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Offering it up – From the other end

Around this time of year, conversations about sacrifice tend to increase, and in Catholic circles, we look that whole business of “offering it up” – that once common phrase and practice, not so frequently heard any longer.
Unless you’re me over the past three and half weeks.
You can find lots of articles discussing, justifying and explaining “offering it up” from a theoretical perspective.
I have no apologetics or extended argument to present today. All I have is gratitude.
Over the past weeks, I have been graced with innumerable gifts.
There have been very real concrete gifts of food and money. I’ve been sent gift cards to restaurants and grocery stores. I’ve received checks. And I am the awed recipient of a collection that the wonderful, already busy Danielle Bean organized, which collected enough money to pay for fully 2/3 of the funeral expenses.
How can I thank you? Danielle is going to be sending me the emails of those who donated through Paypal, so each of you will receive a note from me – as will those of you have emailed and sent cards. It will take a couple of months, but it will happen.
In addition to the financial assistance, every day, I have received word of a few more people praying for Michael and us – praying in various forms and ways.
Including offering it up.
Priests have offered Masses. Those going to Mass have offered their participation and prayer at Mass. People write saying that they offered their Communion for us. Rosaries. Holy Hours. An acquaintance wrote to say that she offered 6 hours of unmedicated childbirth labor for Michael’s soul. Two people are – and this just humbles me beyond words – offering their Lenten disciplines for Michael and for our peace.
And there are many more.
As I said, it is humbling. It is a reminder to me – a very strong reminder – to work towards being exponentially more generous in my own spiritual life. Why do I do what I do? What are my prayers for? Just for *me* and for the sake of my own personal journey? Or am I explicitly tying them into something more generous, more cosmic, more sacrificial?
Don’t ask me how it “works.” I don’t know. All I know is that once you accept the mysterious efficacy of prayer, it seems as if everything can be included, not just the words, “Lord, please help him.” It breaks open a whole new way of envisioning and living in this Body of Christ for me, and for that, too I am grateful.
And I can’t help but sense that it is bearing fruit for me. For us.
A reason why:
I have really been tortured – and that is not too strong a word – by an intense fear of death since my early teens. I have a vivid memory of the moment, when I was about thirteen years old, when the fact of my mortality struck me. I have struggled with this because I know that is not the way a Christian should be – but taking comfort in even St. Therese’s apparent fears before her death, and such.
I’ve always worked myself out of it intellectually – do I believe that Jesus rose from the dead, that the disciples’ testimony is true? Yes I do. I mean – I really do. Then, I just keep thinking, walking along that road, logically, and I am eventually okay, placing my faith in Jesus, the reality of the Resurrection and my share in that – well, until the next time something hits me as I pass a cemetery, consider the obituaries or even consider the reality that in 50 years I’ll be gone and the world will turn without me and I won’t be journeying with my children on earth any more.
I was driving yeseterday  morning and I realized something.
That fear is gone. I mean…GONE.
I even tried to get scared. I thought about my grave, about my body in a casket, about obituaries, about not being here to see, say, little Michael’s children (which is a possibility – I’m 48..he’s 4. Well naturally it’s a possibility anyway, no matter how old each of us are, as I have learned the hard way this month) if he has any…about not knowing, as my father said last summer, “how it all turns out” for everyone.
I thought about all the things that have, for 35 years, made me tremble with a fearful anticipation and a desire to avert my eyes and distract myself…
I tried. But none of it worked. I was totally at peace.
It wasn’t a Ghost and Mrs. Muir thing going on, where I imagined being with Michael again – although I do think about that at times,  cautiously, not wanting to fall into wishful thinking. No, it wasn’t that.
It was really just this:
“Well, all right ” I  thought. “Michael went on that road and he is okay – more than okay. I know it.  I can go too because he led the way.”
It was odd and striking, somewhat expressive of our entire relationship and, I’m going to say to you, pretty much a miracle.
Who knows where it came from, who knows why. Ultimately God, of course – God’s grace. But working in those mysterious ways, through earthen vessels ready to be poured out, generously and sacrificially, moved by Love.
I am opening comments. I would like the conversation to be limited, if possible, to the idea of “offering it up.” Not arguing about it, necessarily, but simply discussing how it has worked in your lives.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 12:26 pm

OFfering it up is such an amazing grace. In both directions. In my life, I had heard the phrase a million times, ya da ya da…but only after I actually began practicing it did it really start meaning anything. And to know, really know, that others had “offered it up”, for me, was and is the most humbling thing I know. And it has made my life and my prayers ever so much richer and meaningful to do so for others…..The connections, through this practice, that are unseen to our human eyes, but I know are there in this grace, simply, still, blow me away.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I will say, simply, that the idea of offering up my days for my children has radically changed how I view being away from them during the work day. Before, it was all about being able to provide them with a safe, stable environment. Now it’s that, but also so much more. Contributing to their salvation. Increasing my spiritual communion with them. Protecting them, spiritually. Fatherhood without this view would seem so empty to me.

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Warren Jewell

posted February 26, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Heaven became really real – not that God and His Church ever were less than the most real things to me – when my wife, my beloved Sharon, died. Her confessor took me aside after he celebrated her Mass of the Resurrection and noted “the only way Sharon cannot be in heaven is if there weren’t heaven – and we both know better than that”. When the nest emptied and I entered lonely solitude, as Sharon would likely have it I have become more and more contemplative – and feel heaven in His arms.
It is amazing what God can pull off when, simply and truly, He gives us His saints we have known, loved and even so desired – just not as much as He has.
All hail, God our Father, Who loves us so.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 12:50 pm

It is important to allow others to offer it up for you. My mother died of breast cancer a year and a half ago. Because of a misguided effort (in my opinion anyway) to shield us from pain, she kept the recurrence of her cancer a secret for awhile. She told me there was nothing I could do anyway so why worry me? I replied that I could pray and offer my suffering up for her. My offerings may well not have had any impact on the outcome of her illness, but I am sure they would have had a spiritual effect more far reaching than we realize. Graces that may have been gained weren’t. Please allow others the grace of being able to offer it up for you.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 1:00 pm

I remember that Cardinal Bernardin wrote and spoke about it as he was going through cancer treatment and before his death.
He said that he was very aware, when one is seriously ill, that the focus seems to be entirely on one’s own body, own pain. That prayer seems very hard, if nothing else, because one doesn’t have the energy to shift focus.
He also talked about the ways that he felt supported by the prayer of others, even when he felt exhausted by the idea of praying. It was not that he had lost faith. He was clear about that. Again, it was just the energy necessary to focus heart and mind.
I think of that when others are ill (or in labor, as a friend is right now!). My prayers are offered up, hopefully supporting them in the knowledge of God’s presence when they can’t summon the energy to pray for themselves.
I also don’t ‘know how it works’ but I do know that it is a net that binds us together and keeps us in communion.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 1:01 pm

