Labor of Love

Come to Me all who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest

Labor Day 2018

When I think about labor, a few things come to mind. Of course, the obvious on this day is the dignity of work. This is all people who work in all callings – professional, spiritual and personal. Everyone is working at something – a job, a sport, a life. We all work in some fashion.

I also think about that Labor Day weekend 25 years ago when I had a miscarriage. I still think about what could have been but am grateful for the healthy and amazing 3 children I have. My labors were worth all the pain and discomfort when God gave me the honor of being the mother to these 3 incredible human beings.

In one of the most well known Scripture passages, we are told by Christ that if we are tired of working, tired of trying, tired of life to come to Him for comfort and rest. Rest in the Lord and His promises. I think that most of us are more tired than we let on. We need God these days more than ever.

Labor takes effort. Labor is hard but can also be very rewarding. When you work hard and accomplish a goal, it makes you feel great. When you work hard and your goal is not met, it can be discouraging and deflating.

That is where God comes in.

God is the only way that you can come to terms in the successful and unsuccessful times. When you run out of steam, God provides the strength you need to accomplish your task. And when you fail, God is there to give you rest and encouragement.

So, Happy Labor Day everyone and give thanks to God for his labor of love for you.

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My Path to Him

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways, submit to Him and He will make your paths straight

In this passage, God tells us that if we just try to understand everything on our own without His guidance, we will never truly understand anything. I think of this passage when I am going through a trial in my life- like right now.

Lately, I have been trying to deal with recurring vertigo dizziness that I have had for 5 months. I am also trying to deal with an additional anxiety/OCD recent diagnosis. I don’t understand why this is all happening at once. Now I have another medication to add to my list and frankly, I am a little nervous about it. Another set of side effects to get used to. The feeling that my brain and body are failing me. The embarrassment of knowing I have a mental health problem that needs to be treated.

In my own way of trying to make sense of it all, it makes no sense. I always thought I was relatively healthy, had a good intellect and common sense. But the OCD makes no sense. Why I am sabotaging myself?

Right now, I can’t answer these questions. I feel frustrated, annoyed and a little down. But if I just trust in the Lord, He will provide me with the answers. It sounds so easy-Trust in the Lord. But it’s going to be so hard.

But I am blessed because I have medical coverage and the money to pay for my medications. I have family and friends that are there for me – more than I deserve. I have my parish co-workers who have welcomed me into their family and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

In leaning on my own human understanding, I know what I don’t know. I don’t know God well enough to trust Him. My relationship with God needs major work – all on my part. I also don’t know why I have it so good and feel so lousy about myself?

So, I will take a deep breath and wait for the straight path that God is sending me down. I will look back on this some day and hopefully know that not only was God with me, but God’s plan is being fulfilled.

When I have trouble standing, God is under me supporting me always.

Thank You For Being A Friend

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What makes a best friend?

To most, a best friend is someone who you can talk to about anything.  That person is there to support you and your family no matter what. You can contact them 24/7 and expect a response.

Sound familiar?

At Mass today, the sermon was about taking time to rest and in these peaceful moments, to get back to conversation with God. We should be able to see God in a personal relationship like our best friends.

In my life, that is not the case. In my spiritual journey, I have never felt as if I had a personal relationship with God. I may read Scripture every day, do my best to treat others well and go to Mass but I don’t feel that personal connection. I never have.

Is it because I am not acting like a friend to Him? Am I talking at Him or to Him? Do I take time each day to just say hello? I shouldn’t talking with God about everything – the good, bad, important and downright silly. I should be talking with God like He was my best friend.

By my definition, God meets all the criteria. I can talk with Him about anything, He is there 24/7 and He supports me and my family.

I need to make a better effort to speak daily with God several times a day. I need to work on my own definition of friendship as it pertains to Him.  I need to be there for God 24/7, talk when He needs me to and be there for Him and His family which is all of us.

That’s what friends are for.

