This Catholic Journey
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Name: Amber
Location: Reno, Nevada, United States

I am a 34-year-old single mother of three. I am a convert to Catholicism and came into the Church on April 7, 2007. This blog is a collection of thoughts and things I learn in my journey of faith. All comments are welcome!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Adoption Update

The meeting with the expectant mother went great and she has chosen to place her twin boys with my sister and her husband! Our family is so excited! The cost of the adoption is just about what they have saved up and some family members have promised to provide any amount they may be short! God has truly made a way for this all to happen. We all feel such a peace about everything!

In less than two months, I'll have two brand new nephews! The first one born will be called Jaden, which means "God has heard". The second will be called Joseph, which means "may God add/increase". Both names are perfectly fitting!

I want to give a very sincere THANK YOU to everyone for their prayers and for those who donated even the smallest of amounts! It is because of this that God has heard our prayers and brought this dream into a reality!

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Rest in Peace, Josh Magee

I learned today that a dear old friend of mine passed away...





I met Josh sometime around 1994. He was one of those "do-anything-for-you" kinds of friends and he came through for me on more than one occasion.

In his own words (from 2000):
"...please know that I'm always here for you in any way I can be.... if you need some money, or a place to stay, or child care, or if you need someone to talk to… lemme know what I can do… Your one of the best friends I've ever had, and I want you to know that you can count on me."

And in November 2006:
"You know Amber... I think the world of you. And even though I might have not ever expressed it, I have a kind of brotherly protectivness in my heart over you. And I must say... Damion is a good and very pleasant man, and I truely enjoyed meeting him. I hope to get to know him more in the future... wanna see Seattle sometime? ;)"

I never did make it to Seattle.

Josh was adventurous... a risk-taker. The biggest risk-taker I've yet to meet, in fact. He loved life, he loved his family... His sense of humor was one of a kind as well. His stories and the way he'd tell them always had me laughing. Sometimes, even the most serious of events would take a silly twist.

I remember cruising in his car, the base thumpin' so loudly, it was literally changing our heart beats. I remember when he saw me off at the airport when I moved to Alaska and shed a tear as I flew away. I remember he sent my old 486 computer to me because I couldn't afford to get it up to Alaska myself… We had long talks of childhood memories, wacky neighbors, dare-devil tricks, drunken nights and love gone wrong... I remember when he told he was going to learn to do underwater construction. He was so excited and it didn't surprise me at all. It sounded just like something he would do!

In November, Josh got engaged to Reasa. I'd never known him to be so in love and so happy. And I was so happy for him… happy that he'd found someone deserving of him.

Josh, you were a true friend and I will always miss you.

"Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. May peace be granted to Josh's family and Reasa as well. Amen."

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mary and the Saints, Pray for Us!

This post is in response to a comment made by Russell. His part is in quotes and mine is bold. If anyone else has something to add to the response for Russell, please feel free to comment.

“I'd just like to make a few comments on this particular post. First, I pretty much agree with you on the "One Mediator" point. But there is a difference between praying "for" someone and praying "to" them. We pray TO Jesus (and ONLY to Him / God) because of His role as Mediator in paying the full price for sin on our behalf. But nowhere in Scripture are we allowed to pray TO anyone else. It is not the same thing as praying FOR other people, e.g., for health, blessings, guidance, etc.”

When Catholics “pray to” Mary and the saints, we are asking them to pray FOR us… this is no different than you asking me to pray for you, except that it’s done mentally, instead of vocally because they are in heaven. Mary and the saints then pray TO Jesus FOR us, just as I would pray for you. We do not pray TO them as if they have the power to answer our prayers or in a sense of worshipping them. Again, we are merely asking them to pray (or intercede) for us. This IS in Scripture. (1 Tim 2:1-4) This might be better understood if we remove the word “pray” and the meaning you are applying to it. Catholics ASK Mary and the saints to pray for us. We are not praying in the sense of worship but praying in a historical meaning of the word, which is “to ask or beg”.

“Concerning those in Heaven, yes, they are very much alive. But the two passages you offered in Revelation simply tell us that the angels and elders "offered" the prayers of the saints to God. It never says that the prayers were first directed to the angels, or anyone else in Heaven.”

