Thursday, April 21, 2016

Grow Old With Me...

     Pope Francis, in writing his newest encyclical, (Amoris Laetitia) The Joy of Love, writes about both young couples, engaged and married and older couples.  In his years as a pastor, he has gained a keen insight into family life, young love and mature love.
      He reminds young couples that they are the brink of the future, and that "young love needs to keep dancing toward the future with immense hope. Hope is the leaven that in those first years of engagement and marriage, makes it possible to look beyond arguments, conflicts and problems and to see things in a broader perspective." 
     Beautiful, it's true. Looking back at my married life (33 years) when we first started out we were stressed out, finishing college, looking for jobs, eating out of the change jar. It was hard. But when I look back and remember those times I think, wow, it was so much easier then than now.
    Impossible you say?  I would have agreed with you when I was young. But now, I can truly say things are harder, yet when I look at my husband, I wouldn't have wanted to go through any of those things we experienced in our 33 years of marriage with anyone but him.
    Francis goes on to say this about mature love: As the body ages, it still expresses that personal identity that first won our heart. Even if others can no longer see the beauty of that identity, a spouse continues to see it with eyes of love and so his or her affection does not diminish.  Lovers do not see their relationship pass merely temporary. Those who marry do not expect their excitement to fade.
      He suggests that married couples try a little more tenderness. Tenderness is a virtue often overlooked in our world of frenetic and superficial relationships.  
      And yes, my friends, he is correct.  Without tenderness, my husband would have run out of the house when I was pregnant with our first child and could not stand the smell of our apartment.  We had to eat out every night and only after eating a meal away from home, usually a salad, could I stomach going back into our apartment. ( hormones and  super sensitive noses don't mix.)
  Without tenderness, I would have thrown up my hands and said, "forget it' when my husband's hobby, martial arts, landed up becoming 'our' hobby, our family vocation (for the last 27 years) and a side-line business.   He found a way to help protect kids and who was I to say no?
   Without tenderness, we couldn't have gotten through raising three beautiful children, watch one of each of our parents pass, deal with many heartaches that come along in a life, medical struggles, tests of faith and trust in God. 
    So you see, even though he's never been married, he lived in a family growing up.  Family, no matter what your vocation is as adult, affects you for the rest of your life. Family is togetherness that knows no bounds. Even if your family is out of sorts, not exactly like you'd like it to be, it's family, through thick and thin, good times and bad, better or worse, richer or poorer. 
  God bless you and your family, your spouse, your parents, your children, your pastor and friends. You need all of them to get through this life.  Always remember tenderness...and you'll grow old and the best will yet to be!

                

 



 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Easter's Joyful Alleluia!

   The eggs were dyed and eaten, most of the chocolate bunnies are finished too. Ahh...time to enjoy the real part of Easter...the Alleluias, the scripture of Jesus appearing to his disciples, the time of Heaven.

  With such a huge build up to Easter, the events of Holy Week almost overwhelm us and wipe us out. At least in our parish, all the work that goes into preparing for Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday's foot washing and Adoration, Good Friday's Passion, Easter Vigil preparations and the three hour journey towards the light of the Easter Candle and Easter morning Masses, the joy and alleluias that resound, and finally a small Easter egg hunt complete with our own Easter Bunny mascot (thanks again, Caitlin) and Laughing Monday.   Are you tired?

   I was!  Yet the joy of the glorious resurrection that we celebrate it each and every year leaves me with satisfaction in my heart. It is a great relief to know that God again has sent his only Son to us, to suffer and die yet be resurrected on the third day. And though we have celebrated this for over 2,000 years it is still new to each newborn baby, each brand new Christian and yes, it is new to each of us 'old, veteran' Christians who make sure we see it brand new each year.  And we must see it brand new each year because that's why the Church celebrates it each and every year.

   It's not a once in a lifetime event for us, but a yearly reminder that God loves us. He loves us so very much He sends His Son to us.  Of course Jesus hasn't died every year for the last 2,000, but we are reminded through our own sins, our own receiving forgiveness that He is renewed in us in such a way that it's like we are there and it's just happened with us as witnesses!
 
  He has died for those sins we hate to confess. He's died so we can stand in that confession line and say we are sorry, once again for sins we keep committing even though we've tried hard not to do again.  He forgives us over and over again and as long as we are sincere in our confessing and effort to be better, He will continue to forgive us just like we read the Passion and relive the trial and scourging of Jesus every year.  Because God lives in our now, our present. We don't look back at that event 2,000 years ago and say, "Well, that was nice of Him, to die for us, we must remember that sometime and say thank you."  No!  We relive the passion of Holy Week in all its despair and sadness, in our shouting "Crucify him, crucify him." because we keep sinning...we...keep...crucifying...him. 