The Devil Made Me Do It

2 Corinthians 11:3

But i am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ

What does Satan look like? Is he a serpent? Is he a monster with a pitchfork and horns? Is he just a misunderstood former angel? Does the Devil really exist?

In the sermon from last Sunday, one of our deacons described the Devil as this – something that takes you away from God. I had never really thought of it like that before. It is not necessarily a person prowling around ready to steal your soul. It’s more of our own choices and decisions to get caught up in the worldly ways of life leaving God out of the equation.

I’m not saying that you can’t have pleasures in life – God created those too. Or that you have to spend every waking hour in prayer. But there are things that we have in this modern world – like what the internet provides for us in social media and immediate gratification – that can be our downfall.

When we are obsessed with Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, it can be destructive. Are we checking in on family and friends or are we reading and contributing to gossip and laughing at other people’s misfortunes? It can be so easy to do that. And this is Satan in action. Our minds are being led astray from what God wants us to be thinking.

And yes, there is a Devil and he is alive and thriving on how people have been treating each other. Everyone is rushing around, cutting in and out of traffic, to get to their destination with no regard for others. Impatience is everywhere. People of all races, creeds and sexual orientations are being discriminated against and treated so unfairly. And i won’t even get into the state of things around the globe.

It is the absence of God in all these situations that makes the Devil smile. He lives for this stuff.

Instead of wondering what the Devil looks like, we should be concentrating on making sure we never find out. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Living this Golden Rule will infuriate the Evil One to no end and he will get tired of trying and move on.

We are all made in God’s image- it’s about time we starting acting like it.

A Balancing Act

Deuteronomy 31:6-8

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you

For the past 4 months, I have been dealing with a vertigo/dizziness problem that really has me down. On top of that, this week while gardening, I ran into some poison oak. So, I am dizzy and itching. Ugh!

In the grand scheme of things, these illnesses will pass. I know that. But I am just taking a moment to feel sorry for myself. I just feel like being miserable. I want to get better and it’s taking too long. Why is it taking so long?

I have also been laying on the self-guilt because I have had trouble with my diet lately and have put on a little weight. But because I have been dizzy, I am not exercising like I should right? Wrong – nice try at justifying my poor choices.

Where is God in all of this? Doesn’t He see that I am struggling? Of course, He does. It is me that does not see Him because I can’t see past my own self-wallowing.

I am still struggling a little and I don’t see God in all of this mess. I don’t feel like such a good Christian these days. I am supposed to just know that God is with me and have faith. But I also know that God used people with little faith to complete His plans. Just ask Noah, Moses, and St Paul.

So, in my dizziness I will try to lean on the Lord. In my discomfort, I will try to wait on the One who provides all remedies. I will try to not be so hard on myself because I know God loves me just the way I am flawed and all.

The Answer to My Prayer

Mark 11:24
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

When I retired back in November, I had a lot of emotions. What is next? Will we have enough money? Should I get another job?

Believe me, I was frankly very nervous and stressed about this time in my life that should be filled with excitement and leisure activities.

I had always thought that I would want to do more volunteer work at my parish. I already teach religious education there and I really enjoy it. So, I prayed to God to show me what I should do and hopefully something would come to me.

Boy, did it ever!

In a bold move for me, I reached out to my wonderful pastor and offered to help at the parish during a time that there was a transition in the religious education office. He thanked me for my offer and I moved on to other things.

Then the Deacon called me and offered me a part time position in the religious education office. I was thrilled! But i was more amazed that I was going to be paid for it – I didn’t expect that at all.

So, God provided again for me with a chance to serve my parish and get paid for it. But in this first week, it has been more wonderful than I could have prayed for. The staff at my parish made me feel at home right away and Deacon Jim is a wonderful boss. I really feel a sense of purpose that for many years I have been searching for.

I should have had more faith that God would provide for me instead of being so worried. I have some work to do on that front.