How can they offer our prayers if they don’t know what our prayers are? How do our prayers, not a physical item, get to them in order for them to be able to offer them? Do we not need to tell them what those prayers are first? Clearly, they must know of our prayers by mentally ask them to pray for us, since we cannot ask them vocally. I see no issue here. We are asking them to pray for us and those prayers are offered by them, indicating they must know what those prayers are… There is nothing in scripture that tells us we cannot ask those in heaven (also Christians) to pray for us. If we cannot ask them to pray for us, then we should not be asking each other either. But THAT would contradict Scripture.

“The verses you quoted in Psalms are not directing us to PRAY TO the angels, but are simply exhorting ALL (even the Heavenly hosts) to praise and exalt God, because He is worthy. You didn't mention the next verse (103:22), which encourages His "works" (not just living creatures) to also praise Him. Does that mean that we pray to all His "works" also? What about when PEOPLE are admonished to praise Him? Are we praying to THEM too?”

This again boils down to the meaning you are applying to “pray”. The angels are addressed and a request for joint praise is offered. But if we were not to address those in heaven at all, then this concept would not be tolerated. This is the point I was making with this passage. Catholics do the same when we address Mary or the saints… asking them to intercede TO God FOR us or maybe even just asking them to join us in praising God!

“It is perfectly fine to pray FOR someone here on earth. But we find no precedent in the Bible where anyone obediently prays to ANYONE ELSE but God.”

Again, Mary and the saints pray FOR us. No one is praying TO anyone else. We simply pass our intentions along to them “mentally” instead of vocally, which we call “praying” (to ask). Nothing in scripture speaks against this and nothing in scripture limits “praying for each other” to those on earth alone.

Furthermore, to deny the saints’ ability to fully act as members of the body of Christ (which includes praying for each other), or to deny that they are necessary, is to go against Scripture:

1 Corinthians 12:20-21
As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"


Our view of the body of Christ is limited by our humanity on earth but once we are in heaven, we see the full picture. Why is it impossible to believe that the body of Christ that is in heaven wouldn’t have a full picture or understanding of the body of Christ? And, in having this full picture, that they would not be able to see or hear (solely by the power of God, of course) what is going on with the rest of the body here on earth? Can they say, “I do not need you”?

1 Corinthians 13:12
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.


And then we see that the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. Who is more righteous than those who are in heaven?

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.


I hope this helps to shed some light on the Catholic position. Christians are called to pray for each other. Those in heaven are also Christians, a part of the body of Christ and just as “necessary” as the rest of the body. They are the most righteous, making their prayers powerful and effective. To ask them to pray FOR us is not only encouraged in Scripture, but is logically a very good idea! The passages in Revelation (5:8, 8:3-4) clearly show that those in heaven offer our prayers TO God on our behalf. To do this, they must first receive the prayers FROM us… “The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand.”.

Thanks for stopping by, Russell. It’s good to hear from you again.

Peace be with you!

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

One Mediator

One of the most difficult challenges I face with family and friends since my conversion is dealing with the straw man attacks against my beliefs. There are few things more frustrating...

Recently, I was informed that there is "one mediator" between God and man. Of course, I absolutely believe this. It's straight from scripture. What I don't agree with is a very hard-lined, literal, out-of-context interpretation of this. Of course Christ is the one mediator. Only He, through his death, is able to reconcile us to God. And only He is fully God and fully man: the bridge between God and man.

But, we are all mediators in a smaller sense when we pray for one another. This role, in no way, diminishes Christ's role as the one mediator.

I think it's important, instead of taking ONE verse, to look at the entire passage in context:

1 Timothy 2:1-6
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.


Clearly we see that praying for others on their behalf is good and pleasing to God. It does not take away his role as the one mediator in any way.

If one is going to say that Christ is the only mediator and we should "pray only to Jesus", then one should also not ask others to pray for them... lest they be contradicting themselves. One must understand what it means for Christ to be the one mediator before they throw the argument on the table. Of course, we should also pray to Jesus but even Jesus himself encouraged us to pray for others (Matt. 5:44).

What follows this explanation is usually, "Well, those in heaven are dead. They can't hear us."

Is this true?

