Posted in Authentic Freedom, Discernment, Divine Revelation, Grace, Virtual Church, women

Honoring the Divine Mother – Virtual Church

In this week’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service, we give honor to the Divine Mother.  Mary, set aside her own will in order to accept God’s call for her to be the Mother of Love in the world.  In doing so, Mary provides for us a model of faith, courage and spiritual obedience.  God’s call may not be easy, but the outcome is always far greater than what we could image for ourselves.

mary-mother-jesus

Attend this week’s service HERE. 

Posted in Inspiration, Jesus, Mary Magdalene

Authentic Freedom 2013 Christmas Message

Madonnaofthestreets

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bosouX_d8Y

As I write the Authentic Freedom Christmas message of hope for 2013, all I feel is love.  And isn’t this appropriate?  Why else could we possibly be here in these flesh suits if not for the purpose of learning how to BE love and for learning how to LOVE?  And isn’t this the very reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place? Because somewhere around 2000 years ago, in the tiny town of Bethlehem, a child was born who came to understand the Love that he was and who desired to teach all of humanity how to know this Love and how to be this Love.  Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.  The reason Jesus was born and what he hoped to teach us how to be.  Or as I like to say it, “Jesus came to help us to REMEMBER THE LOVE THAT WE ARE.”

nativity

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S5mMg15228

Jesus, through the spark that was born within him and through a lifelong journey wrapped up in contemplation, meditation and prayer, Jesus came to remember his origin in Oneness with God.  God, he came to understand, was LOVE.  Jesus then went about teaching us how to know this truth within ourselves – to remember the love that we are and to enjoy the peace, freedom and contentment that comes from living in this state of Loving Remembrance.  And Jesus wasn’t alone in this remembrance.  Mary knew.  Joseph knew.  Elizabeth knew.  Many of the disciples knew.  Most certainly Mary Magdalene knew.

jesus-and-mary2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XApkl80-sb8

My Christmas message then, is about LOVE!  My wish for you is that you know love.  That you know, without a doubt, the magnificent, glorious, expression of the Divine that God seeks to be through you.  That you know, at the deepest core of your being, the Presence of this Love and that you know that you are the very nature of LOVE itself.  That you come to know the uniquely creative way in which God wants to experience the human condition THROUGH YOU and that you know the peace, joy, contentment and fulfillment that comes in realizing this gift, and that you are free to find the fullest expression of this gift.  That you come to realize that the WORLD NEEDS YOU….that only you can bring the unique gift through which God wants to be known in the world and that each and every one of us needs your gift.  And that you realize that in being your gift and sharing it in the world, the world becomes a more loving, compassionate, peaceful and harmonious place.  My Christmas wish is that you come to know what Jesus came to know and that through you, the vision of the kingdom that Jesus saw can now be made manifest in our world.

sacred heart

childlead1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwmzsbSb_XE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And finally, a heart-felt THANK YOU!  Thank you for being born into this world.  Thank you for being the unique expression of God’s love in the world.  Thank you for being love and for being loving. Thank you for making the world a more loving and harmonious place because of the LOVE that you are.  And thank you for the work that it takes to know this love – overcoming fear, transcending resistance, being willing to dive deeply into the wounds of the past so that they may be healed and released.  And thank you for flying on wings of eagles, uplifted in the love of God so that you can be the glorious magnificence of who God made you to be!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cZx632L8rE

All love, all peace and all joy to you and yours this Christmas and always!

Lauri

Posted in Inspiration, Jesus

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.  In celebration of the time we honor the birth of Christ, I share with you some Christmas poems both written from Mary’s perspective.  These came from Sr. Ruth Agnes Evans and were first recommended to me by poet and friend, Jay Ramsay.  Sr. Ruth entered  religious life in 1987 with the Poor Clares in the rural Cotswold valley of Woodchester, South West England.  She lived there for 24 years until the convent closed in May 2011 and is now enjoying time in rented accommodations concentrating on her writing.  Thank you Sr. Ruth for these beautiful Christmas reflections! 

mary-mother-jesus

Seafarer  [1]

Small traveller,

inside the sea, inside me,

under a sky without a moon;

your waves in me,

quieter than Lake Galilee.

You lay in my body’s swell,

where there was no wind or squall,

no tide to take you far away.

