08/31/14

Love Has Marvelous Powers

St. John of the Cross once wrote “where there is no love, put love and you will draw love out.”  This is so true for Beth and Joel.

Beth is totally in love with Joel.  Beth puts her life on hold each time Joel needs her.  Beth loves to be with Joel, and even when nothing is said, she knows she is loved deeply in return.

Their love has no boundaries.  It is simply unconditional.  Love is a smile, a kind word of encouragement, a slight touch as they pass one another or a few moments of listening to show they care.  Their love “draws out love from one another” in simple everyday actions and gestures.  It calls them to be more than they are at any given moment.

When Joel wakes everyday, and looks at Beth at his side he is filled with a warm, gratefulness to God.  They feel better about themselves just to be in the same room with each other.  What did they ever do to deserve such joy and delight?

Jesus always put love in places where it was needed too.  One example was His kindnesses to Mary Magdalene which produced one of Jesus’ closest friends.  Another was inviting himself to dinner with Zaccheus which enabled Zaccheus to make his enemies–his new friends.  Jesus showed us that loving another has amazing healing and sealing powers.

Joel and Beth discovered this.  It binds their union.  And their gratitude binds their union with God.  St John of the cross is spot on.

Love draws love out!  Try it today and every day!

08/27/14

Hope in Loss

Recently while attending a funeral liturgy, I was struck by this contrast. The world outside the Church was going about life as usual. People were rushing to catch the metro to be on time for work; some were reading newspapers–getting caught up on the latest war casualties; colleges and universities were welcoming incoming freshman; and everyone else was simply doing what they normally do. It was just a routine, ordinary day.

However in this quiet, sacred place, we chanted ancient prayers, and knelt before our God. We prayed to God, who for some, seemed distant and disconnected from all this hubbub. Yet to us in our pews, we knew our God was real and very much connected.

Faith tells us how ever close, ever caring and ever consoling– especially at this precious moment of pain and mystery–God truly is! In listening to the meaningful words of our Scriptures: “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God and no torment will ever touch them.” Once again, this truth came alive for us!

We felt our healing already beginning. From these words we knew our deceased loved one was in good hands, and that God would take care of him. We were comforted to know truly that our loved one would be protected by God for all eternity in the safety and security of these “hands of God.”

It reminded us of why our loved one was created in the first place. God made him, as he made all of us, to love and to live eternally with Him.

How could this be any other kind of a day except special? Jesus’ words from the Gospel confirmed this even more when he said: “I am the resurrection and the life and those who believe in me will live forever.” And because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that our loved one would too. But there is more! So will we!

For us kneeling in that sacred place this day, Jesus took the “sting” from death. In its place, Jesus added a better ending- a superb ending- One day we will all be together again. Yes, it was no ordinary day. It was a fantastic day! Hope in Jesus healed the loss.

08/24/14

The Ease in Following

When Jesus calls us to himself, He first of all accepts us for who we are.  He loves us, embraces and makes us His friends, but mostly Jesus listens.  He hears our fears, our hesitations, our doubts and then, in His constant gentle way: He whispers–”Be more!”  “Be more!”  Two small words, and yet they hold so many possibilities.  Jesus can see deep within us.  And He wants us to see them too!

Jesus knows that a subtle change here, or a turn there, can set our life on a happier course and in a more satisfying direction.  Yet, Jesus does it by patient nudging.  He presents the gifts of joy, peace and love that await us just around the corner and then invites us to choose.

Jesus knows our life is never a dead end if we choose to make a turn.  Jesus knows this and urges us to do it.

Today as we navigate through our pathways ask Jesus to help with his grace to make that needed turn.

08/21/14

Tourist or Pilgram?

I can remember gazing speechless at the overpowering view of the Grand Canyon. It was a portrait of depth, colors, shapes and endless distance.

Suddenly the silence around me was broken by a couple who noisily pushed their way to the railing. They set up two different cameras plus a video cam. They posed for pictures alone and then together. Eight minutes later they were gone. As he packed away his gear I heard him say, “Come on, Sally! We’ve got it on camera. Let’s go.”

Right then and there I knew I had met tourists. They move through life on a tight

schedule. They gather snapshots, postcards and mementos, store them in albums and then store them in trunks and then talk about what has passed.

The Lord has invited us to walk with Him not as tourists, but rather as pilgrims. Pilgrims savor each moment. Each step is important because the Lord walks with us. He speaks to us out of where we are right now. He doesn’t wait.

