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NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Have a Seat ... Amber Schamel!

Amber Schamel is a multi-published author of Christian Historical Fiction. Her passion for history and culture has led her to travel extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and the Holy Land. Amber is actively involved in her church and enjoys volunteer work and music ministry.  Raised in a family of twelve children and homeschooled throughout her education, she currently resides in the beautiful state of Colorado where she also serves as bookkeeper and marketing director for their family businesses. Find Amber on her blog, or on all the main social media sites.

What inspired you to become a writer?

 I have always had an active imagination and even as a young girl I would make up stories and play them out in my make believe. I started writing those stories down when I was about fourteen. But the real calling came about the time I graduated from High School. I had been doing a lot of study on how media and books affect people's attitudes and worldview. It was astonishing how the subtle messages that have been worked into entertainment over the years has completely transformed our nation and our morals. I realized that someone needed to write stories that upheld morals, faith and godliness. The Lord then led me to Habakkuk 2:2 which says " And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it." That became my commission.
    Which one of your books do you consider your “pride and joy”?   Why?
So far, I'd have to say The Swaddling Clothes. It was one of the most difficult to write because it basically follows the Jewish history from the time of King David to the time of Jesus. Covering so many characters and such a wide time space was difficult, and I thought there would be NO way in this WORLD that I would have it done in time for a Christmas release. But after praying through it, I was able to send the completed manuscript with all the extras (footnotes, glossary and pronunciation guide) in to my editor a week before my deadline. It was TOTALLY a God thing.
    Do you have any preparation rituals before you begin to write?
It starts off with a lot of prayer asking the Lord to 'teach my fingers to write'. He is always faithful. I also do a lot of my study and character development before I start writing, that way I have less interruptions once I begin. As far as a daily basis, I like to start with some prayer and Bible reading, then I read a little of the story I'm working on before I resume writing.
    If you had to come up with a book title to describe your life, what would it be?
Wow, that is a great question! It would either be "But for the Grace of God" or "The Only Thing That's Good in Me is Jesus."
    If you had a chance to have dinner with any author who would it be?
Why you, of course. ;)
    We all have family, work and other obligations...how do you maintain balance while in the middle of a writing project?
Haha, this is always a battle for the writer. It involves a lot of prayer, tightly managed schedule and usually less sleep.
    What is the one piece of advice you received about writing that helped you the most?
Hmm, I've received a lot of good advice. Probably the best piece of advice was simply "Keep writing, don't give up." Writing is an art, so eventually you will find someone who likes your style.
    Where can we purchase your books? (provide link) and how can we keep up with you? (blog link, webpage, fan page)
My books are all available on Amazon.AMAZON LINK
Some of them are also available on B&N Nook as well as Kobo.
You can find me on any of the main social media sites as well as on my blog and website. WEBSITE LINK
Blog http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/
    Last, but not least.....What and when is your next release? Provide a brief synopsis....
Well, I just released Samuel Adams (volume 2 in HHP's Declaration of Independence Series) this past week. Synopsis: Liberty hangs in the balance. With Pennsylvania's vote divided, the declaration may not pass. Samuel Adams has two hours to convince the delegates to pass the document, or the lives sacrificed for freedom will be worthless.


My next release (Lord willing) will be book two in the Days of Messiah Series. I'm hoping to release it in late spring.  

The Circus Remains




Mr. Carlin's quote inspired me to write about the challenges of life in recovery.

I've been sober for over sixteen years but I'll always be an alcoholic. The danger of relapse lurks around every corner.  Although rare, there are those days I become so overwhelmed I want to escape ... to be free from the momentary stress, grief or pain that darkens my soul.  I've gotten to the point where I've actually gone to the nearest grocery store and cruised the liquor aisle...looking for my favorite brand of bourbon.

The circus Mr. Carlin is speaking of is actually Satan....waiting for those moments of weakness to drag me back into hell.  So far his attempts have been futile, thanks to family and friends with God-given insight to sense my desire to journey back into the abyss.  They pull me back -- sometimes kicking and screaming -- with reminders of how it used to be.  Through them He brings me back to sanity ... back to where He wants me to be and where I want to stay.

Yes, living in recovery can be challenging from time to time but it's better than the alternative...Praise God!

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  (Isaiah 40:29)

Have a Blessed Day! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Cleaning


The dreariness of winter is on its way out, making way for the sunlight of spring. This sunlight regenerates nature's beauty, and becomes a gentle reminder to regenerate my faith life.