I was the night that kept you safe

before you knew the light,

O uncreated light,

granting all

that I was formed to be,

made me a beggar on the earth,

Queen for eternity.


[1] [1] This was published in Star, Volume 10, September/October, 2010, p. 24

Not As Your Own [1]

You did not come here as your own,

this land  where beasts and soldiers roam,

where men die bleeding  and alone.

You claimed your flesh and blood from me,

who did not claim equality

with God, lay wrapped in me…

You came like one unknown to bliss.

You bore no mark of ages sown,

of homage known, of love enthroned,

yet yielded in eternity…

You took the comfort of my kiss,

you sucked my milk, your eyes were mild

on mine and rapt on me.

The night was cold, I made you snug,

with hay and strips of swaddling band.

The flesh you took from me must stand

before the gaze of men who brand

each other with their hate and lies.

No murmur here of majesty,

of seraphs stooped in ecstasy…

Next to my bed I heard you cry,

you were so small, wrapped by my hands.


[1] [1] This was published in  Star, Volume 10, January/February, 2010, p.37.

Posted in God, Inspiration, Raised Catholic, The Divine

Why Mary Rocks

In the Catholic calendar, today is the Feast of the Assumption – the day that all Catholics give honor to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  Today’s blog examines why Mary is important, not just for Catholics, and why we all need a Mother God.

Divine Mother

For 2000+ years, Catholics have lived a truth that all human beings know but might be afraid to admit.  Catholics, in our reverence toward Mary, are living the truth that we all know – We need a Mother God.  Yes, yes, yes, I know that technically Mary is not considered to be God, neither is she counted as equal with God, but in practice, Catholics really do treat Mary as if she were God.  And yes, I know that the whole Mary thing is one of the reasons other denominations have a problem with Catholics, accusing us of worshipping idols (Mary, the saints, etc.), and that the Institution of the Church defends the reverence offered to Mary as differing from the worship we offer to God.  But again, in practice, Mary really is treated as if she were God….or at the very least, a Goddess.  I do not think this is a bad thing.  In fact, I believe that the reverence offered to Mary in Catholic practice is healthy and an intuitive reflection of a much deeper knowing – the knowing that we all need a mother, more specifically, we all need a mother God.

The Death of the Goddess

In Riane Eislers books, The Chalice and the Blade and Sacred Pleasure, she examines the ancient cultures of the Middle East and Mediterranean, specifically the transition from a egalitarian culture to patriarchy.  In this shift from egalitarianism, the co-equal images of the Divine as God and Goddess were violently overtaken by a single, warring God, primarily resulting in a shift from a peaceful and harmonious culture to one that became ruled through fear, power and intimidation. We see evidence of this shift in the Hebrew scriptures as the Goddess is demonized (Eve, the serpent, the fruit, Asherah, feminine practices, etc.) and systematically obliterated to make room for the single male God who is frequently portrayed as vengeful, wrathful and jealous.  As the Goddess was destroyed, so too was the sacred honoring of the feminine as women became lesser citizens, oppressed instead of being honored as co-equal and co-creators with their male companions.  The good news is that while human beings try to make things go their way, God has other plans.  As such, the Goddess has never really been destroyed, she has remained in the back recesses of our consciousness, waiting to be reclaimed so that as a species, we can experience the peace and harmony that naturally results when we honor the sacred in all aspects of the Divine and in all human beings – male and female.

Mary, Our Mother

We intuitively know that God cannot be only male.  But more than this, we LONG for images and experiences of the Divine that reflect our highest natures.  And what could be more reflective of our highest natures than an image of God that is nurturing, caring, loving, tender, kind, ever-present, soft, attentive, affectionate and looks at us through the eyes of adoration as a loving mother would?  I believe it has been the Goddess as a loving mother, hiding in the back recesses of our consciousness, that has ultimately driven Marian devotion.  It is for this reason that I not only accept, but embrace all the muss and fuss that goes with the Catholic tradition of giving honor and reverence to Mary, not only as the mother of Jesus, but as the Mother of us all.  It isn’t a mistake that in the Catholic church, Mary’s official titles include:  Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Co-Redemptrix, Source of Salvation, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, for even though the Institution would protest, in their heart of hearts, they know we need a mother too!

