A JOYOUS EASTER SEASON TO ALL!
Easter Sunday, 2015
I pray that you, your loved ones, and all in your faith community have a glorious Easter and very blessed and happy Season of Light and Joy!
This Spring, many things are sprouting and bearing fruit in my life, and I praise God for all of it, even the tough things that cause unexpected bumps in the road.
For me, the bumps involve health (familiar to anyone who lives with a chronic illness). I've had 2 eye infections over the past four weeks and, on Holy Thursday, was felled by a very nasty bug that still has me down - but not out! Although I missed being at Mass and singing up a joy-filled storm of praise, I take these personal challenges to mean I need to stay closer to home, rest up, and relax in God's comfort. If you, too, are tethered to home and miss out on longed for activities, take heart! The party can be much closer, inside your soul, as you know that people are praying for you all over the world - and God loves you wherever you are.
Now, very exciting news:
As we move into Spring, I will be putting the finishing touches on a new book! "Don't Panic! Strength and Courage for All of Life's Crises" will be published by Franciscan Media in the Spring of 2016. It seems like a long ways away, but time will go quickly, I'm sure. In the meantime, I will keep you posted of the book's progress from here, and share with you links to my Catholic News Service Columns and Beliefnet Galleries and Blog. See the links below, which I've updated to include the most recent pieces for Easter and Spring.
Blessings to you - and much joy and peace,
LINKS TO MY RECENT GALLERIES ON BELIEFNET
Five Reasons Why God Loves You
7 Ways to Fit More Quiet into Your Life
Be still and enjoy!
Blessings Because We Hurt
Be encouraged in your pain!
Things All Christians Should Consider about Money
Do your thoughts about dollars make Christian sense?
Six Parts of You That Make a Lasting Impression
How do you perceive yourself?
Sick and Single?
Who's waiting for you?
7 Ways to Turn a Breakup Loss into a Lifetime Gain
Move on and Look up!
You Can Lead the Way
What's holding you back?
Five Scripture Passages to Inspire Fitness in Faith
Get up and go!
LINKS TO RECENT PODCAST
Faith As a Second Language Podcast Episode 9/18/2014
My chat with Sean Herriott on his new Podcast - "Faith As a Second Language"
LINKS TO MY RECENT CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE COLUMNS
Click here for my Easter Column
What does water mean to you?
Click here to read my Spring Column!
What seeds will you plant this year?
Click here for my Column on Mass and Memory
Don't fret if you forget
Click here for column on Texting While Walking
Living Well Column on Texting While Walking
"Living Well" wins second place in Regular Columns category at 2014 Catholic Press Association annual awards!
I was humbled and very happy to hear that my editor at Catholic News Service, Rhina Guidos, has entered my syndicated column "Living Well" into the running for a Catholic Press Association award this year - and it won second place among regular columns focused on culture, the arts, and leisure.
For eight years, I've written the column, never imagining an award would come! Thank you, Lord, and thank you, Rhina - I can't wait to get to work on the next installment!
If you're curious, check out some of the links to columns I've written, here or by searching on the Web for "Maureen Pratt" and "Catholic News Service."
Just for Fun - Los Angeles Times Article on Frog Jumping
This is the article from the Los Angeles Times about scientists and the Calaveras County Frog Jumping Competition
LINKS TO MORE ARTICLES AND GALLERIES ON BELIEFNET.COM
No Green Thumb? Think Again
Let your garden grow!
7 WAYS TO FEEL JOY IN PAIN
Link to one of my latest Galleries on Beliefnet.com
5 WAYS TO BRING OUT THE BEST IN YOURSELF
Another of my latest Galleries on Beliefnet.com
Tempted to Swear? Try This Instead
Speak up gracefully!
GOOD DAYS...BAD DAYS WITH MAUREEN PRATT
Click on the link above to go to my blog!
INVISIBLE ILLNESS AWARENESS WEEK WEBSITE
Click here for more information and to view videos
...so, if you missed it, you can click on the link, above, and then on "Virtual Conference," to access my workshop. There are also other workshops you might want to watch, and you can do so at anytime, too.
If you live with an invisible illness, you know the challenges we face. If you care about of for someone with an invisible illness, you, too, experience challenges. The workshops during IIAW will be chock-full of information, support, insight, humor, prayers and encouragement. Enjoy!
