St. Philip Neri Roman Catholic Parish Blog.

Julie Anne Hilton

Julie Anne Hilton

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Posted by on in Spirituality

This is so good, we had to feature Julie Anne's blog again this year! Maybe we'll feature it every year!


...So we've almost made it through 40 days of Lent- the wilderness... now we've entered the passion and walk with our God through the horror and the glory of what will take place this week.  Reflecting on this coming week, there's a sense of awe in how God's plan of salvation unfolds...

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Christmas Blog 2011- Julie Anne Hilton

“What Can I Give Him?”

An old Christmas song that has resounded with new meaning for me this year....

“In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan.

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.

Snow had fallen snow on snow, snow on snow,

In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,

Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;

But His mother only, in her maiden's bliss,

Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

Oh what can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a Shepherd, would I bring a lamb?

If I were a Wise Man, would I do my part?

Yet what can I give Him?  Give my heart.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan.

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone,

If I were a Wise Man, would I do my part?

Yet what can I give Him? Give my heart.”

Sometimes I feel like my heart is stuck in the bleak midwinter.  Bleak- that's a good word to describe the times when we feel far away from God, when our own struggles and the struggles of those we love, seem to overwhelm us.  We don't want to push God away, but also don't know how to invite Him close.  There might be many reasons why we feel far away from God.  Have you struggled with health problems, lost someone you love, been through a separation, divorce or break up?  Have you felt down, struggled with anxiety and worry, wrestled with temptation or just wished that your life circumstances were different?  As life moves along, I've realized that there is a lot of difficulty and pain in life, and there are many times when I feel like the outlook is bleak.  As I write this, I am exhausted and feeling trapped with worry over my daughter's health problems (so these messages are a challenge to myself, as well as to any of you who are reading it!).  Yet in all of this, in the cramped, messy, broken and sometimes cold stable of our hearts, Jesus wants to be born anew.

What can I give Him?  Give my heart?  Maybe my heart isn't the most welcoming place right now- it seems to be full of frustration, sadness, stress, loss, hopelessness, busy-ness, exhaustion and apathy.  I'm sure that Mary felt completely overwhelmed by her life circumstances, and yet here she is at the centre of God's entry into our world!  I'm sure the wise men were frustrated at how long and hard their journey was, but they kept going and kept searching for His presence.  The shepherds came to seek, despite much fear and trembling, and I'm sure they had a hard time trusting what the angels told them.  If I truly want to give Him my heart then I have to do it even when I can't see Him, even when I can't feel His presence.  I need to keep seeking Him despite my own doubt and despair.  Maybe I can allow the Holy Spirit to be the star, guiding me to Him and helping me to trust, no matter how hard the journey is.

How can we give Him our hearts?  This Christmas, let's ask our God to find new ways to come into our hearts.  Let's let Him transform our holidays into a time of grace.  We can come to the stable seeking Him, asking His forgiveness for our failings and seeking the light of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Are we ready to receive the gifts He has for us- His peace, hope and endurance for our journey, and ultimately the eternal joy of heaven?  Let us seek Him and ask Him to be here with us, no matter what state our hearts are in.

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Posted by on in Life Issues

So we just had our 3rd child in August, and once again, life has taken on a whole new level of “Busy-ness”.  Again I am overwhelmed by the experience of bringing a new life into this world.

I had a lot of help - Curtis likes to joke about how useless he feels in the delivery room, wishing he could help more, wishing he could take the pain away.  I tell him, “Just wait, your time for helping will come once we get home with this one!”  We are blessed and humbled when we think of God allowing us to have these children, and that He trusts us with them!  The miracle of being pregnant is still amazing to me, especially after we struggled with infertility for several years before deciding to adopt, then started the adoption process, sent in all of our paperwork, and a week later found out that I was pregnant!  Alexandra was our first miracle, for more reasons than just thinking we couldn't have kids.  2 years later Lucas was our second miracle, and now Elliot brings that number up to 3.  After having a miscarriage after Lucas, it is even more striking to me how much of a miracle each of our children are.

I think we all have a responsibility and calling to bring life into this world.  This will obviously happen in very different ways, depending on our circumstances.  We had a glimpse of infertility, and the pain of realizing that we might never be able to have children was very difficult to bear.  We know many couples who can't have children and the struggle that they've been through in trying to deal with that reality.  We've seen some of them bring an amazing love and life into the world by adopting, and we've seen them find ways of being life-giving to the people around them.  There is a calling in all of our lives, every day, to bear life to those around us and to be life giving.  I often think of Mary, and how she literally brought Christ's life into the world, and how we need to look for opportunities to bring Christ's life into our world.

How can we do this?  Well I'm sure there are many theologians who have amazing writings about how we bring Christ into this world. I am not a theologian, which is obvious in so many ways. :)

I do, however, think that there are practical ways that we can each bring life into the world, so I would challenge each of you to think back on your day and try to come up with an example of how you brought forth life today.  When I think about my day, I see the mundane tasks of laundry, errands, diaper changes, feedings, brushing hair, brushing teeth, diaper changes, feedings, making lunches, packing snacks, diaper changes, feedings, dishes, sweeping... hmmm, don't see too much life there (nothing worth writing home about anyhow...).  But if I challenge myself to look deeper, and if I challenge myself to try a little harder to see the opportunities that God places before me, then I see life in my day.  I see how Lucas smiled and gave me a big hug after I changed his diaper.  I remember hearing “I wuff you mommy” when I put his sandals on to go out the door.  I remember that I did pause to kiss Alex on the forehead before she got on the school bus this morning, and how much it meant to Lucas to go stand outside with us to help Alex get on the bus.  These are small things.  But as Mother Teresa of Calcutta said “We can not do great things. We can only do little things with great love.”

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I would further this and say that the little things that we do can have the power to change our hearts, and to help us bring life to others.

“Lord, help us each to bring forth life, wherever you have called us to be today.  May we bear you in our hearts and love the people around us today, as you would have them be loved.  Make us open to hearing your call to bring your life into this world, especially when we feel dry and deserted.  Help us to see the ways that you bring life to our days - in the people around us, in our work, in our play, in our conversations.  We need your life in us Lord.  Amen.”

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Posted by on in Life Issues

Sometimes I find it hard to tell what I really need.

For example, a pregnant woman (who shall not be named) went to the store on Monday to get one thing.

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Easter is full of contrast.  The joyful exultation of praise on Palm Sunday next to the shouts of “Crucify Him” from the same mouths.  A kiss as a sign of betrayal.

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Posted by on in Life Issues

So, the other day I did something.

I'm sort of proud of it, sort of embarrassed by it, sort of humoured by it.

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I'm Julie Anne Hilton, and I'm honoured to have been asked to contribute to the St. Philip Neri Parish blog on our parish's website.  My response when Pat asked was “I hope I have something interesting to say...”.

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