"Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all you lands."
I'm not big on New Year's resolutions...they usually end up being discarded by mid-January (with the exception of my resolution to be better about recycling in 2006, which I am still keeping!) But, I do love that starting-over feeling of a brand new year and the idea of trying to improve something. In reflecting on this, as I look ahead, I came up with three things to work on throughout the new year. First of all, I will try to live more simply. I know, I know, I've said that before! But this time, I may inch forward a bit more. The less I have, the less I have to keep track of and think about. "Tis a gift to be simple..." Will try to do better in '14. Second, I want to be more giving. This goes hand-in-hand with the first one. The more simply I live, the more I can share with others. Pope Francis is such an inspiration in urging us to share with the poor and those who have so much less. Nothing is really just ours...it is only ours to share. And finally, I desire to be more devoted to prayer, study and just spending time with Jesus. It is so important to me to spend time in solitude and silence, but I can get so distracted and some of that valuable time gets frittered away. So there you have it...with the grace of God, 2014 will be a year of simplicity, sharing with others and devotion to Jesus. What new song will you be singing in 2014? Love, heidi
Oh, several people have asked to see a picture of the quilt from yesterday's Daily...just scroll down to yesterday's post!
I can finally share my most precious Advent blessing, now that the gift has been given! My dear friend Nancy suggested I make a tee shirt quilt for daughter Sam...out of all the old tee shirts she left behind. There was a drawer-full of tee shirts from blind camp, deanery camp, even from working at Kohl's those many years. There were plenty of tee shirts that had never made it to Boise in four years. They were basically discarded in the drawer. Nancy was patient and generous with her help, since I don't sew and knew nothing of how to turn these rejected shirts into something precious. And I truly believe God helped too. Whenever I messed up a shirt and needed another one, there was another in the drawer! The result was a quilt and Sam said she remembered each shirt, each event, or time in her life. How fun! The lesson for me, throughout Advent and the time spent working on this quilt was this: Nothing is discarded by God. No matter what, God can turn anything, seemingly unwanted, into something lovely. And second, God uses our human hands to do it. No matter how unskilled we are--God still uses our inept hands to make something beautiful out of something discarded. There are no rejects in God's world...we all have the potential and the ability to love and be loved. Isn't that a magnificent Advent gift? Blessings on your continued Christmas celebration! Love, heidi
"She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
We had a wonderful homily on Christmas about making room for Jesus in our own personal "inn." And, I am here to say, that making room for Jesus--even a tiny little space--will change our lives...for the better. There were a couple of instances over the last several days when I felt one way, and, thankfully was able to act another, thanks to Jesus residing in my inn. Making room for Jesus can help us to act less selfishly, more thoughtfully. Making room for Jesus can help us to get over silly annoyances and make more room for kindness. Making room for Jesus can help us decide to choose the better part, instead of sitting back and letting others do everything. So, let's spend some time thinking about how we can make room for Jesus in the "inns" of our own hearts. And then, watch out! We will be changed...for the better! Continued blessings on your Christmas! Love, heidi
"We are always the 'stable' into which the Christ is born anew. All we can really do is keep our stable honest and humble, and the Christ will surely be born."
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr"
As it happens most every year, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, I sat in church and thought, "Come, Already!" I'm done with the waiting, the anticipating, the preparing. Come! And be quick about it! After reading this, I can kind of see why this impatience has taken me over. My stable is ready. All it needs now is an occupant. It seems like after the kids arrive I get caught up in all the fun and festivities and my Advent reading may get shoved to the end of the day, if done at all. I hope to carve out a bit of time these next days to read and reflect and keep my stable tidy. I hope you can all do the same! For now, I wish you all the love of the Christ child and the happiest of Christmases! Prepare your stable and then be prepared to open it eagerly to the treasured Guest who is coming! Love, heidi
"And, behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God."
Back in 2006, there was a movie called "The Nativity Story." It was a beautiful little movie that told the story of Joseph and Mary, and there was one scene that has stuck with me all these years since. Mary had heard the angel tell her about Elizabeth's pregnancy, as in this scripture, as well as her own pregnancy. Mary hastens to Elizabeth's home, a journey of several days. When she calls out to Elizabeth and Elizabeth turns around to face her, Mary's eyes go wide with awe. You could see on her face..."it's true!" What was true about Elizabeth's pregnancy must mean that what the angel said about Mary is true, too. I felt that Mary realized, only at that instant, that she was carrying the Savior, as the angel foretold. It was a stunning scene--it makes me teary just thinking about it! Today, let's think about how, sometimes, we need validation that WE are carrying the Savior to others. How will we do this today? How can we show others that Jesus resides in our world? Love, heidi
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace."
The Canticle of Zechariah, Luke 1:78-79
Since last summer I have been praying this Canticle as part of the morning office prayers. This particular stanza always strikes me as so beautiful and I have been waiting for the perfect day to share it in the Daily. My favorite words are "tender compassion..." I can visualize God tenderly loving us and showing us such compassion and mercy. And, this time of year, as the days creep to more darkness than light, it is even more hopeful. These next few days will be the shortest, darkest days and then, so subtly, there will be a minute more of daylight. Just a minute here and another minute the next week, and, before we know it, we will have more light than dark. If we think of the light as a most marvelous gift from our loving God, who knows we walk safer and more secure in the light, it will mean much more to us. So, in these days of going to work in the dark and returning home in the dark, we hope in the Light that comes to us soon! Let's spend today basking in the tender compassion of our God! Love, heidi
"When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home."
Joseph thus accepted the role he was to play in the salvation story, difficult role as it was. How perplexing the whole thing must have seemed to Joseph and yet, he embraced it and lived it. When we think about it, we all have been given a part in the story of salvation. We may not remember being there when they passed out the scripts, but all of us who love God have been given a crucial role--just like Joseph. Jesus carefully defined our roles when he told his followers to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick and vulnerable. Our tasks could not be more clear! And yet, I for one, so often miss my cue and stand around waiting in the wings. Let's spend some time today thinking about St. Joseph and how he models for us his willing way of embracing God's plan. Can we do the same? Even though the plan may seem murky at times? Love, heidi
Reminder to those in Idaho Falls: Our Reconciliation service is tonight at 7:00, at Christ the King. Come and clean house! Jesus is coming!
"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham..."
I was thinking about the significance of this reading, the lineage of Jesus from Abraham--forty-two generations--and a few things jumped out at me. First, the lineage is Jesus' line through St. Joseph, which is so interesting since Joseph was just your basic guy. He wasn't without sin, as we believe Mary was, so he was a run-of-the-mill, just plain Joe. And he and his lineage gave birth to the Savior? What if Joseph hadn't listened to his dreams regarding taking Mary as his wife? (tomorrows Gospel) There were some big "ifs" in the salvation story, since God relied on these folks mentioned in Matthew's lineage reading. A couple of these people were born under questionable circumstances...Solomon, for example, was David's love child with Bathsheba. Yikes! And this is the lineage of the Savior? And why not? People are people and only Mary was particularly well-behaved. Jesus came from and worked among people who were faulty, some even scandalous. Jesus' whole life was surprising: his ministry of miracles, healing and the company he kept were all shocking. So, it is reasonable that his lineage contains some eye-brow raisers, isn't it? And what does that mean for us on a Tuesday, mid-December? It means that nobody is perfect. It mean that we are to love and care for everyone, imperfections and all, because Jesus came from a line of rascals and associated with rascals in ministry. After all, we are rascals, too, and aren't we glad Jesus associates with us? Love, heidi
"The pull to see what comes next is strong--both in prayer and in life. But the Lord tells us: patience. Let go. In the pauses, in the silence, in the waiting, God is working."