Revelation 5:8 says, "And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." (See also, Rev. 8:3-4)

Here we see 24 elders (humans) in heaven offering the prayers of the saints. In order for them to offer the prayers of the saints, they must know what these prayers are. Prayers are not physical elements and must be offered mentally.... And, on another note, those in heaven, are only dead in earthly body. Their souls remain alive in Christ. There is only ONE body of Christ (Ephesians 4:4) and those who pass on to heaven do not cease being a member of that body. In fact, they are perfectly united to Christ! They are made righteous and the prayers of the righteous are "powerful and effective" (James 5:16). Would God not permit those in heaven to pray for us when their prayers for others are pleasing, powerful and effective?

In addition to Rev 5:8, we see prayers to angels in Psalms 103...

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.

21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.


Clearly, the Bible directs us to pray to those in heaven through this passage and ones like it.

The bottom line is, we must take all of Scripture into account when we discern what a passage means. Christ as the one mediator does not mean that others cannot pray for us, including those in heaven. Scripture tells us that those in heaven can hear our prayers and that they offer them to God for us. This is part of the beauty of the Christian faith: that we are not disconnected from other parts of the body of Christ but that, through the power of God, they are able to intercede for us! This does not limit God's role but magnifies it! It is only by His awesome power that we are able to remain in communion with ALL the members of His Body. He IS, indeed, the One Mediator between God and man. This role is specifically what allows us to intercede for one another and for those in heaven to intercede for us!

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Pray

Please keep Thornie in your prayers.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

It's a Miracle!

Things are looking up with my aunt. Yesterday, when my sister and I were visiting with her, the nurse came in to get the excess water out of her mouth. When the nurse put that sucker up to her, my aunt tried to swat it away and lifted her head off the pillow. She was moving quite a bit more than the day before... head, arms, legs, feet and even fingers!

Then, last night my cousin was holding her hand. She told her mom she was going to leave for a few and that she'd be back and my aunt squeezed and wouldn't let go! A bit later, my cousin was holding her hand and she said, "Mom, squeeze my hand." And my aunt squeezed her hand! Then my cousin said, "Move your feet." My aunt moved her feet!

So, she CAN hear and understand us and she can move. These are all VERY good signs. Even the nurse was optimistic and excited by these huge improvements.

Please continue in your prayers. The Lord is listening. I promised Him, if my aunt ever came out of this, that I would tell her all about him. Please pray that her heart will be ready to hear about Jesus.

Also, last night's good news gave me the opportunity to talk to my cousin about the power of prayer. I was able to give the glory to God for the recovery we've seen in my aunt. My cousin didn't say much in response, but it's a seed... one she will be able to think over for a while.

Praise God!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Update on my aunt

Fr. Serpa said a Mass for my aunt and our family yesterday. I cannot begin to express my thanks to all those who are praying for us...

On the first day, my aunt was making few movements beyond the twitching of her eyelids. On the second day, we could see her legs and arms move a bit but it appeared to be just nerves and muscle tensing. Yesterday, her movements were even larger and more broad and seemed to react to stimulation around her.

My cousin put a bunch of her favorite songs on an MP3 player and put it on her ears. My sister and cousin were whispering in the room, to allow her some rest when they noticed my aunt raised her eyebrows a couple of times. A song she really likes had just begun.

Another time they noticed her leg had slid off the side of the bed. They put it back up and a few minutes later, it was hanging off the side again.

Then, they went to wipe a bit of drool from her mouth and she moved her head away!

The doctors are still saying it's just nerve and muscle reaction but we're all being a bit more optimistic because those behaviors seem to have purpose! It's very possible she may never improve beyond that, but it's also possible that a miracle may happen! It's amazing how much more movement we're seeing from her in just three days. We have no idea whether or not she can hear us but it sure seems as if she can and so we continue to talk to her and remain hopeful.

Today, the kids and I will be recorded, adding to those family and friends who already have been. My cousin will then put our recordings on an MP3 player so my aunt can hear all our voices even when we're not there. This whole ordeal has been strengthening for our family and a wonderful opportunity to show Christ's love to the members who do not have faith.

It's made me realize just how little time we have to reach out with the truth of Christ to those around us. I often think, "when the time is right" or "maybe tomorrow"... but there may not be a tomorrow and they may never hear the truth if we don't say something. They may reject it, but at least they had the chance to hear it! We have to be bolder: speak more, act more, love more. For tomorrow, they may be gone.

