Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Homecoming

Did you go “home” for Christmas? Or did someone come “home” for Christmas? How does coming Home or “having them home” make us feel as parents, or as children?

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Lk 2:41-52

Think about how Mary must have felt when Jesus got lost in the temple at His presentation and then how she felt when she and Joseph found him listening and talking to the priests. Think about how Jesus must feel each time when we come home to Him.

There is so much said about taking “Christ” out of Christmas. But what about when we take the “mas” (Mass) out of Christmas. And what about those that only find the need to seek out Christ once or twice a year at Christmas and Easter? How much of that “homecoming” are they missing, and how much “hope” does Jesus find each time we “come” to see or find Him as Mary did?

The traditions within the Mass are much the same as the traditions within a home. In both, we ask for forgiveness, listen to the advice and wisdom of our parents/Father, break and share bread and give Thanksgiving for our blessings. No matter when we go to Mass (or home), no matter what our state of “grace” is or how we look or feel when we get there (Home or Mass), when I leave I feel like I have been “held,” given “hope,” “loved,” “nourished,” and “blessed.” “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” 2 Thes 2:15

It is my hope that you have all experienced these same feelings and were able to spend time with both God and family this Christmas. And if you have not yet had the chance to experience those feelings at your “family Home” for some reason, that you will continue to join us at worship, because Jesus is always present with loving arms to give us a Christmas Homecoming whenever we join with Him and are in his presence with our Christian family.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

It is not by chance that we celebrate Christmas and then Easter every year. The constant turning of the calendar and reminders of Jesus in each season also serves to remind us that Christ was sent by God’s grace to offer us forgiveness so that we might have the Peace and Joy of eternal life.

“Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Mt 1:18-25

So in the JOY of the season, please ask for FORGIVENESS from those you love. LOVE unconditionally, the way you want to be loved. Do not be afraid, but ask Jesus to offer you HOPE. REJOICE in the “Presence” of Christ in your life. And let Christ’s PEACE fill your life.

Wishing you a heartfelt Christmas message of HOPE, FORGIVENESS, LOVE, JOY and PEACE!

Monday, December 21, 2009

With God Anything is Possible!

Merry Christmas:

A Season for Miracles—One of my favorite things to do while getting ready for Christmas is to watch the Hallmark channel. Yesterday I saw one of my favorite scenes during the movie “A Season for Miracles.” The woman had just broken the trust of most of the townspeople where she had moved, including the man who had fallen in love with her. The scene is where the man is commiserating with a bartender, who was really an angel. The bartender/angel asked him, “What do you think about her actions?” His reply, “She made a mistake.” The bartender/angels reply, “Forgive her!” His: “I wish it were that easy.”

Then the angel reminded him, “What, you’ve never made a mistake? All of us make our own mistakes, in our own ways. But the solution is always the same—‘I forgive you!’ There’s a lot of power in those three simple words. They can change the world.”
Then he said, “I wish it were possible.” And the angel replied, “With God, anything is possible.”

“Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Lk 1:39-45

The birth of Jesus was a miracle, as was Elizabeth’s pregnancy in her “old age.” Do we believe that whatever the Lord says will be fulfilled? That all things are possible with God?

This is the same message Deacon Joe brought to us from Pope Benedicts messages this week: “With God All things are Possible.“

He also talked about the limits we put on our relationship with God and ultimately on our relationships with our spouses, family and friends. We put “limits” on our forgiveness, on our love, and on God’s power in our lives. We say we “believe” or that we “love” and yet we limit that love, by being selfish, by expecting forgiveness for our own mistakes, and yet not forgiving the mistakes of our loved ones. We expect our spouses to be unselfish, even when we are being selfish ourselves. We set “limits” on ourselves while having greater “expectations” of others. We stop short of truly forgiving, trusting, and unselfishly answering God’s call to love each other as He loved us.

Do we expect more of our spouses, our children or our friends than they know or are able to give? Do we give as much as we expect them to give? Are we willing to accept our spouse’s shortcomings? Why is it that we can forgive our children over and over, yet we are unwilling to forgive our spouse more than once? Do we recognize when the people we love are trying their hardest, and do we still ask for or want more? Is this the same thing we are asking of God, for Him to forgive us, yet we are unwilling to forgive others?