I have been saying one of the various versions of the Morning Offering for a while now. I remember one day when I was frusrated and being impatient with the children, I heard the words in my mind, “I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day…” I pondered those words and realized, as I should have all along I guess, that to offer it up means to give it away. In the Morning, I already gave away all these things for the greater glory of God. It doesn’t mean I don’t still own them, it just means that when I receive them they are being given back to me from the One who loves me and knows what I need better than I could ask for or imagine.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Like many, offering it up was a saying that I heard oh so often growing up, (and one I repeated to others) without really knowing what it meant in my heart….until there was a crisis for a young person I knew. The young person didn’t know that I knew about the crisis (still doesn’t), and it wasn’t something I could fix (which I wanted to). This was very personal and immediate (not like offering it up for those starving in 3rd world or even a family member with cancer-much more personal and immediate) . I fasted every day for a year for this person. I found the fasting not to hard very quickly because of the love behind it.
I finally got it, but its hard to explain.
On a note about death-I too was afraid, both for myself and for my closest loved ones, until my Dad died a few years back. I found overwhelming gratitude for a life well-lived and one I was blessed to be a part of. For some reason, the fear went away in a sudden instant.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 1:11 pm

I offer today´s hard momment for Michael and all your family.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Let me just say first that this is an inspired post, and your blog is one of my favorites. My heart goes out to you and your husband and I am praying for your family, Amy.
Suffering and “offering it up” has been on my mind a lot lately. I recently had a very scary experience with kidney stones that landed me in the hospital. Not only that, but I was in another country (India), couldn’t get ahold of my emergency contact, and required a minor surgical procedure. Kidney stones aren’t really an emergency situation, but experiencing it for the first time ever, in a foreign country, with no insurance, and no family was a terrifying experience. Fortunately this experience (along with your blog and lots of reading, to be honest) taught, and is still teaching me, so much about redemptive suffering. These are painful things to learn, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around uniting my suffering with Christ’s, but I’m learning that there is beauty and purpose in my own suffering and in the suffering of others. What a strange lesson to learn.
Thank you for sharing your experiences, painful though it may be, because it is so helpful in my understanding of Christ and His Church.

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Melanie Bettinelli

posted February 26, 2009 at 1:45 pm

I didn’t really understand the idea of offering it up until, like you, I was the recipient of other people’s prayers and sacrifices after my miscarriage and cancer diagnosis. I still don’t fully understand it; but having experienced those graces and that outpouring of love from the Body of Christ, I’ve had a very different experience of offering prayers and sacrifices for others as well.
Amy, you continue to be in my prayers. Thank you for all your thoughtful words.

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Sean Gallagher

posted February 26, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Pope Benedict reflected on the practice of “offering it up” in Spe Salvi:
“I would like to add here another brief comment with some relevance for everyday living. There used to be a form of devotion—perhaps less practised today but quite widespread not long ago—that included the idea of ‘offering up’ the minor daily hardships that continually strike at us like irritating ‘jabs’, thereby giving them a meaning. Of course, there were some exaggerations and perhaps unhealthy applications of this devotion, but we need to ask ourselves whether there may not after all have been something essential and helpful contained within it. What does it mean to offer something up? Those who did so were convinced that they could insert these little annoyances into Christ’s great ‘com-passion’ [to ‘suffer with’] so that they somehow became part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race. In this way, even the small inconveniences of daily life could acquire meaning and contribute to the economy of good and of human love. Maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice ourselves.”
Over the past year and a half or so, I’ve really tried to delve deep into this form of prayer. It’s been a real aid in helping me to follow that seemingly impossible charge of St. Paul to pray without ceasing.
But it’s really not when, in your soul, you turn more and more of what you do in your day into a sacrifice offered up out of love to our heavenly Father.
It also makes you want to do the ordinary things you do each day really well since you don’t want to offer up something shoddy, let alone something that is sinful.

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Kevin in Texas

posted February 26, 2009 at 2:09 pm

When I was a teacher at a Catholic school for boys in Spain, one of the boys I had taught and become close to was diagnosed with a severe and aggressive form of leukemia. I was devastated by the news, as were all of us who loved him and knew him so well. I remember breaking down in tears as I prayed before the Blessed Sacrament that evening that I heard the news of the diagnosis, promising God that I would offer up all that I could for Pablo’s comfort and healing.
While he wasn’t yet 16 years old, I watched Pablo (and his devout, God-fearing family) handle the diagnosis itself, the ravages of his severe illness, and the very painful diagnostic tests and treatments with grace and humility like that of the saints. Pablo went through awful pain and suffering with multiple bone marrow punctures and treatments, chemo, and radiation therapies for the next 6 months. The entire time, whenever I would talk with him or write him and receive his replies, NOT ONCE did he ever mention feeling angry with God, nor did he ever ask for pity or complain about his pain and suffering, Rather, he was very nonchalant about simply offering up all of that suffering to God and asking for the Holy Spirit to reach the souls of his friends and acquaintances who were weak in the faith. He always asked about how different friends were doing spiritually and emotionally, and always with the intention of continuing to pray for them and offer up his own pain that God could reach them where they were.
Seeing this young man, 10 years younger than me, giving so selflessly and completely of himself to God was a powerful witness to me that increased my faith and drew me closer to God and the mystery and power of redemptive suffering than I had ever been before in my life. I know from many friends that they also drew closer to Christ and the Church by both Pablo’s powerful witness, and more importantly, by the spiritual acts of mercy that he applied to all of us in offering up his own pain to God.
Happily, God was merciful and wanted Pablo to continue to do His Will on this Earth. He has now been in remission for 9 years and is essentially cured. He’s living as a consecrated and celibate young man, serving God and the Church now in Hungary as a missionary. It won’t surprise me in the least if God calls this fine young man to become a priest some day!