As pilgrims of the Lord, we travel our particular road with Him. We become who we are with each success, each crisis and each choice. Our holiness lies on this “well traveled road.”

We don’t need to rush forward to the next stop or to look back to wonder what was missed. Pilgrims yearn to discover meaning and understanding in embracing the time at hand. St. Francis de Sales touches this same point:

“If you want to recover lost time, do your best in the time that still remains.”

With hope we look to our present time as a special gift from God. It is sacred because God’s love is there and our ability to share this love is in this “time that still remains.”

08/17/14

JESUS REACHES OUT TO THE PEOPLE WE MEET ON A DAILY BASIS

Here’s a lovely quote to think about today.  It is from a Gabriel Bossis,  a spiritual writer.  She relates how Jesus spoke to her one day during her prayer time.  He said “You were touched when you read I was in the gospels hidden in the sacrament of the word. But how much more I am present in the sacrament of human life.”

Jesus continued. “Look for me everywhere. I’ll let myself be captured with such joy! And when you have found me, give me to others. There are people I am waiting to reach only through you.”

This quote I share because it sums up quite beautifully why we need” to live each day well”.   Jesus is telling us how important we are to Him, and how through our daily, ordinary, routine schedules, Jesus encounters people He needs to meet.  People he says, “ I am waiting to reach only through you.”

However we have to keep in mind one important factor.  Only Jesus knows who these people are.  Therefore we have the obligation to be nice to everyone we meet in our day. Jesus trusts us to help him this very day!  Are we ready for the task?

08/14/14

Pope Francis Doesn’t Like Sourpusses!

In his  exhortation  “The joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis asks to smile more and frown less.  He encourages us to remember we are “post resurrection people.”  This simply means we live in the  “promise fulfilled” era of time.  We have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who died and rose again-and so will we!

And now we  are sent to share this” promised fulfilled”.  This is the joy of the Gospel-the Good News we all need to hear loud and strong every day.  But even more so in these times of war, epidemics, hurricanes and other terrible happenings.  We bear the joy that God still cares.

In “ Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis writes  “what stifles boldness and zeal is defeatism,” which he says turns us into “disillusioned pessimists and sourpusses.”

And Pope Francis is showing us how.  He refuses to be deterred by  disheartening headlines, and instead models a different way -taking to the streets and making a difference. He asks that we smile more, and  not just on our  faces,  but from our hearts.

And in the face of  pessimism, he asks that we  love. And he shows us how to do it.  He loves babies, hugs the marginalized, and  smiles and encourages the disenchanted. He is a beacon of light  dismissing any darkness he finds.  A reporter wrote in Time Magazine  “ecumenical audiences have shown a hunger to follow him”   Are we in this audience?

We will all do well to follow his lead,  Today  go out into the streets and show your joy.   It can dispel the darkness too!

 

08/10/14

WHY KINDNESS IS SO IMPORTANT?

“Never second guess the power of a kind word or action,” reminded my Mother when I was reluctant to write a thank you note for a wonderful birthday present.

Well, I wrote it then and have ever since.  And my Mother’s words have become a great maxim to practice every day.   We should never, ever second guess the power of kindness in any shape or form.  St Francis de Sales says it another way: “ If we err, do so on the side of gentleness.”

Both my Mother’s words and St. Francis de Sales say we don’t have to yell, stamp our feet or swing our arms wildly in the air to get things done.   Instead they suggest we stop and look into the other person’s eyes and see ourselves.

We all can become cranky at times or even mean if pushed, but even in these times we are always loved the same by Jesus.  He doesn’t measure us by our weakness, but only the image from which we are created.

Each day then, smile at another, hold doors if we can, greet others when entering a room, and be courteous on the road.  And above all, write “Thank You” notes.

For the power of these small acts will pour the great power of God’s love abundantly into our present moment. And we will truly “have a nice day.”

 

08/6/14

Hiding In Your Blessings: A Ritual For Self Renewal Part II

3. Hide in the blessings of why I am here in the first place.

Here is a simple answer because God wanted me here to help carry out his mission. God has blessed me with gifts and talents that no one else has.That’s my special Blessing unique to me. And it is incredible to behold.

But underneath. God has also blessed me as he has blessed everyone around me with a “sacred underneath”  “we are all made in His image and Likeness.”

Now with these two blessings interwoven I live my life doubly blessed, to do this mission God has invited to share with him

In living this calling I build the kingdom entrusted to me.  It is my part of the Body of Christ.  When I do what I am sent to do, I complete redemption and become holy.  Wow! That’s a blessing to hide in for sure.