Are we setting limits on the possibilities God has for our lives.
What would have happened if Mary had not accepted her role as a wife and as the Mother of God? What would have happened if Mary had said “no” to God, or set limits on Jesus’ birth and place in her life?

So just like the Hallmark show, Jesus comes to us this week, in the Christmas story of love, humility and poverty to teach us to forgive without limit. If we truly give our lives to Him, if we truly forgive and ask for forgiveness, All Things Are Possible!

Wishing you A Season of Miracles. May God’s Blessings in Your Life this Christmas Season be Limitless.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Women of Faith:

I have always loved “pink Sunday” in the timeframe of the Advent wreath—When I read Sunday’s readings, it didn’t take me long to figure out why—what joyful readings of
Hope for the Christmas season! “Rejoice, Rejoice, again I say Rejoice.”

I have listened to several Christian radio and TV shows this week, all with messages which revolve around our expectations of love. “God is Truth; Love is Forgiveness; Happiness is in Giving; Love is Sacrifice; God is Love; Do Not Worry, be not afraid; and Trust in the Lord.”

As I reflected on these simple messages I wondered why we try to make our lives so complicated, when God’s message is so simple.

Zep 3:14-18a says: “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you he has turned away your enemies; (1) the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. (2) On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! (3) The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, (4) he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.”

“Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. (5) The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (6) Phil 4:4-7 (Parentheses’ () and italics/bold added.)
The messages of “pink Sunday” summarize an uncomplicated life, a life without worry, a life without expectation and yet a time of great anticipation and rejoicing for the coming of Christ more fully into our lives:

1) The Lord has forgiven us—we must also forgive and ask forgiveness of those we love.

2) The Lord is in our midst—we have nothing to fear; we should not worry or be anxious, but should look forward to His coming with expectation and anticipation. We should rejoice!

3) Fear not, do not be discouraged—Rejoice!

4) Be renewed by Christ’s love, by His forgiveness, by His rejoicing.

5) Fear not—In Prayer, Ask God, Give Thanks

6) Then we will receive Peace—Peace that surpasses everything because we will be protected by Christ Jesus.

What do we seek? What are our Expectations, Anticipations of our God?

Happiness? Happiness is in Giving as Christ gave to us: In His Presence, not His Presents, in unselfishly giving to others. I often wonder if we, as parents, remember this ourselves when we teach it to our children who seem to so instinctively know it. What happens to us as adults that we want someone/everyone to give us something of themselves, yet we are not willing to give anything/ everything of ourselves, as Jesus gave to us on the cross. Or because we don’t receive anything in return, we want to quit giving.

Love? The cross shows us how we must Love, with the ultimate sacrifice. God did not have any expectations of us when He asked Jesus to die for us. He gave us His son, and Jesus died for us. Do we die for each other, would we give our lives for those we love, for our neighbor, even for our enemies, as Jesus did for us?

Forgiveness? The ultimate forgiveness was given to us by Jesus on the cross, and is given to us in the sacrament of reconciliation. Do we accept the graces that God makes available to us, by coming to him with our failures and ask for forgiveness?
Do we forgive those who love us when they tell us they are sorry for the hurt they have caused? Once again, God did not “expect” anything in return for His forgiveness. Do we forgive, without expectations?

Peace? God promises freedom from worry and fear when we turn to him and ask him for his protection. Can we expect “peace in the world” if we cannot give our love and forgiveness unconditionally to those in our own families regardless of what we are given in return?

REJOICE! REJOICE! Christ is in our midst. Let us seek His Simple Truth with Joy in Expectation and Anticipation of His Birth this Christmas.

Rejoice as you ready Your Christmas Expectations!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Prepare Ye the Way

I don’t know what there is about the simple verse “Prepare Ye the Way” but it has always been one of those STOP verses. One that pulls me back and says there is something more important, something other than shopping, decorating, or baking and getting ready for a materialistic Christmas.

