To the First Mother of My Children, My Sister

©Nissa Gadbois

 

I don’t know why God chose me to carry your cross.  But I carry it willingly however heavy it is.  Some days it brings me to my knees.  But God has provided abundant graces and many helpers for those times. At those times we all carry your cross together.

You are never far from my mind, my sister.  Every day, I look into their deep brown eyes and wonder if those eyes came from you.  I wonder if your eyes show the same sadness and fear, if they’ve ever shown the same warmth of love that our son’s show when he looks at me.

He’s a miracle, you know.  He has come through God-only-knows-what and still he loves.  Still, he trusts.  He’s one of the bravest people I have ever met.  When he looks at me and says “I love you, Mama” I am shaken to my very core because I know that it has cost him everything to tell me so.  It should have been yours to hear.  And I treasure it all the more because of that. He’s so smart.  He works so hard in spite of the struggles he has.  He tries new things even though the starting terrifies him.  He drinks in every new experience like a much younger child. But he is also maturing into an amazing young man, a sweet and caring older brother to his new brothers and sisters.  He is tender and patient and kind.  He talks to me about growing up to help people, to rescue other kids like him.  I mourn for your loss, my sister.  You’re missing this.

Your daughter – our daughter – is buried deep inside herself.  She lives in a constant state of terror.  She’s safe here but she doesn’t understand that.  Her wounds will take a long, long time to heal.  And until they do, she can’t move forward.  She can’t learn, or mature, or love.  Not truly.  She doesn’t know that family is a safe place, that adults are trustworthy.  She doesn’t know that the world is a place full of love and joy.  Because of this, she may never be able to fall in love –with a worthy man, with God, with herself.  She may never experience for herself the love that mothers have for their children, that fierce, primal love.  You couldn’t have known what would happen to her.  I pray you didn’t know.  Or maybe the same thing happened to you and you couldn’t give these two children what they needed.  And if that is the case then I am so sorry for what happened to you.  I am so very sorry.  I wish someone had been there to rescue you, too.  Thank God someone rescued her.  By the grace of God, she will triumph.

I will carry this cross, your cross, now my cross.  I will care for the children you could not care for.  I will heal their bodies, and work to heal their broken spirits.  I will do this for you and for them.  I am blessed to be entrusted with this ministry.

These children link us together, you and me, dear sister.  We have never seen each other’s faces, never spoken a word to each other, never taken each other by the hand, but we are so very close. I wish you love.  I wish you all that is good. 

One day, when we have both finally laid down our crosses, I pray, we all will meet in Heaven.  On that day, I will embrace you, my sister, and I will introduce you to my children, your children, OUR children.  His children.  And we will see the fulfillment of His plan for all of us and how He has brought all things to good. 

 

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Homily Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Image result for bulgaria city buildings

Sofia, Bulgaria (shutterstock.com)

As you may or may not know, Nissa and I adopted two children from Bulgaria about a year ago.  As part of the adoption process, we visited with the children in Bulgaria two different times.  The first was in a very small village in the far distant region of the country.  And the second was in the capital city Sofia.  We got an opportunity to see much of the country.

Bulgaria is a former republic of the Soviet Union, who recently became an independent nation.  No matter where we were, the country looked like pictures you’ve probably seen, all the buildings are the same color, the same architecture.  Almost all are what we would consider run down, walls cracked, plaster and paint falling off.  Inside, they were not any better.  Even the national museums were obviously in disrepair.  The roads were terrible, torn up and patched together.

By our standards, Bulgaria is a third world country.  The thing that really stood out was within that environment of poverty, everyone was wearing designer clothes, everyone sported their own smart phone, everyone drove expensive cars. 

And there we were, traveling 5000 miles to rescue two children abandoned in an orphanage, minimally cared for, while everyone around them was more concerned with pretending to be wealthy than loving their neighbor.

Everyone was focused on the wrong thing.

And that is exactly what today’s Scripture readings are trying to save us from.  We must stop and reflect on what God is telling us!

The first reading is from the Prophet Zephaniah telling us how to follow the Lord:  do no wrong and tell no lies!  What a wonderful world this would be if everyone lived that way! 

Even when we fail, we need to keep striving to live that way.  The challenge of course is that our present world no longer knows what is good and what is wrong.  The world does not know truth from lies. 

We are surrounded on every side with values that are so different from the values given to us by Jesus that we can become confused.  Far too often, whatever the present cultures wants to call good is accepted as good and whatever it wants to call bad is accepted as bad. 

Yet, we who follow the Lord Jesus, have the Word of God to form us and to guide us into all truth.

The second reading is from a Letter from St Paul to the Corinthians.  This letter reminds us that if we actually do choose to follow the Word of God and to follow Jesus as our Savior, we will be considered fools.  And this is still true for us today. 

But we are told in this reading:  “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise.”  It is our foolishness in following Jesus that can actually bring light to the world and perhaps even draw the world back to God. 

The early Christians knew that to live in Christ was to fight against the values of their world.  The early Christians even knew that they might have to die to proclaim the truth given to us in Christ Jesus.

Today, we like to be comfortable and to be well off.  There is nothing wrong with that by itself, but when we are willing to water down the Word of God in order to maintain a comfortable life style, then we must recognize that we are betraying Jesus as our Lord. 

