Saturday, April 28, 2012

Conversion of St. Paul

As I listened to the reading yesterday on the conversion of St. Paul, I could not help but compare Paul's awakening to my own everyday morning routine. As the sleep falls from my eyes, I begin a new day, a whole new possibility for my life in Christ.
Mornings are the best time for me to pray and to think, you know, before anyone else wakes. This particular morning I cannot help but compare my daily life with this one particular day when Ananias says, "Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." As I rub my eyes, bringing my day into focus, I am filled with the Holy Spirit. We all are. We all have the chance at new possibilities for a new day. I am refreshed and ready to meet the challenge of spreading the Good News by words and by action and then...the world awakes and I am aware of just how difficult it is to truly be a follower of Jesus from the time my eyes are open until they close at night.
I get pretty far into the morning and then a customer insists on something I do not have to give and I am aware of my lack of patience. I try harder. I get farther into the afternoon and a customer calls to complain about something on our website that is out of stock for the year. Instead of apologizing for the 3rd time, I defend. I am aware of my short temper. A customer stops me from leaving on time to get my child from school. I try to pass him off on another employee. I am aware of my rudeness.
As I drive, I am fully aware of my failures. I try to end my day with my family with a little more Christian attitude.
As the sleep falls from my eyes this morning, I begin a new day, a whole new possibility for my life in Christ.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Juggling Life

I cannot think of one parent who does not want their children to have everything that life has to offer. We work long hours or more than one job. We sign them up for multiple events, sports, scouts, play performances, etc. etc. They eat on the run and study in the car. We work while we wait for them or grocery shop between meetings and games. Seems we're all trying to see how many "things" we can keep in the air at the same time. What exactly are we teaching our children about what's important? What exactly are they learning from others in our community?

There is no doubt that now-a-days it seems like we are all just juggling life. We are on the move because new technology has made it simpler to organize and plan on the run. But are we really living? Are we really enjoying all that life has to offer? Or, do we just keep tossing "things" into the air, hoping to stay afloat? Are our children truly happy? What is our life right now all about?

Today in John's Gospel, we hear Jesus speak to the crowd about eternal happiness, the good life forever. He tells us under no uncertain terms that before we even begin to juggle this life, we must believe in Him. Jesus first and all the other "things" in the air just fall into place. Jesus first and all that we do in this life will find order. Our children need to see from us, Jesus first. Our children need to know that all the "stuff" is just that, "stuff". He is the living bread. He is what sustains. He is what nourishes. If we believe, if we eat this Bread, we will have eternal life and all the stress and all the juggling and all the hectic-ness of our lives will be no more. Juggling may be fun for a while, but...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Warnings

Life can be messy. There are days, even weeks when we can actual say we are glad that this world is our temporary stopping place. We can just be sailing along and wham! something occurs that rocks our week or our month or our lives. And, the most important thing that I see out of people having to "deal with the messiness" is that when this world does knock them around, it does not rock their faith. If anything, they seem to come out stronger. They take the hit, the warning as a shot at a second chance, as the voice from above, as Divine Providence. Whether it's time for us to slow down or to change our eating habits or to exercise a little more or to be gentler people or to just pay attention, a warning is a warning and it's given for a reason. Change! Do the right things, follow instructions, humble yourself, pray, have faith in the warning and switch around your entire life if you have to but for crying out loud take the second chance and change your ways. How wonderful that He is the God of second chances. We know this through our belief in Reconciliation. He loves us through all the mess and if for some reason we cannot see the opportunities He sets before us, He loves us just the same. Oh if we could just love one another as He loves us, this world would be a kinder place. Heed the warnings...life is messy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jesus at My Side

As the publication date of my new book from Our Sunday Visitor gets closer, I get more nervous. As the quote from the publisher states, Jesus at My Side "provides the simplest of approaches to walk with Jesus every day. 365 quotes from Jesus coupled with 365 personal reflections and life observations create a unique and refreshingly intimate opportunity for timeless prayer and companionship."

"Awaken your soul to the messages of Jesus in a new and different way. Be inspired and humbled. Be humored and pensive. Take a daily walk with Jesus."

It's personal and it's simple. So, as I wait and sweat, I read, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish"... Simple. Jesus did not need two hundred days wages or to send someone into town or to cause anyone stress. He needed them simply to recline, to rest, to relax. Jesus loves those who have come to hear His words and He feeds them. He doesn't want these people over thinking or over reacting. He wants them to be filled to the point of overflowing, thus leftovers. His message is simple...love one another. Take what's right smack in front of you and really, love one another.

