Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Is Your Life in a Knot?

My husband picked up a book of Mark Twain’s short stories at a little neighborhood library the other day.  While reading it, he burst out laughing when he got to the end of one of the stories titled A Medieval Romance.  As he explained the story and its surprise ending to me, I thought it was absolutely genius.  So here is my spoiler alert for anyone who happens to be reading it.

The story is convoluted and too complicated to explain here except to say that as you arrive near the ending, you cannot imagine how it will end.  The characters have tied themselves into quite a knot making it difficult to come to any satisfactory conclusion.  How will he resolve their problem? Twain’s genius is that he admits he can’t, and concludes his short story this way:

“The truth is, I have got my hero (or heroine) into such a particularly close place that I do not see how I am ever going to get him (or her) out of it again, and therefore I will wash my hands of the whole business, and leave that person to get out the best way that offers—or else stay there.  I thought it was going to be easy enough to straighten out that little difficulty, but it looks different now.”

Isn’t that hilarious?  He cannot untie the literary knot he created, so he just stops.  Who does that?

It makes me think that sometimes we get our own lives tied up in knots that are so gnarled we wish we could just undo the mess, but unlike Twain, we cannot simply “wash our hands of the whole business.”  

We can however, turn to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in a devotion known as Our Lady Untier of Knots.  It has been reported that Pope Francis took this devotion back to Argentina (before he became Pope) after seeing the original painting in Germany.

I like the image because it calls to mind, visually, the work of the Blessed Mother on our behalf—she helps us untie the knots in our life.  There is a quote linked to St. Irenaeus, and this image also has a very interesting story about a couple whose marriage was saved.

The prayer attached to the image is one you can pray for yourself or someone else.  It can be prayed as a Novena (recited for a determined set of days).

I have included a website below that has the Novena, as well as a copy of the version of the closing prayer that I prefer.  You do not have to pray the entire Novena.  Sometimes I just pray the prayer below.

Everyone knows someone that can use some help with the knots in their life.  I strongly encourage you to take up this prayer.  Remember, prayers do not work like magic.  We do not approach God in prayer with the idea that we can manipulate him or situations.

God bless,
Janet Cassidy

Here is the Novena website:

Prayer to Mary, Undoer of Knots
Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.  No one, not even the Evil One himself, can take it away from your precious care.
In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.
[Mention your request here]
I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all.  You are my hope.  O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains.  Hear my plea.  Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!
Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Do Whatever You Can and it Will be Blessed

When I was homeschooling our kids, our oldest daughter and I listened to the Diane Rehm show on National Public Radio most days, during lunch.  She always had interesting guests and intelligent discussions, so it became part of our routine.

One day, in an effort to encourage the idea that our daughter could do anything she put her mind to, I said, in referencing the radio show, “I could do that!”
“You could!” she said, and the saga began.

So I called our local FM radio station, which led to a call to a local AM station and a conversation with the programming director.  All the while knowing this sort of thing doesn’t really work, I kept moving forward with the idea to show her how you do things and the importance of trying.

Before you knew it, I had a one hour radio show of my own called Faithworks with Janet Cassidy on the local AM station.

I guess I showed her.

Anyway, my show lasted a little over a year until I decided to leave it so I could spend more time with our growing family.  As I look back on that time, I must say, I absolutely loved working in radio.  Why?  Because I have a curious mind, and if there was anything I wanted to learn more about, I would just invite someone on to talk about it. I also liked the fact that doing live interviews did not require any editing!  

It is interesting to me, when I look back over the years, that God always seemed to open doors for me, even if I did not have the experience or education for the work I was doing. I did not realize this until I got a little older and it became apparent through conversations with other people.

For instance—and this is only one example of many—when I was working on my bachelor’s degree, I was writing for the Catholic Times.  The chairman of our religion department scratched his head when he learned that I had never taken a journalism class. I can still hear him saying, “How is it you can write for a paper?” I just shrugged an “I don’t know,” but now I do.

The point to this is not to lay out my autobiography, but to give testimony to the fact that we should trust in possibilities.  I believe God really wants each of us to use our gifts in a way that glorifies him and raises awareness of what salvation is all about.  He will work out the details as to how to make that happen.

Whatever it is you can do, do it in the name of Jesus, and it will surely be blessed.

To start considering YOUR own gifts, you may want to check out frequently asked questions at Called and Gifted or contact Bert (517-342-2521) at the Diocese of Lansing.  Then keep digging!

Janet Cassidy

Friday, September 14, 2018

Conversations in Faith--The Girl at the Door

Oh, the name game.  It drives me crazy.  It is so hard sometimes to sort through the tangled lines in my brain and come up with someone’s name that I should know.  I reach for the name as it floats around, elusively.  I really don’t think it is a memory thing, but the fact that my head is so full of stuff.

Years ago I was sitting in a math class and one of my peers could be heard commenting, “I don’t keep anything in my head that I am not going to need in the next few minutes.”

I think she spoke into the future as her philosophy has never been more fitting than it is today.  Why do I need to keep everything in my head when I can look it up?  Oh, and look it up I do.  It is a sickness really.  At my fingertips is the answer to every question that enters my head, not that I retain it for very long, once I get it.  

Want to know why our ears have to be so big and why they can’t just lay flatter against our heads?

Want to know whether that person on television is married or has a family?

Or the definition of swill bucket?

Yes, I am a questioner.  On our family trips, I am sure I drove my mother crazy with all my questions about farming.  Sometimes, I imagine hearing my husband sigh when he looks at me and says, “I really don’t know.”  (I am rightfully shocked as I truly believe that somehow he has the answers to all my questions.)

But having a curious mind is good, right?  You understand me, don’t you?  Okay, maybe your questions are more profound than mine, but we are kindred spirits in this, right?

You know what is really good to inquire about?  Your faith.  Find out what your church believes and why, if you don’t already know.  Dig deep, ask the hard questions, and don’t be afraid of the answers. 

I had a young girl come to my door one day, asking me to buy her religion textbooks to help her get into her dream (religious) college.  I tried to warn her, I really, did.  I told her I was pretty steeped in curriculum and really did not need more books.  To her own peril, she just couldn’t stop.  In my defense, I will say it once again, I did try to warn her.

So I asked her to tell me her story.  How did she come to know Jesus?  She said she was in her apartment at school, at a time when she was going through a terrible time and someone knocked on the door.  It was a person from this church she was involved in now.  As my curiosity peaked with genuine interest and, admittedly an evangelizing bent, we continued our conversation.  I asked so many questions, and kept her so long at my front door (unintentionally), that I saw the pick-up car for her driving slowly by.

After going a few times around the block, they eventually parked and came up to save her, I suppose.  We then continued the conversation until they both told me that they had to leave—kind of an odd twist to door evangelization visits.

Anyway, I did not end up buying any of her books. But I was able to spend some time with this nice young girl, hopefully leading her to delve deeper into her own faith so that she could really contemplate her faith-filled journey.  We talked about how God might start us in one place, only to lead us to another and the importance of being open to that.

But, even more strange, is that at the time of our conversation at the door, unbeknownst to me, we had a service technician listening from the kitchen, as he was finishing up talking with my husband.

When I finished at the door, he said his wife had just bought a bunch of books from them, and then we had another conversation about church, something he didn’t really “do” at the time, but had lots of questions about.

So, I guess having an inquisitive mind might not be so bad after all.  It leads to a lot of interesting conversations, from which I can learn a lot.

Now, if only I could remember what I learn.  That would really be something.

God bless,
Janet Cassidy