Why Isn’t God Answering My Prayers?

I posted the Saint Andrew Christmas novena last week. I try to post it every year because it holds a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my first Christmas with my husband’s family back in 2011. It reminds me of my father-in-law (who now prays it with our family from Heaven).  Most importantly, it reminds me to focus my heart on Christ’s coming (at least three times per day) during this advent season.

So yeah, I love this prayer.

People often share novenas alongside stories of answered prayers. For example, the first time I prayed this novena I prayed for mine and Tyler’s relationship. He proposed 5 days after that Christmas. The next time I prayed the novena I prayed for us to be blessed with a baby within our first year of marriage. Our son was born ten months later.

God answers prayers.

Well, two years ago I prayed this novena for the intention that my father-in-law would be healed completely and miraculously from his cancer.

He passed away exactly 6 months after Christmas.

I feel a little bad saying that I don’t even really remember what my intention was for the St Andrew Novena last year. I do remember it was certainly harder to stay on top of praying it last year, maybe because it is such a reminder of Doug.

However, this year as well as last year I have received discouraged comments from readers (perhaps echoing my own fears) stating that God never seems to hear or answer their novena intentions. To those readers (and my discouraged self), I direct you to the first comment on the first post I ever wrote sharing this novena. It happens to be from my late father-in-law–the one who shared the novena with me in the first place:

I LOVE this “novena” even though the number nine has nothing in common with it! One year I prayed for the improvement of the financial situation of one of my adult children and their family… almost immediately after the prayer was done the husband lost his job!!! Funny (scary sometimes) how God works, that was what needed to happen to them in order to get things headed in the right direction.

God answers prayers, just not always in the way we expect.

Rest assured, dear reader, your prayers are not going unanswered, and God most certainly does hear you. His ways are not our ways.

Jesus, we trust in you!

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PSA- St. Andrew Christmas Novena Starts Today!

I know I haven’t posted in forever, but I am breaking my silence today to remind you to start your St. Andrew Christmas Novena!

I try to make a point of sharing this novena with you all every year. It is one of my favorite ways to prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas.  A couple of years ago, I ordered a handful of 5x7s of this graphic to be printed out so I would be reminded every day to meditate on the prayer. Feel free to download the image and do the same!

(The “rules” are to pray the following 15x each day from now through Christmas Eve. Fix a specific intention to offer to our Lord each time you pray it, and trust that the same Jesus who humbled Himself to be born at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold over 2,000 years ago, will hear your prayer and answer it according to His perfect will.)


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By the way, Blessed Is She has a great devotional today reflecting on who St. Andrew was in the ministry of Jesus. Here is a brief excerpt:

Throughout his life, Saint Andrew played second fiddle to his dynamic and well-known brother Simon Peter. Peter was an incredible teacher. He was the first Pope. He resurrected Tabitha. Everyone remembers Peter, few remember Andrew—he is often only referred to as Peter’s brother. However, without Andrew, there is no way to know who would have introduced Peter to Jesus. (John 1:40)

-Emily Wilson-Hussem via BlessedIsShe.net

Happy Advent!

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Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years (Free Book Available Now!)

A little over two years ago, I received a question from a reader. The gist of it: “Why are we women in such a rush to get married?”  I thought it was a good question deserving of a good answer, so naturally I deferred it to someone else ;) A close friend of mine (who is practically my big sister), Lisa Marie Hunt, wrote a two-part answer about Why We Long For Love and How To Glorify God In Your Singleness:

“…I wondered why God didn’t think it was time for me to get married.  Was I not holy enough?  Not pretty enough? Was God upset with me for something?  Did he want me to be a Sister, even though my desire to be a wife and mother was so strong? Was I ever going to get married or would I be stuck as a lonely, old, lady… who couldn’t even have cats because I am allergic to them!?  And then about five years ago I read the very first paragraph in the Catechism: “He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength”.  Nowhere in that sentence, or the paragraph that encompasses it, did the authors mention marriage, religious life or singleness.

