Monday, May 27, 2013

Vacation Time

Women of Faith:

This weekend officially begins summer “vacation time.”
We are enjoying a visit with Sara, Luke, Colby and Karolina, and Andy. We consider ourselves richly blessed to be able to enjoy their laughter, conversation, and chatter, and to get away from the rest of the world for a few long gorgeous Colorado mountain days.

And although it seems as if we have to “fit” them into our schedule, our time together is never long enough. I am always looking forward to the hugs and kisses, conversations, and a chance to attend church together—which has for me always been the ultimate prayer of love and togetherness.
And the time in God’s house to give thanks for His every blessing, receive His unending mercy and forgiveness, and to be blessed with the fulfillment of Christ’s promised Eucharistic meal is such an opportunity.  It is THE perfect vacation:  being joyfully together with family AND getting away from worldly responsibilities.

There is joy, beauty and the richness as we ask God to join our family: “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” each time we pray and or enter his Holy house.  This invitation for Him to join us brings our worldly family together with Him and our two worlds together, a true vacation!!
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: …...”

He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”  Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement, his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” Mk 10: 17-27

We are on a journey: a journey from earth to heaven. Just as the journeying man, who met Jesus on the way, our journey is one of working here on earth, following Jesus’ commandments, and doing his will, so that we can achieve an unending vacation in heaven.
As Jesus said to his disciples, it is hard to give up earthly wealth and possessions even for those who so greatly desire the ultimate heavenly vacation (more difficult than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle!)

The more we have (work and ownership/possessions), the more we are given the responsibility to choose to do God’s will with what we have.
We receive a blessing from God each time we attend church. He never goes on vacation away from us. Do we go on vacation from him? Do we choose the short term joy of a boat or motorcycle ride over the long term joy of keeping His commandment by attending church on Sunday morning?

Is it as exciting to get away from our worldly possessions and spend vacation time with God (or to go to church while on vacation) as it is to use our earthly possessions and go on vacation to some exotic destination?
Do we find time to serve the poor, a youngster in need of a friend, or to visit someone who is sick, has lost a loved one, or is lonely? Or do we just “fit” them in when it is convenient for us? Is something “worldly” more important than the heavenly joy (vacation) seen on the faces of those we serve?

Who or what “fits” first into our schedules? Do our possessions possess us or do we give God thanks for giving them to us so that we can find joy (a vacation) in them?
Heavenly Father from you I have received every blessing, every earthly possession and a promise of heavenly riches. Thank you for merging your world with ours by allowing us time to spend time with our earthly family in Your church. Help me to not just “fit you in,” but to realize that the best vacation time is time spent with you. Thank you for blessing us with the richness of a close, loving, family. Help me to choose to give earthly wealth (time AND treasures) so that I may achieve a greater wealth with you in heaven. Amen.

God blesses us with time to spend on vacation, away from this world, by calling to Him in prayer anywhere or by visiting Him at his house anytime, not just during the summer.
Enjoy your vacation with family AND with God,

Monday, May 20, 2013

Finding Blessings

Women of Faith:

As summer approaches, the grass turns green, and flowers appear where none existed before, are you in awe of all that God has created? Or are you so wrapped up in your daily duties that you miss the blessings of life?

Pope Francis spoke this week about the world’s worship of the “golden calf” – all that is material and how our wants and desires have become not just needs, but our expected necessities.

“Brothers and sisters: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” Rm 8: 8-10

We have received many blessings. (Our spouses, our children, our friends, our homes, clean water, ABUNDANT food, clothing, shoes, purses, cars, silverware, toothpaste and even laundry soap.)

But do we give thanks for someone to love and for those who love us; for the freedom to attend church, school and to go shopping; for our own health or the health and ability of those who take care of us; for the opportunity to do or to receive something done for us (like fixing or taking us out to lunch, mowing the lawn or having it mowed for us, or having or working at a job that pays the mortgage); or for all of the pleasures that we have come to expect as necessary?

What everyday blessings are we expecting or taking for granted? What opportunities have become expectations?

