This week Deacon Richard and I were confronted with these two alternatives, to judge or not to judge, to be merciful or not to be merciful.
By the very nature of his vocation to the Diaconate and our call to holiness through our Baptism we decided together to choose mercy and forgiveness. It is not always easy, but the choice in front of us this week gave us the opportunity to be Christ to a person who had perhaps been falsely accused and was hurting. We are not sure whether he is or not, but that day it was not for us to judge.
By the grace of God and praying with each other first, the Deacon approached this man sitting by himself and offered words of encouragement and support. Later that same week we saw this gentleman again and it was easier this time because we had acknowledged him before and he knew we were praying for him and his situation.
It is only by the grace of God that we are not in his situation. We left the restaurant that morning feeling blest by the experience that God placed in our lives. Free from any guilt and feeling the Grace that the Holy Spirit led us to be merciful that day.
God’s ways lead us to freedom, as He forgives us we too must also forgive and be merciful.
Today 3 Wise Kings followed a star, and after hearing the homily last night I was informed we really do not know the exact number who followed the star which brought them to Bethlehem. Apparently many more than 3 Kings.
As I reflected and contemplated this scene I envisioned the line that is formed to receive the King in the form of Bread and wine at all the Catholic churches around our world today. I watched as we all processed bringing our own gifts of Frankincense , Gold and Myrrh. We are dressed like Kings and Queens because we are about to receive a great Gift. But do we realize the gift, we too are approaching the Babe of Bethlehem but in the form of a tiny piece of Bread and a sip of blood from gold chalices. Why Gold, because we are receiving the Most High King .
I don’t always consider this vision as I get up from the pew to receive the Eucharist, the great King who so wants to nourish me for the week ahead. As I stroll back to my pew with His body having touched my lips or perhaps my hand I so try to hold on to the scent, the feel of HIs body and blood entering mine and the sacrifice it took and the humility for Him to come to me like this each and every Mass.
The other thought is how am I changed by it and how do I share it with others . If the Eucharist is the greatest gift we have received , why don’t our faces and actions reveal that to others. Folks , I am questioning and others this week especially are asking me where are the young people? If we are not changed by what we receive and our faces do not show the joy of the Eucharist we will continue to see less of our younger generation who are attracted to the music and the feel good language of the Healing and feel Good churches that do not require any commitments , commandments repentance and reconcilation or the practice of the Beatitudes of The King. The healing churches can heal through community but there is one major gift lacking the Babe of Bethlehem housed in the Tabernacle waiting for us to adore Him and receive Him.. God does work in mysterious ways and I believe he works there in the healing churches too and perhaps as we pray He is doing just that and leading them home by a route we have yet to understand. However I must say, we have the Grace Trifecta , Prayer, Sacrament, Word. We have another trifecta of truth the footstool, the 3 legged footstool, magisterium( Apostolic ) sacred tradition ,and Scripture. We are not our own authority. But each must be given the grace of faith to search and find the Truth and the Way and the life. I am sixty two years old, and God has been so patient with my journey, and I am still on a journey. I just pray that somehow when I leave Church after each Mass my face, my actions will reveal to others who have yet not found the truth they will want to ask me what is the Joy and hope you have found I want that too.
May God be with you and bless you with a Holy and Happy 2019.
Todays readings for the feast of the Holy Family stirred in me to take a deeper dive into the scriptures. I often use many books to ponder the Words of the Lord , today was a little different. I spent time with a new journal called Stay Connected a journal for Catholic woman, that lead me to also use the Better part by Father John Bartunek and also the Catholic Cathechism. What stayed with me was Mary’s words to Jesus. She does not speak much in scripture often just pondering and reflecting. So today her question was revealing to me. She is finally questioning her Son. She say’s to Him Why have you treated us like this? I ponder it too, losing Jesus in the temple is nothing compared to what her future with Him will be like. I would imagine she will ask this question to her Son many times in the years ahead. But perhaps we have the same question to ask Jesus, why are you treating me this way this Christmas season? Maybe you lost someone close to you, or maybe you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, perhaps you too have lost a child. Mary’s response may give you some guidance, to ponder and reflect what this life is all about, she treasured all these things in her heart. May her faith in her Son give you hope as you are asked to accept the losses in your own life. Mary experienced anxiety while trying to find Jesus, does that not make it easier for us to accept that we too will experience anxiety in our own lives, trying to make sense of this earthly life and its purpose. Jesus went home with Mary after he was discovered in the temple and was obedient. He is teaching us too, how to live a human life with all its ups and downs. He is teaching me how to be obedient to the Father’s plan for my life. Lord Jesus help me today to trust like your Mother. To all my family and friends who have been asked to carry a loss or a suffering, know I unite my prayers to yours today and I rest them on the heart of Mary and Jesus. With Eternal love, Diane
Very recently I was at a gathering of friends and my ears perked up when one person shared a memory they had of the person whose life we were remembering on this occasion.