Think about this. And what a blessing it is. Great big God. Enormous God.  Who has a desk full of stuff to do.  Who receives requests from all over the created world.  This great big God who is everywhere all the time.   Wants me! Encourages me! Even though he knows my silliness, spills and stumbles. He still blesses me with my life to help him. We can certainly hide in a blessing like this.    This kind of blessing is like a big, fluffy  comforter we pull up to our chins on a damp, chilly day and feel and allow its warmth and coziness to fall all over.   If this thought is not a blessing to hide in I don’t know what is!

Pope Francis spoke to our uniqueness and our common identity in God when he said recently

I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if vices, drugs or anything else destroys it—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”- Pope Francis, interview with La Civilta Cattolica   Sept. 30, 2013

4. Hide in the Blessing of knowing we have a Compassionate and Caring God.

Hide in a blessing of a God who knows all about our sorrows and losses.

Jesus showed us a life and mission of suffering service.  He bent over and washed feet and liked it so much he asks each and every one of us who follows to learn to do the same. “Go and do likewise”

When Jesus saw pain whether it be the external sores or the inner feelings of isolation of a leper;  the weeping widow who’s only son passed away; or  the sadness of the young man who because of his many riches walked away from Jesus instead of towards him, Jesus felt the pain of all.  They needed his gift “life to the fullest.”

Jesus, the incarnate God, showed us He knew about broken hearts, broken dreams, even the rejection of watching  the Jewish people walk away from his message.  Jesus human side never shrunk from the internal pain or the hardship of following his Father’s agenda. He kept his sights on going to Jerusalem and dying,  so that we can one day go home to His Father.  Jesus showed God’s love in spite of the sadness it held within. This is our God today.  This is our great blessing that we have a God who knows the deep feelings of the loss of a dear one, or the helplessness we feel when  we cannot help someone , who has to suffer alone.

We are blessed with such a God.  In our times of sorrow and loss, pain or grief we can hide in this blessing. Our God understands and wants to help get us  through our pain.

That’s a wonderful  blessing to have a God who walks among us-and understands.  Simply said, God resonates with our pain.  He doesn’t like pain. He would never inflict pain on us.  This is not our God’s way.

But when pain arrives,  and it does, and it often lingers, our God still takes pity, still showers his compassion on our wounds.  He does this  no matter where these wounds are, the legs or  the heart, Jesus “takes pity,”  and tries to correct it. Who cannot hide in this great blessing of having a  loving merciful God who understands?

5. Hide in our blessing of faith, our great gift from God.

Faith is a blessing, which sees our everyday life with a different focus. We see our world through Jesus’ words, His promises and love for us.  Faith brings close that far reaching horizon we cannot see and whispers, those ever present words like “salvation, freedom, forgiveness, begin again, ” all ingredients of God’s love.

When we hide in our blessing of faith we bring light to the dark corners of our world, and moods, brightening them with the hopeful attitude inspired by God’s unstoppable love.   It is a always good to hide in our blessing of faith.

Faith also shows how patient God is when it comes to the progress of our conversion journey.  Romano Guardini writes “God responds to our weakness with His patience and this is the reason for our confidence and hope.”  Thank God for this patience!

As we travel our lives, we ebb and flow with good times and our not so good times,   God loves us nonetheless and waits for conversion moments.  What God is so good about is that he is patient with all the twists and turns, the trip us, the drama of our many conversion moments.  He doesn’t rush u through, but simply waits , and walks to our pace.

Why?  God sees always the big picture of our journey,  and doesn’t measure us by our last mistake.  He keeps the whole journey before him.  He knows where we are heading,  and with each step in that direction he rejoices.

But God also realizes that it is a slow process.  We take two steps,  and slide back five.   However patient God simply walks with us applauding when we get it right,  and urging us forward when we lag.  He doesn’t give up, nor should we.  God blesses us with his patience.  Why would we not Hide in our blessing of faith, our great gift from God?

These are  wonderful gift of God’s blessings.  And there are many more you can find if you searched your own journey.  Our basket of blessings overflows and each day new blessings are added.  They are there for our use.  Find them and use them.  With each blessing remembered and used our joy increases for it brings God nearer.

God’ hands , heart, feet and fingers are all revealed through his blessings.  Find time on your   journey to   “Hide in our Blessings. ” For in these hidden quiet  moments, we can watch God’s abundance  sparkle.