Amy Welborn, "Living With Christ"
In the silence and in the waiting--God is working. That is such a beautiful thing and so true! I remember, nearing the end of my first pregnancy, dear Jeni Rose was a week late. I was so fed up and ready for her to come, but the waiting went on and on. A friend said, "Hey, look at it this way, the baby is a lot easier to take care of now than after it's born!" Slim consolation, that! That waiting seemed endless, wearisome, frustrating and so out-of-my-control I could barely stand it! But, all the while, as I impatiently waited, our precious baby was getting strong and ready to thrive. God was working through my waiting. And that still holds true for me today. As I wait, God works. Isn't that a marvelous truth to take with us through our Monday? Let's create pauses and silence in our final full week of Advent to appreciate the beauty of what God can do while we wait. We wait. God works. Love, heidi
"I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go."
This scripture really rang true to me this morning. I think, more than perhaps any other time in my life, I am feeling "led." I feel I've been taken by the hand and am being led somewhere. I'm not sure where, exactly, but when I figure it out, I'll let you know! This feeling of being led is exciting! I'm trying to resist the temptation to be anxious about it, especially as it involves change. Change is exciting! But, at the same time, I'm one of those people who like to know what's coming. In pondering this feeling of being led, I realize I need to look to Mary as a perfect example of someone who surrendered to being led and then treasured it all in her heart. There is so much trust involved and that is something I need to work on. Being led by God is one of those things that can be obvious in retrospect, but requires trust and letting go of things to come...things that you want to know in advance. Our Lady of trust and letting go of what's to come, please pray for us! Blessings on your Advent weekend! This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday...we can rejoice and know the Lord is near! Love, heidi
Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, The Text of the Nican Mopohua
Last spring I had a wonderful opportunity to study and learn about Our Lady of Guadalupe during a silent retreat in Boise. There were many things that impressed me about the history, the symbolism and the impact of the events of 1531 near Mexico City, but one thing absolutely jumped out at me. Juan Diego, the Christian Indian who witnessed the "brown skinned woman" on the hillside and carried her image on his tilma to the bishop, completely surrendered himself to the miracle. That, to me, was symbolized in one action. When Juan Diego opened his tilma and the roses tumbled out at the bishop's feet, they stared, in awe, at the image of Our Lady left on the tilma. That was the miracle that showed the bishop that Juan was telling the truth, Our Lady was on the hillside, the miracle was real! And then Juan Diego surrendered his tilma; just took it off and gave it to the bishop as proof of the miracle. Juan was a poor man with few possessions, but he literally gave the shirt off his back to the bishop. It was more to him than simply a garment, it was a miracle. It was more than simply a shield from the December chill, it was the Mother of the Poor reaching out to help her children. It was precious to him, and yet, he realized the need to give it up. And the tilma still belongs to the people, is still on display in the Basilica in Mexico City. The lesson for us is that God is still creating miracles in our lives today, everyday we encounter God reaching into our lives. We need to follow the example of Juan Diego: share the miracles with others, surrender ourselves to what our miracles are telling us. Change our immediate world around us by getting ourselves out of the way and letting God be God! Love, heidi
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."
It's no accident that this scripture comes to us just as we are turning the corner, half-way through Advent. Anyone need a little rest? But what is the "rest" that Jesus is talking about here? I think it is much more than a Sunday afternoon nap (although doesn't THAT sound good?) Jesus, who lived among us well into manhood, knows that humans need rest. In the midst of our busy lives, humans need to tune-out of the rat race and be quiet. Humans need solitude, space, and inner peace. Humans need to touch base with themselves inside--that is where God resides. Other people can support us and help us on our journey, but the real journey we take is through ourselves to find the God in our hearts. We need quiet and solitude to find that. Let's make a point to find thirty minutes of silence in these next few days. Let's make a date with ourselves to spend thirty minutes with the phone, TV and computer turned off. Let's simply light a candle and sit with Jesus, thanking him for inviting us to set it all down and rest. This may be a challenge, but it will end up being a gift. Love, heidi
"Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care."
The prophet Isaiah is painting a bit of a different picture of God for the exiled Israelites. I mean, they knew God's power and might, right? He had safely led them out of Egypt, fed them in the desert, powered down the Ten Commandments, and now they found themselves exiled in Babylon. Here Isaiah was telling them that God is like a tender shepherd who will carry his little lambs to safety. The tender shepherd is a bit of a different twist, but oh, so accurate! It's a bit of a new picture of God...Jesus, the gentle shepherd, leading his sheep with love and compassion and seeking out the lost. And imagine the comfort to the Israelites, who needed the comfort of a tender loving God, so desperately! And don't we all? Today, feel the comfort of being tenderly carried in the arms of the Good Shepherd...nestle into his chest and rest secure...He loves us so! Love, heidi
"Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.'"
On thinking about this today I had the fleeting thought that, since Mary was sinless from birth, as we believe, her "Yes!" to God's plan should not come as a surprise to us, should it? She was destined to do God's will from the moment of her conception. So the thing that fascinates me in this reading today, is that God still gave her a choice. She still could have said "No, thanks. Please choose someone else." And God would have been OK with that. God gave Mary the same free will that we receive. We, sinners that we are, have many choices throughout our days that we can choose to do the godly thing or not. We can choose to forgive or choose to hold onto anger. We can choose to give cheerfully to others, or we can bitterly negate the poor and cling to what we have. We can choose to show kindness to a stranger, or we can walk on by--after all, we don't know them. God gives us sinners a choice just as God gave sinless Mary a choice. How will we respond? Love, heidi
"And out of the gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see."
So frequently, as I am talking with a new visually impaired client, and I ask how they would like our agency to help them. They respond, "Can you give me new eyes?" Justifiably, they don't want to learn new techniques or get a talking clock...they want to be able to see the way they used to see. And that's that. I, usually, give the same response, "Oh how I wish I could! I'd be very happy to put myself out of business!" Gradually, though, people do respond to learning new ways of doing things and accept the neat gadgets that help them in their daily lives. Out of that gloom and darkness, they learn new things, change and move forward. As we near the shortest, darkest days of our year, we all are dealing with gloom and darkness, aren't we? We encounter literal darkness as well as figurative. Today, and this weekend, let's spend some quiet time contemplating this darkness, however we are experiencing it in our own lives. And let's realize that others, too, may be feeling the darkness. How can we reach out to them and give them a hand? Love, heidi
"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
I think we need constant reminders of this because we think that someone we can see and hear is more trustworthy than God, whom we cannot see, hear or touch. There, I said it. The "princes" we see around us may seem as though they can do more to help us, don't they? But, what is "help" exactly? There is physical help, but then there is a building up of the inside of us...a fortification of our inner strength--and that is where the Real Help comes in. We need to trust that God is constantly fortifying us from the inside. This will give us the grace, courage and strength to tackle anything that occurs to us in our lives. And that is the most valuable help of all. The so-called princes of this world may be able to do some heavy lifting, but that only lasts an instant. Our God works miracles within us and that lasts for eternity! Love, heidi
"Then (Jesus) took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds."