I go through periods when I get distracted by so many earthly matters I end up neglecting God; a heart filled with the Holy Spirit quickly becomes one filled with discontent. The only way to get back on track is to “spring clean” my soul. I set aside time to reflect and journal about my successes and shortcomings. I find a multitude of reasons to rejoice as well as what needs to be purged through the sacrament of reconciliation. The words create a road map back to Him and the peace that had been evading me.

Once that spring cleaning is complete I have the energy to tackle my closets and windows!

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5)

HAVE A BLESSED DAY!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

NEW ADDITION TO MY BLOG......In the Author's Chair



As I ventured into the writing world, I've had the privilege of meeting some wonderful and talented authors. Each week I will be introducing one of them and hope you use it as an opportunity to add their amazing work to your reading list.  You won't be disappointed!

HAVE A BLESSED DAY AND
STAY TUNED!

If you are an author and would like to sit in the chair, let me know!  The more the merrier!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Justice Journey



For the fifth time in my life, I was summoned to jury duty.  Contrary to many that are called, I'm one of those anxious to serve.  Looking back, I should have gone to law school or become a detective.  When I was younger I loved Perry Mason, Dragnet,  L.A. Law, Quincy, M.D.,  and these days I'm tuned in to Law & Order - SVU, NCIS, Cold Case and Criminal Minds.  My favorite authors in the crime genre are James Patterson (Alex Cross series), Ann Rule and Vincent Bugliosi (True Crime) as well as a variety of criminal profilers.  My husband jokes to his friends that he doesn't know what I have up my sleeve ... but he feels the need to sleep with one eye open! Hmmmm.

Before I continue, I want to make it clear ...I'm not making light of crime, victims are left in the wake. I'm a firm believer in our judicial system ...  I've just always wanted to experience the process through a juror's perspective - beginning to end.

The jury lounge was filled with around 200 people. I proudly pinned on my jury badge, feeling confident this was going to be THE day.  The clerk came to the podium with a list of 50 names, randomly selected by computer. She called the names out alphabetically.  I patiently waited for her to reach the "S" group...but no dice. The second list... 50 more names (odds are improving)... No dice.  The third?   "Patricia Smith".  Woo Hoo!  I'm almost there!  I envisioned myself sitting in the jury box - intently listening to opening remarks, objections, witness testimony...taking meticulous notes for deliberations.

In the courtroom the judge informed us the trial would last around nine days. Wow!  I was filled with hopeful anticipation.   Again, the names called for interviews were randomly selected by computer (the odds are good....only 50 people to select from).  The first group was called to the jury box - no dice.  Based on the questions posed by the judge and attorneys it appeared this was going to be a complicated case. Double Wow! The process of elimination began...once a person was excused another randomly selected name was called. This continued all afternoon and into the next day (the odds were improving!). I kept staring at the computer, trying to will it to cough up my name. To make a long story short, I'd better not go to Las Vegas anytime soon....or waste my money on a lotto ticket.

Maybe next year.......








Monday, March 24, 2014

Work In Progress - Last Stop on the Blog Hop

This is the last stop on the Blog Hop for Writers.....thank you Ruth Snyder
 for taking us all on a wonderful journey!
  To close out we were asked about current works in progress....



THE SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING PLANNER SERIES


I'm working with a very talented group of authors on the trials and tribulations of a wedding planner - the diverse personalities of the characters will draw you in and their antics will keep you waiting for the next volume.





LOVE NOTES FROM GOD

A collection of devotionals for those struggling with depression (Behind the Smile), addiction (Steps of Faith) or grief (Solace in Scripture) ... using personalized scripture.






363 DAYS OF GRATITUDE

I'm in the process of collecting statements from children as to what makes them happy and grateful.  I'm reaching out to schools (private, public and home) for student participation as well as families and friends. If you know families or groups that would like to participate let me know.....the more statements the better!  Just send me a message and I'll send you the promo to hand out.  I'm hoping to finish this before the holidays.



SOON TO BE RELEASED
IN PAPERBACK


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Take a Trip to San Francisco!

THE SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING PLANNER SERIES

Volume 3 was released yesterday and the drama is building!  Heather deals with a meddling mother, a budding romance, a temperamental staff and a fractured friendship ... all while faced with a virtually impossible wedding that could make or break the business.

Follow Heather, Gloria, Bryan, Raul, Indigo, Mario and Skye.  They will draw you in with their eccentricities .. they'll make you laugh, cry and even cringe!