Maybe that is why I am so looking forward to this Christmas. Our family and extended family have agreed to “no presents” but lots of “presence.” And I’m working on simplifying the decorating. The baking…well that’s my relaxation and I learned many years ago that the only person that knew if I didn’t get something made on the list was me, so…

I am working on preparing the way with more thought and time for God, by truly making Jesus the Reason for each of my preparations: by celebrating God’s glory; giving prayer and scripture priority, rather than leftover time; and looking at satisfying my “shopping” urge by focusing on charities and friends who actually need my time and/or generosity.

Sunday’s readings each speak of preparing the way for Christ in our life. We are to prepare by giving God glory, by rejoicing, and by celebrating in prayer, by searching for His enlightenment and by opening our heart to be filled with a pure love and righteousness for Him. Bar 5:1-9 speaks of putting on the splendor of glory.
Phil 1:4-6, 8-11 says: “And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”

And John the Baptist, making way for Jesus: “John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord,make straight his paths .Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Lk 3:1-6

Father made the illustration of what is in our lives with three gifts: a pretty wrapping filled with garbage; an empty gift bag, or the plain bag filled with his favorite cookies. What “gifts” do we offer Jesus with our lives? Is our life “full of junk,” “empty,” or “sweet?” Is our gift “open” at the top, ready to be filled with God’s love and grace?

If we are like the “bag of junk” filled with selfish desires, greed and impurities and dressed excessively, looking good for the world; than are we willing to accept God’s greatest gift—God’s forgiveness and a chance to start anew.

Or are we empty—unwilling or not knowing what we are searching for to fill our lives. Trying to please a person or ourselves rather than God? Are we looking in the right place—upwards—to fill our life?

Or are we mixing the “sweets” with “the junk” and would we eat a sweet mixed in with the egg shells and banana peels? What is the “junk” in our lives that we need to throw away because it is “ripe?”

Let us “Prepare Ye the Way” by opening our hearts in love with hope and faith, setting ourselves on a straight and narrow path, and by getting the junk out of our life. Help me to be enlightened by what is of true value. Help me to remember “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”—that He is waiting for us to open the gifts of our life and our hearts to Him. Help me to be filled with His grace and spirit, through prayer and His word. And let our traditions mirror the true tradition of Christmas—family and gifts given in purity, with unworldly love, those of our “presence,” time, and charity.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Begin Anew

Sunday was the beginning of Advent and the beginning of a new church year. It is a time to begin anew. To make a new commitment to make the changes necessary to more fully live our lives according to God’s instructions as we wait in anticipation of Jesus’ birth.

The bible is a living story which teaches us how to live our own lives. We are each living our own life story, but are we living it according to Jesus’ teachings? As our priest said, “all of our yesterdays were the prologue, anything we do today not only will affect tomorrow, but could change our outlook on what yesterday was.” It’s kind of like looking back on each moment, the happy times and the suffering times and to be able to see the blessings and purposes for those times. Will we have lived those times according to God’s commands? And how can we change our choices today to make those moments “learning moments.”

The reason for the season, the beginning of the new liturgical year, gives us the opportunity to take advantage of Jesus’ coming to live and die for us. We can take advantage of Christ’s death on the cross, if we start anew today and choose to live for him, to serve for him, and to obey him. He tells us to live this way: “Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God and as you are conducting yourselves -you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.” 1 Thes 3:12-4:2

We are also instructed to “not grow weary” to be vigilant and always watchful: In other words, to not give in to life’s anxieties and the demands and temptations of the world. (Or like children staying awake to wait for Santa’s arrival on Christmas eve.) “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

What part of my life would I like to “start anew?” Is it my relationship, or an attitude, toward God, my spouse, my children, my parents, or a friend? Have I become complacent in putting God first in my life? Am I praying for the strength to escape the tribulations (and temptations) of my earthly life? Am I taking time each day to pray or to attend mass or have I fallen asleep in my faith journey? Will I wake up, get ready, and be watchful and ready for Jesus’ arrival?

With hope, let us begin anew to make the choices God is calling us to make, so that we may stand before the Son of Man having shown each other abundant love with hearts of holiness, never to grow weary, and always to be ready for his coming. Amen.

Blessings, Charlotte

Monday, November 23, 2009

Give Thanks

Sunday’s readings for the feast of Christ the King serve to remind us that Jesus Christ is the King for all nations and all people( Daniel 7:13-14) and that his role here on earth was not to be king of the earth, but the king of heaven—an eternal kingdom of peace, justice and love.