Peace in Christ,
Back to school. Back to work. Back to "life." This month is one where we take up once again our daily routines that always seem to turn out to be not-so-routine. Why? Perhaps, when we think we know what our schedules will hold and then we find our knowledge was imperfect and our plans change, it's because God has other things in mind for us.
I bring this up now from a perspective of having lived with serious illness nearly all of my life, and with the diagnosis of lupus for almost 16 years. Truly, there is nothing so humbling as to have a disease that can wax and wane seemingly with a "mind of its own." One day is good. The next day...not so good. The third day is a blur. The fourth day, sharp and keen and vital once again. We lupies learn to appreciate the good days (and, sometimes we overdo on those days, making the tougher days all the more tough....we know who we are!)
But, even with the unpredictability of chronic illness, we people of faith know one thing is certain each day, each night, every moment - God's unwavering love and presence.
This is particularly important to remember in those dark times, when we think that we'll never feel even a little bit better again. Or, when a new symptom arises and we're thrown in to another round of tests, meds, and pain. Indeed, we can ever more cling to the knowledge that God does not forsake us. Not now, not then, not ever.
But, he might have other plans for us than those that we so painstakingly set forth on our calendars.
This month, as September unfolds, I think I'll be more mindful of plans that change and purpose that is tweaked, even a little, so that I can more resolutely affirm my faith, discern His way, and forge ahead with the delight of discovery and new horizons!
May you, too, have a faith-graced month!
In Christ Our Lord,
"THE LITTLE SCHOOL THAT COULD," DID!
Many of you will remember my feather article on the Immaculate Heart of Mary Children's Choir and their inspiring and unlikely journey to their first-ever international competition at the World Choir Games in Cincinnati, Ohio.
They did it!
Not only did the choir compete, but they were placed in the Champions Category, the highest possible category, and came back to Los Angeles with TWO Silver Medals!
This wonderful ending to their journey is really only the beginning, and I look forward to including much more about their development as the months and years move ahead. For now, though, if you missed the story, I've included a link to the Saint Anthony Messenger website. New footage of the choir's visit to the SAM offices is also running there, so even if you've read the article, check it out!
Congratulations, IHM Children's Choir and director Cristopher "Pete" Avendano, and the whole IHM family - well done!
The Little School That Could!
April issue of Saint Anthony Messenger Magazine
WOMEN'S HEALTH AND THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
When healthcare gets political, I have to speak out. Below is a link to a column that I wrote earlier this year about the way women's health is being co-opted for political purposes - and how we have to be vigilant so that real help will reach the real needs of women who are truly suffering.
The Dialog, March 2, 2012
See Page Four
AS WE MOVE TO AND THROUGH LENT
As we approach another Lenten season, it would be easy to feel overwhelmed by the things in our world that seem to pick away at our serenity, peace, and very relationship with God. Pain, physical and emotional, can do this. So, too, can outside influences whether from the personal or political realm. As we fight to stay true to our convictions and Christian conscience, stress bubbles up - and those of us know live with chronic illness and pain know only too well how much stress can exacerbate our symptoms and drive us further down. On the verge of "What's the use?" or "I cannot go another step?" You're not alone.
All around us and inside us, too, is a resilience we have yet to fully tap into. A strength that can and does stand its ground. A courage that can be tested, but does not need waiver. A faith that can see clearly, truly, and act accordingly.
By its very darkness, negativity can obscure goodness. But we have light on our side, and the more we nurture it, the more we will be able to rise above and bring peace to the stress.
How do we nurture light, goodness, peace, and faith?
There are simple ways that can pack a powerful punch against darkness and negativity. We can practice them now, before Lent, and throughout the year. They include:
1) Covering quiet with prayer. In those times of struggle, lifting up our cares to God and resting in blessed quiet can bring us serenity like no other activity can.
2) Perfuming the air with inspirational music. Rhythm, notes, different tonal qualities can touch the spirit in places that words and actions cannot. If we fill our air with beautiful music that moves us gently toward God, we can breathe in His awesome greatness.