  We relive the Resurrection of Christ because it is brand new every year! Christ is living and among us! That Easter Joy of His love for us is with us all year long and should not be cast aside as some event from long ago. It happens every day in our lives, God loving us, forgiving us EVERY day of our lives. 

  Rejoice! Alleluia! Christ has risen from the dead!  God loves us.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Do Not Forget To Dance For Joy!

     There are two beautiful passages worth reflecting on even during Holy Week when we are remembering all the dark days leading up to the  Resurrection.
     The first is in 2 Samuel 6, when David was bringing the Ark of the Covenant toward Jerusalem. We read about these scenes in which David was shouting for joy - leaping and dancing for joy before the Ark.  What did the Ark of the  Covenant represent?  For the Jewish people it represented the presence of God.  They carried the Ark around reverently for forty years in the desert to remind them that God was with them. So David was shouting for joy, leaping for joy and dancing for joy in the presence of God.
     The second passage is the Visitation in Luke 1.  Here we read about Elizabeth's unborn child, John the Baptist, dancing for joy in his mother's womb when he heard Mary's greeting. Of course Mary was also pregnant carrying the child Jesus. This makes Mary the Ark of the New Covenant. Why was John the Baptist leaping for joy? For the same reason David was, he was in the presence of God.
     Living in the presence of God causes us to dance for joy. It is easy to lose site of his presence. It is easy to wander from his ways.  It is easy to become blind to his presence as a result of the crippling selfishness that we all fall victim to if left to our own devices. But God doesn't leave us to our own devices.
     The presence of Jesus is powerful. People loved being near him.
     This Holy Week, take part in the powerful story going on before your eyes through the Last Supper, Good Friday and the Cross and the Joy of the Resurrection will invade your soul on Easter morning! He has risen! Jesus loves us! Let us dance for JOY!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I have to laugh when I look up St. Patrick on the internet. Even though it's the only feast day we have a holiday for that actually includes the "Saint" in the name of the day, (unlike dear St. Valentine)  poor St. Patrick is rarely ever portrayed as he was. A Man. The clip art usually associated with him is of a cartoon or leprechaun.

So in honor of such a wonderful guy, here is an actual man. It may not be a photo (since they didn't have those in his day) but at least he's not a leprechaun!

Even though most of my own family is VERY German, we love St. Patrick's Day. My husband can find some Scots blood in his line but that's about as close as we get. Still my son's name is very Irish : Ryan Michael.  My husband and I loved everything Irish. and Ryan was even baptized on March 17th.  So St. Patrick is near and dear to our hearts.

I love the story of St. Patrick and his love for a people he could have loathed and hated since they had kidnapped him from his native land.  It reminds me that we get spoiled in America thinking everything should go as WE plan it; not as God plans it.  It's hard to remember sometimes that WE are not in charge of our lives, God is; and though we have Free Will, and the choice to do things in our lives, we still cannot control circumstances or enforce our will on others.  So while we may not get kidnapped and become a missionary in another country, we can still work on trying to do good things and listening to God who has great ideas for us.

God Bless you and Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you!

Monday, March 14, 2016

St Therese and Docility

 St. Therese was such a wonderful example of docility.  At the beginning of this Lent journey 2016, I was struggling with my own sense of docility.  It was so bad that even when reading some of Therese's writings about her life, I would find myself asking, 'Why didn't she do something about this? Why didn't she speak up about an insult or hurt?"

  I have spent much more time this Lent reading the writings of Therese as well as several other Lenten materials including the "Rediscover Jesus" book by Matthew Kelly and today it finally hit me. I've been missing docility. Matt Kelly describes in his book that Docility means to be listening deeply to the promptings of the Holy  Spirit; to be coachable, to listen to the voice of God especially in times of decision.  But I've not been doing that very well.

  Oh I have prayed asking for help, trying to listen. But many times my own pride, feeling insulted by someone's criticism, holding on to hurt feelings to assuage my guilt over things I may say, has really gotten in the way of me being a docile person.

  My husband and I joke about receiving those moments of revelation in life, when you finally 'get' something God is trying to tell you, as receiving a 'Golden Two by Four" in the forehead.  We rub our foreheads and laugh and say, whoops, guess I was supposed to get that one better."

  This Lent God has graciously seen fit to supply me with some of those Golden 2 x 4's. I'm embarrassed to admit it's taken several bumps to my head to help me understand that all my self pity and anger about things aren't solving any issues in my life.  I need to be more docile. I need to listen better to the Holy Spirit.

  Matt Kelly says, "We all have a distorted view of reality. We don't see things as they really are: we don't see ourselves as we really are. We have blind spots, biases, and prejudices.  Jesus wants to liberate us from all these and help us to see things as they really are, to see ourselves as we really are."