The link to all three is on the left sidebar. Why not take a trip to San Francisco today and drop in on Donovan's Wedding Service? Kick back, relax and enjoy! 





I finished up a prequel to the series which will tell the back story of Gloria Donovan (Heather's outrageous mother).  Each author in the series will tell the back story of one of the main characters ...
to be released at a later date.


HAVE A BLESSED DAY!





Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Old Friends



I had a date with my dad last night but before we started our adventure I returned to the place I used to work.  I retired last May in order to care for my mom and it was the first time I'd been back inside the building.  Feelings of melancholy flowed through me while looking into my old office.  Sitting at the desk was someone else... (what...they didn't make it a shrine????).  I was greeted by former colleagues with smiles and hugs and my mind flooded with a multitude of memories.  It was then I realized how much I missed them and what a blessing it was having them in my life.  For nine years, forty hours a week we were together and became family.  We laughed, cried and even sometimes argued....we supported each other in hard times and celebrated successes.

Thank you God for bringing those wonderful people into my life.  I don't see them as often as I would like but it's heartwarming to know time doesn't take away the love I still carry for each and every one of them.

HAVE A BLESSED DAY!

Monday, March 17, 2014

LOVE NOTES FROM GOD

This weekend I was blessed to co-lead another Rachel's Hope healing retreat.  I look forward to each and every one as I see the healing hands of our Father at work within the hearts of each and every woman, but this time it was different....

I shared a story not too long ago about my dad going to the beach and passing out my mom's beanie babies to children. My mom and dad have always supported me in my Rachel's Hope ministry, so my dad asked me to bring some to the retreat, as well. (My mom had around 700).  On Friday night, before beginning the program, I gave each woman a beanie baby and shared about my mom's recent passing and how my dad wanted them to have part of her beloved collection.

We were nearing the last healing exercise yesterday, and I had told Leslie, my friend and retreat leader, that I had gotten the urge to pick up the phone and call my mom. (I always checked in with her during retreats to let her know how things were going) ...Once again I was faced with the reality she was gone and the grief overwhelmed me.

We had reached a sharing point on the schedule and one of the women revealed to the group she decided to name her lost child "____" and proceeded to explain her inspiration. Throughout the retreat, we had all randomly selected "love notes from God" from a stack of bible verse cards.  She had received one which happened to be one of her favorites from the book of "____".  She then looked at me and said, "and Patti, thank you for giving me this beanie baby ... the tag on mine has a name and year of release...his name is "____" (the same as the book in the bible) and the year released was the year my baby would have been born."

To quote Leslie, "God is very creative when sending us messages".  He used that beautiful woman and little stuffed dog to send me a special one. He wanted me to know my mom was there watching over all of us and she will always be with me. I no longer need a phone to talk to her...she hears me through my heart.

Thank you God for not only placing your healing hands on the women attending the retreat but on me as well.

HAVE A BLESSED DAY



Thursday, March 13, 2014

With Easter right around the corner, I've been reflecting on the crucifixion ... Jesus' ultimate display of His love for us. How blessed we are to be loved to that extent and how sad it is that sometimes we betray that love by not trusting Him.

When we are faced with struggles we turn them over to God; however, we are human and impatient. So what do we do? We take the struggles back – convinced we can handle them ourselves. Nothing is further from the truth; in fact, things usually get worse.

There is an exercise I learned to use that helps in dealing with the trials of life. I turn them over to our loving Savior through prayer, but also do it physically. I write down everything on a piece of paper and drop it in my God Box. This box is locked and I don't have the key … a subtle reminder He is in control and to leave my troubles with Him.

Jesus, in your agony you turned to the Father in faith and trust, 
knowing He would never forsake you. 
 When I am faced with challenges I my life, 
may my faith and trust emulate yours.
Amen!

HAVE A BLESSED DAY!

This is a box I just made for a retreat.
And yes, the key will be removed!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Teach Me to Pray



I was going through my mom's books and I found a devotional that had a prayer written by Mary L. Kupferle entitled, “Teach Me to Pray”. It's beautiful and thought it was worth sharing.





Dear God, teach me to pray.
So often I seek a quick awareness of Your presence and Your help and wish it could be so complete that only one moment would be all it takes to know, really know, that all is well. How often Jesus drew apart from crowds and activities and was renewed by Your love. He went again and again into the mountains, completely apart from all others, to be alone, think alone, and talk alone with You.

Help me be willing now to take time to be alone awhile, seek solitude – even if it means giving up an extra hour of sleep or a personal pleasure I think I must have. Show me how to draw apart daily, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, from every tie and bond that seeks to hold me too close. Help me understand that I can free myself from all attachments in this quiet time until I am alone, with no distractions within or without, and I can give my all to You.