3) Seeking right knowledge and information. We need not blindly accept what others say when it goes against what we, in our good conscience, know to be right. Vigilantly seeking truth is vital to defending our faith and human dignity, and there is no time like the present, when information is so readily available in many corners, to do just that.
4) Studying the Word. I'm still working my way throught the Bible. Although I've read it cover-to-cover several times before, nearly 3 years ago I began again by reading one chapter a day and truly studying it. What a difference this has made in my understanding! And what a revelation about how much more God can bestow wisdom when we slow way down to receive it!
5) Strengthening fellowship. Sometimes, it can seem as if we collect friends for the sake of the numbers (social networking sites do tend to bring this to mind). But strong bonds are not forged in superficiality. They touch our hearts, encourage our ministries, and walk with us as we walk with them. Strong fellowship is crucial to facing the challenges of today - and the more we work to nurture these bonds, the more we will rise above.
There is a gospel song with the refrain, "I shall not be moved." It has been going through my mind and heart a lot, lately, and I know that it will be one of the themes running through this Lenten season. I pray that, whatever your stresses and challenges, you, too, will find a way to be resolute in your faith and that your light will flourish now and always!
Peace and joy
THE ROSARY AND RELEVANT RADIO IS STILL AVAILABLE
Many times, people say, " What can I do?" The truth is, plenty! And here's one opportunity - Although it has already begun, it's not too late to join others in Relevant Radio's daily Rosary focused on praying for pro-life values to prevail in our country and in our world. The Rosary will be prayed every day live on the Morning Air Radio Program on Relevant Radio for 54 days in the 7:30 AM Central/5:30AM Pacific time zones. This began earlier in the month, but you can join in the prayer at anytime; the daily Rosary is archived on RR's website (link on my home page). You can also contact the Morning Air team and let them know that your state is represented in the prayer. More information is available at www.relevantradio.com
CALLING ALL JAZZ FANS!
I'm delighted to announce that my friend Marvin Evans has just released his first CD - City Rhythms Suite. Marvin was the accompanist and arranger at St. Eugene Church when I directed the gospel choir there, and most recently we worked together on the music for the television program, "Peace in the Storm," at Loma Linda Broadcasting Network International.
Marvin is one of the most gifted composers, arrangers, and pianists I've ever had the honor to work with, and he is a wonderful person and devoted family man, too (his family is terrific!). If you'd like some new, good-listening music with an eclectic and inspired heart, I recommend you take a listen to City Rhythms Suite. It's available on iTunes and CDBaby, as well as Amazon.com, and there's a link on the right of my Home Page to take you directly to Mavin's webpage on CDBaby.com. Enjoy! And, congratulations, Marvin!
A BRAND NEW YEAR!
The Christmas tree is back in its box, but the creche is still settled on a bookcase in my living room. Yes, it's Christmas-becoming-New Year's - time to still keep Christ's birthday close while looking ahead to fresh beginnings...and a few leftovers.
Oh, not leftovers of an edible kind, although there are plenty of those, too. But leftovers of the things that we thought we'd accomplish in 2011. Whether they are resolutions that went unresolved or midstream to-dos, we all have things that are being carried over from one year to another. And yet, we also have new things that we want to add.
How to do them all?
Well, perhaps we are best to rethink that very question. As tempting as it might be to heap "hope to" upon "hope to," in lives punctuated by pain and illness, it's just not realistic to think that we'll be able to accomplish absolutely everything on our 2012 list AND finish up 2011's items. As we well know, illness has a way of cropping up unexpectedly, and pain can ebb and flow completely outside any well-planned schedule.
This year, instead of adding to my weekly list of tasks, I'm paring down. Giving myself more breathing room. Prioritizing those activities that remain so that I can more fully enjoy (and do justice to) them. I guess you could say I'm resolved to put myself on an activity "diet," adding in only a very few things as I pare back other activities.
It's important to understand that, when we hone down the things we are engaged in, we are not giving up nor are we giving in to our health challenges. Rather, we are allowing ourselves to be less stressed and less stretched. And, something even more wonderful - we're allowing God to reach into the "blank spaces" and fill our lives with more light, peace, joy, rest, mini miracles, and stupendous surprises.
As we move into 2012, I'm reminded of this part of a Robert Frost poem, "May something go always unharvested!