I am beyond excited to work with these incredible faith-filled people who will make me a better person and a better Christian. I don’t know how to thank God except to give it my best effort every day and look to Him for guidance and grace.

I didn’t know the plans the Lord had for me but He knew all along.

My Own Personal Epiphany

This past Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany which is when the Three Wise Men visited the Holy Family with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The word epiphany can also mean an awakening in a person- a revelation of sorts. This week reminded me of my own personal epiphany back in 2005.

I was a cradle Catholic- Mass every week, confession on Saturdays, 12 years in Catholic schools. But when I started college, I did what a lot of kids do – I stopped going. I went through life, met my husband and married in 1983 in a Methodist ceremony. I was attending Methodist services at the time with my husband but knew inside I was still a Catholic.

When our first son was born in 1986, it was important for us to have him baptized. But the Methodist pastor wanted me to convert before he would do so. For some reason, even though I was not a practicing Catholic, I still balked at that idea. To me, I was already Catholic and being in a Christian religion, the baptism should still go on. But he refused to perform the baptism and for me, that was enough of religion. I was done.

Fast forward to 2005- I was still not attending any services at this time and life was sailing by. Two more children were born and all was well. Then in March, the news each day focused on Pope John Paul II and his illness. I was not even following his papacy too much but knew he was a holy man who brought many into the church.

For some reason, I started to feel sympathy for this man who was suffering so much. I felt inside of me a pull to pray for him. Pray? I hadn’t done that in 20 years. Where do I start?

I ended up going to my local Catholic Church, St. Mary’s and sitting outside looking at the crucifix. I prayed as best I could for this future saint. I felt different inside .

After John Paul passed, I felt that the least I could do is go to Mass and pray for his soul. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I was petrified. I knew no one down there and knew none of the prayers or rituals anymore. But I still went.

It was a wonderful experience. Everyone was so nice and inviting. And following the process in the missal brought me into the fold. It was from that moment on that I decided I wanted to be truly Catholic again.

I went to Confession the following Saturday for what seemed like hours – after all, I had 20 years of sins to confess. The priest was gracious ad understanding and welcomed me back. I felt at home.

I have been a faithful member ever since – Mass each week, Confession, and even teaching 2nd grade CCD for the past 10 years. I credit St. John Paul II for bringing me back and it’s no coincidence that his feast day (Oct 22) is also my wedding anniversary. This was my personal epiphany – my reawakening into the glory and wonder of God. Like the Three Kings, I listened to God when He told me to return by another route to Him. My route took 20 years but I arrived.

Each of us have that personal epiphany- that moment or moments when you feel the earth shift a little. Don’t be afraid to embrace it and run with it knowing that God is ultimately directing your steps. Follow His star to where he needs you to be.

My Next Life..

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Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you , plans to give you hope and a future”

So. tomorrow, I retire from Rowan University after 30 years. While I am excited, I am also a little nervous about it. What will I do in my retirement? How did 30 years go by so quickly?  Am I ready?

People keep asking me “So, what are your plans for retirement?” As I give the stock answers of “travel, spend time with my grandkids, and maybe I’ll do some volunteer work” (all of which are true), the truth be told – I don’t know what I am going to do.

I have worked since I was 12 years old and now more than 50 years later, I just don’t know what I am going to do.

As I read this Scripture passage, it gives me great comfort. Even though I don’t know what the future will hold for me, God already knows.  He already knows what the rest of my life is going to be like. He has destined me for success and prosperity.  He has already given me hope and a future with Him someday if I am so blessed.

So, as I leave this phase of my life and start a new one, I am so grateful to everyone who has been put in my path. To all my friends and family, I thank you. I couldn’t have done any of this without you all.  If I am going to be missed by my colleagues,  I am certainly going to miss all of you terribly. But, it’s time to see what God has for me next.

