Monday, December 27, 2010

St. John the Apostle

Many events in my life I have not wanted to participate in but, prompted by an older sibling, have done and have never regretted. (I'm not saying everything.) Can't you just see these boys, James and John, in the boat with their dad, just having a typical day fishing and this guy Jesus comes along and says "Follow me" and they immediately leave their dad and go? I can hear James saying, "Dad, I'm gonna go. I feel in my gut it's the right thing to do." Maybe his dad says, "Well, take your younger brother" or maybe "I know son. I feel it's right too" and John just jumps on the band wagon, not wanting to miss anything. Or James saying, "Come on John. Let's go. He's calling us." Maybe John wanted to stay with his dad. Maybe John was a little tentative. But from the story we get that they both just jumped out and followed Jesus.
In his homily, our priest the other day mentioned what a great study it is to fill in the blanks of what we know and don't know of Jesus' life. We are told of his birth, of age 12 and age 30 to 33. I find it a wonderful study to think further along all of the stories we hear in the Gospels. Of course, I love to embellish a story but there must be so much more. These guys were just regular people yet they gave up everything and followed Jesus and preached the Gospel. They asked ridiculous questions and these two had a mom who asked for her sons to be seated high in the Kingdom. They didn't understand a lot of what was going on and yet they stuck with Jesus. John was even put in charge of watching over Mary after Jesus' death. (Or was it Mary watching over John?)
Through all we read, what we get from St. John is a dedication to Jesus and a Gospel of love. Two things this world could definitely use today.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Greatest Acceptance Speech

I have sat through many acceptance speeches in my day but none so simple and to the point as this young girl's today. And I quote: Mary said,

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

And the whole world waited.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What's In a Name

"She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus"

The Lord appears to Joseph in our Gospel reading today and tells him to take Mary as his wife and she will bore a Son and they shall name Him Jesus. Instruction given and followed.
I have heard others throughout my life tell of receiving a name for their children in a dream. I personally never had that wonderful occurrence. I think that would be neat to feel like God had spoken to me in a dream and told me to name my child such and such. But alas, I sat after each birth with a Lives of the Saints book in hand and after seeing our child, my husband and I would decide on a name. Our first, Catherine Elizabeth was named after 2 awesome Saints, Catherine of Siena and Elizabeth of Hungary. Sarah is my husband's grandmother's name and Christine was the name of the sister who taught me in first grade who became Mother Superior of her congregation. William Harlen is named with the first names of his grandfathers. Poor little Margaret Anne started as Monica until we told my father-in-law her name and he asked if we named her after Monica Lewinski (same year of Clinton scandal). We couldn't get off the phone fast enough and call records in the hospital and have the process stopped. Oh heavens, how humans can kill a name! St. Margaret Mary and St. Anne both awesome, strong women, are perfect for this daughter to emulate. Nicholas Allen seems pretty obvious named after St. Nicholas and my husband but we played with this for quite some time because one of our regular street people use to call Allen Nicholas all the time and we wondered if that would bother us throughout this child's life. St. Nicholas overpowers Paul the street guy. The name has been a perfect fit. And last but not least, we have Julia Marie named straight after her mother. My thought was that when I have a child in my 42nd year, I can name her whatever I think I can remember in my old age. And, she reminds me often that I'm much older than the mom's of all the other kids in her class. Payback for this one could be grueling but my father laughs with every Julia story and says, "What goes around comes around. You certainly deserve this one." Hey! I must say, we might as well of received each of their names in a dream, because so far they have fit each one perfectly.
Soon and very soon, there will be another birth and His Name, announced today, is Jesus. His Name given from above is above all other names and it fits Him perfectly.

Any child naming stories to share?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Work as Prayer

Late yesterday I had a visitor at the bookstore who I had not sat and talked to probably since we were about 10 years old. A neighborhood friend, he stood and introduced himself to my husband and then blurted, "You know your wife and I should really be in jail. As kids, we hid in the ditch and threw rocks at cars." Of course my husband just shook his head. I had completely erased that from my memory. I guess the ridiculous things we really do not want our children or anyone else to know just seem to hide way back in nowhere land. We talked for an hour and a half, I believe. What a joy! He was telling me about interviews he had done for the Nashville Cursillo newsletter and I shared thoughts about prayer and family and work and my writing. He was genuinely interested in my spiritual life and a couple of times caught me off guard with an "Explain!" or a "Finish that thought!" or a simple "Tell!". He had much more energy than I did at 4:30 in the afternoon after running up and down the stairs at the bookstore for 7 hours. I did explain that my mind was much clearer at 5am than 5pm. However, one comment he did drag out of me that was worth sharing was about my "prayer form". When I mentioned my morning routine, my writing, my meditations, he jumped, "Is that your prayer form?" And suddenly the words spilled out, "Well, even my work here is a form of prayer for me. People come to the store, especially during this season and during these difficult economic times, not just to shop, but to share their story, their journey. I feel that the time I take with each person, the choices they may or may not make, the stories, are all part of my journey too. They are gift. They are my form of prayer." It has made me think this morning about the encounters I have with others in their workplace. Maybe I would be a little more respectful of their jobs and the work they do for me if I found them in the midst of a form of prayer in their work.
As we journey through this Advent Season and encounter others in their workplace, may we all share a little of our own gift. Maybe the gift of a smile or some laughter or a story or just a kind word could be shared as we work together in prayer. I know I was given a little of that yesterday afternoon, okay a lot of laughter, and I am grateful. May we be blessed in our chance meetings and may we in turn be a blessing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