Still, I'm nervous so I think, hey, since my publication date is April 24th, wonder, in my book, what Jesus' words are for that day and I read, "Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?" Matt8:26  Simple, right? I had to laugh.

He never ceases to amaze me.


Jesus' words are truth and in His words we find peace and guidance and most of all love.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

All School Mass

I am very fortunate that I have the time before work to go to morning Mass. It is actually rather difficult to drop the kids off and not stop for 40 or so minutes. Wednesday is the all school Mass and I can sit in my spot and see my son singing with the choir as well as my 8th grader with her kindergarten buddy and my 4th grader with her class. I love this Mass. The kids love saying the "new" responses loud and clear and the music is wonderful. I spend the rest of the day with the Mass songs in my head.

Yesterday, I noticed a young dad sitting in my same pew who I have noticed for many weeks in a row. Don't get me wrong, there are several parents who come to this Mass. I love seeing their children give them "the look" as they pass them walking in with their class. Children like to see their parents at Mass. So, back on topic... The parents in the back are allowed to go to Communion first, then the school children. As we went down, the (I think) 3rd graders were coming out of the right side front pews. This dad reached out and rubbed his son's head and the boy turned and gave a large smile in return. Then, right in front of me, they both slightly bowed and received Jesus at the same time. What a moment! What a special time for this young boy and his dad! Of course, it brought tears to my eyes and goose bumps to my arms. One time out of his busy day...one special moment with his son...one lucky witness.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Impossible for Him Not to Speak

"Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, the leaders, elders and scribes were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus." "It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard." He's been coming in the bookstore for many years telling us stories about and showing us pictures of the amazing ways that God has blessed his life. He constantly and continually shares stories of the love of Christ as well as the love of His Mother. He tells stories of times shared with his son as fog lifted from a mountain or with his wife together in Eucharistic Adoration or with other pilgrims in Medjugorje or Garabandal or Guadalupe. He tells of the countless number of books he has read and shares the messages and his thoughts. I believe him to be a holy man. Close to Christmas, I answered the phone and could hardly understand the voice on the other end. He needed to order a few books for his wife. Hadn't I noticed that he had not been in the store lately? His mouth and tongue and throat were still a mess from surgery and radiation and chemo, best I could understand. He'd been fighting cancer of the throat. We made it through the conversation and I promised to pray. Another call closer to Christmas to check on the books and to report tiny progress. One more call to thank me for their safe arrival. Friday, he stood in my midst. He asked, "Do you recognize me?" "Of course I do." We were busy but never too busy to listen to him. As usual, a fascinating story. Him being taken down but not out. The amazing faith of the holy man who shared the realization that there are so many people worse off than him. This man whose throat was still completely shut down stood and told about blessings and about love and about faith. He spoke of being humbled and as so many times before, all I could do was listen and try to hold back tears. As I sat with the above verses from the Saturday readings, I realized just how much this ordinary man always seemed to leave me and the others in the store amazed. I recognized him as a companion of Jesus. I understood that even though the illness of this world had tried to stop his speech, it was, it is impossible for him not to speak about what he has seen and heard.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Business as Usual

"Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing.'" I couldn't help but think today that after all the disciples went through, after running in fear and probably looking for a place to be alone, they went back to where they were when it all began. Back to work. Back to where they were comfortable. And, once again, without Jesus, they had nothing. Without Jesus, they worked to no avail. The minute Jesus showed up, all was well. And not just enough so that they were fed, but they were fed abundantly. And, even though there were so many fish, the net was not torn. Even when we feel completely overwhelmed, if we have Jesus in our lives, we can handle life's possible snags. If we need to go fishing, we need to go fishing but remember, keep Him close. Always. Live life in abundance. Load up. Take in the big haul. It's business as usual.

Attention

On the heels of my post yesterday, as I read a part of Abandonment to Divine Providence (my Lenten Reading continues), "Jesus is our master to whom we do not pay enough attention. He speaks to every heart and utters the word of life, the essential word for each one of us, but we do not hear it. We would like to know what he has said to other people, yet we do not listen to what he says to us."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Paying Attention