“When Jesus affirms that His whole purpose is to testify to the truth, Pilate cynically asks, "What is Truth?" May those words serve to melt all pessimism, doubt and despair about the ultimate triumph of good over evil, and of the effectiveness of our witness through prayer and suffering, as we struggle to live the Truth that the "Pilates" of our day so freely reject!” USCCB Meditation on John 18:33b-37

God tells us that his Truth will triumph over evil and that our witness of the Truth thru prayer and suffering will gain us the eternal kingdom. How would the division between our families and churches look to the people in Daniel and John’s time?

Would they see us as all being of the same kingdom, following the truth that Jesus Christ spoke, or would we be seen as “political” kingdoms following politics and ideals of a human nature instead of Jesus’ teachings?

What about the “truths” being taught in our schools and homes—do we tell our children one thing and live our own lives differently? Are we speaking and teaching the truths of the commandments? Do our children hear and see the truth of God’s teachings, or do they see laws being made which “legalize” the politics of the day (legal abortion, legal living together without marriage, legal gay marriage, legal divorce, or an everyone does that/“me” attitude)? It gives me hope to know that God will ultimately conquer with good over evil in the light of our current political and moral decay.

The past weeks Christian radio programming has focused on “Thanksgiving.”

So here is an “unordinary” list of Thanks—I hope you all have your own “lists” to add not only on Thanksgiving Day, but on every other day for all that God has given us.

Dear God, Thank you for giving us your son here on earth to teach us the truths, to live and die for us.

Thank you for dying on the cross so that we may be forgiven for all of our “human” interpretations, errors, actions, hypocrisies, and misunderstandings of your truth.

Thank you for giving us the sacrament of marriage to teach us how to be unselfish and to depend on our faith in you.

Thank you for the sufferings in my life that have brought you nearer to me and my family.

Thank you for teaching me to pray so that I can give you my burdens.

Thank you for putting me in a place here on earth where I am not prosecuted for speaking your name, but have the ability to spread your word/truth by my actions and speech.

Thank you for giving us friends who share our values/your truths and who are willing to inspire us with their wisdom.

Thank you for giving me comfort when I am lonely or sad, hope when I am discouraged and peace when I am worried.

Thank you for parents, grandparents and great grandparents (those older than us) who teach us love, perseverance and courage from days past.

Thank you for the hugs, smiles, and innocence of children and grandchildren, our own and those that are shared with us, for they are God’s greatest blessings and our future.

Thank you for the ability to share my bounty: time, talent and treasures, with those less fortunate.

Thank you for every moment here on earth I am given to spend with my loved ones.

Thank you for the time I was allowed to spend with the loved ones that have gone before me.

Thank you for giving me hope in the Word that by living as your servant and following your Truth I will reach your eternal kingdom in heaven. Amen.

Blessings and Thanks for Your Friendship—

Sunday, November 8, 2009

One Day at a Time

We have all heard the saying “just take it one day at a time.” Most commonly it is heard along with the 12 step process for drug and alcohol addictions and for mental illness. But how does that apply to the rest of us who may not suffer from those particular illnesses and the way we live our lives for God?

It had been a while since I read all Twelve Steps—although they are often quoted in books in some manner or another. As I read them again I realized how central our faith in God is in helping us take every day one day at a time. Steps #1/2/3 are to admit I am powerless, to believe in a higher power/God and turn my life over to God; #5 is forgiveness from God and others; #6/7 are to ask God for help to change and steps #11/12 are to search for God thru prayer and to carry out God’s message in each of our daily tasks. step- program #Twelve_Steps

I am thinking that is how we should all live, illness or not…. Admit I am powerless without God, ask forgiveness and change my “sinful ways, to search for God in prayer and carry God’s message in my daily life. To not worry about either what happened yesterday that I cannot change, or tomorrow when God may change it thru prayer for me.

In searching the internet for “one day at a time” the following list popped up: The most useless thing to do, worry (not giving up our life to God); the greatest channel of communication, prayer; the greatest joy, giving; the most powerful force in life, Love (originated by God, and God’s most important command to us); the greatest asset, faith; the most satisfying work, service to others (God’s asking of us to be like Christ, to serve). Once again, I am sure the author did not realize that what he/she was writing was focused not on something “worldly,” but on our lives serving and imitating God.