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posted February 26, 2009 at 3:02 pm

I have offered up each of my five natural births for the conversion of my husband…apparently God believes that more of that is necessary…lol!
Quite awhile ago I was inspired to offer chores I do everyday, but loathe, for particular people or their intentions. The first diaper I change everyday goes to an internet acquaintance. Getting up in the middle of the night goes to another set of friends. If I wake with pain as I sometimes do, I say thank you and offer it for whoever in the world most needs prayer right now. Getting the kids in the car goes to those who have no one to pray for them. Folding laundry to another. Dishes for my spiritual director. And so on. Personally I feel like it’s kind of self-centered and slacker, because it gives me a way to make the things I most dislike doing more palatable, as well as giving what often feels like a humdrum life the aura of purpose…and because if I don’t attach prayers to repetitive actions or to a particular time of day I always forget to pray.
And I know, without a doubt, that in the darkest point n my adult life–that it was the prayers of other and the sacrifices of others who kept me hanging on, and left me with my faith intact when it was so deeply wounded and challenged…because in the midst of it all I couldn’t pray. I just couldn’t find the words, or see through the agony to form the words upon my lips–and so I know the rest of the Body compensated for my weakness and shifted the load until I was healed.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Shannon, what a beautiful idea! I’m going to do that with my housework from now on, too! I’ll be cleaning the bathroom all the time now! (My husband will love you for giving me the idea!)
When I was little, my mom told us about offering things up. I naturally didn’t understand it until later in life, but I had some idea… the idea that I was suffering something so others wouldn’t have to suffer something else.
When I was cold, I would offer it up for the souls in Purgatory–thinking that the fire that cleansed them was hot and that my coldness might give them some respite from their pain. When I dip my fingers in the holy water, I still shake a little off before blessing myself with it. I tell God that “that sprinkle is for whoever needs it the most in Purgatory.” Still, when I’m cold–the other day I was running around Baltimore without my ear muffs and the wind was howling!!–I offer it up for the souls in Purgatory–the ones no one is praying for. While they might not have the literal gust of wind that I’m experiencing or the drops of holy water might not quite reach them, I figure that God will give them something they do need, and with that thought, I am satisfied.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm

A few years ago, I was tormented by the thought that I’d never have a novel published again, that I’d be rejected a thousand times, etc.
I offered it up, and instantly the tormenting thoughts went away. It was as if God was saying, “You don’t need to worry about that.”
I’ve found a lot of the time, when I offer up something, God actually TAKES it as if it really was “offered.” And then this thing I’d been suffering, that was hurting me very deeply, simply isn’t there any longer.
But I have another offering-it-up story for you too. Fifteen years ago, my boyfriend’s father was in danger of losing his job to layoffs (and he was in middle management, so he was sure to go). As I was driving to visit my boyfriend, I crested a hill near one of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, and laid out before me was this gorgeous skyline, the trees, the clear blue sky, the crisp white clouds, the reflection of the water. It bubbled out of me: I offered God THIS, this beauty, His own grand creation, in exchange for my boyfriend’s father to keep his job.
My boyfriend’s father survived that round of layoffs. And the next. And the one after that. In fact, he kept that job right up until the day he died (and that’s with six months of not being able to be there at all due to illness.)
I think God accepts us offering up good things as well as the bad.

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Mary Jane

posted February 26, 2009 at 3:36 pm

The idea of offering up small annoyances, inconveniences, etc. seemed so trivial to me until I tried it. And, as one earlier commenter pointed out, I then remembered what I’d rattled off in the Morning Offering.
I think it was Cardinal Newman who said that we would (or will) be amazed to see how all of us are knit together. And so we are.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 4:01 pm

I often see bearing difficulties as part of our participation in the “divinization” of the world.
Because of Jesus Christ — entirely and totally because of Him — we have a conduit to bend upward our pain, to draw it like a poison out of the world and pour back the light of God. If there were no Christ, the most we could hope for is to bear injustice without revenge, to “leave no evil” in our trails. But with Christ we not only can bear injustice (read: sin), but also natural evils and pains — and not just to absorb them like a sponge, but to mystically transform them.
I like to think that when we offer our sufferings to Jesus, it is not just a gift to our Beloved, nor is it only helping us to be formed into saints. That would be splendor enough. But He goes further: his Cross remakes that evil into good.
Another way of saying it is that when we suffer and unite it to Jesus, we are literally healing the world — sometimes in direct, visible ways, but mostly in mystical, invisible ways. Such suffering is the ammunition that will win the real war that is being waged in the universe; it is like the blood of the martyrs; it is life from death. All by and through Christ, who elevates us to such an honor.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Yes, as Mary Jane points out, offering up our sufferings is indelibly linked with the communion of saints. In the last year, I read Fr Jonathan Morris’ “The Promise”. The Promise is Romans 8:28–God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him. But that promise only makes sense in light of Romans 8:15–“provided we suffer”. I was going to say that I have done little offering in the last year, though reading the posts about the Morning Offering made me realize that I had started that discipline in the last year. While I don’t do much offering-it-up “in the moment,” I trust that God is connecting the dots between that sleepy 5:30am prayer and the events throughout the day. Perhaps I should be more intentional about my offerings more often, though I want to trust God’s Grace-Routing System. It’s hard to get into the habit of intentionality, starting at the age of 38 as I did.
A brother in the apostolate of Courage is fond of signing his e-mails, “I pray you are suffering well.”
On a personal, yea self-absorbed note, this post struck me because it’s the second time some of your comments have echoed mine (in my post on Michael’s death). It’s creepy (in a Holy Spirit kind of way) because I strongly doubt you read that post. More of Cardinal Newman’s “knitting,” I suppose.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Hi Amy,
Before I get out of bed each morning, I say an “Our Father” and the “Morning Offering.” I’ve been saying the “Morning Offering” forever and I really concentrate on offering up all my joys and sorrows and hardships for people in pain. I always pray for my family and for the Holy Father and I’ve prayed for you and your family. I must say I love Shannon’s and Diana’s ideas, too, especially remembering the souls in Purgatory and whoever just needs a prayer.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 4:38 pm

A consoling teaching is that no matter when one is enlightened in their lifetime about “offering it up” one can also gather past sufferings that may now seem to have gone awaste and offer them as well – joining it all to the sufferings of Jesus. It’s just not something charitable to do, but really causes, while doing so, a realization and a truer meditation on His real sufferings that go far beyond our own limited understanding due to our human natures.