 

Count your blessings name them one by one

Count your blessings see what God hath done

Count you blessings name them one by one

Count your many blessings, see what God hath done

                                                                Rock Bottom Blessings Karen Beattie (old church hymn)

 
08/3/14

Hiding In Your Blessings: A Ritual For Self Renewal

While students in grade school, we mastered the complexities of our Catholic faith, under Sister Basiliana’s guidance:  like three persons, in one God.   We asked, “Sister how does this work?  Do they sit on each other’s lap?   Are they all like Siamese twins?  And other deep questions.  Sister, unshaken by any and all responses, simply answered, “It’s a mystery” and added “when Father visits class on Friday he will explain it. “   When Friday came, we respectfully presented father   our dilemma. “How is there three persons in one God?” we asked.   And just as confidently as Sister’s reply Father answered, “It’s a mystery.” And that was that.  Life and faith seemed very uncomplicated then

But as our life goes on and “good things and ugly things happen” that simple answer,  “it’s a mystery “ just doesn’t cut it for us.  We need more to bolster our belief when we hit “rough spots” on the journey.

One way we can do this is to find how this mysterious Trinity, this God of mystery, actually does act and show his face in our lives.  And this is in the realm of blessings.   The curtain of mystery falls away when we see His love in action and how God’s love actually blesses.  And then , we make time on our journey to   “Hide in our Blessings” For in these hidden moments,  our blessings shower away grim and show the glimpses of God’s abundant blessings.

In these few reflections I want to  offer “blessing moments”  we can all share, and hide away from the clatter of our lives.  And in these quiet times become refreshed, renewed and reinvigorated.

1. Hide in the blessing of knowing we are created to be God’s companions!

God wants us near Him.  A long time ago God built a garden for His companions God wanted to delight them with His generosity and gifts.  It was a wonderful garden where God would come to be near his companions whenever He wanted.

However He saved a special part of the day. It was God’s favorite time when God walked with his companions, Adam and Even  “in the cool of the evening.”  God came to their space; their home rather than having them pursue Him.  It was just a relaxing, comfortable time of sharing among friends.  This was the first form of prayer.

And naked Adam and Eve were comfortable with who they were and what they were.  They had nothing to hide.  This was authenticity to the “nth” degree.   Later when their sin broke off the intimacy of this relationship, God never walked away from wanting companions in His life. This is where we, you and me,  enter into God’s long life.  What a blessing we are to God.  And He longs for us and he hopes we long for Him still.   True our hearts are restless until we rest with Him, but true too  God is restless waiting for us in a new  “cool of the evening.”

Having such a God has to bathe us in feelings of awe, humility, transformation.  It fills us with the warmest of blessings.  Who could not hide in such a place?

Hide in the blessing of knowing you are created as God’s companion!

 

2.   Hide in our past blessings to live a difficult present moment.

Salesian living loves the present moment.  We see it as a “pearl of great price” and “who in finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  One pearl of a moment is worth unearthing for all the treasure that is buried within. We are encouraged to extract the holiness it brings.  One way we can help a difficult present moment be a pearl of great price is to use past blessings

We go back and select memories that infuse vigor, hope, and all the brightness we need. From these past blessings we take these next few steps of our journey more easily.

These happy past memories can be a delight even when we have them no longer.  E.g. Christmas holidays as a child.  Thanksgiving dinner with family gathered.  Past birthday parties with singing and presents or faces and phrases of friends and relatives, they  are all blessing moments .  When recalled each infuses “happiness points” like a smile, which wipes away a tear or word remembered, they lift our head to help us move forward. These are all good blessings which see this moment as the “pearl’ it is.

God has blessed us then and God blesses us now with its memory.  God takes care of and gives us what we need.  I repeat again past blessings stay “good blessings” even though past.  So I suggest Hide in our past blessings to live a difficult present moment!

07/30/14

Quality Time

Do you enjoy quality time? This is the name we give to moments spent enjoying the company of family and friends.

Do you treasure quality time above all other kinds of time?

How often do we get caught up in “doing” that we forget to relax in high quality company?

Maybe we need to reset our schedule to include getting in touch with an old friend, a distant family member, or find time to listen to our children, hold our spouse’s hand.

Quality time can even mean taking some time for prayer—not just the worship or asking kind, but simply relaxing in God’s Presence, and saying not a single word. St. Francis de Sales encourages quality time when he writes: “We must neither ask for anything nor refuse anything, but leave ourselves in the arms of Divine Providence, without busying ourselves with any desires, except what God wills of us.”

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 1:35

In the morning, while it was still very dark, He got up and went out to a desert place and there He prayed.