I know my aunt has "heard it all before" but I believe, if she comes out of this, she may decide to accept a whole new way of looking at it. I pray that the will of God will be done here... and that He will hold her in his hands regardless of the outcome.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Please Say a Prayer

Please say a prayer for my family. My aunt (dad's brother's wife) was taken to ICU early this morning. She suffered a stroke on both sides of her brain and has been completely unresponsive all day. Her lungs and heart have not been affected but if she comes out of this, she will have a long recovery ahead of her. The next 72 hours are critical and the doctors are unable to tell us much more until that time period is over and the swelling around her brain comes down.

They are not a family of faith so I humbly ask that people pray on their behalf, for healing, peace, comfort and conversion of heart toward God in the process of this tragedy.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

A Prayer

CatholicDaily.org now has a forum! Join and post something!

********

I've been staring at my screen for 20 minutes trying to figure out what I want to say. Thing is, I don't have much to say right now. So, I'm not going to force it.

Instead I'll post this prayer... One that I need to be praying regularly:

Prayer to Overcome Sloth and Lukewarmness

O my God, I know well that so negligent a life as mine cannot please You. I know that by my lukewarmness I have closed the door to the graces which You desire to bestow on me. O my God, do not reject me, as I deserve, but continue to be merciful toward me, and I will make great efforts to amend and to arise from this miserable state. In the future I will be more careful to overcome my passions and to follow Your inspirations; and never through slothfulness will I omit my duties, but will strive to fulfill them with greater diligence and fidelity. In short, I will from this time forward do all I can to please You, and will neglect nothing which I know to be pleasing to You.

Since You, O my Jesus, have been so liberal with Your graces toward me and have deigned to give Your Blood and Your Life for me, I am sorry for having acted with so little generosity toward You, Who are worthy of all honor and all love. But, O my Jesus, You know my weakness. Help me with Your powerful grace; in You I confide.

O Immaculate Virgin Mary, help me to overcome myself and to become a saint. Amen.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Peace Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we awake to eternal life.

St. Francis of Assisi
 

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Re-focusing

Philippians 2:1-4
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.


This is a passage I need to spend more time contemplating in my life. I so often get caught up, as many of us do, in looking to my own interests. I do this in all aspects of my life... even with my own children.

It seems that the more I work on building my faith, the more I am attacked by the world and the more it seems that the evil one tries to break down what the Lord has built up in me. Yesterday was particularly difficult. I was irritable all day, easily frustrated and annoyed by my children. I woke up this morning with a prayer on my heart to seek ways to get over that frustration and subsequent negative reaction I give my children.

Their lives are so precious and I have them only for a short time. I want to show them my best but it seems they often get left-overs from me and I don’t want that for them.

Lord,

Please give me patience and the energy to focus more on them and less on myself. Please show me ways that I can encourage faith in them while they are still young so they will grow to be firmly planted in a relationship with you. Do not let negativity flood my relationship with them, but give me an abundance of your love and patience so I can positively encourage them in all aspects of their little lives.

Amen.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Pray for the babies

Please pray. There is an abortion clinic around the corner from where I work and there are praying protesters out there right now. The doctor has blocked much of the sidewalk in hopes they will block the entrance and therefore be arrested. He also has the sprinklers turned on and they are basically being rained on... but they are standing firm, in the cold, to pray.

Pray for the babies and the women who will drive in and out of that clinic today. Even if ONE child is saved through their effort, it will be worth it.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Update

I just want to say a special thank you to all those who have prayed, are praying, and those who will continue to pray for me and my family.

Whenever a doubt creeps up, something is said that puts everything back in place. Have I ever mentioned that I love Catholic radio?

I love Catholic radio.

There... I said it.

I missed RCIA last week but I'm looking forward to going back tonight. Finally getting it out to my family was a good move because I don't have to "hide" it anymore and I feel I can freely continue to pursue God's will for my life.

I just started Chapter 18 in "Catholicism and Fundamentalism". What a great book! It's taking me forever to get through it with school and work and church and kids and... and... but every time I pick it up, I don't want to put it down!