Thank You for showing me how to then become even more still, to wait and wait in obedience, to release each passing thought to Your presence and Your power and keep the channels open until the stream of Your mind enters into mine. Thank You for helping me be patient with my roaming, roving mind and emotions until I truly drop into the realm of silence where no outer sound disturbs, though it is heard; where nothing matters by my rapt attention to my soul's inner Teacher, who will appear. This gentle presence is the Holy Spirit, will make itself known when I am ready, silent enough to hear whatever voice it uses to bring a message, an instruction, or a word.

Thank You for helping me be content when nothing happens as I think it should and happy with just stillness and quietness and a deeper rooting of my soul in peace. Thank You for showing me daily how to practice obedience to the call of prayer, be restful in Your love, wait in faith, trust and know that You are good and that You are all there really is.

God, help me know that prayer is the way to finding every answer throughout life, that You are ever calling me to come and take the good You wish to give in quietness. Thank You, God, for teaching me each day the blessedness of prayer, the art of sweet communion with my good.

Thank You God, for teaching me to pray.
Thank You God, for everything.

HAVE A BLESSED DAY!

Monday, March 10, 2014

...but the greatest of these is love.

As most of you are aware, my mom passed on February 12th. My dad has been doing well considering, but today will be a tough one for him as it would have been their 63rd wedding anniversary.

Looking back, the most memorable part of their marriage for me was every night they would say the Lord's Prayer together....and I mean every night. Even when one of them was in the hospital they would say it together before the other left for the night; if one was out of town they would say it over the phone.

As my mom neared her journey home, she was unable to speak. One night I overheard my dad tell her, “Its okay honey, I'm saying our prayers twice; once for me and once for you”.  Now if that's not love, I don't know what is.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
 But the greatest of these is love. 
 (1 Corinthians 13:13)

This was taken on their 62nd wedding anniversary
3/10/13

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Blog Hop for Writers - Continued





The next topic for the Writer's Blog Hop is our favorite genre. I have had a few, which prompted me to take you on my genre journey.

My love of writing began at an early age with poetry.  In fact, I have a link on the left side-bar of this blog that has a collection of poems I put together a few years ago as a gift to my parents and husband.

My poetry morphed into lyrics, and I collaborated with a company in Nashville to put some to music. I've had no takers on the songs to date but with the music market flooded with submissions, I'm just a teeny drop in the bucket.  Time will tell....

My entry into the world of writing Christian devotionals as well as my personal story started with my conversion to Catholicism in 2006.  I fell in love with praying the rosary.  I was going through some personal struggles that required me to be completely open to forgiveness.  It was during that period I decided to journal about forgiveness which turned into rosary meditations ...voila!  "A Mended Heart - Rosary Meditations on Forgiveness", was born. The Holy Spirit was at the keyboard, and the words flowed.  I continued with three more devotionals, "Journey to Sunset - Rosary Meditations for Caregivers"; Redeemed - Rosary Meditations for Post Abortive Women",  "Embrace the Morning - Rosary Meditations to Calm the Storm" and "And God Still Loves Me - A Journey from the Dark Abyss of Sin to God's Mercy."

As mentioned in an earlier blog, my genre journey recently took me down the road of light romantic fiction; a collaborative project with other authors, "The San Francisco Wedding Planner".  It was a challenge for me as I had never tackled fiction before, but it ended up being a wonderful experience and a great deal of fun.

I continue to write poetry and plan on writing more fiction; however, if I had to pick my favorite genre, it would be the devotionals. There's a tugging in my heart that compels me to reach out and bring others closer to God's love, mercy and compassion.



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Self-Will


Excerpt from my devotional, "Embrace the Morning"



Being open to God's will is sometimes quite difficult. In our hearts we want to; however, our minds manipulate us into going the opposite direction. We need to be cognizant that Satan is always close by and is waiting for self-will to take control. Once that happens, he is free to create havoc and discontent in our lives. 
     To differentiate between God's will and our own, we are given subtle clues. These clues can appear as an uneasy feeling in the pit of our stomach or an odd feeling of impending disaster.
     Jesus, self-will runs riot in my life. It is so easy to take the reins myself thinking I am in control. Keep me ever mindful that You would never lead me astray; that you love me and want only what is best for my life. My Precious Savior, guide me to follow your word in my thoughts, words and deeds. At day's end may I count my blessings with love and gratitude.

