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.