Doubling Up on Prayer

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There are so many causes to pray for. Go to any Christian forum, and you’ll see an abundance of prayer requests like begging for the miraculous healing of a dying child to asking that a dog come through surgery okay. With so much to pray for, how does one choose?

I found myself in a bit of a personal dilemma when trying to decide whom to pray for. Two of my siblings left the Church decades ago, and I do want to pray for their return.

On the other hand, I read a book about how greatly the souls in Purgatory suffer. If you saw someone on fire, and you could alleviate his suffering just by praying, wouldn’t you?

Well, wouldn’t you?

I was caught between these two needs. Which should take priority? Or should I perhaps split my prayer and give 50% to each?

Then I came up with a solution that covers both. Continue reading

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How to Make God Laugh

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They say if you want God to laugh, make plans.

I had big plans for 2017.

That’s the year I was going to clean my house from top to bottom. I was going to go through every cupboard and drawer. Useless items would be thrown out, many things donated to one of our local charities.

But at the Christmas vigil Mass of 2016, we ended up in the choir loft. And some woman up there was coughing and hacking through the entire ceremony. My husband shook hands with her at the Sign of Peace, and that was that. Continue reading

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Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

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Looking for some inexpensive gifts for your Christian friends this Christmas? All four of my Christian novels–Rain from Heaven, Nearer the Dawn, Amaranth, and Cherish–are now on sale for just 99¢ each on Amazon Kindle. That’s less than $4 for all four!

For ages young adult and above. All net profits this year go to my parish, which is heavily in debt.

Rain from Heaven https://www.amazon.com/Rain-Heaven-J-Avila-ebook/dp/B00DPO6A3E

Nearer the Dawn https://www.amazon.com/Nearer-Dawn-J-Avila-ebook/dp/B00J1AVQLM

Amaranth https://www.amazon.com/Amaranth-J-Avila-ebook/dp/B00WSCJT64

Cherish https://www.amazon.com/Cherish-J-Avila-ebook/dp/B071DCW1PM

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On Trust and Forgiveness

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Growing up, I heard a lot of stories about World War II. The most bizarre one I ever heard, however, took place on our own shores.

It involved the man who would one day become my father-in-law. Jake (not his real name), was drafted into the army and sent to fight in Europe. Before he left, he arranged for his salary to be deposited into his brother’s bank account. His brother agreed that when he came back, the cash would be waiting for him. But if he didn’t return, there would be no question where the money was supposed to go, and there wouldn’t be any problems about a will and probate.

When he came back from the war, Jake asked his brother for his money. Continue reading

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Winning and Losing

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Recently I read on another blog a post discussing gay marriage and why it’s wrong. As usual, I afterward scrolled down to the comments section to glance at a few reactions. One in particular caught my eye. It read “You’ve lost. Get over it.”

That last sentence, lately, seems to be (at least in the minds of several people) an end to the argument. “Get over it” they proclaim–as if we have to do what they say.

Well, I for one refuse to “get over it.” I am, however, far more interested in the first sentence that commenter wrote: “You’ve lost.”

It got me thinking about winning and losing. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized there is only one thing you can actually win or lose, at least only one thing that counts. Continue reading

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Sowing Seed

sowing seed

In the parable of the seed, Jesus tells us that sometimes when the sower plants seeds, birds come and eat it. Sometimes it falls on rocky ground and doesn’t grow good roots. Some falls among thorns which choke it when it grows.

My own experience is that when I sowed seed, my husband and his friend came along with a rototill and demolished my entire vegetable garden. Continue reading

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Judge Not

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We all have a tendency to jump to conclusions.

That was certainly the case for me one time after a visit to my local library. Back then I was still single, and so I had gone there alone. On the way out, my arms laden with books, a rather seedy-looking man—who obviously hadn’t bathed for quite some time—held the door open for me. I thanked him as any lady should do when extended this courtesy.

But when we got outside in the parking lot, it was a different story. It was night, and except for the two of us, the lot was empty. I could hear this guy’s footsteps right behind me. And he was whistling the way a man whistles at a woman he thinks is attractive.

I began to panic. If he grabbed me, I had no defense. Fortunately, the police station shared the same parking lot. It occurred to me I should turn around, hurl my books at him, and run for the police station as fast as I could.

As I approached my car, I readied myself. To my distress, the footsteps were getting closer, and he was still whistling. I whipped around, about to pelt him with my books— Continue reading

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Forcing the Issue

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One day when I was about seven, after scrimping, saving, and turning in plenty of soda bottles for the deposit refund, I finally got enough money to buy something I wanted. I don’t recall exactly what it was, but it was a game I’d seen advertised on TV. The next time Mommy took us kids to the store, I filled my pockets with my coins, found the item I was looking for, and proudly made my very first purchase.

Then I made a horrible mistake. I showed my mother what I’d bought.

“You don’t want that,” she told me.

Yeah. I saved up like crazy, then bought it with every cent of my money because I don’t want it. Of course I wanted it, and I was under the impression my money was, well, my money.

Nope. Mommy dragged me back into the store to make an exchange. She pulled a Scrabble game off the shelf. Didn’t I want that instead? Look! It’s got letters! She carried on and on about the superiority of Scrabble and how much fun I would have with something I didn’t want compared to something I did want. Continue reading

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How God Makes Lemonade

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I taught at a Catholic high school for eight years. It was only eight because at the end of that last year, the principal, a nun, called me into her office to explain a few things.

I had spent the previous summer returning to college and had earned straight A’s, and so, she said, she had concluded I was too smart to be a teacher.  I would, she told me, be happier doing something else—as if she were the one to decide my career choice.

As I sat there in her office, I slowly came to the realization that I was being fired.

Well, okay, that’s not quite true. I wasn’t being fired. I was being let go. In other words, my contract was not going to be renewed.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Nobody had complained that there were any problems in my classroom. My department head was thrilled with my performance. In fact, often parents threatened to withdraw their kids from the school if they couldn’t take my classes. I was a devoted teacher who put in long hours above and beyond what was required. I had given my heart and soul to that school, and now I was being booted out? Continue reading

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What Would It Take?

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My kids came back from trick-or-treating one year with something very scary.

You know how it is: you dump out all the candy and check it to be sure there’s nothing your kids shouldn’t have. Well, one year my girls returned home with something even more horrifying than a razor stuck in a candied apple.  Continue reading

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