Saturday, January 29, 2011

Give it all Away

Today with Brother Juniper's Feast Day, we read about a Franciscan in the time of St. Francis and St. Clare who was known "in the house" for giving everything away. He simply saw the needs of others and attended to them in every way possible. Today's readings are all about Faith. Faith in our God who will give us all we need. Faith in our God who will provide when we ourselves give to those in need. Why am I always so worried about how much to give? Can I not see that the more I give the more I receive? Can I not realize that no matter how little I'm left with, God will provide? True Faith. That's what Brother Juniper's life was all about. He did not worry about what would be done with what he gave or if those he gave to would be back for more. He did not worry about the consequences on this earth by his giving but rather the consequences if he did not give in abundance. As Abraham, as Brother Juniper, may we learn to have the faith to go the distance. May we have the faith to give, to follow, to tend, to love, completely. No holding back.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Roy

Saturday I'm in the basement of the bookstore receiving items in for the upcoming Communion, Confirmation, RCIA, Lent, Easter season and I could see Roy coming through the parking lot. Roy is a regular. I remember that I actually have some cash for a change and go to my purse and put some in anticipating Roy's request. I go down front and meet Roy as he enters the store. "What's up?" "Hey, come here. Let me ask you something. Can you give me...." I reach in my pocket and hand him some money at which he scowls. "Roy, that's plenty to get you a sandwich and a drink or fries or whatever you like." "I wanted to go across and get some chicken." "Well, that's enough for a snack meal." Evidently not. He was not happy but left mumbling something and as usual I let him irritate me. Soooo. In he walks yesterday and again, "What's up?" "How's Allen?" "He's good. Thanks." "How's the children?" "All good." "Do you have some candles you can give me?" "Sure, no problem." I go downstairs and grab a plastic bag and put about 8 beeswax altar candles, some used, in the bag and walk up and hand them to Roy. "Don't you have more?" Again, I find myself irritated but I go get him about 12 more and put them in his bag. "Thank ya." "You're welcome."
Now, why is it that I can let a simple old street guy bother me with his simple requests? I know when I see him that I will never give him enough and yet his reaction still irritates me. I guess I should be more generous on the front end, you know, as if I'll never see him again. My attitude sort of blows the whole "child of God", "face of Christ", "love one another", "do unto others", "widows mite", etc etc thing. I hope my next opportunity has a better result. What would you do?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pope to Catholics online: It's not just about hits

My brother-in-law sent me this article yesterday and I realize I'm slightly behind by posting it today but I find it interesting. Kind words. Kind words. Kinds words. Words that we write, that we publish can make a huge impact on people's lives. I am caught by the words sensitive and respectful. In the words we use in our writing and in speaking to one another, we are called to be sensitive and respectful. I've always thought that if something I wrote could make a difference in one person's life, then it is all worthwhile. But I have to remember that our words can also make a negative impact. Kindness, sensitivity, respect. Today. With each and every word.

Jan 24, 8:05 AM (ET)

By NICOLE WINFIELD
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI told Catholic bloggers and Facebook and YouTube users Monday to be respectful of others when spreading the Gospel online and not to see their ultimate goal as getting as many online hits as possible.

Echoing concerns in the U.S. about the need to root out online vitriol, Benedict called for the faithful to adopt a "Christian style presence" online that is responsible, honest and discreet

"We must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its 'popularity' or from the amount of attention it receives," Benedict wrote in his annual message for the church's World Day of Social Communications.

"The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive."

Benedict didn't name names, but the head of the Vatican's social communications office, Archbishop Claudio Celli, said it was certainly correct to direct the pope's exhortation to some conservative Catholic blogs, YouTube channels and sites which, with some vehemence, criticize bishops, public officials and policies they consider not Catholic enough.

"The risk is there, there's no doubt," Celli said in response to a question. He confirmed that the Pontifical Council for Social Communications was working on a set of guidelines with recommendations for appropriate style and behavior for Catholics online.

"I don't love such things, but I think we can define some points of reference for behavior," he said, adding that he hoped such a document would come out as soon as possible.

The Vatican's concern comes at a time when incendiary rhetoric - in the media and online - has come under increasing fire; even U.S. President Barack Obama has urged greater civility in political discourse following the attempted assassination of a U.S. congresswoman.

In his message, Benedict echoed many of the same themes he has voiced in years past about the benefits and dangers of the digital age, saying social networks are a wonderful way to build relationships and community. But he warned against replacing real friendships with virtual ones and warned against the temptation to create artificial public profiles rather than authentic ones.