She shared how her friend told her that she made a hypocritical bed. What does that mean she said? It means your bed is all neat on the outside, but underneath the bedspread your sheets and blankets are all wrinkled, torn and bunched up. You present yourself one way to the world but inside you tell a different story.
That stayed with me for many reasons. Of course the first one is to look at myself. What do I want others to see, do I change based on who they think I am or expect me to be? Or do I present my real self in all circumstances. Honestly, it is a daily challenge, the only thing that keeps me honest is my Daily examen prayer; that St. Ignatius reminds me never to omit. Do I do it perfectly, no, but it keeps me honest with myself and what I am presenting to the world in which I live.
Then I looked at the crisis in our church today suffering from spiritual dehydration over the current charges and allegations against the hierarchy of our church. How have they been making hypocritical beds for so long?. Have they been examining themselves daily? Oh if they could have been following St. Ignatius advice for prayer, would we be in this crisis today.
My Heart wonders what Jesus is thinking. I know he is crying with us and its Holy ministers who suffer as well for the innocent and are caught up with the guilty. Has anyone even talked to Jesus in prayer and asked , Where else should we go but to you Lord ? Lord, I pray with expectant faith and hope that like you allowed Job to experience the Devil’s might and gave Job so much pain and suffering and than his friends who gave him such poor advice, may we see in this current situation how you brought Light and wisdom to Job., that we may find wisdom and direction and light for our church our family of faith. Let us be careful what friends we are listening to for direction and guidance, and go to the source of Wisdom our Risen Christ. Remembering God is God and we are not it.
Today as I reflected on the reading from 1Kings 19:9a, 11-16 my mind latched onto the question Jesus asked Elijah. The voice said to him; Why are you here? Which then led me to think about how many times Jesus asks questions or God has asked questions throughout scripture. Such as Why are you hiding? Who do you say I am? What is truth? Do you love me ? Why do you call me good? What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? What is your life, for you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes? What is this You have done? and more questions…. What if I took each one and ponder them now, what would my answers be? I read this reading so many times and only concentrated on how I am to listen to the Lord in the still small voice of a whispering wind and never saw the question.
Questions are important, as a spiritual director the most important thing I can do for a directee is to listen first and then ask the right questions. Lord help me to listen well and to pay attention first to your questions for me , so that by your grace I may grow in self knowledge and discern the spirits of Good versus evil.
May you hear God today in the whispering wind but listen carefully for the question he may have for you today.
Today we hear in Mark’s Gospel Jesus is sent by the Holy Spirit into the Desert and we know much more than Mark shares with us from the other Gospel writers. Jesus will be tempted by pride, avarice, and hunger. We also know he will be protected by the Angels, but not only that; He is protected by his faith in his Father.
This should give us the same assurance as we journey through our desert Lenten experience. If God allowed Jesus to be tempted and I am made in his image and lIkeness I should expect to experience the same as I go through these forty days. Can I learn from Jesus that my Angel is always by my side ? Can I trust in faith, and believe and hope that when I am tempted I can have the same faith in God that Jesus did? In the times we live in today, and in light of recent events this week especially those in Florida, it is certainly a time of testing of our faith and we ask where is God? I know my faith at times of suffering is challenged when I see unjust violence and I see the faces of the victims and their families. But I also know God cries and is saddened by the way Humans waste their freedom and hurt others in the process. Who knows what caused this young man to take an assault weapon and hurt so many. I have no answers to that, although many have opinions, all I can do is go to God who bears the cross with us .
St. John of the Cross has given me much to ponder , he tells us a feeling of dryness( or God’s felt presence not being experienced by feelings) does not prove God’s absence. And a feeling of holy warmth does not prove his presence. So, what will help if we can’t feel it or experience it? It is holding on to the same faith, and hope that Jesus held on to in the desert. It is in understanding of God’s power less clearly. This is the time when we are coming actually closer to Him. So the less we understand and the more we question the closer we get to God..We must believe, hope, love and know God does his best work in the dark in the desert.
May these forty days be time of increasing faith , hope and belief in the God who loves us beyond all imaginings.! Let us unite in prayer for all those carrying heavy crosses, temptations and sufferings this week.
Your Sister who is on the journey with you, Diane
This morning I realized something that never hit me before as I read of the birth of John the Baptist. Maybe you can help me to further ponder.
So think of this you are at the birth of your first child or perhaps it is your first grandchild and you can’t speak. You can’t ooh or ahh, or say you look like your Dad or your Mom, or she is beautiful or He is precious. Imagine that for a second what that would feel like if all you had was a tablet to write on to express your joy and excitement. I would be writing furiously and with such angst.
