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Relax and Strengthen

Today we welcome guest blogger Kathy Coffey. This comes from the “Living Simply” column in St. Anthony Messenger. A simple cure for frustration, stress or fatigue isn’t always found in the pharmacy or medicine cabinet. Instead, it’s closer to home: a deep, belly breath. Breathing has always been sacred to the world’s religious traditions. We believe that humanity began when God breathed life into us (Genesis 2:7), and that Jesus continued this gift by breathing the Holy Spirit into the disciples (John 20:22). At stressful times, we take short, shallow breaths. But what we need most then is more oxygen, not less. It may be the easiest New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made. Allow the breath to anchor and energize, naturally. So the next time you want to scream at a salesperson or collapse for a nap, try this source of calm and energy instead. Inhale so that your stomach swells like a balloon. (Place one hand there to make sure it’s happening.) Pause, then exhale completely so the stomach is slightly hollowed. Then match prayer to breath. Spontaneous words are good: “Thank you for the breath of life.” Or borrow from the Bible: “It’s good to be here.” “I came that you might have life.” Or Rumi: “Lord, how good the air smells today!” **** Image from Shutterstock.com/Olivier Le Moal
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More Than Intercession

Today’s guest blogger is Nick Luken, a fourth-year student at The Ohio State University, majoring in English and minoring in professional writing. Nick graduated from Roger Bacon, a Franciscan high school in Cincinnati, in 2012. When most people think of prayer, they think of only one specific kind of prayer: intercession. It seems to me that the vast majority of prayer involves asking God to provide us with something specific, whether it's something big, like healing for a loved one, or something small, like the strength to get through the stresses of a day. This isn't at all a bad thing—intercessory prayer helps us connect with both God and the people for whom we pray. It can even make miracles happen. It's important for us to pray for specific things, but I often feel that people put so much emphasis on intercessory prayer, that we forget prayer is so much more than asking God for things. The power of prayer stretches far beyond God giving us things that we need or want. Prayer allows us to connect with God, to bring His holy presence into our lives, no matter where we are. Prayer is a spiritual transporter that brings us into the presence of the creator of the universe and the savior of the world. As important as intercession is, that connection is what makes prayer truly miraculous. I think a lot of us forget that beautiful connection when we focus so much on intercessory prayer. We get so caught up in asking God for different things that we forget to pause and take the advice of Psalm 46:11: "Be still and know that I am God!" Sometimes, we ought to consider not only what we need to remember to ask or tell God, but what God needs to hear from us. We need to offer our praises to God, to thank Him for all that He's done for us, and to tell Him that we love Him. Sometimes, even just repeating the name "Jesus" is all we need to connect with the Lord. No matter how we do it, though, we need to emphasize communicating with God as much as we emphasize praying for specific things. Intercessory prayer is important, even necessary, to living a Christian life. But we need to remember that it's not the only way to pray. We need to remember that sometimes we need to enter into prayer with no intention except to grow closer to God. ***** Photo: Carlos Santa Maria/PhotoXpress
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The Gift of Life

This past Sunday here in the United States we celebrated Mother’s Day—a day when we reflect on that special family relationship from the various perspectives through which we approach it. For example, I myself am a mother, and I am also a daughter of my mother who is still alive. Many of you celebrated the memories of your deceased mothers, as my own mother did. Still others bear the most indescribable pain of motherhood—having lost a child to death through miscarriage, stillbirth, illness, accident, or even murder or execution.
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Don't Forget to Laugh

Recently, we had a run of misfortunes in our house. The refrigerator broke, flooding the basement in the process. The oven door shattered all over the kitchen at 7:00 in the morning as I was getting the kids ready for school, our van tire got a hole in it and various drains in our house decided to quit working on a week-by-week schedule, requiring about six calls to our favorite plumber. Oh, and did I happen to mention that my husband, Mark, was conveniently out of town during all of these adventures? But you know what? I wasn’t mad at him. I was more sad that I didn’t have him home to laugh with me about all of it.
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God’s Love Has a Name and a Face

Our blog today is an excerpt from Franciscan Media’s new book The Spirit of Saint Francis: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis, edited by Alicia von Stamwitz. What is God’s love? It is not something vague, some generic feeling. God’s love has a name and a face: Jesus Christ, Jesus. Love for God is made manifest in Jesus. For we cannot love air…. Do we love air? Do we love all things? No, no we cannot; we love people and the person we love is Jesus, the gift of the Father among us. It is a love that gives value and beauty to everything else; a love that gives strength to the family, to work, to study, to friendship, to art, to all human activity. It even gives meaning to negative experiences, because this love allows us to move beyond these experiences, to go beyond them, not to remain prisoners of evil. It moves us beyond, always opening us to hope, that’s it! Love of God in Jesus always opens us to hope, to that horizon of hope, to the final horizon of our pilgrimage. In this way our labors and failures find meaning. Even our sin finds meaning in the love of God because this love of God in Jesus Christ always forgives us. He loves us so much that he always forgives us. —Pope Francis Angelus, St. Peter’s Square Sunday, August 11, 2013 To learn more about The Spirit of Saint Francis: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis, click here. ***** Photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring
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'A Bruised and Dirty Church'

Our blog today is an excerpt from Franciscan Media’s new book The Spirit of Saint Francis: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis, edited by Alicia von Stamwitz.
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