Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Abundant Generosity of God

"Am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?" (Matthew 20:15)

Some people have a hard time with this parable. On the surface, it seems so unfair that the landowner pays the workers who show up at the last minute the same as the ones who have been there all day.
But God does not think the way that we think. 
“As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
This parable is not about fairness. This parable is about God's abundant love and and generosity. And let’s not miss the good news in this story - we are ALL recipients of this love and generosity. All of us.
Where we make our mistake is thinking that we deserve heaven. We think we earn our way into heaven by being good.
Salvation is not earned. Salvation is not deserved. Salvation is a gift.
Sometimes I have heard people ask, what good is it for us to be faithful our whole lives if we can just make a deathbed confession and be saved? I think of the parable of the Prodigal Son. The older brother asks his father the same kind of question. And I remember this beautiful statement made by the father -
Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
Those who come to the vineyard earlier have had a life filled with God’s love and graces. They are always with Him. St. Catherine of Siena said it well when she said that "all the way to heaven is heaven."
I myself am a prodigal daughter returned. I only wish I had come home to the Father earlier.

Dear Lord, help me to pray for those who have not yet come to work at your vineyard. Help me to welcome all who come, early or late. Thank you, Lord, for all the graces you have given me, undeserved as they are. Amen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Deo Gratias - Laughter


"If the only prayer you ever say in your life
 is thank you, it will be enough." - Meister Eckhart

Deo Gratias is Latin for "Thanks be to God." Remembering to give thanks for all of our blessings, big and small, helps us to find God in our everyday moments and gives us an attitude of gratitude! I invite you to share your blessings here on Wednesdays. Be sure to sign into Mr. Linky below and grab the button.

1. I was working in the parish office yesterday morning and I heard a loud noise on one of the windows. I looked up to see a bird carrying a worm in its beak. It kept banging against the window trying to get in! Finally it turned around and flew to the sidewalk where it landed. Probably to nurse its wounds! Or eat that worm. Nature is so funny at times. Deo gratias!
2. Had a spur of the moment email conversation going on between my two sons and myself and even through the email, I could hear the laughter and see the smiles. Made my day. Deo gratias!
3. I have a beautiful view of 2 canals from the condo we rent. Pretty and peaceful with occasional ducks swimming by! Love them! Deo gratias!
4. My husband can make me laugh any day at any time. Such a gift he has! Deo gratias!
5. Vanilla candles. They are my favorite. Deo gratias!


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Monday, September 15, 2014

Light in the Darkness - Firefighters Help


Maria at Four Blessings Academy is hosting an uplifting meme for every Monday called Light in the Darkness. Here we share stories of hope and joy. We can link to a news article or video or tell a story from our own lives. Post about your story and then link to Maria's blog. There is enough negativity in this world. Let's spread some joy and light up the darkness!

Firefighters perform a simple act of kindness. A touching story of how the simple things we do for others can mean so much.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

God So Loved the World

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. - John 3:16
A little boy came into the parish office one day. His mother was talking to the pastor and he was in the waiting room, looking a bit uncomfortable and nervous.
So first I did what any self-respecting parish secretary would do. I offered chocolate.
That brought a smile.
And then I asked him what he liked to do. And he started telling me about his favorite toys and games.
Then suddenly he looked up and saw the crucifix on the wall. And he asked, very seriously, "Why did Jesus have to die like that?"
"To show us how much he loves us," I told him.
"It hurt him a lot, didn't it?"
"Yes, it hurt very much.
"He didn’t have to die like that, did he?"
"No, he could have walked away."
"But he loves us, right?"
"Yes. Very much. All the time. No matter what."
He was pretty satisfied with that, and feeling better, we went on to talk about other things that little boys like to talk about. Games and tv shows and favorite toys, etc.
But for those few minutes, we were not little boy and old parish secretary lady. We were just two people, wondering why Jesus loves us that much, and very grateful that he does.

Dear Lord, thank you for loving us, no matter what we do or who we are. And thank you for bringing different people into our lives who help us to see and know your love in many ways. Amen.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Deo Gratias - Then and Now


"If the only prayer you ever say in your life
 is thank you, it will be enough." - Meister Eckhart

Deo Gratias is Latin for "Thanks be to God." Remembering to give thanks for all of our blessings, big and small, helps us to find God in our everyday moments and gives us an attitude of gratitude! I invite you to share your blessings here on Wednesdays. Be sure to sign into Mr. Linky below and grab the button.

1. My husband continues to feel better and is cooking up some great new recipes! Deo gratias!

2. Saw a beautiful rainbow again the other day. Deo gratias!

3. Love my iced coffee! Deo gratias!

4. I am grateful for my blogging and FB friends who are there to support each other. Deo gratias!

5. Our parish is celebrating our 25th anniversary this year. The actual anniversary is September 2015 and we taking a year long look at where we have been and where we are now, looking at our various events and ministries etc. I have been here from the beginning so it is a real joy!



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Monday, September 8, 2014

Light in the Darkness - September 8


Maria at Four Blessings Academy is hosting an uplifting meme for every Monday called Light in the Darkness. Here we share stories of hope and joy. We can link to a news article or video or tell a story from our own lives. Post about your story and then link to Maria's blog. There is enough negativity in this world. Let's spread some joy and light up the darkness!