I had been dwelling on the longing in my heart and thinking it was for a man, when in reality that longing was for Him and my purpose was to seek Him, to know Him and to love Him.  If getting married would help me to do that, then Praise God! if becoming a Sister allowed me to do that, then Praise God!  And if for whatever crazy reason God wanted me single, then Praise God!  That moment was a life-changer for me.”

(You can read Lisa’s whole answer by clicking here: Part 1  Part 2)

Why talk about this today?  Because yesterday Lisa published a book!

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The Moment Is Now: Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years, Practical Tips to Live Them For God’s Glory is available to download on Amazon FOR FREE today and tomorrow only (after that it will cost money, so download it today and tell your friends to do the same!).

I had the chance to read the book ahead of its release, and–even as a married mother of two–I kept finding myself nodding along with Lisa’s words. There are books on chastity in dating and how to date the “right” way as a woman of God, but The Moment Is Now delves into a less-discussed topic. What does a single person who understands– and truly finds beauty in–the call to chastity and the vocation of marriage do to make the most of the time of singleness God has given her beyond just…waiting?

Lisa is very up front that this is not a book about waiting. The Moment Is Now is about what to do with the gift (and it is a gift!) of singleness that God has given you.  I very much recommend that you check it out! (And it’s FREE today, so why wouldn’t you?!)

You can download the book on amazon by clicking the picture of the cover above, or by following this link: The Moment Is Now: Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years, Practical Tips to Live Them For God’s Glory.

Don’t forget to share with your friends!

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Sin Always Hurts

 

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

“Well, I believe that ____ is a sin because I am a Christian, but I just don’t feel I have a right to force my beliefs on others…  

…I mean, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone…

It sounds straightforward enough, right?  And in our culture, one of the the worst things you can be accused of doing is “forcing” your beliefs on someone.  Unfortunately, the underlying premise of this sort of statement is that sin doesn’t always hurt.

But that’s simply not true.

Sin always hurts.  Sin hurts God, first and foremost.  But sin also hurts us, because we are created to live in communion with God, and sin damages our ability to come into relationship with our Creator.  Choosing to sin stems from passions that are out of order which, when not corrected, lead us to choose things that might seem appealing, but in reality are not good for us.

This is true of all sin and for all people–whether they are Christians or not.  Lying is bad for the believer and the unbeliever alike.  Unchastity hurts both the Christian and the agnostic.  Sin is not good for us, no matter who we are.

But wait, there’s more!  Sin doesn’t just hurt God and the one sinning, sin hurts everyonebecause no one sins in a vacuum.  Our choices always have an effect on those around us, for better or for worse.  Lying is an affront to the dignity of whomever you’re lying to, because you’re effectively saying they aren’t worthy of the truth.

Even the sins we call “private,” these still affect our neighbors, because we carry the effects of our sins around with us, to everyone we meet.  When I habitually choose to do things that are damaging to my soul, it absolutely affects me as a person, and so it absolutely affects my ability to engage in the kinds of healthy and constructive relationships that I am supposed to have with other people.  When this happens on a large enough scale, everybody loses, because it facilitates a culture in which virtually no one is capable of true, virtuous friendship.  So sin—even so-called “private sin”— creates a culture of selfishness.  Sound familiar?

But here’s the real crux for those of us who say we are Christians.  If we can pretend that it is possible to commit sin “without hurting anyone,” what we’re really saying is that Jesus or no Jesus–it doesn’t really make a difference.  We’re effectively saying that sin is just some arbitrary, made-up construct, and our Savior has nothing real to offer the world.

Is that what we believe?  Because it is certainly not what Christianity teaches.

If Jesus is real, then sin always hurts.  And if Jesus is real, then sin is what He says it is.  Meaning: We don’t get to decide that just because something Jesus calls sin doesn’t look like it is hurting our neighbors, that it is somehow not a sin in that case.  Even when we are not fully culpable for our sinful actions–due to poor formation or whatever–those sins can still cause damage in our lives.

That’s the truth of the matter.  If we say we are Christians, then we cannot ever hold that sin is harmless. Because Jesus isn’t a liar.