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Abigail Benjamin

posted February 26, 2009 at 4:44 pm

I went on my first ever retreat this past weekend. I’m a devoted wife & mother of three young kids, so the idea of going on a “silent” retreat and not talking to anyone in my family for 72 hours felt painful. Then when I went to this loving Catholic place, where saints smiled from stain glass windows and new friends were waiting to chat at meal time, it was impossible to be homesick. I slept alone happily in my little cell. I prayed. I went to Mass and Adoration. Christ called me his “little bookworm” and I went on walks holding his hand.
During one walk I shared my pain of not being able to baptize my third child, Francisco, who died in a miscarriage. I felt instantly ashamed to ask the question, “Why couldn’t we baptize him?” because I was just showered with graces after his death. I was surprised that pieces of me still hurt that much. Intellectually, I tried to tell my brain that he was with Our Lady. I didn’t feel consoled so I just changed the subject in my mind.
Hours later, during a Healing Mass when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, I saw this incredible thing. A mother with a newborn was overcome with emotion after being touched by the priest. The “catcher” patiently held the baby boy. The mother stayed on the floor for a long time and the catcher started to get nervous.
Instantly, this Sister (a nun) rushed to pick up the baby. She was so happy to help and so lovingly scooped up the baby. The nun had a look of pure joy.
I was busy praying about something else when this thought hit my mind. “That is how My Mother scooped up Francisco’s soul from your womb.”
There was such a feeling of peace that overcame me.
Burying my little son who died at 12 weeks 6 days in the womb is a wound that is filled with grace. “Offering up” his death has been a source of strength. The pray of thanksgiving for his brief life, the short one I gave to God in the ob office by the sonogram machine when I found out that he truly had died, is one of the purest prayers I have ever said. I stand on that “solid ground” of grace from my son’s death whenever I comfort the sorrowful or the sick.
St. John of the Cross said that our deepest hurt, our weakness, and our vulnerabilities is the place that we are most united with all of humanity. “Offering it up,” just reminds us of that Truth in our moments of pain by a grave site or in a long line at the grocery store.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 4:48 pm

When I had two days before my first chemo treatment, I was bitten by the Holy Spirit and shaken by the scruff of my neck to begin writing a Little Guide for those who know they are terminally ill and want the “quick and dirty” – sort of “holy death for dummies.”
The chapter entitled “Offering It Up” begins thus:
At this point in the game, you have realized that the swirling, roiling slop of current events – who is right, who is left, who is winning, who is losing – doesn’t give two hoots about a person who has the gift that you have received, the knowledge of mortality that will soon become a reality. In short, the knowledge that “I am going to die soon.”
In fact, the noisy parade has passed you by, leaving you sitting on the curb, confetti just stilled at your feet. “Am I worthless?” haunts your mind. “Was all the fussing and hardship, all the attempts to ‘get ahead’ just an illusion?”
I’m sending you the rest as an attachment if you want to read it.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm

As a convert at age 61, I was delighted to discover the idea of offering up your sufferings for others. It was totally new to me, but it helped me understand so many things that had happened to me. I pray for you and your family during this time of grief and readjustment. Right now, my most hated task is exercising after multiple surgeries, so I’ll offer each exercise session for you all.
I’ve read your blog for the last two years and have found much wisdom. Thanks for sharing.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Every morning I attend 6:45 mass before I go to work. Every morning I wake up at 5:45 and try to find SOME excuse to stay in bed instead of going to mass (it’s raining out, I was up late last night and need sleep, God won’t mind, etc.). Then I think of someone who needs my prayers, drag my sorry self out of bed and offer it all up for them (which I have done for you and your family many times over these last weeks). I never give into the temptation to skip mass, but I fight the same battle every morning. It’s amazing what prayer for others does for your own soul.
I like to spend time at a Benedictine monastery in upstate NY. I never understood the power of prayer and sacrifice for others–and I still don’t–but watching the monks offering their lives of prayer and work for the larger world, and having the privilege of entering in some small part into the rhythm and simplicity of their lives, showed me the power beyond measure of such things. My head still doesn’t get it, but my heart will never doubt again.

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joan drexel

posted February 26, 2009 at 7:53 pm

I read a few good comments recently on this subject of offering it up to God.They were posted on:
They were referring to a quote of Father Fulton Sheen about how so much suffering is wasted suffering.
Saint Padre Pio is the one who suggested offering up for the poor souls and for the conversion of sinners.This was discussed briefly on Father Groeshel’s ewtn program with a Lutheran Pastor and author of a book on Saint Padre Pio.
One can experience a deep consolation and union with Jesus Christ when we desire to unite our sufferings with the Lord.He is always faithful to bring comfort and restore peace to our soul. Offering up and praying for others is a work of God. Prayer is one of the greatest works that one can do.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Amy — Thank you for this entry. I’ve not thought about offering things up for years. Wasn’t even sure about the efficacy of it. Perhaps it is something like the idea that prayer doesn’t change God; it changes the pray-er. All the thoughts expressed by readers touched me, but particularly Kris’. I’ve had a lot of suffering in my life, and in the midst of it, never thought of offering it up. It can’t hurt to offer up past pain – pain that still lies heavy in the soul.
Thank you, and God hold you and your family close to His Heart.

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bill bannon

posted February 26, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Offering up is one of my favorite things on earth. The Bible says only one explicit thing in this regard to my knowledge…but the Bible says “God is Love” only once also….but back to offering up:
Colossians 1:24
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church…”
Outside the Church, the unbaptized suffering poor elderly for example cannot offer up….of themselves….but what if God chooses to bless their suffering and unite it to that of Christ on the cross made present in the Mass…. unbeknownst to them. Catechism of the Catholic Church number 1257…another favorite thing of mine:
“God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but He himself is not bound by his sacraments.”
Remember what Christ said to the pharisees….” the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:28.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 8:13 pm

I have 5 “offering up” stories that pop to mind.
Almost 7 years ago my son was born at 38 weeks and terribly sick. He almost died – I am convinced, had we not had him baptized “in extremis” he would have.
We had named him after “God heals”, St. Rafael, and God told me to watch what He could do. That was a long journey to the boy’s recovery – it was also the beginning of my husband’s journey to embrace the faith.
A few weeks ago I started to fast on Wed. and Fri.; ideally I would like to fast on bread and water, but God has been generous in accepting what I can do. Since I am still nursing and the children sometimes leave left-overs…. well, I make that part of the fast also. My husband has grown ever closer to the faith since that time.
One of my births was semi-unmedicated. I offered it up for my sil. After that she turned her homosexual lifestyle around. She still has not come back to the Catholic faith, but at least that ugly part is gone.
My last birth was very, very hard. I offered it up for friends who faced serious difficulties caused by one of their family members. Their lives were about to be ruined. This birth was an 18 hour, unmedicated homebirth. It took me 3 months to recover from that ordeal. Well, all legal charges were dropped 2 days after my son was born!!!!
Many nights when I am up with one of my kids I simply say “this one is for you Jesus!”
I am still learning that offering-up business, though. It doesn’t always come easy.
Prayers tonight for Amy!