I may have missed something in previous readings of this Gospel, but today it jumped out at me...Jesus chose to involve the disciples in making the miracle! Jesus could have had the bread rain down from heaven or magically appear in the peoples' pockets or satchels. But, Jesus chose to have the disciples distribute the bread and fish to the crowd as a precursor to his followers participating in making the miracles to come. God is still using human hands to make miracles in our world today. God is using OUR hands to feed the crowd, heal the sick, comfort the lonely. God is using our hands just as vividly as Jesus used the disciples to distribute the bread and fish to the people in the Gospel. Jesus, please use my hands today! I offer you the little bit that I have to share and willing hands to distribute it! Please multiply my efforts and make a miracle today in my little corner of the world. Love, heidi
"Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide."
Last night, I had a special prayer time via an Advent retreat from the site "Pray-As-You-Go." (Link below). It was a wonderful way to spend quiet time with Jesus, as a lightly guided time of prayer and reflection. It starts by having us ask Jesus for what we would like and I asked to draw closer to Jesus, as is my quest this Advent. What Jesus conveyed to me is worth sharing...
Jesus asked me to try to be more understanding of others. I am so quick to snap to judgments, but Jesus said to try and understand that others have a history that leads to where they are now. "Try to understand that others may not have felt the love you felt in their lives. They are wounded and their actions may speak of how they were treated. Try to understand and seek the good in them. Try to see them the way I see them." Wow, right? Such a powerful message for our Advent journey. Today, let us not judge others as we see them, but try to understand and see them the way Jesus sees them. Love, heidi
What does this mean to me this year? Especially since I have such a powerful sense that Jesus is already here? Jesus never leaves my side, so what, exactly, am I praying for during Advent? I answered my own question, while praying about this yesterday. I came to the realization that, no matter how close Jesus seems, I always want more. Jesus is like potato chips. I can never get enough; I am always longing for more. I have a harder time relating to the centurion in today's gospel who tells Jesus, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof..." (Matthew 8:8) My plea is more like, "Jesus, come! Make yourself at home, and please, don't ever leave!" So, I guess my theme for Advent this year is more like, "Come closer, Lord Jesus!" Or even "Stay, Lord Jesus!" As my Dad used to say about my behavior in mass, "There is always room for improvement!" There is always room for a closer walk with Jesus...that is my quest this Advent...prayers for you and your quests, too! Love, heidi
And now we give thanks! Let's pull out our harps and sing psalms to our Glorious God! We all have so much for which to be grateful, it's hard to know where to begin. Let us start with our health, our families, our loved ones, those with whom we work and play, those we encounter each day in our comings and goings, those with whom we share our towns, cities, country lane. Our family gets even bigger once we realize that all of us human beings are the family of God. Our figurative Thanksgiving table grows to include all with whom we share this planet. Today, let's all consider our human family...billions of us (phew! That's a lot of pie!) My prayer for this Thanksgiving is our grateful hearts lifted up to God, safe travel for all who are leaving home, and our open hands, sharing with those who have less. Blessings on your holiday and next time I write it will be Advent! Love, heidi
"The essence of biblical faith lies in trusting God."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"
All the study, talk, conviction, all of it, can be reduced to this one sentence. Trusting God. It is easier in some cases than it is in others. There's a situation right now, that, while I'm sort of up-in-the-air in it, I am totally at peace, knowing it will work out. But there are many other situations that I stress and worry about and can't seem to let go, peacefully trusting God. Why would I trust God in some things, but not others? Well, that is the mystery of me, but I think we all have some situations that test our faith. It is easier for me to release situations that are more spiritual in nature to God than the more secular areas of my life, but that doesn't make sense either. Isn't God involved in EVERY area of my life, not just the spiritual? I can look back through my whole journey and see God in every bit of it, not just in spiritual endeavors! So, as we begin the bustle of Thanksgiving preparations, let's practice the essence of faith--trusting God. God is certainly worthy of our trust, because no one loves us more! Love, heidi
"Above him there was an inscription that read, 'This is the King of the Jews.'"
Yesterday was the Feast of Christ the King, so I spent some time praying and pondering what that means for us now, when kings seem so out of style. I realized that Jesus does not sit on a throne, as a king would, but instead hangs on a cross. What does this mean? I think it means that our human death is not the end. We will live on in another realm--another kingdom--Jesus' Kingdom. Also, I realized that Jesus' last words from his cross/throne were directed to and for others. Jesus forgave and encouraged the Good Thief (Luke 23:43). Jesus took care of his mother (John 19:26) and Jesus forgave those who persecuted him (Luke 23:34). This tells us that our King is a king who serves and cares for others, even in his own agony! It tells us that we must be about others, too. Our King is leading us by example, all the way to his cross. Even in our darkest hours, it is not just about us. Let us think today how we can best follow the example of our King! Love, heidi
"Every American ought to have the right to be treated; as he would like to be treated, as one would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated."
John F. Kennedy
President Kennedy was not a saint, but he certainly is remembered on this day. It seems like a lifetime ago that he was assassinated in Dallas. Those of us old enough to remember can tell you just how we learned of the horror. The images are still burned into my mind. (Lest anyone think I am much older than I really am, I was a very young, but impressionable, child!) What can we learn, these fifty years later, from the killing of President Kennedy? Well, one thing is just what he says in this quotation: Every human being has the right to be treated as one would wish his children to be treated. If we can remember that today, we can be kinder, more forgiving, and a gentler society. As I poured through many quotes, finding the one I wanted to use today, I came across one that made me laugh out loud. Someone asked the newly inaugurated president how he liked his job and President Kennedy quipped, "Well, the pay is good and I can walk to work." Let us honor his memory today by treating everyone we meet with kindness and peace, like we would want our children to be treated. Blessings on your weekend! Love, heidi
"The main course at every real feast is the loving affection, laughter, and telling of stories with those we share the meal. At any feast, the food, whether meager or magnificent, is only secondary."
Fr. Ed Hays, "A Book of Wonders"
As we make our grocery lists for next week's Thanksgiving feast, let us remember this wise truth from Fr. Ed Hays. It is not the actual food on the table that makes the feast a celebration, it is the people around the table that give it its true "feast-ness." Let us remember that "Where two or three are gathered, there am I in their midst." (Matthew 18:20) Which reminds us to be sure and invite Jesus to our feast! And, finally, let us also remember those who may not have the means or people with which to celebrate this feast day. Can we contribute to a community celebration? Donate to the food bank? Help St. Vincent de Paul? Can we gather people around our tables that may be alone? How can we make our celebration more about the people than the food? "Food" for thought, right? Love, heidi
"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."
The Gospel today about Zacchaeus (didn't we have this not too long ago?) reminds us that Jesus chose to hang out with the people in the margins. Jesus didn't hang out with the holy ones, but the people the holy ones had cast out--the sinners, tax collectors (like Zacchaeus), the marginal folks that the "good" people spurned. Jesus says he came for the lost. Aren't we all lost at some point or another? Don't we all go through times of confusion, despair, and frustration in our lives? Lucky us...Jesus came for us! The sin of those who began to grumble that Jesus was dining with a tax collector, was not realizing their own "lost-ness." They thought they were doing it all correctly, therefore did not need a savior. They mistakenly thought they could save themselves just by going through the motions of their religion. People, like Zacchaeus, didn't feel as justified. They were the ones who sought out Jesus to see what he had to offer. Today, let's spend some time seeking Jesus to learn what he has for us. We cannot justify ourselves, but Thanks-be-to-God, Jesus offers us his saving grace! Love, heidi
"Jesus asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?'"