Last week Father made mention that it’s the littlest things that often make the biggest difference in our lives. Everything from a kind word, a hug, a helping hand, an extra prayer, or even a small gift—none of them necessarily take a lot of our time, require any significant amount of planning or preparation, but given unconditionally can make all the difference in the world to someone who is struggling in health, sorrow, pain, guilt, or a worry that we don’t even know about. Likewise it might be the smallest moment in time, which has the biggest impact on someone we meet.

Today’s readings1 Kgs 17:10-16 and Mk 12:41-44 were about the widows who gave their last food and small amount of money to help Elijah and the poor. Once again it was the small thing that made the most difference and had impact on Jesus. And the widow who gave her last bit of food, trusted in God, to take one day at a time and God rewarded her with the entire year’s supply, and Jesus ultimately raised her son from the dead. They did not worry about tomorrow, but served God today. Are we hoarding our belongings or talents or sharing them and letting God take care of us “one day at a time?” Is our trust in God?

How often are we looking forward or backward agonizing over something we feel guilty, regretful or angry about, or wishing there was something we could have that we can’t? Am I missing the one day, the one time, the one person, the littlest thing, that is most important, because I am worried about yesterday?

What about our spouses, what are the little ways that we can help them thru one day at a time—with a hug or gentle touch, with a request to pray together, with an offer of forgiveness (even if no one did anything wrong), with a prayer to make their day go better, or to keep them safe?

Are we letting God have all of our daily problems, so that we can offer our energies to loving and caring for those around us, instead of wasting time worrying needlessly? Are we offering God our individual daily tasks? Are we serving God one day at a time, letting our faith and trust in Him be our greatest asset?
From Matt 6: 24-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Dear God, Thank you for another awesome day with you. I offer up to You all my weaknesses, pains, sufferings, and sorrows. Help me to be more like you, to be generous and a kind servant. Help me to not worry about what will be tomorrow but instead to live for you, to unselfishly give my love, my time, my talent and my treasures one day at a time. Allow me to look at my neighbors and my loved ones and meet their unspoken needs in Your name. Amen.

Blessings, Charlotte

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Face to Face

Today is “All Souls” day and yesterday was “All Saints” Day. It seemed to be a fitting end to October, a month where I attended 8 funerals. What is it about the finality of human life that makes me stop and think about my own life? I haven’t decided if it is the eulogies where someone lists all of the “good” about a person, or if it is the idea that any moment could be your last. I have been to funerals where the list was short and others where the list was long; and whether the list was short or long did not determine saint or sinner, ready to enter heaven or hell.
It does make me think one thought though about my own life: “Who will I be when I come face to face with God and how will I be remembered?”

In one of the daily meditations this week the bible reading was that where Jesus named all the apostles. The only one Luke gave a “label” to was “Judas, who became a traitor.” Luke 6:12-16 It is a little scary to think about what Jesus would label me at this very moment, or even how a writer like Luke would list my weaknesses.

Today’s gospel has always been one of my favorites: from Mt 5:1-12a He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

I see so much hope in this passage of labels. Hope for those who mourn, hope for those who seek God’s truth, hope for those who have God in their heart. And I see eternal love for the peacemakers and those who are persecuted for standing up for the truths of the church and Jesus’ teachings.

Notice, too, that none of God’s labels are ways we would traditionally label people: we do not see happy, rich, great mom/dad, had many friends, did many good deeds, won many awards or games, was a great doctor, accountant, or teacher (insert your own profession), was a great cook, housekeeper, etc…. Instead we see labels of the heart: poor in spirit, meek, righteous, merciful, peacemakers and clean of heart.

Am I any of those people who will have great reward in heaven and be called a child of God? And am I willing to change my life to become one of those people?

How thankful I am that because of Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross so it is never too late to ask for forgiveness, wipe away my human labels, and change my wants into his wants. Am I ready to answer his call, and am I always ready to meet God face to face?

So who do I want to be? What do I really want said at my eulogy? Will I look at the labels for my life differently? Will they be God’s labels instead of human labels? Will I be what I want to be, or what God wants me to be? How will I be labeled when I meet God face to face?