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posted February 26, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Hello Amy – “Offering it up” has made all the difference to me. I’m so glad about your post, as I’ve recently got out of the habit for some reason and badly need this reminder. I often find my professional life very difficult and at times it has almost defeated me (panic, depression, insomnia etc). About a year or two ago I remembered my mother’s saying “offer it up” and decided to offer up each difficult day for others who need more help than I do. I thought that at least something good might come out of it. I see young people with terrible disabilities in my workplace so I tend to focus on that a lot, or it may be someone like abused children or women considering abortion. Not only do I feel more of a sense of purpose and perspective, but miraculously, difficulties just seem to melt away and the work goes well. It really does feel like a miracle and as if Jesus is right here beside me as I work. But the most important thing is that it’s not all about me anymore. That can get rather unbearable – which is why I’m glad you posted about this.

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Kathy P.

posted February 26, 2009 at 9:43 pm

What awesome intercessory prayer work taking place!
Thank you Amy and all commenters. What an excellant post for the beginning of our Lent. A great Lenten mediatition.
And btw…’offering it up’ is so much better than just ‘sittin’ in the middle of the floor whining, crying, or throwing a temper tantrum/pity party!
GOD is so very good that HE has given us the opportunity to share all these moments of ‘offering it up’.
I will offer up my poor eye sight this evening in a prayer and hope that others will be directed to your post this evening and that all will know that HE is a most loving and merciful FATHER waiting to provide all grace and blessings.
Visit HIM here:
You and yours continue to be in my prayers.
GOD bless.

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Kathy P.

posted February 26, 2009 at 9:58 pm

One more thing….see Fr. Mark Kirby’s post (*see his other Lenten posts):
Via Crucis
We are so richly blessed this Lent.
Thank and praise YOU GOD!

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posted February 26, 2009 at 9:58 pm

My sister-in-law converted to Catholicism about ten years ago. Until she left her abusive husband and moved away, she’d never heard of offering up her trials for the sufferings of others. Of course, her sufferings were great – abuse, recovery, misunderstandings, divorce proceedings – but when I explained how offering up worked, she was overjoyed. Finally, suffering had meaning! She and another friend going through custody issues “adopted” each other and began offering up all their crosses for each other. I offered up (for both of them) the worries I experienced as I tried to help my sister-in-law stay on the path to recovery.
Then, my sister-in-law died suddenly, three days before Christmas. She was 40. She left three children.
Several interesting things have happened since that day. First, although I was very sad, I was not sad for her. I just knew she was with Jesus, finally at peace and able to accept her self-worth for the very first time. This strong feeling has stayed with me since the beginning.
Second, several people have told me they have dreamed of my sister-in-law, and that she was well and happy and running toward them with open arms.
Third, the prayers others offered for her and for our family absolutely, completely helped me and my family prepare for our trip home, plan her funeral and accept God’s possible call to guardianship if the need should arise. I could never, ever have done any of this on my own. Prayer got me through – the prayers of others, people who’ve never met me or my family as well as those who know us in real life.
I know that my sister-in-law would say that offering it up – all the big and little “its” of life – really, really helped her to make sense of the sufferings she endured for so long. She couldn’t control everything that happened to her, but she could use it for others’ good. I am convinced she’s praying for us now, too – and just waiting for us, with open arms.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Thank you for this post. My father died last September. My mother has been so lost since then. She talks about how much Dad did for her, always there to take care of things, her best friend. Just after he died, I told her that Dad did one last thing for her. He went ahead so she would not be afraid.
I’m going to print your post for her. I pray, hearing it from someone who is living what she’s living, she will find comfort.
Mother Angelica said “Suffering without love is wasted pain”. It’s true and not just for physical pain. Offering that suffering up is love.

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posted February 26, 2009 at 11:14 pm

I regret that I don’t have an inspiring story or suggestion, about “offering it up”, but your mention of fear of death – and the loss of that fear – was for me very striking. I had the “good fortune” to have a heart attack in a hospital emergency room, right in front of a cardiologist. Thanks to God and the staff’s quick efforts, I was told that my heart had received no damage, in spite of the heart attack. At some point months later, I realized that I know longer feared death. This loss of the fear of death seems very odd, because I know from long experience that I am NOT a brave person. That near brush with death also made the Scriptures much more alive to me, in particular …
1. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say Rejoice”.
2. “We do not live on bread alone, but on every word
that comes from the mouth of God”.
Years after the heart attack, I realized with a bit of a shock that even if I had been able to plan it, I couldn’t
have done a better job of it than the way it actually occurred. At some level, much deeper than I can find
words for, there is a connection between the near loss
of life and the words of Jesus about the one who loses
his life shall find it.

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posted February 27, 2009 at 12:29 am

I was blessed to come back into the church with a priest by the name of Father Jim Willig. He led me to a personal relationship with Christ and I will always be greatful. A few years after we met, he discovered he had cancer. for over a year, he battle the cancer with thousands praying for his cure. As it grew more obvious that without a last moment miracle we would lose him. In one discussion I will always remember he said he had come to peace with his journey that it was not to be cured, but to empty himself so that Christ could be more complete in him. It was during this time that her wrote his book Lessons from the school of suffering. That book helped me as I lost a mom, dad, and a child. I am sure that it helped me each time to offer up my suffering to unite with Christ suffering. I still listen to Father Jim’s tape where he did his evening with the lord each week. I thought of him when I heard of your loss and asked him to great your husband.

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posted February 27, 2009 at 12:41 am

Amy, You and your family have been in my daily prayers. I am overwhelmed with a tremendous peacefulness reading your blog and the comments from your readers. I deeply respect each of you for your strong faith.
As many others mention, I “offer up” throughout the day, I am a people watcher, many times…I will offer my prayer for a person that I see and feel, may need a prayer.
Amy, God has certainly blessed you with the gift to communicate. I believe he will inspire you to write a book to help you mend and will in turn help many others mend who will face a similar heartache at some point in their life.
(Just the stories of the people who commented on your thoughts today could be an inspiration book).
May God keep you as strong as you need to be for each moment, each hour and each day.