The question Jesus asks the blind beggar in Jericho is a question I believe Jesus asks us every single day. Each morning, as we begin our day, as we sit in prayer, Jesus asks us this question. My answer has changed so much over the years that I really believe it is worthwhile to sit and journal with this question every six months or so, just to see where we are. Many years ago my answer would have been something like, "Please take care of the kids..." A few years after that my answer may be something along the lines of, "Please help me have the resources I need to take care of myself." More recently, as I grow on my spiritual journey, my answer is, "I want to be closer to you, Jesus! Please draw me closer!" The kids are fine, I have everything I need; now, all I want is Jesus. Oh, don't get me wrong, there are times when my answer has more secular tones to it, but, blessedly, now, all I really want is to be closer to Jesus. Let's take some time this week and sit with pen and paper and answer Jesus' question, "What do you want me to do for you?" Love, heidi
Now? Here? With these people? This all seems puzzling to us, as it probably did to the disciples. They were looking for a better life, out from under the Romans. We are looking for a better next life, away from the suffering and sorrows that creep into even the finest lives here on earth. So, Jesus, what gives with your statement--"The Kingdom of God is among you?" In thinking about this, I realized that the Kingdom is not just our time spent in church. It is not just our celebration times, when things are going well and we are doing well. The Kingdom of God isn't even the times when our families are gathered and we think it just doesn't get any better. The Kingdom of God is our work-a-day lives. Hard to believe, the Kingdom is not just our time in church, but our time at the grocery store. The Kingdom is not just our time with loved ones, but strangers and even those who may irritate us. The Kingdom of God is our REAL time with REAL people. Jesus showed us that when he dined with saints and sinners alike. The Kingdom isn't something out there on another day. The Kingdom is today, in whatever we do today, whether it is in the classroom, on a bus, in an office, on a highway. We need to open our eyes to the Kingdom of God. It is on our calendar for Today! Love, heidi
"And when he saw them, he said, 'Go show yourselves to the priests.' As they were going they were healed."
One of the reflections I heard for this reading today, suggested we put ourselves in the place of these lepers. Sitting, pondering this, there I was, hurrying to show myself to the priest. Suddenly, I look down at my hands and notice they are healed of leprosy! Whoa! This is fabulous! What should I do? Well, the guy, Jesus, told me to go and show myself to the priest, so that is probably what I should do, isn't it? Maybe my staying healed is contingent on me complying with that. Or should I go back and find Jesus again? Well, the priest will know what I should do so I will stay the course. Now, I'm not defending the lepers here, at all, and I know the gist of this story is gratitude--a lesson I need to relearn daily. But, after putting myself in the sandals of these lepers, I'm not going to point at them and say, "Wow, I sure would have done better than you guys! Didn't you know you should have returned to thank Jesus?" Come to think of it, I'm going to try not to judge anyone harshly today...I could, so easily BE them. Thanks be to God on this Hump Day! Love, heidi
"Sheer scholarship alone cannot reveal to us the gospel of grace."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"
I had the time to really study and ponder this yesterday and it was fascinating to me. Reading about Jesus doesn't mean we know Jesus. I have read so much about Abraham Lincoln, but that doesn't mean I know Abraham Lincoln. (I have high hopes for that in heaven, but that is another Heidi-Gram!) We can read and reread the New Testament cover to cover but that doesn't give us the experience of knowing Jesus. And we need to know Jesus. How do we experience Jesus? Fortunately, unlike Lincoln, Jesus can enter into our lives and make himself available for us to experience him. As I have grown on my spiritual journey, I can see that happen more and more. I seem to experience Jesus in many different situations; alone, most certainly, but also while gathered with friends, in the midst of nature, celebrating the Eucharist in community, snuggled under the covers in bed. To know Jesus and experience Jesus is to love Jesus. We can read all about him, but we need to have the experience of Jesus as companion and friend, not just a character in a book...although it IS an excellent book! Let's think about our relationship with Jesus as we go through our Tuesday-that-feels-like-Monday! Love, heidi
"For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me..."
I was thinking about this today and it dawned on me. Jesus will certainly work through us in matters of faith; such as our sharing our faith with others. But, what I notice every single day, is that Jesus works through me in other endeavors as well. I was standing on the front porch of a new referral just yesterday, praying that Jesus will help me help her. I'm not evangelizing on my job, per se, but Jesus is still there, putting words in my mouth, handing me low vision aids to try, putting ideas and suggestions into my head. I couldn't do my job without what Christ has accomplished through me. Let's think about our lives this weekend and try to realize all the ways that Christ works through us. I bet we can't count that high! Blessings on your autumn weekend! Love, heidi
"Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another..."
The human need for reciprocity is an interesting thing. I was thinking about it in light of this reading this morning. We feel so much more comfortable returning a favor, paying for a service, reciprocating for an invitation. But Jesus and here, St. Paul, turn all that on its ear. Jesus tells us to invite those who cannot invite us back. St. Paul says that we should reciprocate others with love. That is enough. Think about how difficult it is to love everyone and realize that can be a job in itself. When we serve others with love we find that we are the ones gifted in the end. And how do we serve each other in love? By speaking well of each other--no gossip or complaining about each other! By sharing what we have with each other--do you have things you are no longer using, wearing? By treating each other with kindness, patience, and with a smile! Let our love be freely given in abundance today, with strangers and friends. Let love be the currency we exchange this autumn Wednesday! Love, heidi
"Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them..."
Fr. Caleb taught us so many wonderful things while he was in Idaho Falls, but he was especially great at teaching us about using our gifts. That was one of his gifts, and he used it beautifully! I remember him saying that the best way for us to praise God for the gifts we are given is to use them--often--and give God the glory. So simple, and yet, true. I also remember the homily about the ice cream...it bears paraphrasing here. Fr. Caleb was given a container of fancy ice cream from someone and, since he wasn't hungry for ice cream right then, he stashed it in the freezer. Many months later, he rummaged through the freezer, found the ice cream and decided to have some. One bite was all he needed to realize it was freezer-burned and tasted awful! Non-use of the gift rendered it un-usable. Wow, that! St. Paul tells us that we all are gifted in many different ways. We need to recognize our gifts, pull them out of the freezer and use them! And, by all means, give God the glory! Love, heidi
"Jesus doesn't wait for Zacchaeus to repent before he offers to dine at his house. Love people *now* not just after they repent."
Fr. James Martin, SJ, via Twitter
Come to think of it, the Father in the story of the Prodigal Son didn't wait for the wayward son to apologize before he welcomed him back, either. The son apologized AFTER his father ran down the road to meet him and embraced him. Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus' house BEFORE Zacchaeus said he would repay those he had cheated and give half of his money to the poor. In both cases, the repentance came after the encounter with God. God doesn't wait for us to come to our senses and repent. God loves us into repentance and then rejoices when we come back. In yesterday's first reading from Wisdom, "You overlook people's sins that they may repent." (Wisdom 11:23) which further seems to say that God makes the first move in our repentance. Isn't that fascinating? I love the fact that Jesus called Zacchaeus down from the tree to invite himself to dinner! I love the fact that Jesus calls all of us to join him, long before we are worthy of the call. Are we ever worthy of the call? Nevertheless, we are called! Love, heidi
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land."
