Friday, November 1, 2013

Nine Top Sinners Who Later Became Saints

We all like a good comeback story.  We also really want to be loving, patient, disciplined, and productive all the time...but let's be honest.  This is impossible when left to our own devices.  Today, on this Catholic feast celebrating all Saints, I wanted to remind us of huge sinners who still made it to heaven.  These guys (and ladies) show that more of life's journey might just be acknowledging that we screw up and ask for help instead of worrying about perfecting our systems so life goes smoothly.

It's all about relationship, baby.  And these gals (and guys) knew that their only answer to the desire for perfection was crying out to their Creator--despite all the destruction they may have caused.  In their best moments, they believed with whole heart that God loved them first, above all else.  The "about-face" that happened in their lives proves it.

My attempt at my own BuzzFeed list:

Top Sinners Who Made It

Saints Peter and Paul

Peter denied Jesus and Paul killed Christians. Peter became first Pope and Paul wrote half the New Testament. 

Mary Magdalene
Prostitute turned loyal follower, Mary Magdalene's heart was so changed, she was one of only three left at the cross of Jesus during the Crucifixion. 

St. Ignatius of Loyola
Soldier and ladies man, Ignatius, while recovering from serious battle wounds, discovered a spirituality never known before to himself (or anyone else.)  He is the founder of the Jesuits.
St. Francis of Assisi
This painting might depict Francis' life as a walk in the park, but this guy gave up the easy, wealthy, boisterous life for one of poverty and suffering.  He even received the wounds of Christ!
St. Martha
Oh Martha. Martha.  Easily a hero of mine who wanted help/praise for all of her work, instead of reveling in Christ's presence.  But Martha's truest heart was seen by Him who mattered, and now she just has a bad rap as the "busy saint."
St. Thomas
Thomas doubted, despite what all his friends told him, that Jesus truly rose from the dead.  I might have too, honestly.  Redemption came when he saw and believed.
St. Mary of Egypt
Her aching heart found respite as a hermit in the wilderness after years of living as a prostitute.  

St. Augustine
He was whistling a different tune from "Make me chaste, Lord, but not yet" to "My heart is restless until it rests in You."  Now, THAT'S conversion.

For information on these saints and more, visit and learn more about God's endless mercy and the capacity of the human heart to adhere to the Truth.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why September 11th and Bingo Are Forever Linked

A long time coming, this blog is written to honor my grandma, Ramona Kersey.  The day of September 11th for many is a solemn one, and rightly so.  For, it truly is a day that many of us will never forget.  For those in my family, aunts, uncles and cousins, September 11th has another significance as the birthday of the matriarch of our family.

Grandma Kersey was such a witness to her husband, nine children, and 23 grandchildren. (twenty-three? Did I count right?)  She was one who loved by doing--cooking, hosting guests, asking about your life.  Her main concerns involved keeping everyone in line--living by the Gospel and being simple in front of the pleasures of life.
Grandma and Grandpa Kersey in their yesteryear. :)

For as long as I can remember, we always have played Bingo for my grandma's birthday.  The whole family gets together.  We're loud and rowdy and we duke it out for prizes like coloring books, candy, money and toilet paper (the true prize!)  Any initiation into the Kersey family involves winning in Bingo. 

My Bingo prize at Grandma's last birthday party--Sept 2012

Grandma was a rock in her faith.  You didn't have to ask her what she believed because you already knew it.  I remember her giving me a rosary for my first communion--one I still have--from a MULTITUDE of beautiful rosaries she already owned.  Similar to my mom, she was visibly disappointed if you didn't find the same joy in Mass or "Catholic stuff" like she did.  It was yet another sign of how much living the faith made sense to her.  She wanted everyone to know that joy.

She died the day before Easter this past year, and as the biggest surprise of all, I feel closer to her now than I ever did when she was living in Lowell, IN.  Several Masses have been offered in her remembrance at my church in Indianapolis and on each of the days, something miraculous happens--whether it's a deeper realization of what I need to be doing for my own life or bringing my family closer together.

I have no doubt she's praying for us in Heaven, storming God in her stubborn way and providing us endless graces here.  I was moving into my new house last month, and started leafing through her prayer book (which still has her smell, by the way).  As a prayer card dropped out, I received the greatest sign that she really was watching over me.  "Now the time of preparation is ending" is within this vocation prayer.  It's the first time I'd ever read something like that and it was EXACTLY what my heart was feeling, but couldn't put into words.  I have no idea where a statement like that leads, but I know Grandma's got my back.

Grandma's Well-Used Prayer Book

For those of us she left behind, we have a remarkable model to follow.  But, more assuring, she's still with us, in an ever deeper way.  We will truly "never forget" Grandma Kersey.  It's a beautiful gift to be part of the legacy.

 Flower Arrangement from Funeral