Some Mary fun:

So, just for fun and maybe to help you in your own reverence to Mary…or whatever name you give to the Goddess within, here are a few of my favorite Mary songs:

Breath of Heaven – Amy Grant

Ave Maria – Bach

Ave Maria – Schubert

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Raised Catholic, Spiritual Practices

When All Else Fails: Hail Mary!

This morning’s blog reminds us of the value of rote repetition and mantra prayer, especially during times when all else seems to fail us. (also explored in this week’s issue of The Agape’ Project)

Over the Top Stress

I’m not sure if it is the universe, earth changes, hormones, perimenopause, or just “stuff happens,” but on Thursday of this week I found myself in the biggest ball of stress I have experienced in a LONG TIME!  Rampant anxiety, worry, obsessive thoughts, out of nowhere tears.  In a nutshell….I was a mess.  Such a mess in fact, that no matter how hard I tried, I simply could not fall asleep.  It reminded me of the times in my childhood and even into adulthood when I found myself sleepless due to the marathon being run in my over-active brain.  It was a feeling I had not experienced in a very long time.

I tried EVERYTHING

As I struggled with whatever that energy was on Thursday, I employed all the tactics I know for relaxation, returning to rational thought, restoring peace.  NOTHING worked.  I went for a walk.  I meditated.  I listened to music.  I journalled.  I allowed myself to be present to my tears, etc.  I even added some magnesium to my evening nutrition.  NOTHING WORKED.  Then, when I thought the repose of sleep would help, I found it only got worse.  Tossing and turning in bed, restless and stupid thoughts in my head, worry, anxiousness, feelings of being emotionally bereft.  Again I tried everything….breathing exercises, thinking “happy” thoughts.  Again NOTHING!  In a fit of desperation, I pulled open the drawer in my bedside table and rummaged around for my rosary.  Perhaps the only tool that helped me during my childhood would provide relief for 47 year old Lauri.  At the bottom of the drawer, shoved into the back corner, buried under lotion, chapstick, incense sticks and a bag of rocks I found it. Running my fingers over the beads, I began to pray:  Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee…..  I’m not sure how many decades I ended up praying, but my thoughts must have finally cleared for when my alarm sounded in the morning, I awoke with the rosary still clutched in my fist, the red crystal beads wrapped around my fingers.

When All Else Fails

Thursdays experience reminded me of the value in the tried and true, specifically in prayers of rote repetition and mantra.  As a child, the Hail Mary was always my go-to prayer.  When I was frightened, feeling alone or sleepless, I turned to our Divine Mother for intercession and comfort by invoking this prayer. As an adult, I turned to this prayer during times of crisis like the day I was held up at gun point outside my downtown Minneapolis apartment, or when I found myself caught in a wind and hailstorm with my two babies in the car.  Perhaps it is the familiarity of the prayer, nostalgia, or the rhythm that is created by rote repetition, but for whatever reason, these are the kinds of prayers that seem to be of greatest assistance when it seems all other methods of stress-relief, meditation or prayer just don’t seem to work.

An Invitation

As an exercise today, I would invite you to explore your own repetoire of spiritual tools in search of “the tried and true.”  What is it that you can turn to when all else fails?  Maybe it is the rosary, the Hail Mary, the Lord’s Prayer.  Perhaps it is a Sanskrit mantra or the Hebrew Kaddish.  Or maybe it is just a single word – love, peace, Jesus.  Whatever that “tried and true” might be, I invite you to acknowledge it and put it in your hip pocket (or the drawer of your bedside table) so it is ready to use when all else seems to fail.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Inspiration, teachers

Something About Mary

As we move along the path of spiritual growth, toward awakening and enlightentment, two very important lessons present themselves:  surrender and trust.  Today, on the feast of the Assumption of Mary, we acknowledge Mary, the Mother of Jesus as a woman who not only learned, but lived these truths.

