April 13, 2018

Highlights from talks at Indiana Catholic Women’s Conference

As she addresses participants at the Indiana Catholic Women’s Conference in Indianapolis on March 10, Sonja Corbitt holds up a journal she used to record her thoughts after her daily reading of Scripture. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

As she addresses participants at the Indiana Catholic Women’s Conference in Indianapolis on March 10, Sonja Corbitt holds up a journal she used to record her thoughts after her daily reading of Scripture. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Compiled by Victoria Arthur and Natalie Hoefer

Following are excerpts from the talks presented at the annual Indiana Catholic Women’s Conference on March 10 in Indianapolis, as well as the homily delivered during Mass.

‘It takes a family to raise a child’

(Excerpts from talk by Father Benjamin Luedtke, ordained by St. John Paul II in 1982, a personal friend of St. Teresa of Calcutta and a sought-after retreat director, whose website is www.godblessya.com.)

“Society is a reflection of the family. Laws have broken [the family] down, from divorce to abortion. … It takes a family to raise a child, not a village. …

“So many want to water down the faith. We need to understand it fully so it becomes alive in us. …

“Love is in the will, not the emotions. I ‘will’ to love. …

“God doesn’t see crowds. He sees each individual as if they’re the only person he would create. … Scripture says Jesus looked down and said, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ And to the disciple he said, ‘Behold your mother.’ The Greek translation for ‘the disciple’ [in this passage] is ‘whoever calls himself a disciple.’ So he was looking at you, ‘the disciple,’ and saying, ‘Behold your mother.’ …

“We become used to the Eucharist. We forget it is the actual body of Christ. If [an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist] calls it ‘bread,’ they should be told to go home—they don’t deserve to touch him. … Look at your hand when you receive the Eucharist, and you will see the hand of Jesus holding you in return. This is the physical Jesus. His hand is physically holding your hand, his heart is beating in your hand. …

“At every Mass, the priest kisses the altar because it becomes Calvary. At every Mass, Mary is just as present to us as Jesus, because we’re present at Calvary. … Mary is essential to the faith. Without her, we wouldn’t have any of the infancy narratives. … All salvation is dependent upon her fulfilling the will of God. …

“The world despised Jesus because he was normal, and in his normalcy they saw their own depravity. Mother Teresa was normal. So was St. John Paul II. A saint is someone who is normal. When you’re normal, [the world] will hate you because you’ll be a contradiction. …

“We are freed from sin by [the sacrament of] reconciliation. We are freed from ignorance by the teaching of the Church. Everything the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches is in line with common sense. Our responsibility is to keep children in the image and likeness of God. … It’s not your job to make people happy. It’s not your job to make your children happy. Happiness is a choice. To love is a choice. To forgive is a choice. …

“We need women in the Church. God gave you the grace to change the world. … We must let ourselves be guided by the Church. Only then will the world know Jesus. … God wants us to be his heart, his hands, his presence. We must become him, not just imitate him.”

‘He’s so quiet, so hidden’

(Excerpts from talk by Mother Mary Margaret, a former schoolteacher who founded the Children of Mary, a congregation of nuns in Ohio who spread devotion to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Their website is www.childrenofmary.net.)

“[At Mass earlier today] I knelt there and I looked at that tabernacle, and I thought, ‘The living God is behind those golden doors.’ It’s hard to imagine—he’s so quiet, so hidden. We’re so noisy; we’re so external.

“Some people say they like [non‑Catholic] churches because they have beautiful music … they have beautiful homilies. Those things are good and important. But they don’t have the living God, to be in his presence. They don’t have the living God to be their food.

“How we long for Christian unity. We need our brothers and sisters who are separated [from us]. Some of them put us to shame when it comes not just to their love of Scripture, but also to their zeal for souls. They’re down in Mexico and South America, taking Catholics away from the truth. We need that kind of zeal for the truth. God wants us to be one with him and one with one another. And that’s why he instituted the Holy Eucharist …because love longs for unity.

“We sisters … have only our Lord Jesus as our spouse. But you, too, are spouses of Christ. You just have another spouse in addition—for a while, until death do you part. But your first spouse, and your forever spouse, is the Lord. He must be first in your life. Number one, before anything or anyone. Before husband, before children, before anything … because he will be your spouse for all eternity. …

“Some people say, ‘I don’t go to Mass. I get more out of just taking a walk in the woods. Creation just speaks to me of God.’ We confuse the creatures with the Creator. They satisfy our senses. They look beautiful, they sound beautiful. But Jesus is quiet and hidden.