Thank you all so very much and keep posted!  In retirement, I should have a lot more time to write 🙂

 

 

 

Less is More

 Luke 12

“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”‘But God said to him, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”

 

 

Every Saturday morning in the summer months, my husband and I like to go to yard sales. We scout the paper for ads and look for signs on telephone poles. We map out our routes and use the GPS on our phones to find these deals. We really enjoy it. But what are we actually looking for?

More “stuff”…

Do we really need another knickknack? How many fishing poles does one person need? How many times am I really going to use that “as seen on tv” item?

And then, when it’s time for us to have our yard sale, the same items are on our tables for others to purchase so we can get rid of this “stuff” that is cluttering our house. And if we don’t sell it, we build sheds and bigger garages to store these items that we can’t seem to get rid of but needed to have.

In this passage, Jesus is saying that we don’t need all this earthly stuff. As the old saying goes” you can’t take it with you”. And no one knows the hour or day when God will call us home. He is not going to ask you how many shirts you have or how big your bank account is.

Instead of collecting, we should be purging our material selves. We should focus on giving away our time, talent, treasure and love to others. These are the treasures that God has gifted us with for us to share not hoard. These are the things of above.

I’m not saying I won’t still go to yard sales but maybe I’ll be more selective. Maybe I will look for others and not myself. I can look for items to donate to charities. And the weeks that I don’t find anything, I can make a bigger donation in the collection plate at church.

God knows that as humans, we need material things but we shouldn’t be excessive. In America, we are so blessed and we can take it for granted. Don’t take anything for granted! Be grateful to God for his abundance.

Lacking for Nothing

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I started teaching religious education again today. But this year feels a little different. I have been teaching for 11 years but this year, I don’t feel so confident. I feel unsure about my abilities to teach the faith to these young second graders and be enthusiastic about my faith.

Why do I feel this way?

I guess like all people of faith, I have good times and bad times. I have times where I feel so confident and so blessed and know that the Lord is with me. And I have times like now where I don’t feel so confident. I guess I’ve always felt blessed and I have so much to be grateful for and that is a good thing.

To be honest, sitting with my new class of 13 angels at Mass tonight, all I saw were sweet fidgeting seven year olds. They were acting exactly like I probably did at seven years old at church. But it rattled me a little bit.

In the passage above, God is telling us that we are all called to serve a purpose. I know in my heart that I love teaching religious education and especially to this age group. I know that I must persevere and not give in to the Enemy who is trying to discourage me. These kids and their families are depending on me to instruct them and keep them going in the faith. I still feel called to teach and I need to trust God that He will provide me with the tools and the patience to do His will.

If God leads you to it, He will lead you through it.

My favorite Scripture passage is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. It’s time for this teacher to listen to the lesson being taught.

Sick of Being Sick

Romans 12:12

Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.

 

As I celebrated my birthday last week,  I was taking a look at the last 5 years and thought about all the different health issues I have had. In that time period, I have dealt with a thyroid issue, diagnosis of prediabetes (which my doctor said is really type 2 diabetes just waiting to happen), a kidney stone, and a recent diagnosis of IBS.

The prediabetes diagnosis really knocked me for a loop and I was quite upset by it. I swore off all sugars and did really well for a while losing 50 pounds. With my medication, I stay within my numbers so I find myself at times cheating a little with the sweets.

The thyroid condition is managed with medication and the kidney stone was hopefully just a one-time thing. I have added lots of water to my daily routine!

The condition that has me discouraged is the IBS. It was pretty bad for a while and the doctor has me on a special diet currently to see if it can be controlled by adding fiber and watching the intake.

What has me down is I am doing what I am supposed to and nothing has changed so far. It’s only been 3 weeks but I guess I am getting tired of my body breaking down. I know that if I just put in my body the correct foods, I will be healthier.  This is something that I have total control over and at times, choose not to do so.

Why am I self-sabotaging my health?

I think we all do this. We just want to have our guilty pleasures and for a brief moment in time, enjoy our life without the boundaries of health issues. I know that I have been very discouraged lately and also that it’s not a good feeling.