So what does this mean for our day-to-day lives?  I think it means that we start, if we haven’t already, to pray that the Holy Spirit would “inspire us with the horror of sin.”  Because I think that if we are striving to live our lives according to the Spirit of God, we would be horrified by sin–all sin.  And if we’re not horrified by sin, then it means something is off in how we relate to God and to our neighbor, and needs to be made right.

So let’s ask that Jesus would “break our hearts for what breaks His.”  Let’s ask that He show us how we are to really love Him and how we are to really love our neighbor.  Not by pretending that sin is harmless, but by giving us the conviction that our Savior who died for our sin invites us—all of us— to freedom from sin.

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If You’re Looking For A Way Around The Teachings of The Church, That’s On You, Not The Pope

It happened again.  The Pope changed infallible Catholic moral teaching while on a recent flight during an interview with the press.  And as everyone knows, this is exactly how Church teaching changes.  On an airplane.  With reporters.  And an individual pope totally has the power to change infallible, unchanging doctrine of the Church.

Ok, nothing in the above paragraph is true.

Still, people (mostly Catholics in “damage control” mode) are freaking out over the most recent pope-in-the sky interview.  The latest revelation: Contraception is ok, sometimes, according to Pope. (Oh, and Donald Trump isn’t a Christian.  But you probably already knew that).

By saying what he said, he is “relaxing” the teaching on contraception, according to some.  He is opening the door to understanding contraception as not always being an absolute evil.  He is misleading and confusing the faithful, according to others.  He should just stop conducting interviews with the press, if many had their way.

I would just point out that what he actually said was in answer to a question regarding “avoiding pregnancy,” not contraception.  Of course, to the world, the phrase “avoiding pregnancy” is totally synonymous with “contraception-” I mean, is it even possible to not get pregnant without using birth control?!  Yes, in fact a much more surefire way to “avoid pregnancy” is to practice abstinence.  If you’re married, practicing periodic abstinence, or NFP, to avoid pregnancy has always been perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the Church if there are serious reasons for doing so.  Potential disease is obviously a serious enough reason.  Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil.  That’s what the Pope said.

In the process, he also mentioned a case in which nuns were supposedly allowed to use contraceptives as an act of defense against rape, which, yes, confuses the issue a bit.  I’m not going to dive into it too much here because I don’t pretend to know the Holy Father’s heart.  If the contraception in cases of rape thing is news to you, here is an article that explains what that is all about.

The Real Crux Of The Issue:

My intention in writing this post isn’t really to take part in the damage control efforts.  It is pretty well covered by now, and by people much smarter than I am :)

I wrote this post really just because I wanted to say that if you’re looking for a way to bend God’s teaching to your own whims, my personal feeling is that you’re probably not waiting on the Pope to tell you it’s ok to do so.  Case and point: Every time this happens that the Pope says things in ways different than the faithful would have wanted him to, you have the media reporting major changes in Church teaching, faithful Catholics reiterating what Church teaching actually is, and some angry Catholics finger-wagging at the Pope to be quiet.

The truth is, not a whole lot will be different two days from now.  The people who take seriously the teachings of Catholic faith will still believe in the truth of humanae vitae, those who think they know better than the Church will still practice contraception– regardless of what the Pope said or didn’t say in this interview– and the rest of the world will go back to thinking us Catholics are just as crazy as we ever were.

You either want to follow God and His commandments, or you don’t.  Perhaps the Pope thinks that those who want to love God with all their hearts will read further than a USA Today headline for their moral formation—I’d like to think so, at least.  I understand that it is frustrating to read a CNN headline that says: “Pope suggests contraceptives could be used to slow spread of Zika,” but I find it much more troubling that so many of us would buy into the notion that a one-liner from the Pope on an airplane would reasonably give any halfway serious Christian the impression that the Church is changing Her moral teaching regarding contraception.  If you love God, I have to believe you’ll give it a bit more thought than that.

That’s my two cents on the issue, anyway.  If you’re looking for what the Church teaches, stick to the Catechism, not the latest news headlines.  And instead of rolling our eyes and wagging our fingers, why not just rejoice at the opportunity to share the beauty of the Church’s teaching with others!

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“The Catholic faith is like a lion in a cage. You don’t need to defend it – you simply need to open the cage door.”

– Archbishop Fulton Sheen

 

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