God has created each of us in His image (the flesh), and in each of us the ability to accept, receive and recognize His gifts for His glory (the Spirit). The flesh is empty without His spirit.

If I use and abuse the flesh (the human, the material) without recognizing them as a blessing from God, then I will be hungry (empty, a shell) missing His Spirit. When I accept Him and use His blessings to affect others, in the Spirit, I become full, completed, and even more richly blessed.

Creator God! Jesus our brother! Life giving Spirit! For the many wonders of our lives, we bless your name, and find in turn, that we are blessed. Guide and strengthen each of us on life’s journey so that we may be the face and voice of Christ in the world. Give us the desire to bring your blessings into the places of our hearts and homes both now and tomorrow. Amen.

Take the opportunity to find His Spirit within you and give it to others!

Receive His blessing and go forth to be a blessing!


Monday, May 13, 2013

Path to Summer

Women of Faith:

The allure of the promise of summer sunshine is tempered by sunglasses, wind, and rain.
The blinders of friends, the winds of society, and the pull of the gravity of cultural politics make walking into the sunshine on a straight and narrow path difficult. 

The path also has deep ditches on either side: the law on one side and my personal “feel good” wants and desires on the other. And the blinders, the winds and gravity make it very easy to be pulled into the ditches of “the law says it’s okay” or “it must be okay, because I feel happy.”
And it is difficult to climb up out of the ditch and change when we fall off the path. But that is what we are promised by Christ’s cross, by Scripture, by Church teachings and thru the lives of the Saints. We are reminded that we won’t necessarily “feel good” while striving for God’s kingdom, but that we can change and get back on the path and that we can be forgiven for stepping off.

“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. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Mt 5: 3-12
Do we fall off the path because the sun that is guiding us is shadowed by the beliefs of our friends and neighbors who say “it’s right because everyone is doing it?” Do we use slang words that are a common part of our language but that are sexually suggestive (taking God’s name in vain), by taking what is not rightfully ours from others or our workplace, such as tools and office supplies etc. (stealing), or by accepting that it is okay to live together before marriage and to have sex outside of marriage (fornication/adultery).

Are we pulled away from the sun by the gravity of laws that are passed by the powers and the principalities? Does our business set unreasonable prices because the government can afford it, the $468 hammer (free enterprise), does our government allow the union of same sex partners as marriage (equality), and do we shut our eyes against the evils of abortion (freedom to choose)? Is law setting its own path of promise and side-stepping God’s design for humanity, marriage and His commandments (stealing and killing)?
Or is the straight and narrow path dulled by the rain of the tears of pain? Often we will be asked to embrace suffering and accept grief. Rain can either wash us off the path in anger and blame or cleanse and clear the path through acceptance and forgiveness.

The ultimate reward is at the end of God’s path…. “Son”shine in heaven….priceless!!
"Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. Jn 16: 20-22

Heavenly Father the joy you promise is unending. Help me to search for and to strive to live by Your truth. Thank you for giving me living examples, like Mary and the Saints (Saint Paul, Saint Francis, Mother Teresa, and many more) for they inspire me to know that I can change, be forgiven and survive human suffering (just as Christ did) and reach your unending joy in heaven. Amen.
Will we step off to the side of the path, fall into the ditches of law, and blindly fall into the depths of the acceptance of cultural evil and sin? Or will we walk the straight and very narrow difficult path, following the allure of His son who shined thru gravity, wind and rain by speaking the truth, accepting our sufferings and showing us how to live righteously?

God’s promise is that His path will lead us to a joy that no one can take away.
May you be filled with the Spirit to stay on His path and search for that joy,

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Greatest Mom of All Time

Friends of Faith:

Hallmark and ATT would both tell us that Mother’s day is one of the most celebrated days of the year.
But being a Mom (a woman, wife and mother) expands the emotional range from the ultimate joys, to the ultimate sorrows.