I  need to read the Scripture passage every day to drive home the fact that if I endure in my afflictions, God will bring me through the situation. I also know that with all my current whining and feeling sorry for myself , there are so many others that have it 1000 times worse than I do.  I am actually extremely blessed to have that free will to make the proper choices and make my health better. I am also blessed to have health insurance and the monetary resources to visit doctors and specialists and purchase the specific foods that will hopefully improve my issues.

This does not mean that I won’t continue to struggle with my current situation but I need to give it all to God and let Him help me carry the load. These things happen for a reason and I need to be open to whatever God is leading me to through this time.

Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.

I hope that I can endure and persevere every day and know that if I don’t give in to it, God will give me the way to deal with it. There are many examples in Scripture of God using infirmities and illness in others to perform miracles and teach others how to live.

I hope that I can use this time not to get depressed but to reach out to God for His intercession and to offer my suffering for others who are more seriously ill than I will ever be.  In His timing, God will accomplish whatever His plan is for me; I just need to trust in Him.

So, God, I am not asking for more illness, but if that does happen, let me accept Your will for my life and make the best of it.  After all, Christ did not call the healthy but the ill to be healed by His grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tending to Your Garden

wheat-weeds

courtesy stdavidparish.org

Matthew 13:24-30

 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.  When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

 

I  have a garden like a lot of people do. We have corn, tomatoes, peppers and even some pumpkins from seeds we planted last year. And one of the things I try to do on a regular basis is remove the weeds so the plants can grow.

In this passage, you would think that Jesus would have said “remove all the weeds so the good wheat can grow without constraint”. But that is not the message here.

At Mass yesterday, my priest Fr. Chris described it this way: ” If you remove the bad, how can you recognize the good?”  I had never thought about it that way before. How do we know what is good for us if we don’t know first what is bad.  If we can’t determine the evil in our lives, how can we know what is the right thing to do?

I now look at this passage with a new understanding. I know that bad and good things happen together and that is the way God wants it.  It is in good and bad times that I need to go to God with prayer and thanksgiving. Even the hardest of times is a gift from God because He will always give us what we need to come through it.  And personally, some of the weeds are caused by my own actions and I need to recognize that and make reparations for those actions to God and others.

When the weeds get too high, I go to my garden and remove them so my vegetables can grow. In my own life, when those bad decisions and actions get too much, I must weed them out so my relationship with God and others can flourish. It’s easy to weed a garden; you only need a few tools. It’s not so easy at times in your own life to admit your wrongs and make reparations.

Take a look at your garden and separate the weeds from the wheat and enjoy what God has left for you – a bountiful harvest of mercy, compassion, forgiveness and love.

 

 

 

A Shout-out

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Matthew 10:26-33

So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

 

Whenever we get a piece of good news, the first inclination is to tell everyone you know. You work it into conversation with others even when that conversation has nothing to do with your joy. You call friends and relatives and post it all over social media.

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So why don’t we proclaim the greatest news of all to others more frequently?

In this passage, St. Matthew is telling us to spread the news of Christ to all and not keep it in the darkness. We should not be afraid to tell everyone by our words and actions that God is the center of our lives. We should be yelling from the rooftops!

Easier said than done.

I know for me personally, I try to live by the Golden Rule -do unto others as you would like done unto you. Again, easier said than done and believe me, I have my days where this rule does not apply. But this Scripture tells us that if we spread God’s love to others, Jesus will intercede for us with His Heavenly Father.

It can be difficult if not uncomfortable to talk about our faith at work or casually among friends. We don’t have to be in a theological debate; we only by our actions need to display compassion, kindness, patience and love. These are the only words God needs to hear.

Your shout-out can be as simple as holding the door for someone, giving someone a compliment or buying a friend  a cup of coffee. God wants to see us honor Him in the small routine things of this life so we can be happy with Him in the next eternal life.