We must be able to stand up for the truth of the teachings of Scripture and of our Catholic Church.  When we find ourselves compromising because we don’t want to bother others, then we are guilty of passing on the lies of our current culture.

Today’s Gospel reading gives us what is called the Beatitudes.  These are the all important teachings of Jesus that tell us how to follow the Lord:  poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers, persecuted for the sake of righteousness, insulted for Christ, persecuted for Christ, and evil spoken about us because of Christ.  This is a pretty strong list of characteristics for us!

The implication today is that we must give our whole being to God.  We must follow Jesus with all of our strength.  When we fail, we must get up and start again.  Compromising with anything less than Jesus simply means following the world and its values and not following our Lord.

Today we are invited us to renew our commitment to the follow the Lord.  We should walk in His ways and accept all the suffering that may bring us.  That way we can walk in His kingdom but now and forever.

Some content from Homily by Abbott Philip OSB

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Life With Boys

A few weeks ago, during all of the end-of-Advent bustle, I caught this guy taking some time to stop and smell the lemon button fern.

©Nissa Gadbois

©Nissa Gadbois

Homily – Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God, 2017

motherofgod

Mary has many titles.  We are familiar with a good number of them. The Immaculate Conception, Queen of the Holy Rosary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to name a few. 

There are probably hundreds if not thousands of others that have special meaning. However, the one title that surpasses all others, the one that we celebrate today is Mary, the Holy Mother of God.

This feast reminds us of a reality that is very easy for us to forget, that God came to us, became one of us, and he did so as a baby. He did not just appear, which God could have done, but He chose to come through a woman. We can lose sight of the fact that Mary conceived a child, though not in the usual way. She carried Him in her body, nourishing Him from within for nine months with all that entails.

This most blessed of all women was and is indeed, the Mother of the second person of the Trinity, a person, a baby that is consubstantial – of the same substance – as the Father, yet lying in her arms, dependent upon her. She is the Mother of God.

The important aspects of the life of Mary such as her own Immaculate Conception and her Perpetual Virginity are the direct consequences of God’s decision to make her the mother of his Son.

From an earthly perspective, from a human perspective, there is no title that can conjure up more feelings than that of “mother”. For most of us it is a name given to a person dear to us, one who embodies a type of love for us that words fail to describe.

The name Mother of God describes the Virgin Mary, who conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Person of Jesus Christ.

But why do we celebrate a day by that name in the Church?

We celebrate it because it confirms and solidifies something that we have just finished celebrating. The Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God sets in our hearts the essential truth of Christmas.

The Title, the use of the words Mother of God speaks to the truth of the incarnation…..of God becoming completely united with our humanity. The very purpose of the title and for its celebration is to leave no doubt in our hearts and minds that Jesus was fully human and fully God.

It is not correct to think of Jesus as someone who is a split person, part God and part man. That maybe it was the God part of Him that worked miracles and the human part of Him that slept in the boat or even died on the cross.

By declaring Mary to be the Mother of God, it makes clear to us that Jesus did not simply put on human flesh. He is not God imitating a man, but both God and Man, like us in all things but sin.

This is essential since it is only because he is truly God that Jesus can be the source of forgiveness for us and only because he is truly man that our humanity can be redeemed.

The dignity Jesus bestows upon women and motherhood is also beyond compare. Jesus subjected himself, was obedient to His Mother Mary and to Joseph, His Earthy father.

Jesus, God, The Creator of the Universe willed to learn how to nail a board from Joseph. Jesus, God himself, learned to say His prayers from Mary. What does that say about the dignity of work, the value of learning, and the importance of prayer?

The One God that has been revealed to us as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, by a Mystery of Mercy, willed that the Second Person, the Son unite Himself with humanity not just for a little while, but for all eternity.

And while we do not diminish the role of Mary, today is really not about her, but about what God did through her obedient and willing heart.

Paul states this truth very eloquently in our second reading:

When the fullness of time had come,
(not the nick of time or the best time, or even the right time, but the fullness of time)
(God did what?) God sent his Son,
(how?) born of a woman, born under the law,
(why?) to ransom those under the law, (that’s us you and me),
(to what end?) so that we might receive adoption as sons and daughters
(of who?) the Father.

And if we are sons and daughters of God the Father, then we are heirs of that same God through the incarnation of God.  And to be an heir is to inherit everything!

So it is good to celebrate the name of Mary, because by a singular grace, she is indeed, the Mother of God. But we primarily celebrate what God did, through Mary.

And this day is our celebration as well, for through the incarnation, by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have been made heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven. That is our dignity, that is our destiny, that is our greatest hope and that is the source of our joy.

Content taken from Homily by Deacon Bill O’Donnell

Mama’s Helper

I love having little helpers in the kitchen.  For our family, food is love.  And teaching them how to prepare food is one way of teaching them to love others.  My older kids all have an appreciation for home-cooked meals, homemade breads and treats.  I feel very proud to be instilling this in them because I know they will share the gift with others for as long as they live – whether it is as a chef, or as a happy host at home.

©Nissa Gadbois

Here’s Georgie helping to knead the saffron dough for lussekatter on the afternoon before St. Lucia’s Day.

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