May much stay out of our stated plan,
Apples or something forgotten and left,
So smelling their sweetness would be no theft." ("Unharvested")
May you, too, experience many unexpected blessings in 2012!
Joy and peace in Our Lord Jesus Christ,
SPECIAL OFFER ON BOOKS!
The Bookstore at St. Monica's Catholic Church, 725 California Avenue, Santa Monica, CA, is kindly offering to give a 10% discount on "Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness" and "Beyond Pain: Job, Jesus, and Joy" if you mention this announcement at the time of purchase. With independent bookstores quickly disappearing, I hope that, if you are in the Los Angeles area, you can support St. Monica's Bookstore in its very worthy mission. Thank you!
THE POSITIVE POWER OF PAIN
An awful lot of people throughout the world are in tremendous pain these days. Whether from external forces - natural disasters, war, economic troubles - or from internal problems regarding health, emotional challenges, and general fear and angst, many feel as if a dark cloud is hovering over them, obscuring the sun and light of happier, brighter times.
My heart goes out to all who are suffering - and my hope goes out, too, that in the midst of the pain, something powerfully positive will take hold.
I think of it this way - Darkness is erradicated by illumination. In the same way as we consciously decide to flip a switch to turn on a light, if we consciously decide to approach pain from a different, more empowering perspective, we can take hold of it, take charge, and rise above it.
Sometimes, we need help reaching the switch - and we can ask for that help through invention from God, friends, counselors, medical professionals and by educating ourselves on our particular situation. And we certainly need to acknowledge that, as we move to turn on the light, we are also acknowledging the Power, the One whose energy moves through it all - we are very surely saying "yes" to God. But the decision to take action, positive action, rests with us.
Does it take energy to want to move from helplessness to more control? Certainly.
Is it scary to budge from where we're sitting to someplace more productive, more active? Oh, yes!
But each step we take to live well, grace-fully and joyfully, is a step forged in strength, courage, and growth. We appreciate ourselves so much more, and this gift of precious life that God bestows, if we do all we can to make the most of it - to shine!
Pain in life is inevitable. But what is not carved in stone is our response to it. Even if, today, the obstacles to a better life seem insurmountable, God's enegy is present, and His love moves all around us, encouraging us to reach up, reach out, re-act - and turn on the light for all to see!
Joys and peace!
"BEYOND PAIN: JOB, JESUS, AND JOY" NOW AVAILABLE! CALLING ALL INFLUENCERS!
Now that my new book is out, I am especially eager to let you know that YOU can make a difference!!!
I'm calling upon you to be a positive influence for someone you know. Here's what I mean:
If you (1) are or have a pastor, preacher, support group leader, or other organization or individual who reaches out to people in pain and/or living with illness adn (2) feel they might benefit from "Beyond Pain: Job, Jesus, and Joy," I invite you to let me know who they are (or contact me yourself). I would be delighted to see how we can work together to help those who live with horrible pain feel more peace and, of course, joy!
SIMPLY LOVELY JEWELRY NOW ON THE WEB!
Each creative endeavor seems to build upon another. As I was writing "Peace in the Storm" and "Beyond Pain," I began to craft gemstone and pearl jewelry. After a very positive response to the designs, I've opened a little shop online. It's a work in progress, and over the next few months I'll be adding to the pieces already there, but I invite you to visit and let me know what you think of my "Simply Lovely Jewelry." (the website is: www.simplylovelyjewelry.etsy.com) Thank you and enjoy!
TELEVISION SHOW STILL ON AIR!
I had been notified that, after a year on the air, "Peace in the Storm: The Television Show" had been taken off. Now, I've been notified that Loma Linda Broadcasting Networks is keeping the show on, and episodes continue to air at least once five days a week. The current schedule is available on www.llbn.tv!
RELEVANT RADIO INTERVIEW ARCHIVES
My interviews on Relevant Radio's Morning Air Program are archived on the Relevant Radio website: www.relevantradio.com. You can search for my name and then click on a particular interview to listen in, if you weren't able to hear the segments real-time.
FINALLY FACEBOOK AND TWITTER
Yes, I finally took the plunge and established myself on Facebook and Twitter. On both, you'll find me as Maureen Pratt. In the coming days, I hope to post more frequently - and make full use of these venues. Stop by and say hello!