St. Lucy - And the Eyes Have It

Because she is the patron Saint for eyes and eye trauma, this poor young martyr has been begged for intercession a couple of times in my family. My two oldest girls have both suffered eye trauma. First, the oldest was playing in a puddle of water near an old basketball goal (metal pole) and rubbed her eye and somehow stuck a rusty sliver of metal in her eye. A trip to the eye doctor and prayers to St. Lucy helped that time and again when she was practicing softball and running her hand along the fence in the dugout flicked a piece of metal in her eye. This was much tougher because she kept rubbing her eye and pushed the metal in somewhat deep. My husband brought her down to the store and I called Dr. Ducklo on a Saturday. He suggested we have her blink multiple times with her eye in a bowl of water. My mom happened to have a huge jug of Lourdes water at the store so I added some of that to the bowl and she blinked and blinked with no luck. We met doc at his office. He worked for an hour with a frightened young girl and her mom. It was difficult to help her keep her eye open. Many, many instruments were tried and finally after many prayers and some begging, Dr. Ducklo tried a mini drill with a tiny brush on the end. He held it in her eye for what seemed forever and the sliver flicked out the same way it flicked in. We were all exhausted by the end and all I could do was thank God, His Mother, and all the Saints and angels I called upon during the process.
Now let's not stop there. My second oldest daughter got hit in the eye with a clump of ice at that same softball field. I believe it was an accident and of course I had to be out of town but with multiple drops and visits back and forth to Dr. Ducklo and again many prayers to St. Lucy, she has full sight in that eye. She had to lay on her back as still as she could for a couple of days. Me being out of town made it awful for everyone. I wanted to see to believe, a little girl wanted her mom and a husband could have used some help. But again, after several days and many prayers I was able to thank God for His goodness and mercy to our family.
Dr. Ducklo suggests goggles for each of our children. At the time, we didn't think it was such a bad idea.
On this Feast of St. Lucy may all who struggle with their sight or any type of eye trauma be blessed in a special way. I am grateful for the belief in the intercession of Saints and today I am grateful for St. Lucy, patron of eyes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Lady of Guadalupe

On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe may we continually believe in miracles. May we persist in our Faith regardless of the pressures of the world in which we live. May we follow the path that leads to Jesus. May we pray to Our Lady to intercede for us. She is our Mother. She loves us to the point of coming to us with messages time and time again. She desperately wants us to pray and to fast and to ask pardon for our sins so that the world may have peace. Roses in December! Her image. Her constant beckoning. Today as we await the Birth of Jesus, may we wait in joyful hope. May we listen to our Mother and go time and time again and speak truth. May we hold our Faith close to our hearts, enfolded in our garments, so that when we open to one another, we are showered with truth and we come to believe. May Our Lady hold us in her mantle and fill us with her love as we wait for the Lord.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

St. Juan Diego

On the Feast of St. Juan Diego we are reminded that we are all called to carry the Good News. We are all called to respond to the simple wishes of Our Lady. We are asked time and time again to pray the Rosary for peace, to fast, to go to confession. Our Lady pursues us just as she did Juan Diego. Juan Diego showed great humility and persistence in his response to Mary and in his dealings with the Bishop. He is a wonderful example to us of continuing our beliefs through all sorts of adversity. He worried about many things but followed Our Lady's requests and she in turn took care of all his concerns.
Today may we, like Juan Diego, be persistent in our faith, be humble in our requests, simple in our lives and faithful to our God and His Blessed Mother.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Journey

"It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk." Isaiah
“I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” Luke

Today, Jesus calls us to journey with Him, to walk, to pick up all that burdens and weighs us down and be redeemed, saved, healed. Make the journey with Him. Pick up your stretcher. Come home.
As we venture toward His birth, as we prepare, may we allow ourselves to be cleansed and simply enjoy the journey.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Open My Eyes

"Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction."
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
And their eyes were opened.

You just have to love the Old and New Testament readings for today. I have so much going on right now, as does everyone, and the world just keeps on coming. Today just makes me believe even more in the power of prayer, in the power of having faith. All I can think to say is, "Lord in my mistakes, help me to understand. In my amazing ability to find fault, instruct me. Help me to be strong in my Faith, to be faithful, to be faith-filled. Open my eyes."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Multiply Those Loaves

Today, we find Jesus so compassionate toward the people who have been faithfully following Him and who have come to be healed. He just cannot send them away without something to eat. He knows they need food to sustain them. To get them back home. To nourish the journey. He knows we need that same food and we are fortunate enough to have that same food available to us every single day of the year.
Today I have to think about the times when I feel like I just cannot do one more thing. Like I cannot answer one more question or help one more person or cook one more meal. I have to think about the times when I am exhausted and just want to scream or to hide or to rest. And yet, I don't. I keep right on keepin' on and somehow the loaves are multiplied. Somehow, I continue the journey. Somehow, I answer the questions and help another person and cook and pick up and continue. Somehow, I'm better. Somehow, is all about Him. He sustains. He feeds. He helps me to continue and to hope and to love and to feed someone else. He multiplies those loaves and He leaves me with leftovers. He has compassion for us. He heals. He feeds.
Today, we are asked just to pass around all that He has given. He will fill the baskets. He will multiply. He will feed. He will heal. He will provide. All we are asked to do is spread it all around.