Today is the Feast of All Saints and I feel like sharing about a saint I recently just "met." St. Alphonsus Rodriquez was a Jesuit Brother, who came to religious life after his wife and children tragically died when he was just under forty years old. He sought the religious life in his mid-life years, which is inspirational in itself, but the fact that his job within his vocation was as a porter (basically, he opened the door for visitors) at a Jesuit school in Spain, is even more inspirational. Each time someone knocked at the door Brother Alphonsus would say, "I'm coming, Lord!" Each visitor, he said, was Jesus. That seems to me to be the ideal definition of a saint--someone who continually opens the door to Jesus. Brother Alphonsus' humility and service teach us that, no matter how small a task we are to do, it must be done for Jesus. Each person who figuratively knocks on our door is Jesus and we should welcome them warmly. Happy All Saints Day today and happy All Souls Day tomorrow... Love, heidi
Such a good question to ponder and we slide down to the end of this week. If we think back to all the most difficult times in our lives we can imagine Jesus right there with us. So the bad times can't separate us from the love of Christ...check. Now, let's think of all those joyous occasions--births, gatherings with loved ones, goals reached and celebrated. Can we picture Jesus with us then? Sitting around the table laughing with us? Dancing with us? Watching our graduate parade in? Yes, Jesus can easily be pictured with us during the high times of our lives! Check. Finally, what about on our ho-hum days when we go about our business, whatever-that-may-be? Why yes, there is Jesus at my favorite coffee stop. There is Jesus on the other side of the screen door when I go to meet a new client. There Jesus is everywhere in our ordinary day. Check. So, having done this research, I can conclude that St. Paul is right on! Jesus is there with us, loving the dickens out of us, no matter what! Let's think about that today and bask in it...nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus. That is worth celebrating...blessings on your All Hallow's Eve. Love, heidi
The last couple of days have been a mixed bag for me. One day, I am driving to Rexburg, frustrated and irritable, nothing is going right. I whine and complain to God about this and that. On the way back from Rexburg, I apologize to God for my foul mood and ask for help to do better. The next day, mood restored, I am singing in the car (again on the way to Rexburg), I am almost bursting with contentment and joy; praising God and happy. The point of me telling you all of this is this: it is ALL prayer! The whining, complaining, singing, apologizing, hands-raised praising, joyful thanksgiving--it is all prayer because, as prayer is defined here, it is relationship. God was there and happy to hear all of it, even the whining. Because God knew that the very next day the whining would turn to singing. Talk to God. No matter what you say. God wants to hear it all from us! Love, heidi
"For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance."
If we are in the midst of enjoying a beautiful, sunny day, we don't hope for a beautiful sunny day, right? We can hope it continues, but basically, we don't spend time hoping for what we already have around us. The harder task is to hope for the elusive, the mysterious, the unattained. Hope for something better to happen keeps us excited about the future, and a certain amount of that is good. But we can't be so wrapped up in the future we cheat ourselves out of living today. Today is the day in front of us. God has given us this precious gift of today and it is my hope for all of us that we live it to the fullest! But hope for the future keeps us planning and scheming and saving and yearning. Hope, itself, is positive and fruitful, but not if we sacrifice living fully today! Blessings on your waning-October-Tuesday! Love, heidi
Your love is like a rock that I am standing on..."
Third Day, "Your Love is Like a River"
This wonderful song was on the playlist in my head all weekend. As I was driving home from a fabulous time in Montana, seeing dear, dear friends, I prayed this song. I realized how incredibly blessed I am, how nurtured, how loved. It is such an amazing time. All the while, I am reminded that this time could be a difficult day for someone else. Someone, somewhere will lose a loved one today...or a job...or a dear friend may move away. Today is a gift that is welcome and joyous for me, but others may be struggling this very day. Lord, thank you so much for the joy and the wonder of today. Please wrap your arms around those who may be suffering today and those for whom today is a trial. If there is anything I can do to help someone else, send me! Blessings on our Monday, the last one in October! Love, heidi Your Love is Like a River
"For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want."
St. Paul is calling it real today, Friends! There is no self-righteous arrogance here. He calls it like he sees it. He knows what is right and he does the opposite. He sees himself as he is: a human being who just doesn't measure up. The only glimmer of hope he can see is that God still loves him, Jesus still saves him, and THAT is the only thing he has going for him. Walking in the Way is not easy for anyone. Our human nature is still human, even though we follow Jesus. But let's not forget Jesus was human too, and he realized first-hand what it feels like to struggle against our own nature to do the right thing. Jesus, thank you for understanding my weaknesses, fears, anxieties and thank you for loving me anyway. My desire is there--to walk in your Way--just help me get my humanness out of the way! Help me to stay faithful to the journey! Blessings on your weekend! Love, heidi
"Prayers are but stepping-stones to silence, so don't linger too long on their words."
Fr. Ed Hays, "A Book of Wonders"
I pondered this a bit, in the silence, and realize that it is so true! We can come to God with a long list of prayers, intentions, praises, questions. But the silence that, hopefully, follows our list gives God a chance to respond. It takes time and patience to just sit in silence, however, especially for a talker and a do-er, like me! I can find a million other things to do; oh, did the dryer just go off? Do the dogs need water? That desk sure looks dusty! But, the most real thing I can do after bringing my prayers to God is to sit and listen. Ideally, my time of silence should be at least as long as the time I've spent praying my words. I'll say my piece, then it's God's turn. Let's not shirk the silence, today, Friends! Our prayers need to be followed by a time of silence, so God can answer! Love, heidi
"Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them."
One of the meditations I did today on this reading suggested I pause and consider what it would be like to have Jesus wait on me, like the master in this reading. I thought about it and it reminded me of one Holy Thursday when I was asked to have my feet washed during the celebration of the Last Supper. It was uncomfortable in a humbling sort of way. I didn't know where to look while the priest was washing my feet...do I look at him? Do I thank him? Do I smile? Imagining Jesus waiting on me like the watchful servants in this Gospel made me feel a bit the same way. I think we little humans, especially women, are wired to rather serve than be served. So many of my elderly clients tell me they don't like being at the point of their lives where people have to help them. They liked it better when they were doing the helping. Today, let's be the watchful servants, ready to welcome Jesus whenever he comes into our day. And let's also be aware of Jesus giving himself in our service on the cross...the ultimate sacrifice any human can make! Love, heidi
"As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak..."
A wonderful weekend for me is when I have what I call my Martha Day and then I have my Mary Day. Let me explain! Saturday is Martha day when I do so many activities. I enjoy my prayer breakfast group, working out at Curves or Zumba, doing my grocery shopping, yard work or cleaning and then attending Saturday evening mass. This past weekend, I attended a dinner theater, which was wonderful fun. My Mary day is Sunday, when I get to just sit at Jesus' feet. I try to unplug, for the most part, and have a quiet, relaxing day. If I do any activity I think of doing it with Jesus. Yesterday, I made applesauce, for example, and Jesus pointed out to me how beautiful and intricate the apple is. I make a special effort to be quiet, prayerful and take a nap. It is bliss, let me tell you! What I realize is that BOTH days are nourishing for my spiritual well-being. I need community activity and I need to sit at Jesus' feet. Both are essential for me to hit the ground running Monday. Which I am about to do! Blessings on your autumn Monday! Love, heidi
This was the evening meditation psalm last night and I couldn't add a thing except a resounding, "Amen!"
