Monday, January 27, 2014

One Family, One Way-Christ's Way -- A tribute to Grandma C

Friends of Faith:
A tribute to Grandma C, a child of God for 106 years, a teacher to many, a wife to one, a mother to three, a grandmother of 19, a great grandmother of 44, a great-great grandmother to 7½, a cook, a farmer, a fisherman, a musician, a rosary and prayer warrior, living one way—Christ’s Way.
Her purpose was always God’s purpose—to live His Way. She lived by AND let her life teach us what Paul spoke to the Philippians about living. 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. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
She rejoiced always, finding good in all, being kind to all.
She prayed always, never beginning a meal, or a day, without the Lord. He was always near to her. She prayed for us all—especially these last few years when praying for us became her soul purpose in life. She made known to him the requests of family and friends and the hopes she had for each of us: that we would be holy, that we would be well and that we would be one with Him—without division, without anxiety, with our hearts open to love and our minds guarded from taking and making our own paths.
Even her card playing had a greater purpose: to teach us how to seek and grant forgiveness… especially to those who in partnership caused her an unintentional loss, or who in competition were granted the luxury to win even a single hand.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Phil 4: 4-9
This week we give her tribute. As one of her daughter’s said: Grandma C continues to remind and inspire us never to forget to live one way, Christ’s way…she, like He, is still near, still teaching us to live by His example— drawing us together as one family, as Christ draws us to be one Church in understanding and peace.
Yesterday we heard another of the gospel’s she lived by, another tribute to her desire to teach us not to live our way, but to live Christ’s way; not to create any division amongst God’s family or any of ours—but to be one Christian church family, with one purpose to live as Christ loved, serving each other in gracious patience and kindness.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.” 1 Cor 1:10
She understood what was truly great and important about life. That life was about “Old MacDonald’s farm,” singing “ti, ti, ti,” eating and baking: kolaches, dumplings, and fried chicken, hard work, always being ready to lend a helping hand, playing a game of “Pepper,” and praying and teaching us to pray (never just say) the Rosary.
So she lived a life that was honorable, that was pure, that was lovely and gracious, an example of over a 106 years to all of us who knew her and were blessed by her presence in our lives: That he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” Eph 5:27.
Eternal rest, grant unto her O Lord. And let perpetual light and the peace of God be with her always. May the spirit of Christ be with her, and with us, always. And may the angels carry her and every unfinished rosary to heaven. Amen.

Great-Great Grandma Hattie Agnes Cibula, 1908-2014.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wherever I Am

Women of Faith:
Cozy, warm and tucked in. That is what I want to feel. It was difficult to get up this morning and face the fact that I have to go somewhere, anywhere. I want wherever I am to feel like it feels in bed—safe, loved and comfortable.

For me, it’s the cold, and colder, weather of Iowa and the knowledge that work for the next few weeks will consume me enough that I won’t be able to get even an occasional day off like I have grown accustomed to since last April. I can’t play hooky, stay in bed a little later or read a good book a little later or longer.

For many of those that I have been praying for who are going thru tough times—financially, medically, emotionally— they just want to be somewhere secure, safe, enfolded in comfort, and have the knowledge that everything will turn out in their favor.

It’s what we all want, to be surrounded by warmth, love and peace; to know pure contentment, to feel hope, accomplishment, and acceptance.

And then I read this.
The light of God surrounds me;
The love of God enfolds me;
The power of God protects me;
The presence of God watches over me;
Wherever I am, God is.
–James Dillet Freeman

It’s the prayer and reminder I needed. It’s all anyone should need. The knowledge that God is present in our day…. if we take the time to look, if we are aware of the people God has put in our paths to give or receive his direction through us or to us, and if we accept and react according to his will.

For even if things don’t turn out in my favor, even if it stays cold outside, I will find a blessing in going to work. God will surround me, enfold me, and protect me. He will give me what I need, when I need it. 

Courage, strength, a perfect smile, a loving hand, a perfect opportunity, even the understanding of why it is my time for sacrifice, IT will be given to me—when I trust that God IS wherever I am.

Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will. Help me to have that attitude of gratitude that will make my sacrifice, yours; my burdens, lighter and my concerns, hopeful. Thank you for being my light, my love, and my power. Watch over me, wherever I am. Amen.

It will be a great day—because I am in the presence of God. My day is His! Make Him yours,


Monday, January 13, 2014


Women of Faith:

I have this picture of a small child in a high chair, confined yet happy, with their little mouth open like a birds waiting for their parent to put in the next spoonful of oatmeal—faces covered by the excess and still smiling as they await the next bite.

I think it is very significant that we baptize infants—because they are our example of total need, total desire and total trust—they are the way God intended us to be for Him. In a babies innocence they trust blindly enough to wait, want and to fully reach their outstretched hand for someone to quench their thirst and their hunger.

The Lord puts his Spirit upon us, he lights our way, but he does not shout, he whispers. He often leaves us at least somewhat hungry and often wanting until we fully answer his call, until we trust enough to blindly reach for his outstretched hand.

Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Jn 3: 3, 5-6

God made us in his own image. And Christ tells Nicodemus that we must be born of water and the Spirit so that we can enter His kingdom. Being baptized as infants claims us for Christ and says that our parents accept that we are made in Christ’s image and that they will raise us as Christians. And then later when we reach an age of reason where we can make our own decision for God, we confirm that we accept what our parents decided for us at our baptism—that we will live according to God’s plan and by Christ’s example.

When was the last time you thought about what your baptism and subsequent confirmation meant?

Heavenly Father, you are the victor waiting for justice. You have formed us and given us the choice to answer your call, to do your will. Help me to see your light, to reach for your outstretched hand. Thank you for waiting patiently for my answer. Amen.

We are baptized by water and the Spirit. God has claimed us as His own. He is waiting patiently for us to make Him our own to use our gifts to claim those who have not yet had their eyes opened.

Be a beacon of light to the world,


Monday, January 6, 2014


Friends of Faith:
Even though my favorite part of Christmas are the lights and the reactions of everyone to those lights, for many it is the unwrapping of presents—big, small and everything in between. A lot of attention goes into shopping, buying and wrapping and then of course unwrapping all of the glitter that was so carefully placed around each treasured purchase.

But after they are all unwrapped, and more importantly for those of us who are practical shoppers, we hope that the presents we so carefully gifted won’t just continue to sit under the tree or on a shelf, be wrapped back up to be re-gifted, or be hidden in a cupboard, but that the presents will be explored, loved and/or put to good use.
“Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Is 60: 4-5

It is the same with God’s greatest gift to us, Christ Jesus. God intends us not to just “unwrap” his presence in our lives, but to explore him—learning all we can about Him, love Him as the greatest gift we have ever been given and put his presence to good use—learning, doing and being by his example of servitude, charity, kindness and compassion.
Heavenly Father, the gift of Your Son, Jesus was a manifestation of Your love for us. Just as we have given our family heartfelt gifts, so too did You give us Your heartfelt gift—love enough that Your son sacrificed His entire life for our sake. Help me to be as kind, as charitable, and as compassionate in serving others. Help me to look beyond the glitter, looking inside the package you presented so that I can give to others in a way that uses your gifts to me compassionately and worthily. Thank you for unwrapping Your presence in my life. Amen.

Christmas doesn’t end when the wrapping paper is torn off. Christmas has only just begun!