Thursday, June 30, 2011

Honey that flows

My little children, your hearts are small, but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of Heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the souls and makes all things sweet. When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun.
-- St. John Vianney

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Holy Soul

She was full of faith, yet all her life had been tormented by thoughts against it. While apparently enjoying the peace and easiness of mind of souls who have reached a high state of virtue, she suffered such interior trials that she often told me her mind was so filled with all sorts of temptations and abominations that she had to strive not to look within herself...But for all that suffering her face never lost its serenity, nor did she once relax in the fidelity God asked of her. And so I regard her as one of the holiest souls I have ever met on this earth.
-- St. Francis de Sales (speaking of St. Jane Frances de Chantal)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Better Gift

If God seems slow in responding, it is because He is preparing a better gift. He will not deny us. God withholds what you are not yet ready for. He wants you to have a lively desire for His greatest gifts. All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart.
-- St. Augustine

Monday, June 27, 2011

Follow Me!

One Thanksgiving Day after my sister had hosted a wonderful family dinner, she invited me, my honey lamb and a brother to stay awhile longer and linger outside around her pool house.

We took a large fruit tray and a bottle of wine -- leftovers from the big feast. Since it was a chilly evening we had the fireplace lit and enjoyed a hot tub.

When time to go we gathered our things and turned off the pool house lights. In the darkness, my husband picked up the tray carrying the fruit and bottle of wine.  And I asked, "Do you want me to lead the way?"  With confidence he said, "Follow me!"

Within seconds, forgetting the sides of the pool curved, he walked fully dressed into the dark chilly pool, tray floating and fruit bobbing around him.

I know you're supposed to be helpful when something like that happens, but I laughed so hard I was doubled-over. In fact, I couldn't stop laughing because with clothes drenched he had nothing to wear home but an old trench coat my sister had found for him.

my honey lamb
To this day, with great delight we recall that story and somehow it still evokes that same hilarity. By the way, we never found the bottle of wine. Maybe it was pitched over the fence.

Needless to say, that night I did not follow my husband's exact instructions even though his last words before the incident were, "Follow me." I have followed my honey lamb, in a sense, over the past thirty-one years of our marriage and he leads me in the right direction. Just not that night.

In today's gospel, our Lord Jesus says to a scribe, "Follow me..." Mt 8:22 We can certainly count on him to lead us in the way of righteousness. And psalm 103 describes what happens when we walk in his ways. We can trust him to:
  • forgive our sins
  • heal our diseases
  • redeem our life
  • crown us with steady love and mercy  
May you be blessed with the fruit of the Spirit--love, joy, peace...as you follow him wherever He goes!

Sheila
p.s. keep your sense of humor

Friday, June 24, 2011

Peace quote

A friend sent me this quote today:


"May today there be peace within.
May you trust that you are exactly
where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities
that are born of faith in yourself and others.
May you use the gifts that you received
and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content with yourself
just the way you are.
Let this knowledge settle into your bones,
and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us." (author unknown)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More on "upper room"

Dear friends,

Today in the mail I received a copy of a twenty-one page paper that Michelle Moran, President of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) presented to The Association of Diocesan Liaisons in Toronto, Canada recently entitled, "Unity through Pentecost, Building a Culture of Pentecost."

In the cover letter, the person who sent it to me made reference to page 14 which includes a quote from Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) in 1992 about the necessity of the “Upper Room” experience. She had no idea about the “Women of the Upper Room” experience that I referred to in my last post. As a friend of mine said, "Love how God confirms what He is already telling us. He is so faithful to allow us to know His voice."

I have only shared a couple pages of the document that make a reference to "upper room." I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I did.