"He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them." Acts 3:5 This verse from the reading of the Acts of the Apostles yesterday made me stop and take notice. The crippled man obviously caught the attention of Peter and John as one who needed to be cured and yet he was expecting something totally different...money. But, he paid attention. He expected to receive. He knew they had something for him. And, boy did they. Something greater than he could ever have imagined. I have been contemplating lately that I am a poor listener. I often think about my response instead of fully listening to what someone is saying to me. I just don't really pay attention. And lately, God has been specifically pointing this out to me. He has been telling me to be quiet, not only as a way of closing my mouth (difficult enough) but as a way of shutting down my mind. Letting go. Allowing others in. Especially Him. I often think that I know what others are going to say or what God has in store so I am thinking of my response before I even hear the comment or the question or receive the gift. Jesus calls us to pay attention. And, He calls us to expect to receive something when we do give Him and others our full attention. In our busy world, it is more difficult than we think to fully take time to listen; to fully take time to close our mouths and our minds and allow requests and answers to penetrate our hearts. One day at a time, may we practice paying attention. And in return, may we expect to receive. The gift of people present in our lives is not the gift of chance. Each word uttered, each encounter, has a purpose. Maybe something greater than we've ever imagined. Pay attention. Expect.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Journey to the Cross

I've tried all my life not to be just another part of the crowd but as they gather, I tend to fall in with the rest. Suckered in out of curiosity. There is one man they call Jesus and He is in front of a group of men who are asking Him questions and who begin pushing Him and hitting Him and spitting on Him. I freeze. I want so badly to yell something, to cause a distraction, to help Him in some way. But, I don't. I'm afraid and yet I can hear the words echoing inside my heart, "Do not be afraid." So, I stay. How many times have I just let others pick on a poor innocent human being because I was too afraid to stop the talk, because I was too afraid not to fit in, because I was too afraid? I peek over the courtyard wall and I see one of the guys who have been friends with Jesus and I go down to get Him to help. He is already being asked about Jesus and yet he is telling everyone that he does not know Him. I can't blame him. I'm sure he thinks they may take him too and beat him and spit on him. Who wants that kind of punishment? It seems so much easier just to stay out of everyone's business. Oh, how much easier life is if we just don't confront those who are doing wrong. So much easier just to stay in our own homes, deal with our own problems, let the world beat up the world and leave us alone. How many times have I stayed out of the way regardless of knowing the wrong that is being done? Hiding. Avoiding stressful situations. Thinking ignorance is bliss. I go back up and continue the walk with this group of people. Jesus now stands in front of the chief, the head official, the president. I listen as He is accused, as words are put into His mouth, as the chief himself avoids confrontation, fears the crowd, washes his hands of the situation. He could actually do something and yet he is so self-centered, he just pleases the crowd. Then, the shouting begins and I think they are screaming about killing this poor guy, actual bloodshed, and again, the president just sits there. And, so do I. Even though I really want to do something, I convince myself that one person cannot make a difference and yet, as I continue walking with this man, I learn that one person at a time, one day, one hour, one minute, really does, really can make a difference, really can bring us to salvation. And so we walk. He is now carrying a large part of a tree with a cross bar. He falls a couple of times and the man right next to me is jerked over to help Jesus carry the heavy load. Phewwww! Glad they didn't choose me! How close was that?! Maybe I'd better drop back a little. I could be chosen next. There are plenty of others here stronger then me and not as busy. I have a house full of kids to get home to and a job to do and a husband to attend to and I just do not have time to help anyone else. How many times I have fallen back, not wanting to be noticed, thinking I am busier than the other women, mothers, wives? How many times I have failed to volunteer? How many times I have decided that I was just too tired? Life is just too short to fall back into the shadows. Look at that sweet woman washing the blood off Jesus' face! I could have done that. Wow! What a blessing she has been to this man and in return she will carry His image forever. Well I miss that opportunity. Right in front of me and all I can do is worry about what others would think. Worry about getting blood on my hands. Worry about the dirt and the disease. How many times I have feared the shake of a hand or the hug of a sick man or the care of one in need? What am I thinking? What image do I want in my heart? The missed opportunity or the image of Christ? Who am I to others? Who am I to Jesus? Am I just one who stands back in the crowd? Can the real me please step forward? The men stand up the tree with the cross bar and though I am in the back of the crowd now I can hear them hammering. I can see some women at the base of the tree. I can hear the cries and the moans and the silence. They have crucified this man and I have watched. My hands are dirty. My tears cannot wash away the pain and still, as others leave, I too, leave. I see that there are a couple of women and a guy who are staying so I figure they can keep Him company as He dies. Why should I do anything as long as someone is there for Him? How many times have I skipped being in the company of the grieving because I know the crowds will take care of everything? How many times have I stepped away knowing others are there? How many excuses? It is done and I have been there. What have I done in return? As part of this journey with You, what am I doing? Jesus Christ have mercy on me! Have mercy on us all!