09/14/14

“ Be Who You Are and Be That Well as a Testament to the Creator Who Made us”

God made us in His own image and likeness, but He loves us for what we become with His Image.  God is also truly creative.  He gave us personal gifts and distinct talents, and he sends us forth to mold and shape His likeness by these gifts and talents.  In gratitude surprise the Lord this day and become the masterpiece we are. It’s a wonderful way to say “thank You” for His love and concern.   Live today well!

09/8/14

“Earth is Crammed…”

We are assured from faith that God wants to communicate with us.  He does it in many ways.  My favorite is through a “small still voice.”   This whispering voice may offer encouragement, or some small consolations like “drops of water on a sponge,” writes St Ignatius.

God’s “small still voice” doesn’t come from a dark, far away “out there” place.  It comes from inside us; and it shows how we can be that wonderful gift called self!  St. Francis de Sales writes that this voice encourages us gently, to take the risks that can lead us to be “who we are and to be that well as a testament to the master craftsman who created us.”

Whatever our God given gifts and talents may be, they are our clues as to what God’s plan is for us.  Certainly, God provides differently to each of us.   The point is never to forget is that God does give and does it generously.  Gerard Manley Hopkins described it in this way: “For Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his.”

We have to stop, look and listen, for if we don’t, we will miss the clues and not see the signs.  But above all, we will be the people that Elizabeth Barrett Browning described in her poem:

 

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he, who sees, takes off his shoes—

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries”

 

We can do better than pick blackberries.  We can and should endeavor to listen to God’s “small still voice” and strive to climb mountains instead!

09/3/14

Bidding Farewell

Jonathan is nearing 79 years of age.   When he reminds his family that his time on this earth may be running out, they cut him off with a humorous remark.  “God doesn’t want you yet.” Or “You look too good and healthy for your age!”

Jonathan explains he isn’t saying this for self-pity or for compliments, rather he is simply preparing now, to let go more easily when his time to leave this earth does arrives.

Jonathan is on to something.  In life we are always saying “good bye” to something.  We bid farewell to our “hair” to  “our youthful energy” in running  a 10 K race and even our hearing!  Life helps us to let go whether we are ready or not.

When St Francis de Sales was asked “If you were told you are to die in the next minute what would you do?”  He simply responded. “Exactly what I am doing right now.”  In other words, stay focused on the present moment.  There is no better way to live or to die, for that matter, than to be doing well what we are doing in our present moment!

Jonathan is right in preparing.  He understands that living on earth means we are always approaching eternity.   This is why it is good practice every once in a while, to remind ourselves of this by “Living  today well!”

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.”