Our journeys are such twisting and turning roller coasters! But whenever we take the time to glance backward we can see the pattern of God holding us, lifting us, and celebrating with us. Let's read and reread this passage several times this autumn weekend and not be silent in our songs of praise! Love, heidi
"Blessed are those who feel inadequate, for they must constantly lean on God..."
Fr. Ed Hays, "A Book of Wonders"
Daughter Sam has an opportunity that she must discern in the next week or so. One thing I told her is, if she ends up taking this opportunity, she will certainly need to rely on God--there's no way she could do it on her own! This is not me questioning her abilities or talents, at all. This is me, being real. The minute we feel like we, ourselves, have all it takes to accomplish something, that is the minute we are called up short, and the little we know is made obvious. I know I constantly feel inadequate in a job I have been doing for 34 years! Will I ever get it down pat? I pray never...I never want to do this job without relying on God. God and I make a much better team than just me alone. How about you? Blessed are we, who feel inadequate! Love, heidi
"God beyond our words, all creation tells your story; you have shaken with our laughter, you have trembled with our tears..."
Bernadette Farrell, "God Beyond All Names"
We had this beautiful song as an opening for our meeting at the Motherhouse, so it was on the playlist in my head. Good thing, because I needed it yesterday. I was driving down 17th and a woman was frantically trying to stop traffic. Nearly impossible task, that. The car in front of me stopped and, as she and a child crossed, I glanced over to why they were trying to get across the street. In the street a small dog lay motionless. I put my hand over my mouth and just prayed. The sad picture brought back a most- terrible day in my childhood when our dog was hit by a car of a busy street. I begged St. Francis to care for the dear little critter. And I asked God to care for the people there; the woman and her child, the people gathered who were helping. Thanks to this song, I realized that God was sad too. This was just one of a million things that hour that broke God's heart. Our God is infinitely compassionate to us and all that wounds us. God trembles with our tears. Amen. Love, heidi
"Speak with God as a Father, as a Mother, as a Brother, as a Sister, as a Lord, as a Spouse. Sometimes in one way, sometimes in another, God will teach you what you must do to be pleasing."
St. Teresa of Avila, "Let Nothing Disturb You"
In honor of the feast day of St. Teresa, I hunted up this wonderful quote. I love the idea of just talking with God, one to one, as a confidant and friend. In times of solitude, this just comes naturally to me. It is sometimes harder for me to concentrate on rote prayer, but that is just me; many people do better with that. I just like to talk, so just talking with God is very real to me. I also need to be mindful of listening to God, and not just doing all the talking! Today, as we go about our post-holiday Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday, let's take some time to just talk to God. Maybe we can tell God how we are doing or what is frustrating us, or if we are excited, anxious or bored. Let's share with God the vents and events of our day. And then tonight, let's spend some time in silence to listen to God's response. Blessings on your day! Love, heidi
"Jesus said in reply, 'Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?'"
I thought of the Gospel yesterday as I traveled home from Kansas. I was especially aware of being grateful to the people working hard so I could arrive home safely, the airline check-in folks, the baggage handlers, the flight attendants, the pilots. On one flight, one of the pilots had to come out and wrestle a suitcase into the overhead bin! I wanted them to know I appreciated them. But, I wondered if the words "thank you" are just too easy. I started wondering if Jesus didn't have in mind us putting a little more meat on those words when he was asking where the other nine lepers were. Words are cheap, the old phrase says. But gratitude expressed and then kind action surrounding it makes it a little more worthwhile. I will take away from this, not just saying thank you, but following up with a little extra kindness, too. I always seem to get a survey from the airline after a trip and this time I will fill it out, thoughtfully and gratefully. Gratitude needs to have legs to it...words may not be enough. Let's think of that as we go about our day, today! Thanks be to God, I have a holiday today! Love, heidi
My flowers were pretty well killed off by the frost last weekend, so the other night I pulled them out, or uprooted them, as scripture says. It was kind of sad at first. They were especially fun this year, what with the surprise zinnias that were poofy and unusual. But, as I was pulling them up, I thought of the daffodil and tulip bulbs that are buried beneath this very soil. And how they are waiting patiently to make their showy entrance around April-ish. And I thought of next year's garden and how I will be open to "surprise me" flowers, since I so enjoyed the poofy zinnias. It's the circle of life. And it is wonderful to behold. Now I will be able to spend evenings inside curled up with a good book, a cup of tea and nice soft music and not outside working in the yard. There is new life after death; a lesson from the garden for us this autumn day. Blessings on your Thursday! I am on my way to Leavenworth and the Motherhouse! Love, heidi
"But the Lord asked, 'Have you reason to be angry?'"
This always makes me giggle because, here is Jonah, himself a beneficiary of God's mercy (God saves him from the belly of the whale--Jonah Chapter 2) and yet, when God decides to spare the city of Nineveh, Jonah gets all mad and pouts in his new little hut. Jonah is so much like us when we are happy to enjoy God's mercy, but then hold a grudge over someone else. Mercy is merciful, and as we bask in the infinite mercy of God, we must also extend that mercy to others. It is so easy to say (or even type!) but so much harder to do in real life. We may scoff at our friend Jonah, but the same human nature that causes Jonah to pout and stew is also in us. Today, let's be aware of being kind and merciful to others, just as God is to us. Blessings on our Wednesday! Love, heidi
"To abstain from returning injury for injury is a divine act intended to prevent the devil from dancing twice."
Fr. Ed Hays, "A Book of Wonders"
Fr. Ed Hays explains that when someone wrongs us the devil does a happy dance. And if we respond with retaliation, the devil dances again, even happier than the first dance. And I would add that if we hang onto the anger, bitterness, estrangement and a lack of forgiveness, the devil is in a dance marathon! Let's pull the devil's dance card and respond the way Jesus tells us; by praying for those who hurt us and loving our enemies. My mother used to say, "Two wrongs don't make a right." And I could add that "Two hurts just keep the devil dancin'." Is there someone we need to forgive today? Is there someone we need to ask forgiveness for a wrong we have done to them? Let's clear the air, kiss and make up and sit the devil down! Love, heidi
"Beloved, I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands."
2 Timothy 1:6
I really love the phrase "stir into flame!" It is so vivid and paints such a great picture of our hearts on fire for God! We all have been on top of the spiritual mountain, where we have a powerful spiritual experience and never want to leave. Fact is, though, we must descend the mountain and go back to real life, which may not keep us on the spiritual high we just encountered. St. Paul is telling Timothy here that the embers of spiritual joy may need to be fanned into flame once again. And how does one do this? Well, I can think of a couple things...First, spending time in silence and solitude, reading God's Word--really digesting it--such as in Lectio Divina. Spending time alone with God is like those bellows we use on a fireplace, concentrating air into the embers and giving them what they need to burst into flame again. Second, perhaps the opposite, joining with others in sharing our spiritual journeys. Sharing with others gives us the chance to voice what God has done in us and for us and having those words out there can fuel the fire within. Also, hearing of others' journeys can nurture our own faith. We heard in a great homily last night that one cannot have faith in a vacuum, our faith flourishes best when shared. So, this autumn Monday, let's consider how we can "stir into flame" the fire that God has placed into each of us! Blessings on your day, love, heidi
"Give us listening hearts and open ears, that we may hear and heed your word for us."
