, alone with You
Is to experience what heavenly beings enjoy,
And to say to God, “I will, I will give You my heart, O Lord,”
While You, O great and incomprehensible One, accept it graciously.
Sweet and sweetness are my soul’s life,
And Your unceasing presence in my soul.
I live on earth in constant rapture,
And like a Seraph I repeat, “Hosanna!”
O You Who are hidden, body, soul and divinity,
Under the fragile form of bread,
You are my life from Whom springs in abundance of graces;
And, for me, You surpass the delights of heaven.
When You unite Yourself with me in Communion, O God,
I then feel my unspeakable greatness,
A greatness which flows from You, O Lord, I humbly confess,
And despite my misery, with Your help, I can become a saint.

From the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska (Par 1718).

Today’s Love in Action: When was the last time you spent time alone with the One who loves you best? He’s waiting for you . . .

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A Severe Kind of Mercy

As I contemplated writing tonight’s post, I read that Moammar Gaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren were killed in a NATO missile strike. The general survived, the report continued. On the other hand … how does anyone survive a loss of that magnitude?  

Ordinarily the news might not have made such an impression on me. However, I recently took my children to see their birthparents, who had not seen any of their four kids in seven years.  It was supposed to be another seven years before Chris was supposed to see them, but Christopher’s birthdad had been having heart trouble. Craig and I talked about it off and on for months, until he finally — reluctantly — agreed to a single visit.  We didn’t want Christopher to miss seeing him altogether.

As we walked into the home, Christopher became very animated, shouting, “I remember! I remember!” He ran upstairs to his old room, which seemed not to have been touched since he left it. All his toys and toddler-sized clothes were still there, as though he would be home to stay any minute. As though the little boy he once was had been frozen in time.

It was the same with Sarah’s room. The crib, the rocking chair, the baby swing … Everything was still there. Quickly their birthmom began digging through toys, handing them to the kids until their arms were full as the birthdad left the room so the kids didn’t see his tears. On the way home, I contemplated what I had seen and wondered if I’d done the right thing. 

Then, as if in response to my unspoken thoughts, Christopher piped up, “I can’t wait until I turn 18, so I can move back with my real family.”

I swallowed hard, trying not to show how his words had hurt. “You already live with your real family, Christopher.  You will always be part of our family, no matter how old you are. That’s adoption.”

He thought about that for a minute. “Well… maybe I can live in the middle.”

This “living in the middle” feeling was understandable, and I didn’t take it personally. I have read of adoptive families that  successfully integrate birthfamily members into their extended family. Even so, my son’s comment made me wonder: How can a child who has contact with two sets of parents grow up feeling anything but “in the middle”?

A few weeks have passed, and I’m still not sure it was the right choice.  Time will tell.  What I do know is that once again Sarah is sleeping with us every night, and Christopher has been having nightmares in which I disappear and he can’t find me. I agreed to the visit out of love . . . and yet I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t a severe kind of mercy.

God’s mercy can also seem severe sometimes. This is the side of grace we don’t often consider. When Craig and I were presented to John Paul II in 1999, while in Rome on our honeymoon, I distinctly remember looking into the man’s clear blue eyes and thinking that I’d seen heaven there.  He could barely walk, and was a shell of the vital man he once was. Six more years would pass before he was finally laid to rest. Six more years of walking through that valley of the shadow, one painful step at a time.

However, the man Karol Wojtyla had embraced the job God had given him to do: to take up a particular cross that would uniquely reflect the self-donating love of God to all his children. As Pope John Paul II, he reminded us how utterly we need that hard-won, amazing grace every day of our lives. Even, and perhaps especially, when that way grows difficult, when it would be easier just to give in to despair and bitterness.  It is an uncommon kind of mercy, which drives the nails into the cross we have been called to carry.

As we celebrate the beatification of John Paul the Great tomorrow, let us remember the Divine Mercy that guides each of us all the way to heaven.  Together, as a family, in good times and bad, let us recall the act of grace emblazoned on Faustina’s image:

Jesus, we trust in you!

Wee Cook No-Meat Fridays: A Vegetarian Feast!

I decided to rerun this post from June 2009 in honor of the first Friday in Lent, for those who would like a meatless meal idea!

The Vacation Bible School program at my church this year is called “Adventure with the Apostles,” and explores the Church around the world, each day focusing on a different part of the globe:

Today, in honor of the Church of Asia, I have for you this tasty and inexpensive lentil-and-rice feast (with Naan bread and cucumbers with yoghurt dressing) that is easy enough for the whole family to help with! 

wholemeal-naan-bread-food-recipe16To make Naan Bread, you will need

1 tsp fast-rising yeast
1 Tbls sugar
1/2 C warm water
2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 Tbls oil (olive works fine)
2 heaping Tbls yoghurt (save rest of 6 oz container for salad)
2 Tbls milk

1. Put warm water, yeast, and sugar in cup; stir to dissolve. Set aside for 5 minutes.

2. In medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Add oil, milk, yoghurt, and yeast mixture. Stir with fork to combine, then put on floured board and kneed 5-6 minutes until flour is incorporated and dough is soft. Cover with a wet tea towel and set aside 15 minutes. (Get rice-and-lentils started during this time.)

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a cookie sheet. Break dough into four equal sized balls, turn onto lightly floured board. Pat or roll into ovals approximately 6-8 inches long and 4-5 inches wide. (Don’t roll too thin, should be about 1/4 inch). Repeat for remaining 3 balls; place on cookie sheet. If desired, brush with milk. Rest 10 minutes. Bake 10-12 minutes, until bubbled and brown on top. To serve, tear in half with hands and place in basket.

(Photo credit: For an excellent recipe for whole-wheat Naan, check out “Jenna’s Kitchen” blog!)

For Rice-and-Lentils, you need:

1 C lentils (dried)
1 C rice
2-1/2 C water
3 small potatoes (sliced thin)
2 med. onions (sliced thin)
1/4 C oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt

1.  Rinse lentils and place in large pot. Add 2-1/2 C water, then cover and simmer on low 20 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, place rice in strainer, then put strainer in a pot of warm water deep enough to cover the rice. Allow to soak while you’re doing the next step.

2.  In frying pan, heat up the oil then layer onions and potatoes in the bottom of the pan. Cook 8-10 minutes, until nicely browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside (but do NOT drain off oil).

3.  When lentils have cooked 20 minutes, strain extra water from rice and add to pot along with curry, cumin, and salt. Stir well — add another 1/2 cup of water if it has all steamed away. Sprinkle potato-onion mixture over the top and cover again. Cook another 10 minutes, until rice is done. (Should be chewy, not sticky.)

For Cucumber Salad, you need:

6 oz carton plain yoghurt (less 2 Tbls for bread)
1-2 medium sized cucumbers, chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbls white rice vinegar (works best — white vinegar works okay, too)

Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Refrigerate until serving time.