Pausing to Pray

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By Felix Carroll (Feb 12, 2011)
If you're like me (unreliable, easily distracted) and you find yourself each year looking for loopholes in your Lenten sacrifice, come with me.

Yes, right here. Sit down, relax. Here it is: a 65-page booklet in a fetching shade of purple that's titled Pausing to Pray.

Bear with me, even if you sometimes feel you must avert your eyes from seemingly barefaced, self-interested promotion.

Speaking of which ...

Sure, this booklet is published by Marian Press here on the grounds of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.

Sure, I'm an employee of the Marians.

Sure, we need your support to spread the message of The Divine Mercy.

Sure, the booklet was compiled by a friend of mine who works in an office downstairs from me, who doesn't wish to be named (though her name begins with an "S" and rhymes with "Larah").

And sure, that awesome cover photo was shot by, well, me, in my humility. Did I say "awesome"? Well, I'm no fan of adverbs, but maybe this calls for an adverb: That awesome cover photo may more accurately be described as breathtakingly awesome (at least, that's what my mom said that I could say that she said, even though I said it and not her).

Where was I?

Yes, Pausing to Pray.

Allow me to tell you why you should consider purchasing it for yourself and for loved ones this Lent (price: $6.95; order now while supplies last!).

As the great Divine Mercy apostle Dr. Bryan Thatcher often says (ungrammatically, yet no less powerfully), "Jesus, in His mercy, meets us where we're at." What Bryan is saying is that Jesus loves us wherever we are in our lives. In our sinfulness, in our loneliness, in our pride and despair, He is with us, and He invites us to walk with Him so He may guide us to salvation.

With this booklet, Jesus, in His mercy, meets me where I'm at. And where I'm at is likely similar to where many of you are at. I am sinful, and I am busy, with a calendar so tight I require Tums by the handful.

As for sinfulness, I always imagine that Lent will be a kind of spiritual vacation from my brokenness — sort of a purification spa for the mind and spirit where I spend hours in Adoration, perform time-intensive works of mercy, and carry on a continuous conversation with our Lord.

Cut to reality: It's never worked that way, at least for a continuous 40 days. As with the other seasons of the calendar year, the world often comes between me and my desire for deeper communion with Christ. And as always, I continue to sin against God, sin against neighbor, and sin against self.

Do you want specific examples? I bet you do. But fortunately for me, I don't have time to get into the messy, 64-font-sized-worthy details of my sinfulness on account of the fact that I'm too ... BUSY!

Yes, busy.

I am busy. Everyday. You are, too. And probably like me, your busyness cannot be blamed on idle endeavors like, say, bowling or ruminant-mammal taxidermy or making sock puppets or full-contact Parcheesi. Rather, it's the busyness of the work-a-day world, followed by family responsibilities — picking up the kids from school, dropping them off at piano lessons, food shopping, homework, slapping together a meal, paying the bills, and, for me in particular, remembering that I'm the husband of a breathtakingly awesome woman who is right over there, across the room, putting the clothes in the dryer and feeling just as wiped as I am at the end of another day.

And yes, about that breathtakingly awesome woman who is my wife: She looks at me in moments like this, in the evening after a busy day. She looks at me with a wordless gaze that often communicates the following:

This is all a bit much, isn't it? And I can't even find matching socks anymore. And I know that you and I cannot even dream of disappearing for awhile, even though I have visions of us horseback riding along a deserted beach in a temperate zone shaded by zany, improbably bent palm trees and impossibly colored birds, far away from everything, a place where kind old men play dusty accordions somewhere in the shadows and even the homeless street dogs gaze at us and smile. I know we cannot go snorkeling for crustaceans in turquoise waters and then cook them over an open fire while our hearts coo and the moon purrs. I know these things. But you know what? Who cares about matching socks anyway, because I love you, and you love me, and doesn't that just beat all?

For centuries, poets have tried to communicate such sentiment, but their efforts can't compete with a wordless gaze from a loved one in an evening, exhausted, under jaundiced-yellow kitchen light bulbs that (for goodness sakes) really need to be replaced.

For me, that look of hers serves as the double love knot that holds the world in place.

Which, believe it or not, brings us back again to the Lenten booklet Pausing to Pray. It's a brief, daily read capable of sustaining us and transforming us even — or especially — amidst the maw of the modern grind. As its compiler, "Larah," says, by means of this booklet, you can "discover how your time spent at the bus stop, during lunch breaks, and between phone calls can become times of peace and prayer" from Ash Wednesday through Divine Mercy Sunday.

Pausing to Pray features excerpts from the Diary of St. Faustina and poignant meditations by Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, including Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC; Fr. Joseph Roesch, MIC; Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC; Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC; Fr. Dan Cambra, MIC; Fr. Jim McCormack, MIC; and Fr. Leszek Czelusniak, MIC.

As "Larah" also says (privately), "At the heart of every meditation is trust in the Lord."