Dear God, make my heart ready to meet you face to face. Amen.

Blessings, Charlotte

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Life's Miracles

My original title today was “random thoughts”, but as I finished I realized that all of the random thoughts I had written, actually revolved around today’s topic at mass-- “life” -- so therefore I will share these somewhat random bible verses about the miracles of life.

Father began our service today with this introduction: “God’s most life giving gift to us was his son, sent here to forgive us.” Do we ask for and accept his forgiveness and ultimately eternal life?

October is “Respect Life” month and as Joe and Francie so aptly put it, not just life in the human sense, but more importantly as the ultimate gift of eternal life. “Children, and those who are dependent on us due to disability or age, offer us the opportunity to grow in patience, kindness, and love. They teach us that life is a shared gift, not an encumbrance. At the end of life, we will be judged on love alone.” Cardinal Justin Rigali, Statement for Respect Life Sunday, September 29, 2009

I would ask your prayers for the approximately 4,000 mothers who sought abortion today, so that they may be forgiven and given the consolation of God’s love. And secondly for all those who are thinking about seeking abortion, so that they will see that God’s creation is meant to be loved, not forsaken. (See Project Rachel for more information on healing and forgiveness from abortion.)

Very much the opposite side of abortion is that of wanting to give life. I had a friend this week who asked me to pray for her daughter who is having difficulty conceiving a child. I told her I would pray for her and suggested that we should ask for the intercession of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla (canonized in 2004) (Saint Gianna), “pro-life saint.” Saint Gianna is the patron saint for motherhood and thru her intercessions with God many who were previously infertile have had “miraculous” babies.

I think it is only right to explain what “praying to a saint” means since it is one of those things that are misunderstood by non-Catholics and Catholics alike. When we pray to a saint, we are praying “through” the saint. A saint is someone who through their life demonstrated a complete “laying down of their lives for God’s purpose.” (See Col 1:11 “who has made you fit to share the inheritance of the holy ones in light.”)

In this case Saint Gianna gave her life in childbirth, even though as a doctor she knew all of the risks and by giving life she would probably lose her own life. She provides an inspiration to all those who experience the constant demands and confusing signals that our current culture places on us.

Praying to or through the saints, angels or Mary is not unlike asking our prayer groups and friends to pray for us. And because the saints (for more on how someone is given sainthood see, have been raised to the altar in heaven, they have an even more “direct line” of communication with God to help us ask for his help in our lives. Personally, I will take all the help I can get by asking for the help of “those who share in God’s inheritance” for the special needs of my family and friends.

As you will notice in the following prayer to Saint Gianna, it does not pray TO Saint Gianna, but prays through her to Jesus: “Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me, make me only know Your will. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls, and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms, I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will, the grace to confide in You, the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms.”

So I would ask your prayers for not only my friend’s daughter, but for all others who are having difficulty having a child. Children are one of the greatest miracles of God. I think many of us know someone who was blessed with a miracle child, especially after a lengthy period of infertility and many times after an adoption.

Following the miracle theme, today’s reading was about one of the miracles Jesus performed, by giving sight to the blind man. Mk 10:46-52 The miracles documented today by the church are not much different than those performed by Jesus during his life, that of healing, giving life, and feeding (giving the basic needs of life). While scientists always try to explain away these phenomena, there is really no need for an explanation if we believe in God.

Saturday’s readings applied a parable to our acceptance of life through forgiveness in the story about the barren fig tree.

“Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!’

“And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’” Lk 13:1-9

Do I have the faith to repent, forgive and trust in the miracles in my life? Are my eyes and ears opened with/by my faith in God? Am I willing to ask for God’s “fertilizer” and accept and grow because of God’s greatest miracle, his Son’s death on the cross?

Who will I be this week? The owner ready “to cut it down,” to accept the immortality of the world, unwilling to take a stance for change because “it doesn’t affect me,” or using the “I can’t do anything about it anyway,” excuse? Or am I a barren fig tree, fertilized, but unwilling to accept the love and truth of God’s words? Or am I like the Galileans, letting those around me suffer because I will not accept God’s forgiveness, his miracle in my own life? Could I be the gardener, fertilizing, helping others to grow in faith so that they can see their positive selves by forgiving and patiently “tending the soil” so that I give those I love another chance like the gardener gave the fig tree. Or am I like the fertilized and ready fig tree, ready to give my life in faith thru God’s word and truth, so that through my own forgiveness and model I might show others the way to eternal life?

