Friday, November 11, 2016

Today I Shall Be Content

Today I shall be content
content as I ought to be
for being content  is not settling for less
or letting the world bother me.

Today I shall be content
and happily wear a smile.
I love my life, with its joys and its pain,
and it's alright to rest for awhile

Today I shall be content
for it doesn't mean I have less.
It means I am happy with what I do have
and not making my life a big mess.

Today I shall be content
while sharing  my joys with you.
For I care for my family, my friends and co-workers
and hate to see anyone blue.

Today YOU should be content
and realize the blessings you're given
make your life a big smile and rest for a while
God loves you, your sins are forgiven.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Fall Roses

Just simple beauty...

Let Civility Begin With Me

(with apologies to the Peace song, I remember lessons better with music...)

   Let there be civility and let it begin with me.
   Let there be civility,  the words that are kind from me.
   With God as our Father, brothers all are we,
    let us walk with each other, in peace and harmony.
   Let me use civility, let this be the moment now.
   With every word I speak, let this be my solemn vow
   to speak with niceness, correct with niceness and be more pleasant please?
   Let there be civility
  and let it begin with me.

Here is background on the woman who wrote "Let There Be Peace On Earth":  Jill Miller

Jill Jackson Miller was born Evelyn Merchant on August 25, 1913 in Lawrence, Missouri. Her mother died when she was three, and her subsequent childhood was difficult and traumatic. By the age of twelve she had become a ward of the court and the foster child, along with her older sister, of Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Cowan.

Jill was the youngest of four children. She had twin brothers, one of whom, Cullie Merchant, became a teacher and principal in the Phoenix area. The other brother died as a child from an accident with fireworks. Jill's older sister, Eva Mae Merchant, lived most of her life in San Bernardino, California.

Jill attended high school at Northeast High in Kansas City, Missouri. After two years of junior college she moved to Hollywood to fulfill her dream of becoming an actress. She lived at the Studio Club, a well known home for young aspiring actresses that provided a haven for young women in a strange city.

Using the screen names of Jill Martin, Harley Wood and Harlene Wood, Jill starred in several westerns and a serial in the 1930s. In 1940 she married Felix Jackson, a German writer and director who had immigrated to California, and she ended her career in films at his request. They had two daughters and divorced in 1944.

My sister Harley and I have vivid memories of being glued to our black and white TV, with our neighborhood friends sometimes seated behind, shouting excitedly, "Here comes mommy!" as we watched her galloping on horseback to save the day in one of her heroine roles. Jill's only regret from those years was the film "Marihuana", a movie she felt had been a mistake. In those days, the film was considered "sensational". Today it seems quite preachy and tame.

After the divorce, Jill attempted suicide, and during her slow recovery she had experiences that led her to a strong belief in God and inspired her to write.

She began her writing career with magazine articles and children's stories. In 1946 Jill met the man who would become her second husband and the real love of her life, Sy (Seymour) Miller, a musician, composer and writer for Warner Brothers Music. They married in 1949, and Sy encouraged her to write songs with him. Together they formed Jan-Lee Music and wrote many songs together - Sy writing the music and Jill writing the lyrics. The song that they are most known for is "Let There Be Peace on Earth (and Let it Begin with Me)".

After writing "Let There Be Peace on Earth", the desire for world peace became a quest that filled much of Jill's life. Over the years, as the song spread around the globe, she was asked to give talks about the song and the power of each individual to help create peace. Jill was an inspiring speaker who believed that all of her varied experiences had contributed to her understanding. She was always ready to encourage people to keep searching for their meaning, their inspiration, their true beliefs, and to forgive themselves and others for mistakes made along the way. And Jill readily illustrated her thoughts with tales of her own misadventures, a quality which endeared her to many.

Sy and Jill's song about peace was performed and recorded by countless singers, and used by many groups and churches, including the United Nations. It won the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation's "George Washington Medal" and an award from The National Council of Christians and Jews.

Sy Miller passed away on August 17, 1971. Jill continued her work for peace until her death in Hawaii, where she passed away peacefully in her own home in April, 1995.

Jan Tache
October, 2009

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

St Joseph, the Bodyguard

St Joseph is a good saint to look at as we approach the Advent season.  The Church reveres him as the patron saint of workers, fathers and a happy death. But he was also a man who had to deal with crises, the same crises that millions of families face today: government-sponsored terrorism, forced migration and the pressure of leading a family in distress.  Not once, but three times, the Gospel describe Joseph as a man on a journey. First he sets out for Bethlehem with Mary, his pregnant wife, for mandated census. Then with their newborn baby, they flee Bethlehem for Egypt. Later in calmer political times, Joseph takes his family to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Passover.  Must of what we know of Joseph’s life then is an odyssey: heading from place to place over going great distances to fulfil the will of God.

It was state sponsored terrorism, when Herod ordered the death of all boys in his city that the families of Bethlehem awoke to hoof beats outside their doors, the metallic sound of swords being drawn and the frantic and terrified cries of mothers and children followed.

Joseph was forced to flee with Mary and Jesus on a 200 mile journey through a desolate desert to save Jesus’ life.

There are millions of refugees today that are having to do the same thing today. Central American migrants leave families behind to search for jobs in the north, Syrian and Lebanese families take dangerous voyages to Europe only to be confined in crowded camps; persecuted families in Eritrea and the Horn of Africa flee to Ethiopia only to find a drought.  There are literally millions of Josephs in our own time.