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posted February 27, 2009 at 2:09 am

There is so much I want to say to you, so much more than I can put into a comment box. Know that my prayers for you are many and from my heart of understanding.
As a Catholic convert, I came to the concept of “offering it up” only lately. I have much to offer up.
I became a Catholic to share the faith of my husband. He had struggled with depression all of his life. He was a man of deep faith, humor, love and generosity. A good husband, a better father. He lost the battle of mental illness to suicide. One day here. The next day gone. Our daughter was 12.
In the years since he left I have battled health issues, financial hurdles, embraced a career and fought my own emotional challenges. Offering it up is freedom. I don’t have to carry the burden alone. My suffering has meaning, it is preparation, it is consolation. Offering it up is great comfort.
May God Bless you as you grieve.
With love and understanding,

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posted February 27, 2009 at 7:46 am

God bless you and your family. As for offering it up, my mother (still living) has always said when things are difficult to offer it up for the poor souls in purgatory. I got to pass that information onto my nephew a month ago when we came out of church and he was upset about a man sitting next to him who was sniffing and chewing gum…like many in my family he’s got soft sound sensitivity that causes panic attack-like reactions. I told him next time to offer it up for the poor souls. A few weeks later when someone was eating and causing him discomfort he told me he tried really hard to offer it up for the poor souls and what were the poor souls so I had an opportunity to explain it to him further.
As for not being afraid of death any longer, I came to that feeling more than 25 years ago when my little brother died. During the funeral Mass, it occurred to me that all the words of death and resurrection were so true and I really believed them. My brother was a suffering soul like Terri Schiavo and during his almost five years in a twilight zone we communed with his soul trapped in a non-responsive body. It enlightened me on things seen and unseen. I have not been well recently and during one episode, when I thought it might be it, I was busy putting sticky notes on projects I was involved in to make it easier for those left behind. I was smiling to myself and thinking how funny it was that I might be spending my last hours on earth doing such a thing. I guess I should cultivate a little fear and next time try saying a rosary instead of doing worldly things!

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posted February 27, 2009 at 11:01 am

I think I’m in a minority here. But a few years ago I had a miscarriage. Getting ready to go to the emergency room, I tried to offer it up for a particular intention. And I got the strong message not to do so! The message I got was that if I wanted to offer it to Jesus, that was great, but offering it up for a particular intention was just trying to be in control of a situation I was not in control of. It may be that for some people, as many stories here suggest, that sense of control or meaning is very helpful. But I share my story because it isn’t always–sometimes God wants us to making an offering without trying to direct it or know what its efficacy is.

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posted February 27, 2009 at 12:14 pm

For many years I had great difficulty with the “problem of pain” in the world, and because of that, with prayer. I would pray for help (and get it!), but always a little voice of nagging doubt came to me and said, “so you think God has helped you? What makes you so special, when so many others go unhelped? What if it was just a coincidence? What if there is no God?”
I lived with these doubts for many years, and they often affected my ability to pray. Then, when my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer (she was a smoker), I found myself forced to pray. I was in an agony of fear for her and for myself, as I could not imagine life without her, and discovered, too, that I feared my own death more than I had ever realised before.
So I prayed. I said Sr Faustina’s Chaplet of Divine Mercy on the Feast of Mercy. For the first time in my life, I began to say the Rosary regularly – whenever I felt any trace of fear or sadness. There was not much direction to my prayers except “please help”.
Something mysterious began to happen to me during those times of prayer. I began to understand that pain could be offered to God – without necessarily trying to direct it to a specific intention – and that this, though it would not necessarily make the pain itself easier to bear, could lessen the fear and despair I had always associated with the existence of pain because it acquired a purpose.
My prayers for my mother were to some degree answered, in that she recovered the ability to walk (her nerves had been injured by her cancer and doctors thought she would not walk again), and was, until the very last weeks of her illness, mostly free of pain, though she did suffer badly from nausea because of chemotherapy.
The experience transformed my life, in that the periodic depression from which I had always suffered was held entirely at bay during my mother’s illness, without any kind of medical help. The fear, too, was gone. After she died, I finally found an anti-depressant that worked for me, too. I wondered briefly if that might not somehow denigrate the small miracle I had experienced when she was sick, but then decided that the discovery of a drug that worked was in itself a grace.

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Elizabeth Forshaw

posted February 27, 2009 at 12:24 pm

I grew up with the concept of “offering up” the difficult situations. What brought me real peace after our son died of a prolonged bout with cancer was what an old teacher said about her own son who had died. “God wanted hIm NOW”. I found even more peace when I just simply thanked God for the suffering I was enduring.

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bill bannon

posted February 27, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Actually you can honor both aspects at once…control and non control. If you offer something up for a relative in Purgatory and unknown to you that person is already in Heaven, we all assume I think that God redirects that offering in line with His omniscience as to what other people really need that offering more…or at all. Thus nothing good ever gets wasted.

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posted February 27, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Sometimes I get a pain in my heart. I scares me because…well…it does. But I have had a physical and appear to be healthy. When I have that pain I offer it up. Jesus Mary and Joseph save souls.
I have taught my children the need to pray for those in purgatory and others. Save souls. Offer it up.

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posted February 27, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Kinda hiding, in changing my usual posted, real name, so no one (a sibling) recognizes me. I have been terrified FOR years of dying, yet I believe, yet – have been gripped by the fear, It (the fear) has made me mess up in many ways, I have at times, let it zap my joy, ’cause me to be extremely reactionary, weepy, hard on self and others. Thank you for sharing — today I was gripped with some realizations but must pray and work through what I must learn from them. Good to know about St. T.’s struggles with this – I did not know she had them (nor anyone – figuring, as usual, I was alone…)
I don’t really understand offering things up – so have nothing to offer in regards to that…

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posted February 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Even though the liturgical season doesn’t call for fasting, I gave up wine for Advent last Nov/Dec. I was really looking forward to a glass of wine after Midnight Mass, when the thought came to me very forcefully that I should continue to give it up for a loved one who was struggling with a serious problem she hasn’t been able to overcome.
At first my intention was for her to overcome this problem; but God led me to offer it instead for her to be healed of any emotional hurts that I have inflicted on her and for me to love her unconditionally even if she never overcomes this problem.
A sign that I saw on a stand of candles at Lourdes has given me an understanding where this kind of sacrifice things up fits into my spiritual life. The sign was written in French with an English translation that read: This flame continues my prayer. The sacrifice of my much-loved nightly glass of red wine continues my prayer for my loved one and takes it to a deeper level. Remembering this helps me so much when I’m tempted or feel sorry for myself at a party or a celebration. Of course, my loved one doesn’t know any of this.

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posted February 27, 2009 at 8:03 pm

I know I’m buried deep in your comments. I just felt the
need to say…..Fort Wayne missed you when you left and Ft. Wayne has a broken heart because of your loss.
St. Peter’s misses the family “up front.” Prayers sent your way always.

