Friday, December 11, 2015

A new saint...

  Dear Friends, I was asked, along with other Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Associates, to write an Advent reflection for one day during Advent.  I chose December 11 because it was my dear friend, Peg's, birthday and I wanted to share about her. This is what went out to SCLs and SCLA's this day...
“I the Lord, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.”
Isaiah 48:17
Today is the birthday of a relatively new saint in heaven, St. Peg Wuelfing of Boise, Idaho.  Oh, you won’t find her in “Butler’s Lives of the Saints,” because she’s such a new one, only passing away on November 1, of this year…fittingly, All Saints Day. When Peg, the director of our Spiritual Direction program passed away so suddenly, all in our class felt lost like sheep without our shepherdess. We still feel a bit that way, wondering how our class will complete the last two sessions of our course and how can we do anything without Peg? But we also have a strong, unmistakable assurance that we will finish, in God’s time and providence. Peg will have an even better vantage point now to supervise and support us as we finish and as we do Spiritual Direction.  So, just like for all of us during these shortening days of winter, this time feels quite dark and uncertain.  As we walk through the dark in faith, God will teach us what is for our good and lead us on the way we should go. We don’t need to fret, worry or fear what is around the corner, our God will light our way. One step at a time.
Heidi Gainan, SCLA
Idaho Falls, Idaho 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Let the mercy begin!

"You cannot conceive of a true Christian who is not merciful, just as you cannot conceive of God without his mercy. Mercy is the key word of the Gospel...We should not be afraid. We should allow ourselves to be embraced by the mercy of God, who waits for us and forgives everything."
Pope Francis

We are just beginning Day Three of the Jubilee Year of Mercy! What does it look like, exactly?  I've been asking myself this since the pope first announced it was coming.  I want it to have real legs to it, but I must pray about how I can GIVE legs to it.  I listened to an excellent podcast (from AMERICA magazine) last night which really helped me discern what the Year of Mercy can look like in my own little life.  I want to share some of what I learned.  First, this Year of Mercy means that we both give and receive mercy.  Both are critical...we show mercy to others, but we also realize that God's mercy extends to us, too.  We share what we have been given.  So, mercy is a give AND receive deal.  Second, we can begin showing mercy to the people right in front of us, those in our circle of influence.  We don't have to travel to a third world country to do some powerful mercifying! Jesus healed those in front of him or the relatives of those in front of him.  He started right there.  Who is in your life today you may need to forgive? Who, in your life today, do you need to ask for forgiveness?  Thanks be to God, this Year of Mercy has an extra day (Leap Year), so we can enjoy it as long as possible. And then, may it turn into a lifetime of mercy! Let's not waste one single moment of it! Let's start with those right in front of us, by asking for and extending mercy, today! Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

God coming to us

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28
Last night, after receiving communion, I was praying at my seat.  I was close enough that I could hear the Eucharistic Ministers giving communion to all the others.  Body of Christ. Body of Christ. Blood of Christ. Body of Christ. I contemplated the words over and over as I heard them and I realized how Jesus continually comes to us, even as he also beckons us to him in this scripture from Matthew. God tries so hard to get our attention! God coming as a beautiful, vulnerable baby. Jesus coming to us, as his very self in the Eucharist. All are all signs of God seeking us, not the other way around. God coming to us. God looking to comfort us. God reaching out to us, as a tiny baby, from the manger. God's mercy for us. Body of Christ. Blood of Christ. Body of Christ. Amen!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Left with faith

"Then the angel departed from her."
Luke 1:38
This reading took on a whole new look when I read "Jesus: A Pilgrimage" by Fr. James Martin, SJ. I realized that what happened at the Annunciation happens to all of us as we journey with God. To paraphrase:
--God calls us
--We respond in fear
--God comforts us and tells us what we need to do
--We doubt
--God reminds us of past experiences and helps us trust
--We say "OK"
--The encounter ends...The angel departs
We all, eventually, must come down the mountain, drive away from the hermitage, go back to work after Cursillo.  For all of us, we are left with our faith to do what we need to do.  That doesn't mean God leaves us alone. But it just means the spiritual experience or encounter ends, and we need to roll up our sleeves and begin whatever God has asked us to do. Our encounters with God always lead us to help others; they are not for us alone.  Remember that Jesus frequently tells those he heals, "Your faith has healed you." Our faith has the power to move mountains and sometimes, we may not realize that until we are left with it. The angel departs. The show is over. Time for your faith to heal. Love, heidi

Monday, December 7, 2015

Be strong! Fear not!

"Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak.
Say to those whose hearts are frightened; be strong, fear not!
Here is your God..."
Isaiah 35:3-4
God can and will change us if we allow it.  But it may not be like the Fairy Godmother changing Cinderella before the ball.  It certainly may not be instantaneous; God works slowly and carefully. It may not feel immediately fabulous; it may feel uncomfortable, at first, like wearing an ill-fitting outfit.  But, one thing we will be able to count on--the changes will bring positive fruit in us and in our lives.  That is how we will know it is of God--by the fruit.  I notice, in myself, these changes which at times, perplex me.  Why do I feel this way? Why can't I be the way I used to be? What's wrong with me? In the quiet, I realize that I'm slowly, carefully, lovingly being changed into more the "real" me.  I'm a tough, old nut to crack, but I can see God wisely smoothing me over, like water over a jagged stone, smoothing and shaping it.  Sometimes I don't recognize myself and it's weird. But, I can admit my hands seem a bit stronger and my knees a bit firmer.  God will definitely work with us to help us grow if we give God the go-ahead to do so.  Here is our God!  Love, heidi