So Joseph stands out as an example of resolute trust. He conveys the same message carried to him by an angel: “Do not be afraid.” Without saying a word, Joseph offers steadfastness, surety and hope. He was able to cross the distance and keep his family safe.  Joseph can be the advocate for those people today, weeping, grieving and praying for them. His example of trust and quiet strength can serve as an encouragement to us as we struggle to maintain hope in times of difficulty and personal pain.

When you are faced with anxiety about the future, when worries seem to much, look to Joseph, who was the bodyguard for his family. He trust God to get him through all the anxious, worrisome times and to help him understand the mysterious plan God had for him.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Changing Hearts

Sometimes in the midst of all the arguing, anger and despair, we forget that no matter how hard we threaten, cajole, or rant, we cannot sway other’s opinions about God and his creation.  We must pray that hearts be changed.   Hearts that are open to listening to God, open to respecting our world and those who dwell in it are focusing on what is good.  But if we become mired in the mud and give up hope, we are not helping anyone and in a sense we are giving up on the goodness God put in people.

We must remember that we are ALL God’s creation, even those who don’t believe in Him or His part in their lives. 

Now Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus that if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.  On his journey as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him “Saul, Saul why are your persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”  (Acts 9:1-6)   

And so we must be instruments of God’s Good News. We cannot wash our hands of them, keep screaming or make threats but act at Ananias  did when the Lord told him to go to Saul, “Go for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings and Israelites and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”  (Acts 9:15-16) 

We too have to be confident that God will use us to help others see and know His love for all people. We cannot despair, and give up joy.  We are to proclaim God’s marvelous Words in our speech, our actions and the way we treat people and most of all we must pray for everyone to have the same conversion Saul did. “He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues that he is the Son of God.  All who heard him were astounded and said, “Is this not the man who in Jerusalem ravaged those who call upon his name and came here expressly to take them back in chains to the chief priests?  But Saul grew all the stronger and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus, proving that this is the Messiah.”  (Acts 9:19-22)

Live in joy and prayer, our God who is all powerful, loves us!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Battling for Our Faith

   I work in a Catholic parish office. There I said it. I hate being out socially and having someone ask me where I work because when I tell them the conversation suddenly veers towards someone else or at best I get an, "Oh okay..."  and the crickets start sounding really loud.

    Let me first say, I am not embarrassed to be a faith-filled person, or Catholic or to even work in a Catholic office.  What I am embarrassed about is many loud, critical Catholics in this country who have totally ruined my image.  And what IS that image, you ask? 

     Well, let me make it simple, you know how Pope Francis smiles and loves people? That is the image I wish everyone saw as universally Catholic.  I like to make people feel warm and welcome, loved by God and respectful of Him because whether you believe this or not, you owe God your life.  He made you, you didn't spring up out of the earth all by yourself.  He made you to just love Him.  He really didn't demand so much, oh maybe those 10 Commandments which really are just good ways to live your life, don't kill people, just honor Him and show Him and others respect.  These are 'rules' that are written in our hearts, by, you guessed it, Our Creator.  You can travel to any country in the world and pretty much ask a person on the street what a 'moral law' is and they'll most likely say, "Well, you shouldn't kill people, take care of women and children, be a decent person."  Those Ten Commandments are what make up being a 'decent person."

    But these days it doesn't seem that being a decent person is what is being 'advertised' as being a Catholic.  If you say you are a Catholic to some general person on the street they are most likely to associate us with Anti-Abortion, Anti-Gay, Anti-women doing anything.

     I find it extremely sad, and horrifying that our Catholic faith has been summed up in a few choice sound bytes, not just by the media or social media, but by Catholics themselves who can't seem to talk about anything else.

     Yes, I am Pro-Life, yes, I think marriage is between a man and a woman and while I work in a Catholic church and participate in many ways during the Mass as Cantor, sacristan and more, I do not want to be a priest. and yet there is WAY more to my Catholic Faith than any or all of those issues.

    I also feel called to serve the poor by listening to them when they come into my office or stop me on the street. I  help protect children by teaching them self defense, I help empower women by teaching them how to stay safe from rape and assault.   I am a writer and I write articles not only about faith but self defense for women and children.   I also go to Mass frequently to fill myself up with the presence of God in Holy Communion, to be reassured of His love for me in the prayers and readings. I teach young people how much God loves them and try to help them feel God's love for them showing them scripture readings that tell them this and having them help at our food pantry to feed the poor.   I write newsletters to our teens reassuring them of God's love for them, I teach them to sing and how to enrich other people's lives with their service work. I love my husband, my children, my friends, my parents by feeding them, clothing them, telling them I love them every single day. I smile at the clerk helping me at the grocery, I laugh with the receptionist at the dentist. I also experience despair, sadness and days when I just don't feel like getting out of bed. Terrible things go wrong, loved ones die, I am lonely or afraid and wonder if God is really listening to my prayers.

   All of that, ALL OF THAT is what makes me a Catholic. 

  Being a Catholic is walking in the footsteps of Jesus, with everyone in the world, not demanding they see or do things this way or that, but by showing them the Father's love for them so then they DO see why protecting unborn babies is so important, why God made us for creating and nurturing life, and why we must, like the lone leper who was cured, turn around and given Him thanks for everything He has given us.