For me, this booklet is the equivalent of that powerful gaze of a loved one. Maybe many of us don't have time for daily Adoration, so instead, we read a daily meditation. We tell the Lord, You know what? I am with You as You make Your way toward Jerusalem. And I know You are with me as I make my way through life. And You know what else? I long for You. And while I've got all these responsibilities and I'm often scatterbrained and inattentive to the most important things, I want You to see that I know You and that I need You, and that I would do anything for You.

I pray that my gaze says to Him: I know You are Love itself, and my life is meaningless without You.

And ain't that something? Ain't that everything?

+ + +

Ah-em. Did I tell you the booklet is only $6.95? Did I suggest already that you may want to order now while supplies last?

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MARIA C. - Feb 12, 2011

This is an awesome booklet. I just got one and would give it to our spiritual director from our cenacle group for approval to distribute it to our members. Please pray that both our spiritual directors (Divine Mercy cenacle group and St. Pius X small faith-sharing group) will both agree that this booklet is a MUST to have.

Jen - Feb 12, 2011

WOW!! Yes!! I too can relate to what you have said in your article!
Thanks so much for all your hard work and thank Sarah too! Our Thanks always to God for everything. For all the gifts He gives us.
I did receive a copy of your book and when I read the title and the synopsis on the back I was excited!
And thought "WOW! WHAT A GIFT!" I look forward to begin reading it.
Thanks again

Chris Campbell - Feb 12, 2011

This is brilliant. Thanks for the fun.

Erin - Feb 12, 2011

You're a rock star, Felix. This is such a great article, and not only sells everyone on the booklet, but has some beautiful and poignant parts all its own. Not to mention I was cracking up that you actually get to post ridiculously funny stuff like this.

Br. Angelo Casimiro, MIC - Feb 12, 2011

Felix, this is the best article you've ever written....Okay, that may be stretching it a bit....If it's not the best then it's definitely one of the funniest....You crack me up dude! Even though I don't have a copy of the book (remember I'm still a poor seminarian), I'm sure it's "breathtakingly awesome"! "Larah" really looks good on the cover too.

Deacon Angelo Casimiro, MIC - Feb 12, 2011

Geesh....I can't even get my name right (see above).

Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC - Feb 13, 2011

Good stuff, man! Sweet little booklet, for sure.

Mabel - Feb 13, 2011

Thank you for getting this through to us and for all your effort and hard work. Thanks to Sarah too.
I really wish I could get my hands on that book. The shipping cost me almost the price of another book, adding another 2$.
Thanks and God Bless You.

Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC - Feb 13, 2011

Someone brought me a copy of the book here in Rome and I must concur - the book rocks! Tell us more about the cover Felix - how did you take that photo? Is that a train moving in the background?

Jeffrey - Feb 14, 2011

Enjoyed this article!


Lent, here we come.

Dave Maroney - Feb 14, 2011

Wonderfully funny article and I can't wait to get the booklet. You would think that someone from the great state of New York (read Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC) would know what a fast moving train would look like! :-)

Felix - Feb 15, 2011

Hi Fr. Joe.

Good question, and thanks for asking.

Well, forthwith are the steps that were taken to produce that _______-ly _________ cover photo:

1. Drive with the reluctant model up to North Street in Pittsfield, Mass.
2. Set up the camera equipment on the sidewalk by St. Joseph's Church.
3. Feel awkward as I draw attention to myself without wanting to.
4. Have model sit on bench in a bus shelter.
5. Draw not necessarily charitable attention from strangers trying to use sidewalk.
6. Cause pedestrians to give us a wide berth.
7. Take about 4,000 or so photos (at least that's what it seemed) with a slow shutter speed so as to capture fast-moving traffic (a frenzied world).
8. Acquiesce to the model's demands for warmth and a ticket out of town because the photo shoot was growing tiresome and she wasn't being paid for it.
9. Give the 4,000 or so photos to Curtis in the Composition Department here at the MHC who chose the best one and made the photo far, far superior through the wondrous deception known as PhotoShop.
10. Take full credit for the meticulously re-worked photo used for the cover photo, even though its original was the equivalent of a distant, second cousin twice removed.

I hope you're doing well in Rome!
Maybe we'll see you at the Divine Mercy conference in the Bronx on March 26, which everyone should attend.

To Everyone: Visit

Seats available.

Humility, humility, humility,

Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC - Feb 15, 2011

Thanks for the info Felix. I think your patience was worth it! You've got to consider stand-up comedy!

Deacon Angelo Casimiro, MIC - Feb 15, 2011

Felix, I agree with Fr. Joe. Actually, I think you and Dan V. should take your act on the road. I'd actually buy a ticket to see you guys. Ha!

Mitch Lee - Feb 18, 2011

After, reading this AWESOME article, seeing the AMAZING ad on YouTube, and gazing at the INCREDIBLE cover - why trudge through Lent when I could be "Pausing to Pray"?! You Rock Felix and Sarah, but most of all the DIVINE MERCY ROCKS!!!!

eleanor - Feb 24, 2011

The booklet is wonderful.
Your article brightened my morning and gave me hope that there are still good, happy young people around. I am going to the Conference at Cardinal Spellman HS in March and look forward to a spiritual and refreshing day...hopefully filled with good humor!