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Aggie Grundy

posted February 27, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Amy…Offering Up…you may have heard of this
book or Fr. O’Donohue’s untimely death….
this is a wonderful insight and thought I would forward as you and yours have been in my prayer, too!
“In the earliest hour of the fourth day of January, 2008, John O’Donohue died peacefully in his sleep. He had, only a few days before, celebrated his fifty-second birthday. For those who were with him on his birthday and in the few days that followed, memories of the time are filled with exuberant laughter, abiding love, and deep joy. His sudden departure took everyone by surprise.
Over the past year, we have heard from people all over the world offering beautiful condolences to those who feel most keenly his absence. They also express abundant gratitude for John’s life and gifts. We cherish these messages and thank you all for reaching out to us.
There are a few who have asked us to share our own experiences in relation to John’s passing. We find that our own words fail us when we are asked about our journey over this threshold; John’s words, however, remain faithful. We turn to his books and poetry, and find there: understanding, compassion, and a steadying hand as we navigate the revised universe in which we find ourselves.
When Death Visits . . .
Death is a lonely visitor. After it visits your home, nothing is ever the same again. There is an empty place at the table; there is an absence in the house. Having someone close to you die is an incredibly strange and desolate experience. Something breaks within you then that will never come together again. Gone is the person whom you loved, whose face and hands and body you knew so well. This body, for the first time, is completely empty. This is very frightening and strange. After the death many questions come into your mind concerning where the person has gone, what they see and feel now. The death of a loved one is bitterly lonely. When you really love someone, you would be willing to die in their place. Yet no one can take another’s place when that time comes. Each one of us has to go alone. It is so strange that when someone dies, they literally disappear. Human experience includes all kinds of continuity and discontinuity, closeness and distance. In death, experience reaches the ultimate frontier. The deceased literally falls out of the visible world of form and presence. At birth you appear out of nowhere, at death you disappear to nowhere. . . . The terrible moment of loneliness in grief comes when you realize that you will never see the deceased again. The absence of their life, the absence of their voice, face, and presence become something that, as Sylvia Plat says, begins to grow beside you like a tree.
* * *
Celebrating and Sending Love
A person should always offer a prayer of graciousness for the love that has awakened in them. When you feel love for your beloved and his or her love for you, now and again you should offer the warmth of your love as a blessing for those who are damaged and unloved. Send that love out into the world to people who are desperate; to those who are starving; to those who are trapped in prison; in hospitals and all the brutal terrains of bleak and tormented lives. When you send that love out from the bountifulness of your own love, it reaches other people. This love is the deepest power of prayer.
Death Transfigures Our Separation . . .
It is a strange and magical fact to be here, walking around in a body, to have a whole world within you and a world at your fingertips outside you. It is an immense privilege, and it is incredible that humans manage to forget the miracle of being here. Rilke said, “Being here is so much.” It is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed. We are here. We are wildly and dangerously free. The more lonely side of being here is our separation in the world. When you live in a body you are separate from every other object and person. Many of our attempts to pray, to love, and to create are secret attempts at transfiguring that separation in order to build bridges outward so that others can reach us and we can reach them. At death, this physical separation is broken. The soul is released from its particular and exclusive location in this body. The soul then comes in to a free and fluent universe of spiritual belonging.
* * *
Death As An Invitation To Freedom . . .
If you really live your life to the full, death will never have power over you. It will never seem like a destructive, negative event. It can become, for you, the moment of release into the deepest treasures of your own nature; it can be your full entry into the temple of your soul. If you are able let go of things, you learn to die spiritually in little ways during your life. When you learn to let go of things, a greater generosity, openness, and breath comes into your life. Imagine this letting go multiplied a thousand times at the moment of your death. That release can bring you a completely new divine belonging.
* * *
from ANAM CARA: A Book of Celtic Wisdom John O’Donohue (c) 1997.

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posted February 27, 2009 at 10:00 pm

I know this i a little strange but every time i her “offer it up”. I think of my Mom. I must of heard “offer it up” hundreds of times as a child and I know that I have already started saying it to my oldest son. There is something in the phrase that makes me feel like whatever the trouble I’m facing I’m putting it all in His hands. It feels like some one else is helping to carry the load. There is comfort and strength in the phrase.

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posted February 28, 2009 at 4:34 am

For almost 30 years I was alcoholic and kept relapsing, hurting and disappointing others, losing jobs and oblivious of almost everything around me.
I converted to Catholicism in my 20s in part because I hoped the discipline of church attendance would help me control my drinking. I did not understand why God could not do for me what I would not do for myself.
Finally in desperation I realised I could not do this on my own and went to AA. I stopped drinking but was horrified by the waste and damage of past decades. I made amends to everyone I had hurt, but knew there was so much I could not restore. I had no real faith, just the hollow shell from years of drinking, and had to begin learning all about God from scratch, just trusting and inching forward in dark faith. Rejoining the human community is a very slow process.
When I was about six months sober I did a retreat and spoke to a priest there about how haunted I was about all those lost years, the suffering I had caused others. He was a recovering alcoholic himself, a very gentle and humble man. He told me to offer up my bitter regrets and sorrow, that God would find some way of using that waste and shame. His words changed my life.
Prayers to you, Amy.

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posted February 28, 2009 at 11:09 am

Hi Amy – I, too, am having a renewed and deeper awareness of “offer it up” this year. And it is speaking to me at many of the same levels you write about. Mostly in my own fear of death too.
“Offering it up” is becoming my way of staying in the present moment with God. My fear (any fear really) is about the future, not about an imminent death. I mean, I’m not in the hospital and I don’t have a disease and I don’t see a car coming head on – so it is some undifferentiated time in the future. If I focus on that – at all – I am outside of my present moment with God in which I am really okay.
So for me “offer it up” is becoming my way of turning back to God in the moment that I realize I’m caught in a fear, or a pain, or some other future-facing thing. And I offer up my ability to indulge in that thinking, and instead choose to turn my attention and my mind back to right here, right now, to God.

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posted February 28, 2009 at 11:58 am

Amy, I know its a bit early but I hope at some point you put your reflections of the last month together in one book or audio. I’ve been with many patients who have died & their families & I think these would help some of them…

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posted February 28, 2009 at 1:51 pm

My (non-Catholic) mother, as she was dying of cancer, said something that years later I still find profound.
She told me that she was too tired to say prayers anymore. But, she said, her entire life was an offering by that point. Just getting up in the morning, no matter how long it took her or how painful it was, was her offering of prayer to God, her daily affirmation that she believed.
My mother wasn’t Catholic, so she didn’t use the phrase “offering it up.” But she understood suffering and its role in Christian faith very intimately.