Blessings, Charlotte

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Power of Prayer

“First of all, let me make it perfectly clear that the power of praying is not a means of gaining control over your spouse, so don’t get your hopes up! In fact, it is quite the opposite. It’s laying down all claim to power in and of yourself, and relying on God’s power to transform you, your spouse, your circumstances and your marriage. This power is not given to wield like a weapon in order to beat back an unruly beast. It’s a gentle tool of restoration appropriated through the prayers of a spouse who longs to do right more than be right, and to give life more than get even. It’s a way to invite God’s power into your spouse’s life for their greatest blessing, which is ultimately yours too.” From the Power of the Praying Wife/Husband by Stormie OMartin

Father talked about the secrets of life--that we are all going to die, (that we must die to ourselves, and to live totally unselfishly); and the need for someone else (community) in our lives.

Prayer is one of the “powers” to achieve those “secrets.” Prayer lets us become “naked” before God, to receive his grace by turning over all of our sufferings and selfishness to him. Prayer bares our souls and puts God in Power of our lives. The most powerful prayer, the mass, combines our reliance on God’s power to transform us with our need for community. “Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there.”

In this “instant gratification” society I think all of us are guilty at some point or another of saying: "What do I do now" or "I wish I could change this immediately." We are looking for that "secret to success, to healing, to fixing whatever today's problem is." The secret is God, and the way to reach God is thru prayer.

Remember the cliché, “The family that prays together stays together.” Why is that such a truth? And have we taught our children to pray? Prayer is like glue that will hold us together, in times of stress, grief, pain or suffering. And if we are praying together as a family or as a couple we are relying on God, together in our community of faith. We are giving Him the Power in our lives, in our family, in our community. We are not trying to control our own destiny. God shows us his mercy and love by “speaking” to us in prayer.

When someone asks me to “pray for them;” or I ask someone to” pray for me;” I think of it as “many voices” turning to God for the common good. The more of us praying together, the louder the voice: or as another cliché would read—“The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

Jesus and his disciples are seen many times in the bible praying, both in praise and thanksgiving, and in suffering and pain. We must go to God in prayer. The “power” of asking God is heralded by the following verse: “If the prayer of the just man avails much, how much more the prayer of the one made perfect” (Rev. 21:27).

So how do I begin if prayer is not already part of my daily life? The definition of prayer in Wikipedia is this: “Prayer is the act of addressing a god or spirit for the purpose of worship or petition. Specific forms of this may include praise, requesting guidance or assistance, confessing sins, as an act of reparation or an expression of one's thoughts and emotions. The words used in prayer may take the form of intercession, a hymn, incantation, words of gratitude, or a spontaneous utterance in the person's praying words.”

Prayer doesn’t come from a “textbook”, prayer comes from the heart. But if you are in need of a “jumpstart” try the following website:

Prayer is a "conversation with God." As the definition reads there are "asking, thanking, praising, or blessing" prayers. And in order to hear God’s reply sometimes our prayer can just be a quiet time to “listen” to what he wants to put into your heart.

The most powerful prayers, the Mass and the Most Holy Rosary, are combinations of prayers given to us in scripture. (The mass is over 80 combined scriptural passages and Jesus gave us the “Our Father” (Luke 11: 2-4) and the “Hail Mary” (Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:41-42b) which combined with the meditations on the mysteries in the life of Jesus and Mary make up the rosary).

So, do we pray with our spouse and our families? Do we ever say “I don’t have time to pray?” Or how many times do we say “I don’t know where to start or how to pray?”

Do we remember that “with God, all things are possible?” Even though God knows what is in our hearts, as his children, we must ask. We can tell God anything. We can ask him anything. We must “Just Do It.”

Start today! The power of Prayer will change our lives and push us closer to helping us achieve the secrets of life. Don’t keep the power of prayer a secret in your life or in anyone else’s!