"There exists a Christian way of communication which is honest and open, responsible and respectful of others," he wrote. "To proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one's own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preference and judgments that are fully consistent with the Gospel."

The 83-year-old Benedict is no techno wizard: He writes longhand and has admitted to a certain lack of Internet savvy within the Vatican.

But under Benedict, the Holy See has greatly increased its presence online: It has a dedicated YouTube channel, and its Pope2You.net portal gives news on the pontiff's trips and speeches and features I-Phone and Facebook applications that allow users to send postcards with photos of Benedict and excerpts from his messages to their friends.

Celli said the Holy See was working on a new multimedia portal that would be the point of reference for the whole Vatican that he hoped would be operational by Easter. It would start out in English and Italian, with other languages added later.

Currently, the Vatican website has links to the Vatican newspaper, the Vatican Museums and other Vatican departments, but it's clunky and out of date.http://www.vatican.va

Celli acknowledged that the pope's annual message - which is full of technical jargon - is not his alone. Celli's office prepares a draft and the pope then makes changes. Celli said he didn't know if Benedict had ever been on Facebook, but said he expected one of his aides had probably shown him around.

Friday, January 21, 2011

An Adventure, Work to do and a Stomach Ache

My two sisters and I ventured down to Naples to load furniture from my parents' condo and bring it back to our houses and as usual being around those two I picked up a few lessons that can be stored and reused. My daughter drove Donna and I to the airport at 4 a.m. to catch our 5:30 flight. We arrived in plenty of time and boarded the plane without a glitch. On board we learned that we were waiting for a signature on some equipment check and would have a slight delay but should make most of the connecting flights. Fifteen minutes later and still waiting, 4 or 5 passengers deplaned to try other flights. Twenty-five minutes later we went on to Atlanta and hustled off the plane. I was a little worried we may miss our connection. We walked quickly and without hesitation to our flight where my sister Jeanne was standing outside at the door yelling "Here they come. Don't worry sisters, I had them hold the plane." The girl at the desk said the door would close in 3 minutes and we must get on now so off we went to find our seats. Thank goodness for the rest of the plane, we did not have seats together.
After arriving and talking with our parents for awhile, we discovered that our father had already ordered a truck and it would be available Monday along with two guys who would help us load. The Penske was a 17ft truck with 2 seats. As we drove around Naples, we saw a truck that my sister thought may be like the one we would drive. I was worried. It was huge. So, after dinner we went and viewed the truck we would probably be using. Not as big but still only 2 seats. Oh, so these girls say they can just put a lawn chair between the seats and strap across with a rope. I think they're crazy so I offer to rent a small van and follow or better yet get a plane ticket and meet them in Atlanta. We decided that we only needed a 14ft truck but 3 seats so we had Donna call around. She ended up getting the deposit back on the Penske and getting a UHaul with 3 seats and a smaller rear.
As we went to pick up the UHaul on Monday, I voiced that this entire trip had given me a stomach ache. My sister Jeanne thought it was one huge adventure and Donna was on to do the work that needed done.
And so the story goes. Everything we wanted and more was loaded in that UHaul without a space to spare. We went for a nice dinner, rose the next morning early and headed out. Jeanne on her adventure, Donna with a job to complete and me a little worried that we could pull this whole thing off. But, we did and it went smoother than we ever dreamed possible. When we got to Atlanta, my nephew and a friend were waiting. I backed that rig right up the driveway to his garage and it was half unloaded in no time. Donna and I said goodbye to the adventure and headed on. Up and over Monteagle and on to Nashville, unloaded the next day and returned to UHaul on Thursday. Job complete. And, hey, I have no more worries. As a matter of fact, I got pretty good at driving that baby and after I learned to deal with the trip as an adventure and a job, I had some fun.
Come to think of it, those 2 sisters of mine bring out the best in the times we spend together. There seems to always be some sort of adventure and some sort of work to be done. And, a little like our life together, when it comes down to it, it's always fun.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Three Girls and a Truck

My two sisters and I have flown down to Naples,FL this weekend to pack furniture from a condo my parents have sold and load a U-Haul and drive it back to Atlanta and to Nashville. I have to admit, my dad had done most of the work before we got here so we have had plenty of time to get in a little shopping and time on the beach. How is it that we can leave temperatures in the 'teens and fly the friendly skies for only a few hours, remaining in the U.S., and have to wonder the following day if we may get sunburn while we walk the beach? It is beautiful down here and every time we venture down, we wonder why we don't come down more often. Oh yes! Maybe it's because we have 15 children and 7 jobs (outside the home) between the 3 of us.
Today we pick up our truck and load and prepare for the long road back home. We will miss our parents and I know they will miss us. As always, we have had a great time together laughing ourselves silly. I came down to bring back beds to our house and as usual I get to bring back many great stories of good times together with my sisters, my mom and my dad. I can't tell you how many people commented on how lucky my dad was to be with four women. And, we're lucky to be with him. And may I add, I'm lucky to have a husband and kids who make it possible for me to leave Nashville.
The drive will be a trip, I'm sure. I'll follow up here after some recovery time. But in the meantime, I have to enjoy one more day of sunshine! Thank you mom and dad.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Way We Remember