You, Michael and your entire family remain in my prayers.

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posted February 28, 2009 at 4:39 pm

My ten year old daughter was in the hospital with a seriously fractured femur (sledding accident). Before her four hour surgery and during her five days in the trauma unit, I reminded her from time to time to offer it up for her four year old cousin who was in critical condition due to bacterial pneumonia a mile away in another hospital. My daughter would remember from time to time during her ordeal to “offer it up for Sophie”. Sophie recovered (even with the removal of part of her lung) and is perfectly healthy and my daughter and I remind each other from time to time about how good God has been to us in helping her through her ordeal and for healing her cousin Sophie!

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posted February 28, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Thanks for sharing your beautiful story. It made my day.
I’m sure that the joy that your recovery has brought to others has more than compensated for whatever hurt may have come from your past. Prayers are promised for your continued peace, and congratulations on defeating such a formidable foe.

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Gerard Nadal

posted March 1, 2009 at 2:57 am

Amy, my prayers have been with you and your family. I never understood what offering it up meant until my son Joseph was diagnosed with autism five years ago. After a string of misdiagnoses between 2-5 years of age, we finally were told that Joseph had far more than a severe language delay with related sequelae. It was a moderately severe form of autism. I was shattered. So were all of my hopes and dreams for his success. My first child and only son was destined to live on the margins of society long after my wife and I were gone.
For the first time in my life, I joined my suffering and Joseph’s to Jesus’ suffering on the cross. I offered my broken heart as a sacrifice for Joseph’s healing. Against all odds, mystifying the experts at one of the leading autism centers in the nation, Joseph has come up to speed on his language, most of his social skills, is mainstreamed in third grade, straight A student, now with a small circle of non-autistic friends. He looks and behaves pretty much normally, though he is still a work in progress. He excels at bowling and is a fair player in baseball. Kids love him.
When we first assembled the team of therapists, we just managed to get Joseph in immediately with people who normally had 1-2 year waiting lists. When I needed in that first year a special education teacher with a good background in speech pathology for ten hours per week on top of what the Board of Ed. would pay (and we didn’t have the money) a young woman who contacted me to tutor her for the Medical School Admission Test (and couldn’t afford me) turned out to have a degree in Speech Pathology as well as another MS degree in Special Ed, working with pre-K students with Autism. This after seven days before the Blessed Sacrament, telling Jesus exactly what we needed and could not afford. She came from a very devout Catholic family. We bartered to everyone’s benefit!
In prayer, the Lord has led me to peace. In Joseph’s life, he thundered his love, power and glory. He has taken my love for Joseph and my broken father’s heart, laid down at the altar in prayer, and honored that in a healing that nobody can explain.
I understand now the power of redemptive suffering, having seen Joseph’s life redeemed. In honor of the great work that you and Mark have wrought through your sacrifice of love for one another, I offer up my Lenten sacrifices for your intentions and Mark’s, though to quote Pope Benedict on Pope JPII, I am certain that, “He stands at the window in the Father’s House.”
God Bless.

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posted March 2, 2009 at 1:14 am

Offering it up to me means standing with Mary at the foot of the Cross trusting that God will bring good out of what is incomprehensible even when you you can not fathom, imagine, or understand how this will happen. It’s fundamentally a lived act of faith. And it can be a faith that moves mountains.

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posted March 2, 2009 at 5:58 pm

When I am in a situation that I know is part of God’s will but that is not pleasant to me (or, even, miserable), I lift this situation up to God. When I feel I can make little or no good come from it, then I offer it up to ask that he can.

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posted March 2, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Hi — Amy. My first time posting here. Heard about your loss on You have my prayers for you and your children.
I had a Lenten “offer it up” moment a couple of years ago similar to your story, with a variation.
I, too, fear death. Not what’s coming after, but what I perceive as the painful transition from the body to spirit. Like Woody Allen, “I’m not afraid of dying — I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
My divorce was final for a couple of years, my kids were grown and out on their own and my fiance had broken up with me. I’m a commercial fisherman and I spend many hours alone. I was taking classes at the time, but I was much older than most of the students and didn’t do any “hanging out.”
I contracted the flu and was pretty sick for a week, but worked when I could and went to school. But it kept hanging on and I was spending sleepless nights in a fetal position, my heart pounding. One night it got so bad I thought that was it. But I wasn’t going without a fight. I grabbed my Rosary beads and proceeded to aggressively offer up my suffering to Mary and to Her Son.
Nobody else was in the house and I don’t sleep close to the neighbors, so I was praying very loudly in the dark. About halfway through the third decade (don’t remember which Mysteries) it was like a light bulb broke or something — I heard a pop. Suddenly there was quiet and peace. The aches and pains were gone, my breathing was soft and regular, and my heart was quiet. And then it hit me — I had died and was having an out of body experience. I just wasn’t accepting that I was dead. I began to finish the prayers, and fell asleep.
When I woke up I was still in the state of unknowing “grace”. I wasn’t sick, had God’s peace but it was so different to what I had been living in I still thought I had died and was in a fantasy that I wasn’t. Still having no human contact I had my breakfast and got ready to trailer my boat down to the bay to dig clams, as I do in early spring. I dug clams on this cold blustery day in the bright beauty of the white caps and water fowl in their pairing off nesting mode, still wondering if I had actually passed on and this was the preliminary to purgatory.
After I sorted my clams I went to the dock and then it happened. “Joe”, one of the local retired gentlemen who hang out at the dock all day in their pick-ups and SUV’s to read the paper and solve the world’s problems, was there to greet me with his mundane and much repeated questions and comments about the clams and the weather. And I knew I was alive. I was no longer waiting and wondering what comes next. it was all too familiar, but welcome.
I came to realize that I wasn’t spontaneously healed from a virus — I was over that. I had fallen into the fear of being sick and dying alone. It was acute anxiety I had been suffering from, and Mary gave it to her Son, because He has a use for such things.
I am now much less afraid of death and much more grateful for plain old life.

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posted 9:22:07pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Why Via Media
How about....because I'm lame and hate thinking up titles to things? No? about...St. Benedict? Yes, yes, I know the association with Anglicanism. That wasn't invovled in my purpose in naming the joint, but if draws some Googling ...

posted 8:54:17pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Brave Heart?
I don't know about you, but one of effects of childbirth on me was a compulsion to spill the details. All of them.The whole thing was fascinating to me, so of course I assumed everyone else should be fascinated as well in the recounting of every ...

posted 10:19:45pm Mar. 03, 2009 | read full post »


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