Give Us This Day, Morning prayer intentions
This is so much the message for me this morning! I love the image of a "listening heart." I can certainly relate to "open ears," but the image of a listening heart is so rich and wonderful and draws me in deeper. I think a listening heart is a compassionate heart, beating in rhythm with God's heart. Today, we will meet and cross paths with many people just in our typical Thursday life. But, today, let's consider how we can use a listening heart in our encounters. Not just listening to the words of others with our ears, but listening to their spirits with our compassionate hearts. Let this prayer be our prayer for today...
Give us listening hearts and open ears, that we may hear and heed your word for us. Amen!
I read a book on women mystics while on retreat and this particular passage, from this particular mystic really touched my heart. What is our heart's desire? Is it getting too heavy for us to carry? Can we bring it to our God for safekeeping? Love, heidi
"(St) Therese called her spirituality 'the Little Way'. It involved performing one's daily actions, whether pleasing or disappointing, in the presence and love of God. By this means one could turn any situation into a profound arena for holiness; each moment, accepted and lived in a spirit of love, could become an occasion for heroism and a potential step along the path to sanctity."
Robert Ellsberg, "Blessed Among Us," Give Us This Day
This was so interesting to me because it is the same message I received while on retreat. Any vocation can be turned into a spiritual calling if done in love and for the glory of God! One does not have to have specifically a religious vocation to have a Godly vocation. This was such a powerful message for me because I feel so called to a religious life as I see my life's direction change. But I learned on retreat that being a ticket-taker at a movie theater could be a religious vocation if done WITH love and FOR God. God blesses the work of our hands and it is that, and the spirit with which we do that work that gives it the sanctity. It is such a beautiful message to take into our hearts today, Friends! It's October! Blessings on your new day and month, love, heidi
"For today we must translate the words of the Scriptures into deeds and instead of speaking saintly words we must act on them."
St. Jerome, translator of the bible
Even though he died way back in the year 420 AD, St. Jerome knew that the scriptures were just words on a page unless people took them to heart and actually turned them into deeds. Words in themselves don't do a whole lot, they just sit there. But words turned-into-actions can alleviate suffering, feed, clothe, encourage, you get the picture. Today, let us celebrate the feast of St. Jerome by selecting a passage of scripture and acting on it. I have chosen this part of the second reading yesterday...
These are beautiful words, but if I don't take them into my own heart and act with faith, patience and with gentle love, they remain JUST words. I encourage you to find a passage and bring it to life today! Blessings on your autumn Monday, love, heidi
"And whoever earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it."
Well, that explains a lot! My purse has a hole in it! True enough...I often wish payday would come more often! The trouble is, no matter how much I earned, the result would likely be the same. In this reading today, the prophet Haggai is telling the people of Israel to get off their duffs and build the Lord a home. The people have the usual objections--not enough time or money--but it comes out as "The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord." (v. 2) I think we, like the Israelites, may need a few lessons in spending more wisely, more purposefully, thus making us able to help others. Coming on the heels of yesterday's "use it or give it away" message; today, let's take a good, honest look at our spending habits and see if we can improve how we are using our hard-earned wages. Is there a hole in your purse or pocket, like there is in mine? Love, heidi
"Be it little or much, be content with what you have..."
Let this be my prayer today as I turn off the Amazon One-click purchasing feature! Seriously, why is it so hard for us to be satisfied with what we have? I blame my Depression-era mother, who never could have enough clothes after being forced to share one good dress with her aunt during the 30's. But, at the end of her life, my mom didn't have much and yet, didn't lack anything. That is such an important lesson for all of us! This week let us take stock in the abundance we have and give what we are not using away to others who could use it. Let us be so grateful and appreciative of all we have. Let our desire to want more make us stop and think of what we actually need and go with that. Blessings on your autumn Wednesday! Love, heidi
A couple of months ago, I got a wild hair and repotted all my houseplants. They were sad affairs, many as old as ten years, without new soil or fertilizer or anything. (Shameful, I know, but I wasn't one of the Flower Shop Gainans, remember!) So I replanted them in roomy new pots, with rich soil and I even fertilized them. Within a short time I noticed new growth! They are now thriving, new shoots and smiling new leaves everywhere! In pondering this and my retreat at the Hermitage last month, I realize that was what happened to me, too. I was repotted in rich new soil in a comfy new pot and I am growing more spiritually by the day. The silence, the beautiful high desert views, the shy neighboring deer family, the daily prayer and spiritual reading all gave me just what I needed to grow and thrive...just like a new pot and yummy new dirt. If anyone would like information on Marymount Hermitage, here is the link to their webpage:
"As you, O Autumn, take pleasure in great bounty, let me also take delight in the abundance of simple things in life that are the true source of joy. With the golden glow of peaceful contentment may I truly appreciate this autumn day."
Fr. Ed Hays, "A Book of Wonders"
Yes, indeed! Yesterday I had a Silent Sunday and greatly enjoyed the simple pleasures that Fr. Ed talks about in this reading. The day was chilly; the tea kettle was on. While I was walking Tebow in the nippy fall air, all I could think to say to God was "Thanks..." Thanks, from the bottom of my heart...for everything. The changing seasons are such a wonderful time for us to appreciate God's work in nature, as well as in our own hearts. The turning leaves can make me a little anxious about what follows the autumn, but, no matter...God will be there with me then, too. Blessings on your Autumn Monday! Love, heidi
"Relieve those burdened by old worries, stored grievances, or recurring fears...Uphold us, O God."
Give Us This Day...
This was one of the Morning prayer intentions for today in "Give Us This Day," and I sure identified with it! It seems that, day after day, year after year, I have the same old "stuff" to deal with. The old worries, stored grievances, recurring fears...it's like the author of this intention could read my mind! Same old stuff; same old sins, same old triggers, same old, same old. I want to break this cycle and maybe get some new concerns...like maybe more concern for the poor, for the immigrant, the people who don't feel they belong. In today's Gospel, the "sinful woman" broke her alabaster jar and anointed Jesus' feet, much to the ire of the host and religious leaders. She was a fringe person, who was seen as someone who didn't belong at this party. She was an intruder, and was looked down upon by everyone except Jesus. Jesus saw her, loved her, forgave her, and held her up as an example to all. O Jesus, help me to get out of all my old stuff and take up new concerns--like people on the fringe of life. Help me to see them as you saw the Woman who washed your feet with her tears and dried them with her hair--with love. Love, heidi
"The Father cares. He knows each of us by name. He is deeply involved in the little drama of our personal existence."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"
This astounds me this morning. I guess because there are so many Big Things in the world for God to be deeply involved in...why my little dramas? I had a particularly frustrating day yesterday and, looking back on it, I didn't think of God once. Not once, during my little dramas, did I pray. Not once did I turn to God. It would have been so much better for me if I had! You see, once I did sit down and contemplate the frustrations of the day, God was right in the middle of it all. So, why couldn't I seek God at the time? Interesting. As spiritual as I like to think I am, I still sometimes think of God as the court of last resort. Today, God is going to ride shot-gun my whole day! I'm not just going to think back, regrettably, of how I could have called on God, but I will call on God. My weaknesses can be turned into strengths with God, and that could ease so much frustration! Blessings on your day, too. Let God ride up front! Love, heidi
"(Jesus) stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, 'Young man, I tell you, arise!'"