  It hurts to admit when your pride has caused you to fall down, once again... and again...and again. But before I feel so horribly unworthy of Jesus, to feel that there is no way to say I'm sorry enough for falling again...I see Jesus fall during the Stations of the Cross. Not once, not twice, but three times.  Not because of His pride, but to remind me of my pride and how I must get up again and again and again and keep trying to be better.  Accepting docility is accepting that we will keep messing up and knowing we need to keeping listening over and over.

    The humbleness we learn from being docile helps us each time not to sink so low. God loves us and gives us chance after chance and as long as we keep getting up, picking up our cross, we are on the right road, following in Jesus footsteps on our own way to  Calvary and the salvation that awaits us in heaven! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Forgiveness Is The Best Revenge!

  We experience a whole lot of horribleness in our lives. Sometimes it's easy to forgive and forget. Sometimes...it...is...not...

   We know by trying to live in the shadow of the Cross, we cannot keep hating someone or something that has happened to us.  I met a woman the other day who was in severe pain. She was looking for answers to questions, questions of why her step-father had abused her, why her mother let it go on.  She said she had tried forgiving and forgetting. But every time she saw him it reminded her of the anger all over again.

    I was reminded of the Gospel reading where Jesus says we have to forgive seventy times seven. In other words, it's not a one time thing to forgive. It takes a long time to establish forgiveness. Jesus understood that. He was human, He knew how hard it would be for us to forgive really hard things.

   Even when we confess our unforgiveness toward someone one day, doesn't mean we won't have unforgiveness in us the next.  That's why forgiveness is a choice we must make EVERY day. We choose to forgive whether we feel like it or not. It's a decision; not a feeling.   Many times there are layers and layers of unforgiveness that build up over years.  You may find you have to consciously forgive every time you think upon the wrong. 

  And when you forgive someone it doesn't make them right or justify what they have done. It releases them into God's hands so HE can deal with them.

  Forgiveness is actually the best revenge because it not only sets us free from the person we forgive, but it frees us to move into all God has for us. 

  Sometimes we don't forgive ourselves for things we've done and give ourselves a lifetime of punishment for whatever we did or did not do. Sometimes we blame God for things that happened. Ask God to show you if any of these things are true about you. Don't let unforgiveness limit what God wants to do in your life.

Friday, February 26, 2016

St. Therese Thoughts- Don't Give Up

  I don't know if it's been because of the constantly changing weather this week...we had 70 degree weather last Saturday and Sunday, a blizzard with temps in the 30's on Monday and Tuesday, back up to 50's and 60's on Wednesday, back to snow flurries and high cold winds Thursday...but my faith life has been experiencing as many ups and downs this week. Someone said it was the weather, some say it's the full moon or something to do with some planets aligning up weird this week. Personally I think it's the devil because it's Lent...
  Whatever the cause, my faith life has been suffering because of it. Still reading and re-reading St. Therese's words on trying to offer up little acts of love. Why is it so very hard some times to do that? Then I read in her autobiography that she too felt incapable of the tiniest charity, the smallest expression of concern and patience and understanding. And she would time and again surrender her life to Christ with the hope that He would act through her.
  We don't get to a point in our lives where we can ever just sit and say, "There! I've done! I've achieved love and peace in my life."  It becomes more and more apparent to me that you almost never feel that way and yet if you dwell on that thought, the thought that you will never get there, all is lost.  I keep reflecting on how Therese kept asking our heavenly Father for help.  It's easy for us to look at her writings and life and say, "Wow, she did it, she mastered the patience and love she was working on." But that would not be true. It was a constant struggle for her. No one 'changes' just like that until we get to Heaven.  While she was faithful to the Gospel of Jesus and the core of His message, she struggled with living it on a daily basis. And there we see what we must also do.
  We tend to think that once-we've-begun-we-get-it-done." But that isn't how grace and mercy works. It would be too fleeting and never last.
  No, it must be a constant, daily or even minute-by-minute work of art for each of us. Just like our heart keeps a beat, our rhythm of breathing keeps repeating, so must our conscious desire to be patient, kind and merciful.  It may become a habit in some ways, but most likely it will have to be a rock in our shoe, a splinter in our finger that hurts and reminds us of the struggle.
  So don't give up on yourself. It's hard to sit during the Holy Mass and feel worthy enough to go to Communion on those days when I am fighting with myself again over my lack of compassion, patience or love...yet I fight myself to go because I so desperately NEED Jesus.  I know I am never worthy, but it's the food He gives me to keep trying every day to live with love. And when I receive Him I feel strength again. I know I can keep trying.  Abba, help me to keep trying!