 

Catholic Feast Days

In the Catholic tradition in which I was raised, today, August 15th is celebrated as the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.  This is one of those feast days that has always confounded me and in the 21st century, it is a feast that directly confronts scientific possibility.  On this day, the Catholic Church recognizes the “belief” that Mary did not die a human death, but was raised, body and soul into heaven.  As any non-Catholic would argue, there is absolutely NO scriptural evidence to to support the feast day that is celebrated today.  I acknowledge this to be true, and….that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, or that the feast cannot be a metaphor for something that was really cool that happened to Mary and was witnessed and simply didn’t make the cut into the book we now call the Bible.  I’m not going to argue with those that hold to the literal interpretation of scripture, neither am I going to argue with the Vatican and the importance they place on Big T Tradition. (A Catholic thing that supports certain dogma and doctrine by saying it is part of the “tradition” of the Church but perhaps not supported by scripture.)  So, whether we believe it the literal truth of the assumption, or simply set it aside as one of “the Catholic things,” we cannot argue that Mary was a pretty cool chick and worthy of honor and respect by whatever name we call it!

 

Something about Mary

Being raised Catholic, Mary held a central role in my religious upbringing.  As an adult, she has held an equally central role in my journey of spiritual healing, growth, evolution.  Here are somethings about Mary that I think are really cool, that inspire me, guide me and give me hope:

Mary was a woman of Prayer: She had to be.  I can only understand the story of the Annunciation (when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and invited her to be the Christ bearer.) in the context of contemplation and prayer.  One would have to already have a firmly established spiritual practice and devotion to God to be able to 1) Hear, see, experience God’s messenger.  2) Be present to the invitation 3) SAY YES!

Mary was a woman of Courage: Again, she had to be!  How could a girl of 13 or 14 not only have an angelic encounter and survive it, but say yes to an invitation that in her culture could have gotten her killed.  Do you know the penalty in first century Palestine for being unmarried and pregnant (actually, the penalty in some areas of the Middle East is still the same today)?  DEATH BY STONING!  Mary said yes, had to somehow tell her parents and then hope that she wouldn’t be killed.  YIKES!  Oh yea, then she had to (rather her parents had to), tell the man to whom she was betrothed.  His right under the law?  To have her killed for her infidelity and for breaking their marriage contract.  COURAGE!

Mary was a woman of faith What did Mary have to keep her going through the encounter with the angel to the birth of her child?  FAITH!  She had to trust that if this invitation was indeed Divinely directed, that all would be well, that she would be safe, protected, kept from harm and that the child would come to birth and that together, they would be safe.  This whole plan defied human logic, and societal customs and norms, and yet, Mary said yes.  She had faith in her God and her faith was proved to be well grounded – she was not killed, Joseph married her anyway, and Jesus was born into the world.

Mary’s faith moved beyond faith into surrender and acceptance. This is where Mary is elevated in my mind to some place of Divine Christing herself.  1) She had to travel miles from the safety and comfort of her family to have her baby born in the most uncomfortable of surroundings.  2) They had to flee their homeland to escape persecution by the king. 3) She heard from prophets in the temple of the things her son would do and was told they would “pierce her to the heart.”  4) She had to watch her son follow an equally strange and “God-inspired” path.  5) She had to stand in watch as her son was brutally executed.  Mary had to allow her heart to be broken…probably a million times…as she gave witness to the fulfillment of the “yes” that she said to bringing Jesus into the world.  She had to trust that no matter how bad it looked, that all would be serving some sort of higher purpose…and she had to trust that her son knew what he was doing, but beyond that, that God knew what God was doing.  She had to trust that her “yes” was not in vain…even if she did not see the results in her lifetime.  In the end, Mary is just cool!

How can Mary be a source of inspiration for you on your own spiritual path?

How have your spiritual practices, faith, courage and acceptance provided assistance for you in your own journey?

How are YOU being invited to be a vessel through which God’s love can be birthed into the world?????

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Inspiration

Giving Honor to the Divine Feminine

In the Western spiritual tradition, the images of God are decidedly masculine.  Let us not forget that importance of remembering that the Divine is its feminine form, hence giving honor to the feminine within ourselves as well. 


Mary Rocks!

One of the things I love about having grown up Catholic is the devotion offered to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  In the Catholic tradition, Mary has been given many titles including:  Co-Redemtrix, Mediatrix of Peace, Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, Queen of Heaven, Theotokos (God-bearer).  In her human incarnation, Mary played the important role of saying yes to the invitation to birth the Divine (through Jesus) into the world.  She bore and raised the man that would bring God’s word of love into the world and she bore witness to her son’s suffering and death and to her word of the resurrection was delivered.  In Catholic practice and doctrine, Mary has been elevated far beyond the simply human role of mother.  She is considered to be co-redemtrix with her son in freeing us of the false perception of separation from God, thus providing for us the pathway to contentment, love and joy…in this world and in the next.