Before Christmas, my niece emailed and asked if I could gather my brothers and sisters and write some stories about her father from his short life. It is the 2oth anniversary of his death and she was only 2 when he died so she did not know him at all. I immediately forwarded that email to my older sister who in turn compiled stories from our family and some of his college buddies. It was great. As I watched her and her mom sitting together on Christmas Day, laughing and crying, I realized just how great it was for my sister to actually go the extra mile and compile those memories into a small booklet. There was one story in particular that 3 of his siblings wrote that had 3 completely different angles and yet all contained the same message. It's funny how we hear the same stories and yet translate them differently.

As I read William Mills book, A 30 Day Retreat, over December, I was reading the chapter for Day 22 and he expresses the same idea about the four Gospel writers. "The gospels are stories of faith. Each Gospel contains the entire truth about Jesus the Son of God, but in slightly different ways." "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John provide us with four witnesses to the preaching, teaching and miracles of Jesus Christ. Likewise, the four Gospels contain various teachings, sermons and healings, yet they all emphasize one important fact: our discipleship in Jesus' name."

Maybe this helps me to realize that it is not so much about the story itself as the the lesson from the story. The way we remember, the way we read, may all be different but in the end, when the last chapter comes to a close, it's all about the message.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Memories

I just love the old times. Someone posted my 7th grade basketball team on facebook and we have all had fun making comments. Another girl posted a question about a business in our area that has since been closed, and that started a whirl of memories. This is partially why I started this blog, to remember all the good things that have been passed down to me whether from my childhood or from the Bible or some other part of History. I've said before and I'll say again, it's not just about the clothes or the baseball glove or the bicycle or the lesson. It's about the people who are in the story behind all those hand me downs. It's about the lessons we look back on that formed us into the adults we are today. It's about relationships and it's about love. I'll try to stay on track this year and continue to pass on the lessons I receive from the daily Readings and the lives of the Saints and my own past. And, I'd love for others to share anything they have learned as I meant for this to be more interactive. I constantly learn from others and I believe that is one of the reasons God gave us to one another. We write our own stories and we pass them on for all they are worth. We are all chapters in the book of life. Maybe we can even consider ourselves continuations of the book written so many years ago. I love memories and I'll try to continue to share and I hope you continue to share along with me.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton - The Will of God

The theme for today seems to be following the will of God. As we read about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and her conversion to Catholicism and her life, we learn that what she tells her fellow sisters, “The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly, to do it because it is his will” is how she lived her life. She wholeheartedly lived to follow the will of God.
In the first reading from John, we learn that His will is all about loving one another. God is love. We are made in His image and likeness and therefore we are love. We are to love. We are to love God and love one another. Sometimes I think John seems he has to beat us over the head with so much love. I get it. God loves me unconditionally and I in turn am to love others in that same way. However, we see the theme for today and we must add, not just know He loves us and know we should love others but do His will and actually love.
Mark's Gospel teaches us that we can follow Jesus around all we want but His will for us today is to feed one another. He did not want his disciples just to send the people out to find something to eat and hope they came back for more teachings. He had a captive audience. He knew it was His chance to turn their hearts to God. His will is for us to feed the ones in our midst at the time they are with us. As parents, we are not to put it off for a more convenient time. As a community, we are not to wait for perfect timing or a holiday hour or a disaster. As people in the workplace, we are not to wait for just the right time or when no one else is around.

The will of God is to act. The will of God is to love. As Elizabeth Ann Seton says, the will of God is our daily work, as He wills it because it is His will. In our ordinary day, in our ordinary way, listen to what He wills and do it. Just do it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

One of My Mother's Favorites

The last stanza of this poem is one of my mother's favorite verses. I've never read the entire poem until just now when I was looking for the name of the author to give the credit for this post. It is even more beautiful in it's entirety.

In the Bleak Midwinter - Christina Rosetti 1872.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breast full of milk
And a manger full of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Today's Blessing

From the Lord to Moses to Aaron and his sons to bless the Israelites and on to us today:

The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!

Happy New Year!