I found this on Facebook. Too beautiful for words.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Praying By Heart

“If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master's presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord's presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.” - St Francis de Sales

I love to pray.
I love to talk about prayer.
I love to talk about praying.
You might say it is a passion of mine. Why, you ask.
Because, if we want a personal relationship with God, prayer is where it is at.
Period.
I remember my first appointment with Fr. Tom, my spiritual director of about 9 years. He said he required only two things from me.

 
Continued on my other blog, Finding God in the Everyday

Loving Our Neighbor

Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother." (Mt 18:15) 
This week’s gospel could be summed up easily – How to Live in Community.
Several years ago I stayed in a Benedictine monastery for about a month, attending spiritual direction school there. One of the first things my spiritual director told me in our first meeting was that monastery life was not as easy and peaceful as it might seem. “Let's face it, living in community is very difficult.”
So how do they get through it?
Prayer. Forgiveness. Love of neighbor.
So I guess if monks in a monastery have to struggle with community, then those of us in community at our churches and our neighborhoods and our families are going to struggle too.
And so how do we get through it?
Prayer. Forgiveness. Love of neighbor.
St. Benedict in his rule had a lot to say about how to live in community. Some of his (paraphrased) instructions include:

Show equal love to everyone.
Do not act in anger or nurse a grudge.
Express opinions with humility.
Welcome all guests as Christ.
I watched these monks during the month I was there and at subsequent visits. All of them, including the abbot, ate with us, waited on us, washed dishes, and when a flu virus spread throughout the community, they nursed each other and us as well.
If they were unhappy, we never saw it. I am sure it wasn’t easy and who knows what arguments and tension took place in the private monastic enclosure, but we experienced love not friction.
We saw humility not pride.
We saw Jesus.

Dear Lord, thank you for sending people into my life to show me your love and your presence. Please help me welcome all as Christ. Help me to do better in loving my neighbor. Teach me, Lord. Amen.


published 9/2011

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sunday Snippets - September 7

This is the weekly Catholic Carnival! Be sure to visit RAnn at This, That and the Other Thing and check out some posts from other bloggers participating in Sunday Snippets this week. Why not join us and share a blog post or two from last week?

Question of the Week: (I posted it last week by mistake!) What is your favorite hymn that you hear/sing at Mass?
Last time I answered this question with "Be Not Afraid." Still one of of my favorites. And "The Servant's Song." This time, I wish to add "You Are Mine" to this list. Makes me cry almost every time.
 

1. Carry Our Cross

2. Light in the Darkness - September 1

3. Deo Gratias - Writing and Rainbows

4. Reflections on Spiritual Direction

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Reflections on Spiritual Direction

I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight. These things I will do for them, and will not forsake them. - Isaiah 42:16

I had not heard about spiritual direction before I made my Cursillo weekend. For those of you who have not gone on a Cursillo weekend, the term “cursillo” means “short course.” My husband and I like to call it an “encounter with Jesus.”

The Cursillo weekend is a beautiful experience of community and Church and the love of Jesus. It was a turning point in my spiritual journey. One of those moments when you know you have been changed. A time of conversion, you might say.

At the end of the weekend, we were given some suggestions to help us stay focused on the journey and we were encouraged to get a spiritual director. Spiritual direction was briefly explained to us. I do not even remember exactly what was said.
 

My husband found a spiritual director right away. As the parish secretary, I didn't think I should go to my pastor/boss for spiritual direction. So I stalled for some time, about a year. I kept telling myself that I didn’t really need a spiritual director. I thought I could direct myself. (That's OK. You can laugh.)

Then my prayer life started to change. Rote prayer became boring. I began to feel a strong attraction to contemplative prayer. I had read a lot about centering prayer. I felt stuck and was unsure of what to do next.

Just about that time, after more than a year of resistance, a new priest, Fr. Tom, came to my church to assist our pastor. It did not take long to discover that he was a spiritual director. Almost right away, people started calling him for appointments. That caught my attention.


And in chatting with him, I learned that he just happened to be experienced and knowledgeable in contemplative prayer. (Did I tell you that I do not believe in coincidences?)

It was around this time that I began to recognize that when the Lord wants me to do something, if I do not do it within a reasonable amount of time, He starts "nagging" me. It's like I cannot let go of the thought or idea. It keeps coming back.

Well, God was surely nagging me about getting a spiritual director. And I knew I needed to ask Fr. Tom. Now.


So I gathered up my courage and I went to Fr. Tom's office and I asked him if I could see him for spiritual direction. Fr. Tom asked me if I thought us working together would cause any difficulty in my being able to open up and talk to him. I said I didn't think so. 


So we made an appointment. For my day off on Friday. Just a few days away. And yes, I was nervous. In fact, I was scared to death.

What had I done?

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Note to readers - Please give me some feedback on this. You can comment here or you can email me through my website contact form. I am looking for honest and thoughtful critique on writing and content, etc.
This book is going to be about my experience with spiritual direction. As both a directee AND a director, which Fr. Tom eventually helps me to discern. He gave me permission to use his name and to write about him and our experience.
My plan here is to blog some of my chapters. It will be rather loose. I will just go with the flow on this.
Thank you! God bless.