Waking up to Mary

I was first inspired to give honor to our “Divine Mother” when I awakened this morning to images of Mary in my mind.  It has been a restless night of chaotic and anxious dreams, so I found comfort in remembering that Mary is available to us as a source of healing and comfort.  Instead of jumping out of bed to tend to my daily journaling practice, I stayed in bed, placed my hands over my heart and offered prayers of surrender to Mary and her healing love.  A few Hail-Marys even found their way into my prayer.  In this time with Mary, I found my anxieties calmed and my mind quieted.  Thanks Mary!

There are NO Coincidences

After spending 20 minutes with Mary in prayerful repose, I got up, tended to my journaling and got about the business of my morning.  Then I picked up the daily scripture…….and I was forced to LAUGH!!!!   It just so happens that TODAY, May 13th is the Catholic feast of Our Lady of Fatima.   From May 13 – October 13, 1917, Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima Portugal and revealed herself as Our Lady of the Rosary.  Mary reminded the world, through these children the importance of turning our attention to God, to allowing our hearts to be opened to and by Divine love, (giving her own Immaculate Heart as an example) and to the value of prayer (including the rosary).

Why does any of this matter?

Whether or not you were raised Catholic, Mary provides an important example of human witness.  She has been portrayed as a woman of prayer, of obedience to the path that she discerned God had in mind for her and followed the counsel of her heart as led by God.  In a western tradition that tends to favor the masculine, Mary reminds us that the Divine can be revealed in feminine form and what those feminine attributes of the Divine might be:  gentleness, an open and listening heart, tenderness, vulnerability and a calming presence.  As we grow spiritually, we are invited to explore, discover and embrace all the infinite experiences of God, including masculine, feminine (and other)…AND we are invited to integrate ALL of these qualities within ourselves.  Today, I invite you to explore the Feminine Divine in all its forms….most importantly….that which lies within.

Just for fun

And just for fun, and because sometimes I enjoy the oldy-moldy Catholic devotions, here is the Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which is part of the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima:

Novena Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

O Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially …(special intention).

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever.
Amen.

Lauri Lumby
Authentic Freedom Ministries
http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Inspiration

Mary’s Song

Today, I share my favorite reflection on the journey of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  As we prepare for the coming of Christmas, let us ask, how are we also being called to birth the compassion and love of God in the world?  To hear and view the reflection, click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPbV_HTpyx0

 

Thank you to Amy Grant for sharing this gift with the world.

 

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

 

 


Posted in Inspiration, Spiritual Practices

Happy All Saints’ Day!

As one who was raised Catholic, All Saints’ Day holds a special place in my heart.  All Saints’ Day gives honor to all the men and women who became examples of the Christ message and were honored within the Catholic Church as “Saint”.  For myself, it is the one “holy day of obligation” that I can actually remember and made a point to honor by attending mass and paying my own respect to the saints who have played a special role in my own life.  Since All Saints’ Day falls on a Monday this year, mass will not be offered locally (I know, dumb, right!?), so I will give honor to my favorite saints (canonized and not) in prayer and meditation and through this blog:

Hildegard of Bingen

Joan of Arc

Bernadette Soubirous

Teresa of Avila

Francis and Clare of Assisi

John of the Cross

Dorothy Day

Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Catherine of Siena

Mary, Mother of Jesus

Mary Magdalene (my personal all-time favorite!!!!!)

John the Evangelist

The author of “The Cloud of Unknowing”

Martin Luther

Maria Goretti

Oscar Romero

Mahatma Ghandi

HH Dalai Lama

Edith Stein

Mary Jo Copeland

And I share with you today my FAVORITE litany of the saints that I learned while I was at the Newman Center at UW Oshkosh and that I looked forward to singing on All Saints’ Day and at the Easter Vigil:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2Zyj1PwSfM

All you holy men and women, pray for us!

 

Who are the spiritual men and women who have been a role model and example for you in your own life?

How can you honor and remember them today?

 

 

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries/yourspiritualtruth

http://yourspiritualtruth.com