As St. Francis of Assisi said “Do all you can to preach the gospel and if necessary use words!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know It All

Psalm 139:1-6

Lord, you have examined me and know all about me.  You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them.  You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. Lord, even before I say a word, you already know it.  You are all around me—in front and in back— and have put your hand on me.
Your knowledge is amazing to me;  it is more than I can understand.

Whenever I hear this passage, one phrase stands out to me.
You know my thoughts before I think them.

If God already knows my thoughts before I think them, then why do I need to pray? Why ask for anything when He already knows what I am going to ask. Why bother? Why go through the motions?

Because God wants to hear us ask. He wants to have an open dialogue with us. He wants us to have a personal relationship with Him.

When you have a personal relationship with someone, there are times when you already know what they are thinking and what, in certain situations, they will say.  Yet, don’t you still want to hear the words?  The words of praise, love, appreciation and even disagreement.

Why would God be any different?

God wants you to speak with Him, ask of Him, appreciate Him and all that He gives to us
daily. He doesn’t “need” for us to speak those words; God desires it.

So, even though He already knows what is on your mind, talk with Him anyway.  Give thanks, ask for intentions and just have that conversation.

Ask and you shall receive  – even though He already knows…

 

Walk Like The Man

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Hebrews 4:14-16

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

There is an old saying ” You can’t understand what someone is going through unless you have walked a mile in his shoes”.  No one knows what others go through on a daily basis or how hard it must be at times to go through life.

Except Christ.

Christ understood completely what it is like to be human because He was human. He understands about temptation because He was tempted in the desert. He understands human relationships and those struggles because He had many human relationships with saints and sinners alike, mostly sinners.

Christ continues to understand our weaknesses even to this day and beyond. He is there to help and guide us through any situation. He is not someone unapproachable but is very present in all of our lives if we choose to let Him in.

Christ was tested in every way yet was without sin.   No, we humans can’t say that we go through the tests of our days without sin. We sin all the time. Yet, Christ is there so we can approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find help in our time of need.

We don’t know what others go through every day. Our society has become so self-absorbed and we are only concerned about our needs. We need to heed the call of Pope Francis to turn the “I” into “We” and help our fellow human beings to pass each test of life.

Aren’t we blessed to have someone in our corner that has also been through the battles? We have that in Christ. He is there for us because of His love and because He has been through more than we will ever have to endure.

Walk a mile in another shoes – think about that today as you have encounters with others. Be merciful, compassionate and supportive.  By your actions, you could affect someone else who going through a similar experience and change that person  forever.

Let Christ who has experienced all our struggles be our guiding light as we continue our walk in life and our walk in the Lord.

 

 

 

The Forgotten Days of Holy Week

Holy Week 2017

Holy Week 2017 began yesterday with Palm Sunday, the triumphant return to Jerusalem of Christ and ends next Sunday with the resurrection of Our Lord on Easter. In between, we have Holy Thursday on which the Eucharist was instituted along with the priesthood, Good Friday when we commemorate the Passion and Death of Jesus for our sins, and Good Saturday when we lay in waiting for the miracle to come.

So, what happens Monday through Wednesday?

I only really noticed this week that Monday through Wednesday is not called “Holy” but only referred to as the “________day of Holy Week”.  Why don’t these days mean anything?

Oh, but they do.

For me, I take these three days and do an examination of my Lent so far. I would have to honestly say that this year was not a good one for me. I started out strong and fizzled away these past few weeks. My Lenten resolutions turned out to be a bust.

What I do each year is take a calendar and pray for a person or group each day. I started out great the first 3 weeks and have barely said a Hail Mary this last week or so. And forget about “giving something up for Lent”. That didn’t last past the first 48 hours.