I have had several conversations with moms over the past few weeks expressing their heartfelt concern and sorrow over the choices being made by their children or of the pain their children or husbands were experiencing caused by illness and/or depression. My suggestion to them has been to turn to Mary and to ask her for her intercessory prayers and consolation—because Mary the Mother of Jesus, like no other Mother here on earth, has experienced each of our heartfelt emotions in her walk with her son Jesus through His birth, death and resurrection.
“As the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary has a unique position among the saints, indeed, among all creatures. She is exalted, yet still one of us.

"Redeemed by reason of the merits of her Son and united to Him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of being the Mother of the Son of God, by which account she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth. At the same time, however, because she belongs to the offspring of Adam she is one with all those who are to be saved."

Mary embraces God's will and freely chooses to cooperate with God's grace, thereby fulfilling a crucial role in God's plan of salvation. Throughout the centuries, the Church has turned to the Blessed Virgin in order to come closer to Christ. Many forms of piety toward the Mother of God developed that help bring us closer to her Son. In these devotions to Mary, "while the Mother is honored, the Son, through whom all things have their being and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, is rightly known, loved and glorified and . . . all His commands are observed." The Church honors her as the Mother of God, looks to her as a model of perfect discipleship, and asks for her prayers to God on our behalf.”
I have a rosary reflection prayer book I often use when I pray the rosary. As I pray for marriages, children, and the intentions of friends and family (particularly those who are ill, or at a crossroads in their lives) the reflections remind me, that no matter what the intention, Mary has been there before us.

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Lk 1:38
At the annunciation: the difficult decision Mary had to make to say yes to God to accept the responsibilities of a child—think of other mother’s who were not expecting to be pregnant, and the struggle they go thru to say yes. Do we say yes each time God call’s us to choose a difficult path in life? Do we support unwed expecting mothers? Do we teach that every life, every child is God’s greatest gift?

The charity Mary exhibited by visiting Elizabeth to help her prepare for the birth of John the Baptist—think of the times we are asked to give up our time to help a friend. Do we take every opportunity to serve others or are we selfish with our time and talents?
The love she felt at the birth of her son, Jesus—think of the love we feel or experience in holding our newborn children or grandchildren. Do we take every opportunity to love and to say “I love you?”

The sacrifice of giving her son, Jesus, back to God at his presentation--EVERYTHING we have is a gift from God? Do we say thank you often enough, not just for the big and visible, but for the smallest acts of kindness given to us, especially by our spouses?
Mary’s compassion as she observed Jesus scourged and persecuted, knowing that he would be denied by those who did not understand his message and the reasons for his actions—most hurt is caused by a misunderstanding, or a miscommunication. Do I accept responsibility, or do I blame someone else for my actions and my words?

Her sorrow and pain in seeing him crowned with thorns—reflecting on my prayers for those I have hurt, and praying for those who by their actions may be hurting others (intentionally or unintentionally)—do I take every opportunity to forgive and do I pray for the forgiveness of others, especially my spouse?
The agony Mary felt in seeing her son carrying the cross, carrying OUR sins— I think of marriages broken and the suffering of the children who bear their parents pain. Do I realize the pain I cause others?

She experienced the ultimate sorrow in seeing her son suffer and die—comparatively as mom’s and wives we wish to take away the suffering our children and our husbands experience. Am I patient in my prayers, or do I expect problems to be “fixed” immediately, or because I demand it? Do I accept “thy will be done?”
And the ultimate joy in witnessing Christ’s resurrection—in knowing that because of Him all would be given the opportunity for life. Do I accept suffering (by denying myself) so that I will be allowed to experience the full joy of the Resurrection, or do I take the easy way out, and look for instant gratification?

God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Rev 11: 19-12: 1
Mary, Queen of the Universe, I ask your intercession, to our heavenly Father, and thru your son, Jesus, to help me say yes to God, to realize the gifts I have been given and to accept the sufferings I must bear. May you be my living example of what true Motherhood means, so that like you I may experience the ultimate joy as you do in heaven. Amen.

For more on walking with Mary, honoring her, and requesting her intercession thru the Hail Mary prayer refer to my meditation on May 9, 2011 or 9, 2011)
May we as women strive for the perfection of the example of Mary, Our Mother in Heaven and on Earth,

Have a Happy Mother’s Day,