“At Mass when the priest says, ‘This is my body,’ the living God becomes present to us. The same Jesus who changed water into a totally different substance totally changes that bread into his body, into himself. … [When we receive Jesus in holy Communion], we are united with him more than when sugar is dissolved in a cup of hot coffee. …

“The Eucharist is a cry of love. ‘Come to me. I long to be one with you. Come to me. Come to me in adoration. … Come to me in Communion.’ Adoration comes forth from the Mass, and leads us back to the Mass, that hunger to receive him again.

“He opened the gates of heaven by his death. His part was to die on the cross. Our part is to love him and adore him who stays with us in the Holy Eucharist. …

“Ponder the enormity of this gift. He wants to be close to us. It’s like sometimes with our loved ones—we live with them and take them for granted. That’s one of the drawbacks of our fallen human nature. We need to keep reminding ourselves, ‘This is God.’ We’re all called to holiness. We’re all called to that deep union.”

S.T.O.P. and L.O.V.E.

(Excerpts from talk by former Baptist Sonja Corbitt, an EWTN radio and television guest, author of numerous books and Bible studies, and contributor to Catholic publications and blogs, whose website is www.biblestudyevangelista.com.)

“The sanctification of the family begins with us, ladies. … Mary is the mother of listening. She taught us how to hear the word of God … and how to [use it to] interpret the events in her life.

[Corbitt condensed this process into the acronym L.O.V.E.]

“ ‘L’ is for listening to the word [of God] with Mary. … Be available every day for Scripture, and God will show up. Go to Scripture daily, and ask the Holy Spirit to make himself heard. That takes discipline—there’s no way around it. If we want to hear God, we have to be in the Scripture. We don’t have to dig for Scripture—you have it every day in Mass. … Listen to the word of God with attentiveness. You have to be silent, in solitude. I promise if you get hold of this practice for one month, it will make a difference. …

“I remember the day that God showed up [through daily reading of Scripture]. … He showed up in Proverb 26:11—‘Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats [her] follies.’ [Corbitt shared how the folly in her life was anger.] … What is your vomit? What habit do you fall into? …

“ ‘O’ is for observe. … God gives us opportunities to practice what he teaches us. I started to notice I had a pattern in my anger. … I would run into my [anger] triggers all the time … as a pop quiz from God to learn from. As soon as he showed me the problem, he showed me how to fix it: S.T.O.P. ‘S’ is ‘sin no more’—don’t commit the sin. ‘T’ is ‘tell God’ [how you’re feeling]. ‘O’ is ‘offer up the right sacrifice’—ask Jesus what it should be. ‘P’ is ‘put your trust in God.’ So if you feel you’re going back to your sin—your vomit—just STOP. … Your vomit is what God wants to talk about with you. … Once you learn one lesson, he gives you another to work on. … Look at your part—what makes you go back to your vomit? …

“ ‘V’ is for verbalize back to God what you think he’s saying. … Verbalizing helps with processing and helps us hear. …

“ ‘E’ is for entrusting like Mary: ‘May it be done to me according to your word.’ … When she said ‘yes’ to God, she had to completely entrust God with what would happen. … We don’t expect big things from God. It’s a risk to trust God. It’s humbling.

“When we love the word the way Mary loved the word, we give birth to it in our families and create families of God. … This is on all of us women. … It’s time to turn away from the vomit and S.T.O.P. Every day listen, observe, verbalize and entrust. If you do that every day, there will be change.”

‘God does not regret entrusting us with freedom’

(Excerpts from homily by Father Anthony Hollowell, associate pastor of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood.)

“Our human freedom—what a beautiful gift that it is. … Sometimes this human freedom makes mistakes. But … to cover our mistakes, [God] paid something that was of infinite value. He paid with the body and blood of his son.

“I wonder if we know how much God desires to die for us, how much God desires to pay our debt. … We get little glimpses of this in Scripture. Christ says, ‘I have a baptism with which I need to be baptized, and how constrained I am until it is accomplished’ [Lk 12:50]. [He was] speaking of the baptism of his death. His whole earthly life is a constraining moment in which he’s not able to give his full self, which can only happen in that moment on the cross.

“Daily, there’s a part of my brain that goes back to mistakes I’ve made and says things like, ‘How could you be so stupid?’ … We all have that voice. But it’s helpful to recall that God himself does not regret entrusting us with freedom. He doesn’t regret giving us those opportunities to figure it out. …

“If God does not regret our freedom, then who are we to regret it? … To love as God loves, it requires us first to receive the Son’s sacrifice for our mistakes … . We may regret our own need for this offering, our own need for this sacrifice, but God does not regret it . . . because a true father always wants to sacrifice himself for his children.” †

 

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