As I read this today, I paused to ponder a little reflection on it in "Living With Christ." This young man was raised from the dead and given back to his mother. But he eventually died again. Presumably after his widowed mother, so he could take care of her as long as she lived. She had him with her longer, which was so critical in those days when widows with no children had to resort to begging to live. It reminded me of my dog, Tess, who was about three dogs ago. Tess was old and ill and, we assumed, at death's door. Chris kindly agreed to take her in to have her put to sleep. (Chris always got the tough jobs!) I was so sad and it was just such a hard time...for all of us. I spent the day grieving for Tess. Later, the doorbell rang and when I opened the door, there was Tess (and Chris)! Turns out she had a bit more life left in her and could be treated for her ailment. We had her another whole year! By that time, we were all better equipped to go on without her and she died peacefully in my arms. God gave us more time as Jesus gave the widow, and her son, more time. Today, let's pray for all those suffering loss, especially those who lost loved ones in the Navy Yard shooting...such a senseless, terrible loss. Love, heidi
"The procession for mass doesn't begin when the priest walks down the aisle, but when you leave your homes to come to mass."
Thoughts on the Eucharistic Conference by Deacon Wence
This really made me think when I heard it last night. I remember when the kids were little and it was a frantic, Herculean effort to get everyone ready for mass, then getting them into the car, and, finally, we'd tear down the road, trying to make it on time! Even last night, I'd just barely gotten into town from a fabulous weekend away, picked up the dogs, dropped them off at home and tore into mass with minutes to spare. So, the idea that that mad dash to get there was part of the processional? Wow! Then, it dawned on me--maybe the desire to get there was a true and valid part of the processional. I wanted to be there, and I wanted to make it on time. I wanted to cap off a wonderful weekend with a time of thanksgiving. I wanted to give the glory to the One who made it all so awesome. That makes perfect sense to me. Our desire to be with God in God's house is part of the mass itself! So, here it is, Monday, again. Blessings on your fresh, new week! Love, heidi
"Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful."
There were so many wonderful passages in today's readings I could have chosen! Paul to the Colossians: "Put on...heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience..." (Colossians 3:12-17) And today's Gospel is line-for-line, exactly how we are to live: love your enemies, give to others, forgive, stop judging. (Luke 6:27-38) But I thought the way to sum all of these wonderful passages into one is "Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful." If we are merciful, we are all the others--loving, forgiving, nonjudgmental. Being merciful to me means realizing that another person is a child of God too. They may have had a difficult background or horrible things may have happened to them in the past and they are just trying to make their way the best they can. Being merciful means being understanding and compassionate, not a doormat for others, but understanding and forgiving. We can't go through a day without someone getting under our skin, but being merciful means we do not let it ruin our day or make us angry or mean. We can treat each other with the kindness and compassion that St. Paul describes to the Colossians. So, today, let this scripture run through our minds like a little ticker-tape...."Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful." Love, heidi
"And so, this morning we come to bury Myke Judge's body, but not his spirit. We come to bury his voice, but not his message. We come to bury his hands, but not his good works. We come to bury his heart, but not his love. Never his love."
Fr. Michael Duffy, at the funeral of Fr. Mychal Judge
Today, on the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I read a reflection on Fr. Mychal Judge, the Franciscan chaplain who was the first casualty pulled out of the rubble that dreadful morning. There are still lessons to be learned from the attacks of 9/11, and the one for me today is love. Fr. Mychal Judge was not a perfect human being. He struggled with alcohol himself, so he ministered to people in AA. He loved the poor, so he ministered to people on the street. Fr. Mychal was open and honest about his weaknesses, so you know what God did? God used those very weaknesses for good! There is strength in our weaknesses, once we recognize the weaknesses and ask God to help us. Then God can do what God does so well...turn our weakness around into good. So, today, as I think and pray about 9/11, I'm going to dwell on the love. The love that Fr. Myke showed everyone he came into contact with in his beautiful ministry. The love that propelled that good priest to run into the building with the firefighters, that day, to see who he could help. The love with which his own firemen carried Fr. Myke's body out of the rubble and placed it in a church. It's only about the love today, Friends. Love, heidi
If you want to see a good documentary about Fr. Mychal, see "The Saint of 9/11." If you want to read more from the homily and more about Fr. Mychal, here is a good link:
I had several thoughts after our day of prayer and fasting, last Saturday, I wanted to share. First of all, I noticed how really lousy I felt all day and it struck me that people who are always hungry must feel lousy all the time. They probably don't even know what it feels like to actually feel good and nourished. I felt guilty diving into a yummy breakfast Sunday morning, knowing that for so many people, that empty-ache doesn't just last for one day...it continues and gets even worse. Also, as the day went on, I noticed that I had a hard time concentrating and thinking straight. I am grateful for school breakfasts and lunches to help kids get the nourishment they need to learn! And finally, I felt that I grew closer to the global community who also fasted and prayed for Syria last Saturday, and that felt very good. We are a global family...spread out far and wide, east to west, but we are all related as human beings. We, as compassionate, loving, Jesus-people need to walk in each others' shoes and experience the pain our brothers and sisters feel--even if just a day--we need to feel that empty ache. Our prayers and solidarity must continue for Syria and other places of suffering in our world. Let us commit to prayer and anything else we can do to ease the suffering of our brothers and sisters! Love, heidi
During the last years of his life, painter Renoir was in tremendous pain as a result of arthritis. It was terribly painful for him to paint with his arthritic hands, and a friend asked him why he continued to paint through such pain. He answered with, "The beauty remains, the pain passes." We learned this during our homily Saturday night, as it was applied to being a follower of Jesus. Truly following Jesus can be difficult, painful, and surely have life-altering consequences. In yesterday's Gospel (Luke 14:25-33), Jesus tells us to pick up our crosses and follow him, turning our backs to worldly trappings and possessions. He even tells us not to allow family or friends to come between us and a life lived for God. All that can be so difficult, as we are spinning around on this planet! But we are assured, in the end, the beauty of our life with Jesus will outshine anything the world has to offer. The awesomeness will remain, the pain/stress/inconvenience/isolation/whatever-it-is-that-is-undesirable will pass. I thought it was such a beautiful lesson, I wanted to share it today. Blessings on your Monday! Love, heidi
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid."
In solidarity with the request of Pope Francis, let us all honor Saturday, September 7, as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria. However you choose to fast or however you choose to pray, please join with Christians and those of many other faiths around the world, joining together as one voice for peace in this troubled land.
O Jesus, O Peaceful One,
The people of Syria may seem a half a world away from us, but they are our brothers and sisters. Their suffering saddens us deeply and we feel helpless to do anything to help them. But, you have given us the gifts of faith and prayer and these gifts can move mountains. We lift up the suffering people of Syria to your tender care. We ask for compassion and forgiveness for all the people of the region—leaders and followers alike. We ask for peaceful intervention, not more violence, which leads to only more suffering. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who once called this land his home. Amen.