I wrote an email to my parents yesterday and sent a couple of links from Renewal Ministries' "Food for the Journey" program. I wanted them to see that I'm not falling into something whacked and heretical... that this whole thing is about God... not the Pope, not Mary, not legalism... or any other imaginable thing. It is ALL about God and I wanted them to see that Catholics believe this no less than they do.

I hope they will keep their hearts open.

On another note, please keep my sister and her husband in your prayers... The birthmother, who convinced them she was 100% sure about her choice, backed out of the adoption.

Today's prayers:
Damion
Sister and husband - peace and strength
Deanna's husband - health
Parents - understanding
Self - motivation, patience, peace

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Friday, September 22, 2006

It's Time

Sunday is the day.

I'll be going to my parents' house on Sunday afternoon and I will be telling them the good news.

I pray for wisdom in my choice of words.

I pray for calmness and clarity of my mind.

I pray their hearts will be prepared to hear me.

I pray for understanding on all our parts.

I pray that I will know if the time, for whatever reason, is not right.

I pray that the Lord will hold us all together.

If the Lord puts it upon *your* heart, please pray for all of us.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Beginning RCIA

I haven't had much time to write lately. I've been really busy at work and with life in general. RCIA began on Wednesday night. I enjoyed it and I'm really looking forward to continuing through it.

I finally finished "Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic". It was another great book that I'd recommend to anyone exploring the Catholic faith.

There are so many books I want to read, it seems I'll never get through them all, especially since school has started and I now have a class to read for as well. I'm lucky if I can sneak in two or three pages during breaks at work!

Though I feel I am still struggling with my faith a bit, I'm seeing little things happen that remind me that God truly is in control. The first night at RCIA, they handed out a prayer and it was one of the prayers I found online that SAME day that was SO perfect for what I am going through.


The Road Ahead - Prayer of Thomas Merton

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.


What a wonderful prayer and a great reminder that I am not alone!

Another thing... I've been having a lot of anxiety lately but every time I begin to feel it, I simply pray that the Lord will take it away and He does, until the next time and then I just give it to Him again. Every morning, I thank Him for another day and ask for help to live it for Him.

Now, if I can just find the words to start that letter to my parents!

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Prayer for Today

Holy SpiritCome, Holy Spirit,
fill my heart with Your holy gifts.

Let my weakness be penetrated
with Your strength this very day
that I may fulfill all the duties
of my state conscientiously,
that I may do what is right and just.

Let my charity be such as to offend no one,
and hurt no one's feelings;
so generous as to pardon sincerely
any wrong done to me.

Assist me, O Holy Spirit,
in all my trials of life,
enlighten me in my ignorance,
advise me in my doubts,
strengthen me in my weakness,
help me in all my needs,
protect me in temptations
and console me in afflictions.

Graciously hear me, O Holy Spirit,
and pour Your light into my heart,
my soul, and my mind.

Assist me to live a holy life
and to grow in goodness and grace.

Amen.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Please Pray

My sister and her husband are unable to have children of their own and have thought for some time about adoption. My sister knows a woman at work who has a pregnant friend who wants to give up her child for adoption. She previously gave up her two-year-old because she just didn't want to responsibility any longer.

My sister's co-worker mentioned to this girl a while back (before she'd decided to adopt her baby out) that she knew someone who was wanting to adopt. Yesterday this girl asked about my sister and wants to meet them. She said she wants to get everything figured out as soon as possible because the baby is due in December.

My sister knows all the horror stories about adoption, especially when you are approached privately, so they are going to be very cautious.

I'd like to ask everyone to please pray that this is legitimate and that this will be something they will be able to work out between them if it is the Lord's will.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Parents' Prayer

Heavenly Father,
Make me a better parent
Teach me to understand my children,
To listen patiently to what they have to say,
And to answer all their questions kindly.

Keep me from interrupting them,
or contradicting them.
Make me as courteous to them
as I would have them be to me.
Forbid that I should ever laugh at their mistakes,
Or resort to shame or ridicule if they displease me.

Bless me with the bigness to grant them
all their reasonable requests,
And the courage to deny them privileges
that I know will do them harm.
Make me fair and just and kind.
And fit me, O Lord,
to be loved and respected
and imitated by my children.

Amen.

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