Monday, June 29, 2020

Prayer: Action Verb!

I have been focusing on prayer a lot these days.  I think it is because I don't know what else to do during these times of trouble, unrest and worry in the whole entire world.

Pray is the only thing I can "do" because some how we all feel like we must DO something. And we forget that praying IS doing something.

Prayer gets a bad wrap at times. We are mocked when we earnestly tell someone in the grocery line, "We'll pray for them."  I don't know about you, but I don't ever tell someone that lightly. If someone is having a bad day or has told me about something bad happening in their life, I only tell them I am going to pray for them if I really mean it.  I don't appreciate when comedians on television make fun of me for saying I will pray for you.  Because, I WILL pray.

Praying is an action, the word is a verb so to pray is doing something, performing an action. It is not a word that sits there and looks pretty.  Like any action hero, PRAY is supposed to take off and fly.  It requires concentration and intent.  No superhero goes off flying around wondering what he's going to do next. He has  plan and puts it into action.

It states in the Catholic Catechism (2740)  Jesus is our model for prayer.  The prayer of Jesus makes Christian prayer an efficacious petition.  He is its model, he prays in us and with us. Since the heart of the Son seeks only what pleases the Father, how could the prayer of the children of adoption be centered on the gifts rather than the Giver?   Efficacious petition means it is successful in producing a desired result.

So Jesus has taught us how to pray effectively by modeling it himself.  He even told us how to pray by teaching us the Our Father.

But for us to understand prayer correctly means it's not all about memorizing and saying by rote.  The Our Father and the Rosary are not made up of magic words.  The words are meant to remind us to think upon God.   The whole rosary is prayed to make us stop what we are worried about, thinking about and think about how Jesus prayed in his lifetime. The mysteries are set up for us to see and walk with Jesus in his life and journey to the Resurrection.  Prayer is meant to help us 'see' God in his way. It is not about us getting our answer or what we want. It is all about forming our will to wait, to be patient, and most of all to TRUST in God.

Ah….trust.  Another action word, another verb that we have to act with!  Trust is also not a static word or sitting still.  It is a super hero word of action again like prayer.  Prayer and Trust are like flying and diving to a super hero!  They are words that get us ready to live life, to fight evil and love God.

So when you say you are going to pray, even if you are kneeling at your bedside, sitting in your favorite rocker or sitting in the pew at church, you need to remember you are not settling down to pray.  You are setting up for action!  You are doing something no one else can do because we all pray in a different way each person's prayer is important for God to hear.    Think of how we could change the world into beautiful peace if each of us would treat the word PRAY as an action!  We could literally save the world like any super hero.

Smile: The Super Hero!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Be Not Afraid!

"He left and went to Zarephath.

As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
“Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.”
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
“Please bring along a bit of bread.”
She answered, “As the LORD, your God, lives, 
I have nothing baked;
there is only a handful of flour in my jar
and a little oil in my jug.
Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks,
to go in and prepare something for myself and my son;
when we have eaten it, we shall die.”
Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. 
Go and do as you propose.
But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.
Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.
For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
‘The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’”
She left and did as Elijah had said.
She was able to eat for a year, and Elijah and her son as well;
the jar of flour did not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
as the LORD had foretold through Elijah."     1 Kings 17:7-16

Most people would say it was ironic that the day I volunteer to lector at Mass during the week, was the day I had this reading.

I say it was the Holy Spirit reminding me to be not afraid.  The Holy Spirit knew I was getting tired; tired of the news, tired of people hating each other, tired of the fighting and warring with words and fists. I was worrying about how this was all going to resolve in our world, I was worried about my children and grandchildren growing up in a world of hate and strife.  I went to Mass, worried with my mind on these things when I stood up to proclaim God's word.  And right in front of me I was challenged to not worry any more. 

 I knew that I could not proclaim this very phrase, "Do not be afraid," by Elijah if I was still being afraid.  How many times in our history have we read the words spoken by God to not be afraid?  It is such an important command that even St. John Paul II made it his motto when he was elected Pope!  Be not afraid challenges us in more ways than all the unrest and anger in our world challenges us.  It is very hard to not be afraid!  Yet, God commands it, he doesn't just whisper it.  When it is used in the Bible and in faith teachings it is always a command! "Be Not Afraid! or "Do Not Be Afraid!"

Shouldn't we listen?  Shouldn't we believe God more than all the voices of the world telling us to be scared? Shouldn't we believe God more than the experts,  the committees, the people of power that tell us be afraid, be very afraid?  Yes! We must believe God!  We must go out into the world and NOT BE AFRAID!

 The early Christians were not afraid to live as Jesus taught them!  Yes, sometimes they were killed for not being afraid, but even when dying they knew God would save their souls!  We must be less afraid of losing our physical bodies than our eternal souls.  Be not afraid means going out into the world and telling everyone that God loves them! Good or bad, God loves each and every one of us.  As Christians we are told to boldly proclaim God's love and to NOT BE AFRAID, to shout it out!  That is the example of the early Christians that we need to emulate in these times of fear, pandemic, unrest, hatred and scorn.

