Friday, May 3, 2013

Michele's Story: Why I Fast for Marriage

In today's post, read about the powerful story of Michele's healing from grief and her passionate commitment  to the New Evangelization. Learn why Michele has joined the U.S. bishops' campaign of prayer and fasting for life, marriage, and religious liberty. This post is part of a year-long series about fasting. Read other posts here: Fasting and MarriageDay 1Day 2Day 3, and Vivian's Story.

1. Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Michele Coldiron. My husband, Ronn, and I were married in June 1977, more than 30 years ago! We have four children, three girls and a boy, as well as one 3-year-old grandchild. Our youngest daughter is a freshman at the Ohio State University. Our eldest child, a son, died at the age of 19 while a student at UC-Santa Barbara in 1998. Although I did not notice my emotional state in my struggle to present a loving face to the rest of the family, the following seven years were grinding me down slowly but surely, because of my strong feelings of guilt for our son's death. I consider his death a casualty of what Blessed John Paul called the "culture of death."

On October 7, 2004, I encountered Jesus Christ, who pulled me from my desert of pain and anguish, healed me physically and set me to work to help in the New Evangelization. Thanks be to God. I cried for the first time in years at 3 am, October 8. (Listen to Michele’s radio interview about her healing from grief through finding a new life in Christ here )

Eight years ago, I helped found the California Catholic Women's Forum, and became its executive director.  In one of its initiatives, CCWF presented a five-year series of discussion forums on Blessed John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity of Women). We also began filming a series of classes on what it means to be human being, based on the Theology of the Body and other works. The first class in the series is The Meaning of Love. We plan on filming The Meaning of Manhood in 2013.

CCWF also promotes the music of the Church. In 2010, we recorded Tota Pulchra , a CD of Marian songs. The following year, our singing group toured the three cathedrals of San Francisco Bay. We sang in San Jose in 2012 (click here  for a youtube video of the performance), and are planning concerts in Sacramento this fall and more.

We are currently expanding our outreach under a new name, Creative Catholic Works.  Our new web site is already under construction.

2. Why have you responded to the bishops’ Call to Prayer?

As someone who grew up in the 1960's and 70's, I witnessed attacks on authority at all levels of human interaction. Though the intent was often good, the outcome has too often been a slippery slope toward a radical individualism and hedonistic way of life, which will result neither in a healthy civil society, nor in leading individual souls to their true home in Heaven.

I feel that every Catholic who loves Christ and loves the Roman Catholic Church should heed the bishops' call to prayer! As I went through a period of time in my own "desert of pain and anguish", so has the Church been through a time of serious change and attack. But the times are not as dire as they may seem, if one's eyes are turned toward the source of hope, Jesus Christ.

In this unified effort of the bishops, it is a beautiful thing to see the hierarchy of the Church acting as one, reflecting the true teaching of the magisterium. The current attack on faith in the form of the HHS mandate is a deliberate attack with grave consequences for freedom of speech, and the freedom of association which is so much a part of the American fabric. Prayer is the most effective response. Prayer will do the most, for God desires us to reach out from our hearts in supplication, asking Him to help. (Read more of Michele’s thoughts on these topics here -- fortnight of prayer, definition of marriage, thoughts on the marriage mandate, contraception, overpopulation myth)

3. Why do you believe in the cause of life, marriage, and religious liberty?

Where would we be without life in the first place? Each of us was conceived and born. Each of us was a twinkle in God's eye before we ever became a twinkle in our parents' eyes! We are fallen mortals, and we rupture the fine cloth of history that God is eternally creating with almost every errant thought. But God is so patient, and He has an infinite number of designs He can weave as life moves through time.

In our struggle to reflect God, who is love, in our daily lives, we can rely on the sacraments that God gave us through Jesus, the Word made flesh, and His Advocate, the Holy Spirit. Marriage is the primordial sacrament. The union of a man and woman in matrimony is the closest we can get to replicating the self-giving love that is the Trinity. Man and woman come together and co-create new life in partnership with God. God's love is made visible for us through the sacrament of marriage. It is a beautiful and joyful duty to uphold this sacramental reality.

Moreover, our founding fathers held the Bible as the ultimate source of wisdom and created a government based on principles given to us by God and discernible through reason, as natural law. Thus, religious liberty, together with the whole Bill of Rights, is a reflection of God's life in our country, and not to be taken lightly. America was created as a country that believes in inalienable rights, endowed by Our Creator. Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These words are not just fine writing by Thomas Jefferson! They mean something, and that something is faith in the laws of nature and of nature's God. The attacks on religious freedom in recent years are growing in number but they can be overcome with prayer and fasting, mercy, and trust in the providence of God.

4. What do you believe that fasting and prayer can accomplish both in your spiritual life and in the world?

Fasting allows us to realize that we are mere mortals. It helps us realize our dependence on the gifts with which we are surrounded —air, water, food, shelter, clothing. All are gift. Prayer is the natural accompaniment to this realization. How grateful we become to Him from whom these gifts flow!

Prayer is primarily a method of thanking our Creator for being alive, and for giving us the opportunity to work in his vineyard. It is an opportunity for us to request the tools we will need in our work. It is an occasion for us to ask forgiveness for those times we have not worked our hardest as tillers in the field of faith. And finally, it is an occasion for us to bow our heads in collective wonderment and adoration of the power of Almighty God, who chose to come to earth as a mere man, in order to lead us, like the Good Shepherd He is, to the Father's mansion.

5. Can you mention any examples of other friends, family, or fellow parishioners who are also answering the bishops’ call?

The biggest proponent of the bishops' call that I know of in my area is Our Lady of Peace Shrine and Parish in Santa Clara, CA. In addition to having a speaker for every night except Sundays for the Fortnight of Prayer (June 21 – July 4, 2012) as requested by the US Conference of bishops, Our Lady of Peace is now hosting a yearlong study of the documents of Vatican II, as part of this Year of Faith. I recently led a discussion at the parish on Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, a most important document of Vatican II.

6. Have you seen any positive results in your own life or elsewhere because of the Call to Prayer?

I have noticed that being called to prayer by someone other than my own inadequate self has tended to make me more consistent in my prayer life. It is difficult to make pacts with yourself on how and when to pray—things always seem to "come up..." However, when the call is from someone else, particularly from our spiritual shepherds, then the desire to participate is more intense and more likely to bear fruit.

7. What is the top reason you think that other people should answer the bishops’ call?

God calls us to pray. God calls us through his shepherds, the bishops. If one reads the Bible, one notices quickly how often disaster has been averted through intense prayer on the part of the people of God. In our society, which can be so comfortable and in which it can be so easy to forget God is there and that He is holding existence in the palm of His hand, it is even more important to join with our Biblical brothers and sisters, part of those who comprise the Communion of Saints, including the martyrs such as St. Thomas More, St. Edith Stein, St. Maximilien Kolbe, and the saints of the Cristeros war in Mexico. I could go on and on.

God wants us to pray. That is why we should answer the Bishops' call, first and foremost.

CCWF members attending a discussion about St. Edith Stein and JPII

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