Have a Blessed Day!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5 Questions to Ask When Posting to Social Media


This is an excellent article on Social Media written by Cara Joyner - Relevant Magazine - 1/14/14


I was a freshman in college when Facebook came out and I distinctly remember thinking, “why would I need this? I have AOL Instant Messenger and MySpace!”

Well, times have changed. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram (and a slew of other sites I’m not cool enough to know about) have simultaneously brought us closer together and driven us further apart. With the exception of a few universally offensive statements or pictures, it’s a rule-free zone where we can interact with society while accepting minimal personal responsibility for the implications of what we do.

In absence of guidelines for healthy and polite social media etiquette, we are left to determine our own boundaries for navigating the seemingly endless opportunities available to us. Before we snap one more picture of our hot chocolate topped with a foam leaf, perhaps we would benefit from a brief pause—an extra 30 seconds to ask five simple questions might suggest it’s time to unplug, or at least reconsider when and how we use social media:

 Am I seeking approval?

If you’ve taken an introductory psychology class, you’ve probably heard of B.F. Skinner and operant conditioning. Skinner suggested that we learn behaviors through reinforcement.

When we view social media from a lens of discontentment, whatever we find will be colored with bitterness and ungratefulness. When I seek validation through something I post and that little red flag starts popping up to notify me of each person giving me attention, it’s an addictive reward. And it works. I feel better, so I keep coming back for more. The next time I need to feel approval, I’ll return to the source that poured it out last time, and the cycle of reinforcement continues.

What are the bigger needs asking to be met here? Maybe it’s a desire for community. Perhaps it stems from unresolved conflict with someone I love. Or maybe I just thrive on pleasing people and hearing their praise. If your interaction with the internet is driven by a need for approval, consider healthier ways to address this issue and choose to stop reinforcing the unhealthy ones.

Am I boasting?

There’s sharing excitement and then there’s bragging. Truthfully, we each know which camp we fall in.
When the Apostle Paul described what it meant to love others, he specifically mentioned that love does not boast. That post isn’t “just a picture” or “just a tweet,” it’s an opportunity to love others in a way that reflects Jesus. Or it’s an opportunity to show them something quite different, something that looks nothing like Christ.
Examine your motivations and walk away before using social media as the adult version of show-and-tell.

Am I discontent?

Are you looking for something “better”? If so, walk away. Nothing you will read, write or see is going to solve this one. Instead, ask yourself why you are discontent and address those needs. When we view social media from a lens of discontentment, whatever we find will be colored with bitterness and ungratefulness. Their lives will begin to look brighter than ours, while our lives will take on a sense of lacking.

Let us not forget—their world is as ordinary as ours and our life is as exciting as theirs. Do you believe that in your core? If not, take a break. Deactivate your account for a couple months. Create space to reevaluate and look for answers in the places you’ll actually find them. Stop asking the virtual world to solve dissatisfaction with the physical one.

 Is this a moment to protect?

When my son crawls into my lap, he doesn’t want me to take his picture and shoot it across Facebook. He doesn’t care who else thinks I have a cute kid. He just wants me to hold him and see him. To feel his soft, chunky arms and to focus on the way his eyelashes move when he blinks.

When we interrupt lunch with a friend in order to quote her on Twitter, we invite hundreds of people into a conversation that could have been sacred; and we miss the sweet memories that may have formed had her words remained simply between the two of us.

Not every great moment needs to be shared. In fact, some of the best times are most enjoyed privately. If we suspend the present in an attempt to capture its beauty in 140 characters or less, we sacrifice our experience of the moment itself. We also rob each other of something that has been lost in our digital age—keeping a handful of memories between us and those we are closest to, or even just between us and God.

 Is it kind?

Let’s return to Paul and his call to love. “Love is patient. Love is kind.” Our culture tells us it’s our right to comment on everything, regardless of whether it was addressed to us and without consideration for how it might affect others.

We’ve replaced face-to-face confrontation with sharp comments and mocking memes. We write demeaning tweets addressed to celebrities or openly criticize individuals we have never met, hiding behind the convenience that they cannot directly defend themselves and nobody is putting our personal lives on display for public criticism.

We have been given covered space from which to throw grenades, without requiring us to take responsibility for the weight of our words, their effect on other people and their reflection on the Church. Jesus said the world would recognize us by our love. What messages are we sending?

