Friday, August 19, 2016

Hymn of Peace

Dove, symbol of peace, whispering message of peace to me in our backyard.
This verse of a hymn by James Quinn, S.J. resonated with me yesterday morning...
    "Make us the servants of your peace,
      Renew our strength, remove all fear,
      Be with us. Lord, throughout this day,
      For all is joy if you are near."

So let's take a look at this by breaking it open.

First, "servants of peace" ~~this speaks to me of a longing to be an instrument of peace by bearing this fruit interiorially in order to bring this presence of peace to others, maybe even without a word. Do we make it happen by ourselves? No, we ask for it and grow in it. That's why the author uses the words "make us..." we acknowledge God as the author of all goodness and all good gifts.

Second, "remove all fear" ~~over and over the holy scriptures, especially the words of our Lord Jesus say, "Be not afraid." There's no doubt as humans we face fears; different circumstances in our lives make us feel afraid, so we humbly ask again, "remove" these. Fears weaken us if we allow them to linger long. Our strength is renewed daily as we recognize and admit our fears and surrender them. 2 Timothy 1: 7 says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, charity and a sound mind." Often fear is rooted in lies of the enemy, know the one whispering the untruths about our goodness, worth and value. Truth is, we are good because God created us in his image and likeness, we are of great worth because we are his beloved children and we have value because we've been given many gifts to share with others.

Next the words, "be with us" ~~here's an invitation to the Lord saying, I want you close to my heart today. I want to be near your heart. Draw us closer, please. In this knowledge that He is with us, we can stand firm against anything that happens, especially the most difficult things in life.

Finally, "all is joy" ~~daily believe He is near and with you always and joy will increase. "Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength." Nehemiah 8:10.

Peace & all joy be yours!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Glendalough Monastic Ruins in Ireland
"You will discover things in the woods that you never found in books. Stones and trees will teach you things that you never heard from your schoolteachers."       St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Grace Pouring Down

"Your grace is like rain pouring down on me night and day." *
Grace? Are you familiar with that word?

In order to receive from our Father the blessings He desires to bestow on his children we need grace. This is undeserved help from God, and best of all, it's free. We need grace to be able to respond to God's love, to live as his children, inherit his blessings and especially eternal life.

So it is very important to be in a habit of asking for the graces we need and desire. This is another excellent practice that will lead us on the road of holiness--to a life of intimacy with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit--the Most Holy Trinity.

Now back to "grace is like rain pouring down..." think of rain--a really good rain shower, nothing severe, but like a heavy rain that waters the parched earth. Rain that makes everything fruitful. When this rain of grace comes, it covers us--every part of us from head to toe. When we say it is pouring rain, we mean it is showering, not sprinkling--it's the difference between a lot and a little bit. It's abundant grace that He's pouring out on his children, in the light and the dark, in the night and the day, in the good times and the bad, in sickness and health, when I slumber and when I am awake--at all times. His love never ceases.

Christ said, "The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of living water, welling up into eternal life." John 4: 14

Listen to what Saint Cyril of Jerusalem said long ago in response to that holy scripture, "This is a new kind of water, a living, leaping water, welling up for those who are worthy. But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirt water? Because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one on the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it."

Saint Cyril continued, "In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit."

So, let us pray, Father, rain down your grace upon us and open our hearts to repentance so that the well of living water may spring up within us. Give us what we need and what our hearts desire--more of You! Let the grace that pours upon us make us loving, fruitful and magnanimous people who lead good and holy lives and help others on the path that leads to eternal life. Amen!

* Bao La Tinh Chua

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Almighty God

Songs of many different cultures refresh my soul.
Yesterday, I shared the refrain to a Vietnamese song
called "Bao La Tinh Chua".

Each line in the refrain seemed rich with abundant life
as I sat and pondered it, so I want to sip each with you.

The first line of refrain begins with--Almighty God--
need I go any further yet?

What does it mean to be Almighty?

God, who created everything, is called the Father Almighty.
First, He loves us and so created everything for us.
Additionally, He rules everything and can do everything, and
ultimately, "nothing will be impossible with God." Lk 1:37

When I personalize this and believe firmly, as I suggest is a good practice, I say to myself--God is my loving Father and I am his adoring daughter. He created me, loves me, cares for me, provides for me, converts me, restores me, and refreshes me daily.

He is a universal Father meaning he's created everyone everywhere,
and will do the same for each of us as we firmly believe
in His almighty love and power.

Monday, May 9, 2016

"Bao La Tinh Chua"

"God's Love is Great"
Almighty God, your grace is like rain
pouring down on me night and day.
You hold me in your loving hands.
With You in me, my life flows peacefully.
You guide me on the right path and walk with me.
I am not alone.
Oh, how wonderful your love is.

refrain to the Vietnamese song "Bao La Tinh Chua"

Monday, April 25, 2016

Blue Skies and Butterflies

They've been there all my life. Blue skies and butterflies. But they became electric.
When my sister passed away, the sky was so blue. She loved the song "Blue Skies". The earth stood still that day within my soul. Some big part of me died too.

I think it was my heart. It's a good thing hearts can resurrect, just like Jesus did on the third day.
And now we can all cross over to the other side.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Prayer Walking

This is my favorite form of exercise--prayer walking. Okay, so I’m killing two birds with one stone. The old expression meaning, I achieved two things with one action. This is something I’ve enjoyed doing for decades. It’s a discipline—that is, sometimes I have to force my will to get to the park where there’s a walking trail. The first half mile I can feel a little stiff, but going on the second mile I’m loosened up and happy to be there.

Yes, there are certain prayers I pray—I meditate on the mysteries of the rosary for the day. BTW, those mysteries focus on the life of Christ, not Mary as some are mistaken. Then I call on the litany of my favorite saints and invite them to come and be with me—to intercede. A few of them are: St. Therese of Liseaux, St. Joseph, St. Benedict, St. John Paul…who I call on is a whole other story—so for now…I continue brisk walking and pray for the sanctification of priests whom I know and then usually pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy before my three miles are finished. Somewhere in between the litany and chaplet, I listen after asking the Lord to speak to me—in that still small voice.

Today I received lovely thoughts about motherhood, from conception to the birth of a child and how that nine month period puts mothers in the throes of the paschal mystery. The what? Paschal mystery—meaning the dying, rising and going forth of life. Like Jesus when he lived, then died and rose again. It’s what we experience in life whether we realize it or not.

So regarding motherhood, I was thinking about the joy of conception—there’s a rising, generally, speaking until the first bump in the road of pregnancy—maybe that “bump” is slight morning sickness or perhaps more severe, maybe there is tiredness, or repulsion of certain foods, and thus we’re dying to self. We cooperate with this experience of discomfort to bring life into this world. One day we might feel well and the next day not so much. And such is the paschal mystery that can change from day to day, week to week or month to month. Certainly throughout nine months or a year we’ve been on a roller coaster ride of the paschal mystery—up and down, again and again, dying and rising and going forth.

But here’s the main point that resonated with me this morning on my walk—there’s birth after dying—there’s rising to new life, like after Jesus’ passion and death, there was the resurrection of his body.

When women go into labor to deliver the child, that’s real suffering—real dying—pain brings death to self--not literally, but figuratively speaking. But, then the child is born. There is new life. So remember whenever you are going through painful experiences and dying to self, there is new life coming.

New life coming--now take that thought on your next prayer walk!