Now this is what happened to Zechariah. Ever since he was struck mute in the temple for doubting the miracle that God was presenting to him and Elizabeth. This silence lasted for many more months, and yet he must still wait until the 8th day when the circumcision would take place and the child was to be named John. Eight days without a word to express to your newborn baby or to your wife and family
I had never given this any thought before today, and I know God places things on my heart like this to go deeper. Perhaps you have answers for me , perhaps you have the theological explanation if their is one. Please share if you do. Until then I continue to pray that God will reveal to me why 8 more days. !
Today I responded to this question from my Advent journal that I received from the great ladies of the community of Blessed Is She.
The question is; when or where have you experienced the presence of God in a powerful way? At first I delayed in writing and then my pen began to speak for itself. I share my words in the hope that my reflection may ponder you to reflect on your own answer to this very same question .
“I experienced God in the interior of my mind and heart in images too hard to describe with human tongue- in peace beyond words as I ponder in silence. In the hollows of sounds interrupted only by the occasional noise of nature outside of my mind. These images bring thoughts of life experienced long ago with family now gone but yet present in memory. These thoughts bring consolation and restored hope in dreams of a future not yet my own. They my eyes see, I see Him in all things especially in the mountain, He is etched out there a perfect vision for me to view, his face becomes as day, no one but I can see it or describe it, it is too beautiful for words, but He is there, there is the peace and presence of God.” Diane 2017.
May your mind and heart also find peace in the interior places where God can enter into the silence abode , may you find rest with Him there as you prepare for his coming this Advent and Christmas season. And may His Grace build upon grace this day. With Advent Joy and Love , Diane
It has been sometime since I have had sometime to ponder and write for my blog. This morning has given me some wasted fertile time to do the reflecting and the writing. As I prayed with the reading of the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins many thoughts have surfaced. One that keeps playing in my mind is I cannot give my faith life to someone else, my spiritually is my spiritually . I recall the words Fr. John Ricardo often repeats to his congregation; “Faith is God’s work in me to which I respond.” So faith is a gift first and foremost given to me to respond to , to deny it or waste it. I know there were times in my life when I barely noticed the gifts of faith.Oh how I wasted it and threw it aside thinking I have more time, that is for old people. Well, now I am one of those old people I guess , wow I never thought I would get here. The other question that came up in one of the reflections on the gospel was, I’ m I too busy to respond to the gift of faith; boy that hit me right between the eyes.
Now that takes me to the second part, wasted time or fertile ground. Lately I have pondered all the in-between times that I can utilize for prayer and reflection. What about when I am getting dressed , brushing my teeth, or taking a shower. Now this one especially for men I think is a great place to utilize wasted time, now don’t get scandalized but we all do this, we use the bathroom some use it longer than others I know, but God does he really care where we find him and pray. A great wasted space. Driving in the car, stopping in traffic, waiting in a car pool line, waiting in line at the grocery store, I am sure you can think of many more. I have often felt I have my prayer time , my attachments to the way I pray, but no time for the Rosary or the Divine chaplet. Why not use these wasted spaces for that and make it fertile .
The month of October we prayed with our Blessed Lady who wants us to pray with her to her Son. Believe it or not that has been a difficult call for me to answer, as I pray as I can more easily with meditation and contemplation, from the word of God or with spiritual reading and imagination. But this month the Blessed Mother has been like her Son hounding me with messages to take up the Rosary again. How you may ask ?Well one very nice lady in church shared with me that Jesus told her to tell me of the image she had of Mary crying tears, boy did that hit me where it hurts, right in the gut and right to my Spiritual Director.Someone else told me how she was being called to pray the Rosary again ouch, I am listening.Then last night after mass two parishioners are holding rosaries and telling me there stories of praying , one wanted to give me a rosary ring and a pamphlet to pray it. Of course I had just prayed the Glorious mystery before Mass started and Friday Rich and I prayed the rosary in the car together, so it is not like I never do it or do not know how, their was a time in my life I was part of a rosary group, and a time when I prayed it everyday. I am listening now to the call to take it up again in the wasted time of my day, to use it for others and for myself, to make what is wasted fertile ground. Mary, Mother of God I am trying, I pray as I can not as I can’t.
“Leave me not for I know not the value of my soul”(St. John of the Cross). St. Augustine also talks about in his Confessions that the hand acts so easily from the mind and its movement without much thought, but yet our conscience hesitates or denies that same movement. As a result our will denies the good we are called to be or to act upon, so we procrastinate or hesitate to listen to the voice that God has implanted in us. Oh good and gracious God give me the action that is so easily given to my hands, my hands that write so freely now with this pen, give that same movement to my minds actions. So when you ask me to love others like you love me, and to love them with your intense love I may do it as freely. May I respond with the words of St. Paul, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.
Many days my conscience calls me to act but I don’t, yet my hands move without even a thought to clean something, to dress, to wash, to make a meal, to shake a hand or to hug someone.
I have only given this much thought today, how easy it would be to love if our minds were wired in that same way. But God gives freedom to our minds we have a choice, we can act with love, we can postpone, or never listen. God protect me from my own lack of response today.