We are being called to not be afraid to love one another.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Being the Gopher Out of the Hole

   I know I need to stop doing two things these days: 1.  stop listening to the news. Even though I want to keep up on what is going on in the world, which seems to be only the virus pandemic, and 2. stop watching to commercials because if I hear one more time the lines, "in this time of uncertainty" or "in these trying times" I think I will scream!!  The last place I need to be reminded of these Uncertain Times is in a commercial! 
  Okay my rant is over, almost:  I have a hard time believing that the only news in the whole entire world is the virus pandemic. Before this began we had news of constant earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes erupting, meteors headed towards earth and new life found in a cave somewhere.  Seriously there was always news of some kind!
  There is still weather going on at least in my part of the country that needs to be reported on. We've had hundreds of tornado warnings just in my three surrounding states that no one on national news is reporting on. What gives?  How about lightning up a little with the pandemic and give us tornado damages?
  Today was my boiling over point. I just cannot take any more bad news or hear anything more about 'these uncertain times.'  Even my fellow workers use this term and I almost stood up and walked out the door.  Every day is uncertain, why do we think it was different before? Nothing was certain. 
  I want some good news people! I want hope and laughter.  Even the early Christians had hope and laughter and they were being martyred for practicing their faith!!  I want us all to be relatively safe, but there are no guarantees in this life, people!  Every day is an act of faith going out the door, will I have a heart attack on my way to work? Will I get killed in an accident while driving?  I know I stand a pretty good chance of getting from A to B in one piece, but we act as if it is something new to think we may get this virus and die. 
  I have to blame a life of faith on my way of thinking.  My faith tells me that I should be concentrating on getting to heaven on a daily basis, not concentrating on my social media numbers, my bank account or how I look.  So my brain has always reminded me that I need to treat my family, friends and even other people who drive bad on the streets with love and care because I may not see them again!  It's not anything morbid, but just a way to remind myself to be kind, loving and tell everyone I love on a daily basis how much they mean to me. That's what my faith tells me to do. And during these 'uncertain times' I still do that. And when the 'uncertain times' are over, I will STILL do that!
  Okay NOW I think my rant is over. I apologize if I sound like I am screaming but in a way I am. Today I just could not take the social distancing, the uncertainty of our times, the timid way we are all going about living. Yes, we need to be careful. Believe, I know, my own brother had this virus the very first week we began hearing about it. He suffered a lot alone in the hospital with none of us allowed to go see him.  It was horrible. We were scared to death. Thank God he made a good recovery. So I know how scary this virus is, but we cannot live this way!  We must live for our faith and trust in God that whatever happens to us He will take care of us.  Faith and trust is the only way to get through this life.  It is hard to find anyone promoting having faith and trust in the media, social media, news, even in some of our churches.  So we have to take it on and ask God for help to get through this. He will see us through.  Like that first gopher that pops his head out of the hole to check on the conditions of his world, we must be brave enough to stick our heads up and ask for help from God then trust in Him.  We don't need to go running out blithely unaware of things, but let's stop sounding so scared and frightened.  Let's stop constantly talking about the virus as if our lives have been put on hold and won't function until the all clear. Let's put on a mask, go to the store and work.  We have been through wars and health crisis' before and while this one is a biggie, we can do this!  At least we can try to get put on a brave face and remember to trust in God. He is bigger than this pandemic!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Sense of Community

    The first day I did this was a fiasco, my camera took video sideways, even though I was holding it horizontal, and the sound wasn't really good.  I looked down all of the comments that were being made and was embarrassed at how many people were complaining about the picture.  I know you have to watch it so you get a crook in your neck, but I am trying hard…and why aren't you just watching the sideways Mass instead of commenting?!
Throughout the last several weeks, I've been live streaming our Sunday and daily Mass as well as all of the Holy Week services before Easter on our parish Facebook page.
   I admit I was appalled at all of the comments that were being posted during the Mass. 
The next day I had my act together better and the video was straight like it was supposed to be. I didn't expect any comments today. But I was taken back when comments began flying across the screen again, but this time with Likes, and Hearts floating up the screen.  I was glad my video was turning out better, but I was still really surprised people were commenting during the Mass.  I admit I am starting to sound like the Mass police here but I couldn't help but think, 'Hey you, stop typing and pay attention to the homily!" 
   But after several weeks as this kind of thing just kept going and more and more people were finding us on Facebook to 'tune in to' Mass, I finally noticed that the comments were almost all alike.   As soon as I went 'live' just before the bells rang for Mass, people were jumping on and wishing each other Good Morning,  and happy day, and thanking us for live streaming Mass.   It suddenly struck me as a beautiful thing they were doing.  Members of our parish were congregating at Mass, just like they do on Sunday or during the week, checking in on each other, making sure older members were there for Mass, asking for prayers for each other or a loved one who was sick.  Most of the time it was just a whole line of, "good morning!' scrolling down the screen.
   It caught the attention of our pastor who would always watch the Mass after it was posted on our Facebook page.  He realized the need for people to comment as our sense of parish community right away, something that took me a few weeks to figure out.  What a beautiful thing. Yes, they were typing at their computers while watching Mass, but if you think about it, don't you nod your head with something in the homily when you are in church?  Or wave or nod at a neighbor at Mass or smile and tear up?  People were instinctively doing this but since we couldn't see them, they used their keyboards instead!
   Now I relish sitting down after I've posted the Mass online and read the comments, me myself checking on everyone who was there and making sure older members are okay too.  It is something learned during this time of quarantine and social distancing that we desperately NEED each other to reach out to and hug.  And are we not blessed we can do it with a stroke of a keyboard?