I think these weekdays of Holy Week are vital to our spiritual journey. We take these days to examine where we are and what we need to do in the home stretch of Lent. We prepare our hearts to receive the greatest gift ever given to mankind. We make our spirits and souls repentant as we listen again to the Passion of Our Lord and try to comprehend what His sacrifice really means. To me, it’s incomprehensible because I can’t believe at times that God thinks I am worthy enough to have my sins forgiven time and time again.

So, during this Holy Week – which really is a full 7 day period – take the time on these first few days to pray, fast, and give alms which we are all called to do. I know I have a lot of praying and apologizing to do to God this year and I am going to start today. I am not going to take this Monday-Wednesday  for granted as just time to cross off until the “real” holy days come.

Every day all year round are holy and a gift from our Creator. I thank Him for all His many gifts but especially for the gift of His Son.

Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter Season!

Have Mercy!

Psalms 103

Bless the LORD, my soul; all my being, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, my soul; and do not forget all his gifts,Who pardons all your sins,and heals all your ills, Who redeems your life from the pit,and crowns you with mercy and compassion, Who fills your days with good things, so your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD does righteous deeds, brings justice to all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, to the Israelites his deeds. Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger abounding in mercy.

He will not always accuse,and nurses no lasting anger He has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our wrongs deserve. For as the heavens tower over the earth, so his mercy towers over those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.

 

When I read this passage, one line stands out to me: He will not always accuse, and nurses no lasting anger. He has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our wrongs deserve.

I think about how many times I have sinned or done something wrong and still God loves and forgives. Even if the weight of the sin is immense, God still cares. He pardons us no matter what and loves us even more. He only wants what is best for us no matter how many times we wrong Him. If God wanted to, He could throw all his power into making us suffer but He doesn’t.

Can we say the same for our relationship with our fellow men?

For every time that we feel that an injustice has been done to us, we still have to forgive. We are all called to do that. But that is easier said and not always done.

It is hard for us as flawed human beings to forgive and forget. It is hard for us not to hold a grudge and to act in anger. We all have people in our lives who have done us wrong and usually our first reaction after the shock of it all is revenge. How can I get back at that person for what they have done to me? How can I avenge it?

The answer is simple; we can’t.

No matter how we get back at that person, it still doesn’t change the original transgression. And in the long run, it doesn’t make that initial pain lessen any.

Looking back at my own experiences and the times I have been betrayed, I was always more hurt than vengeful. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t had my times of revengeful thoughts or wishes upon those people. I think it’s only natural for us as humans to want to strike back.

But we need to change that perception and try to deal with others as God mercifully deals with us. God sees us repeating the same sins over and over and yet He still wants us to be with Him in Paradise someday. How many times do we need to see this to know that God has our  backs?

So, the next time you feel slighted, don’t be angry but put it in God’s hands knowing that He has it all handled anyway. Pray for understanding and peace. Pray for tolerance and mercy upon those that have wronged you knowing that God shows these same things towards us.

Outward sign again 

I posted this in 2015 but it still applies today.

FEBRUARY 18, 2015 / CLARELAFFERTY

Ash Wednesday 2015

Matthew 6:1-6


Jesus said to his disciples:“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you

Today, on Ash Wednesday, this Gospel is read. Be careful not to let everyone know what you are doing for your own ego, but do everything in the silence of your heart. So, what do Catholics and Christians do today?

We get ashes on our heads for all the world to see!

I wonder why this particular reading is proclaimed on Ash Wednesday since this seems like a contradiction in its message. But as I see it, the ashes on the outside are for us inside. It is a sign that we acknowledge to all the world that we are sinners only saved by the cross of Jesus Christ. That is why the ashes are made in the sign of the Cross.

Some look at us today and think “Boy, this person is so holy”. Some look and say ” Is it Ash Wednesday already?”. And some just give you a funny look once they get past staring at your forehead.

For me, ashes symbolize all the times that I burned bridges with God because I put my own needs ahead of His. I admit that I am a sinner in need of repentance and salvation that only Jesus gives me.