A Better Way

Social Media seems to be built around the idea that it can infiltrate nearly every part of our lives. And if we let it, that’s exactly what will happen. We are the ones who say when its reach becomes unhealthy.
As children, our parents laid out rules for our protection and as adults we took on the task of caring for our own well being and personal growth. It’s our job to set boundaries and ask tough questions, tending to the bigger picture of our relationships and the way our actions reflect Christ’s love for this world. It’s worth noting that these are questions we ask of ourselves, not criteria for interpreting and evaluating others. We cannot know their hearts anymore than they can know ours.

Let us pause and give ourselves an honest moment to reflect—bringing discernment, love and wisdom to each picture and word we share.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lenten Message from Pope Francis

     He chose as his theme the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: “Though rich, Jesus became poor so that by his poverty you might become rich.” Paul is writing to the wealthier churches of the Greek-speaking world to encourage them to share their financial resources with the poor Church of Jerusalem. The pope asks what these words and invitation to gospel poverty mean for us today?
     First, God doesn’t reveal himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth. Though equal to the Father, Jesus humbled himself so that he could be like us in all things but sin. In this Jesus shows his extraordinary generosity and love for us. He lived among us to offer forgiveness and to take upon himself the burden of our sins to free us from our misery. He truly is rich in mercy, a mercy he extends to us, not from afar, but by being in our midst as one who serves. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus offers us the privilege to become “brothers and sisters in the firstborn brother.” (Romans 8:20)
     What is the only regret we should have? According to the French writer, Léon Bloy, it is in not being a saint! The pope says, “We could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and sisters and brothers of Jesus.”
     Paradoxically, “in every time and place, the Father continues to save humankind through the poverty of Christ who makes himself poor in the sacraments, in his word and in his church, which is a people of the poor.”
     Consequently, in imitation of Jesus, “we are called to confront the poverty of our sisters and brothers, to touch it, make it our own and take practical steps to alleviate it.”
     He then speaks of three types of destitution. Material destitution affects people living in conditions opposed to human dignity, lacking basic rights such as access to food, water, hygiene, work and the opportunity to develop and grow culturally. The church offers help through such organizations as Catholic Charities and our own U.S. Catholic Relief Services and many other works of charity.
     Beyond meeting basic needs we must struggle to end violations of human dignity, discrimination and all types of abuse in the world. He states, “When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.”
     Next there is moral destitution consisting of slavery to vice such as alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography. Then there are people who see no meaning in life or suffer from unjust social conditions including unemployment that takes away their dignity as breadwinners, as well as access to health care.
     This is linked to the spiritual destitution of those who turn away from God and reject God’s love. The pope says that God alone can truly save and free us from our inclinations to evil, as those in AA recognize.
     What is the antidote to spiritual destitution? The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus which we Christians are called to proclaim, that God forgives sins and gives us the strength to overcome our compulsions to sin because God loves us and calls us to share eternal life with Jesus. This demands a decision to follow Jesus no matter where he leads us. And following Jesus during Lent must include self-denial. He asks, “What can we give up in order to help others by our own poverty, and our willingness to do with less so that we might share with others whose basic needs are not being met.”
     Lastly Pope Francis prays that all members of the Church might undertake a fruitful Lenten journey and asks for our prayers.




The Most Rev. Peter A. Rosazza is auxiliary bishop emeritus, archdiocese of Hartford.





Sunday, March 2, 2014

Witness to Healing

Rachel's Hope had it's inaugural healing retreat for post-abortive women in El Centro, CA this weekend.  Alicia Lucio, the leader of the retreat asked me to co-lead along with my friend and mentor Leslie Brunolli.  

The participants walked into the retreat house in devastating spiritual and emotional pain.  They courageously shared their pain with us and with God's help, went through every step of the program with open hearts.  With each exercise we watched these broken women immerse themselves in God's love and mercy and by the time the retreat ended instead of tears of pain we saw tears of joy - they had been freed from the chains of guilt, anger, shame and regret.  

Watching the women transform can only be described as miraculous.  I could feel the presence of God and the Blessed Mother and know they were not only holding the participants in their loving arms, they were with Alicia, Leslie and me every step of the way. 

I am blessed ~ not just by seeing God's healing power first-hand but working with two beautiful, compassionate souls that God chose to spread his message of forgiveness and mercy.

One of the ceremonies we utilize is Agape.  The purpose is to show the love of God through each other in support of the healing process during the retreat.  The goal is to strengthen the participants, leader and co-leaders for the work to be done and symbolizes the unity required in the healing process.  
Our Agape Table
Sheer Serenity


HAVE A BLESSED DAY!