So, today, think about your ashes and what they mean to you. Let that symbol reach your inner being where you have that private conversation with God. Let Him know that you are going to make this the best Lent ever. Don’t give up something for Lent but give in to the fact that we are all flawed human beings and need God more than ever.

Not giving up for Lent

I asked my 2nd grade CCD class last week to think about what they will “give up” for Lent which starts on March 1st this year. I explained to them that they need to make a sacrifice and to not give up something like homework!

Then I sat down to figure out what I was going to “give up”. I usually give up chocolate but since I am prediabetic, I shouldn’t be eating that anyway. That would be like allowing my kids to give up that homework that they are trying to avoid. I was no better than they were and I should be an example to them .

So, I am not going to give up something that I should already be doing. I am going to “give in” to what the season of Lent is all about.  Repentance, penance, soul-searching, prayer, fasting and abstinence. These things would be a real sacrifice for me because I am not very good at any of them. 

The last few years, I have bought a pocket calendar and each of the 40 days of Lent have dedicated my day and prayers to people that mean a lot to me like family and friends. Each Sunday, I pray for my priests and deacons who are an inspiration to me everyday. Tonight, as I stare at my calendar, I am trying to decide where to start. 

I think this year, I will pray for things that are not easy for me. I will pray for people I don’t always get along with. I will pray for those who are less fortunate.I will fast for those who are hungry. I will abstain from frivolous things for the people who have nothing.  I will do some soul-searching to see where I am lacking and dedicate days to pray for myself. I don’t see this as selfish but as necessary because I can’t be of service to others if my own house is not in order. 

Lent starts with a display of ashes on the forehead and ends with the greatest sacrifice ever made. In between these 40 days, I need to take stock of my relationship with God and dedicate time -real time- each day to thank Him for the gift of His Son and to do my small part to show Him that I am truly grateful. God doesn’t need my Lenten sacrifice; He just needs me to do His will and to live by the greatest commandment- to love others as He has loved me.  It is a tall order indeed and I fail many times at it because I am human. I can never love as God loves me and I don’t fully understand at times how He can do it so unconditionally. 

All I can do, in my own human and flawed way, is try. I believe that when God sees a genuine effort being made, He is pleased. I will therefore give unto God what He deserves- my time, my devotion, my prayers and my service. 

May this Lenten season be one of discovery, hope, peace and love for you all. 

Rising Above the Flood

noah-ark-1441362115jbt

Genesis 8:6-13
At the end of forty days Noah opened the hatch he had made in the ark, 
 and he sent out a raven to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.It flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth.Then he sent out a dove, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth. But the dove could find no place to alight and perch,and it returned to him in the ark, for there was water all over the earth. Putting out his hand, he caught the dove and drew it back to him inside the ark.He waited seven days more and again sent the dove out from the ark.In the evening the dove came back to him,and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! So Noah knew that the waters had lessened on the earth.He waited still another seven days and then released the dove once more;and this time it did not come back.

Did you ever feel like you were surrounded by flood waters in your life? I know I have. There have been times where I feel that God has abandoned me knowing what I am suffering with. I have sent out those ravens and doves to see if my earthly burdens have lessened only to have those birds return with no solution to my problems.

And then, the waters subside and my life becomes manageable again.

This is what God does for us all. He puts us in situations of suffering and hardship not because He wants us to struggle but so that we reach out to Him for His mercy and understanding. He makes the waters part so that we have a clear path to Him.

When the dove did not return, it was because it had found safe haven on the earth. It did not need Noah’s ark anymore; it had found its home. But for us, we always need God to return and give us that safe haven which is available to us if we only wish to accept it.

So, the next time you are in a hard situation, send our your prayers to God like doves and ravens in the anticipation through faith that He will fulfill your needs. God answers all prayers; sometimes we don’t like the answer, but He never ignores us.

Let your prayers and praise fly up to the One who always grabs our hand when we are drowning in life to pull us closer to Him.