Michelle Moran wrote:

"Baptism in the Holy Spirit releases and imparts the spiritual gifts or charisms. Vatican II reminds us that these are 'fitting and useful for the needs of the Church'. The apostles were empowered not only to build up the local community but to reach out to the ends of the earth. Pope Benedict XVI stressed this in the homily at the concluding Mass of world Youth Day in Sydney, when he said, 'Through the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may this 23rd World Youth Day be experienced as a new Upper room, from which all of us, burning with the fire of love of the Holy Spirit, go forth to proclaim the Risen Christ and to draw every heart to Him.' In the Charismatic Renewal we have received the missionary grace of Pentecost and as such we have much to bring to the evangelizing activity of the Church in the world.
The Culture of Pentecost - a spiritual reality
Let us now turn more specifically to the 'Culture of Pentecost' which has been a theme emerging from the pontificates of both John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The term is very broad and has many dimensions. However, as we can see from the above, Charismatic Renewal is ideally placed to both promote and actively engage in creating the Culture of Pentecost. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Charismatic Renewal, Cardinal Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, spoke about the experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. He said that this experience which is central to CCR and which has embraced millions of Catholics on every continent could be the starting point of the Culture of Pentecost.


The Culture of Pentecost as a particular concept has gradually unfolded over the last few years. However, as early as 1992 Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) wrote: Are we going to discover the secret of the first Pentecost in the Church? Are we going to offer ourselves humbly to the renewing power of the Holy Spirit so that he can free us from our poverty and our total inability to carry out the task of proclaiming Jesus Christ to our fellow men?.. The Upper room is the place where Christians allow themselves in welcoming the Holy Spirit to be transformed in prayer. But it is also the place from which one goes out to bring the fire of Pentecost to one's brothers and sisters.' (Quoted in New Covenant Magazine)  Once again we see our now familiar themes of Pentecost emerging - prayer and empowerment for evangelization. In his last official address to Charismatic Renewal, on the eve of Pentecost, 29th May 2004, in St Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II placed before the Renewal both a challenge and a mandate. He said, 'I desire that the spirituality of Pentecost be spread in the Church, as a renewed thrust of prayer, holiness, communion and proclamation.' It would seem therefore, that there are some key characteristics which constitute the heart of the spirituality which underpins the Culture of Pentecost.
The Spirituality of Pentecost                   
We can see that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI highlight the transforming action of the Holy Spirit that flows through prayer. In the Upper room those present, experienced a deeper conversion through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Pope John Paul II linked this in with an important theme that emerged from Vatican II, the 'universal call to holiness'. Holiness was no longer to be regarded as something for a few saintly souls or those who held particular offices in the Church, Lumen Gentium emphasized that the call to holiness is an invitation to all God's people. Holiness is however only possible when people are open to receive more fully 'the love of God who has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit' (Rom 5:5). John Paul II was very affirming in recognizing the strong contribution that Charismatic Renewal could make to the Church by enabling people to experience the love of God in a personal way."
Grace & peace,
Sheila

Friday, June 17, 2011

Women Of The Upper Room

Dear friends,

Monday night, one day after a celebration of Pentecost, thirty women of diverse backgrounds united in one accord in one place. What mattered to us was that we were all sisters in the family of God our Father, with one heart, one mind, one faith, one Lord. We called the gathering "Women of the Upper Room."

Based on Acts 1: 13-14 in the holy scriptures, the upper room or cenacle, was where the descent of the Holy Spirit happened. Like the disciples, we were making supplication for the Spirit of God to fall in our place that night and for the Lord to have His way with us. All of us had already been baptized in the Holy Spirit but we desired more of Him. We wanted to overflow with confident hope.
A testimony was shared about seeing God's divine orchestration in our daily lives. "As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Is 55:9
"I now I will show you the most excellent way...follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts..." 1 Cor 12:31 & 14: 1

A teaching was delivered that focused on how to keep this great gift of the Spirit alive in our hearts:
  • "Open the door to Him--be careful not to shut Him out because that grieves Him.
  • Empty ourselves of the world and of ourselves because two opposed things can not subsist together.
And on how to receive the fruits of the Holy Spirit:
  • Humility--be humble--turn from our self-interests and self-love and our own judgment.
  • Submission--to all He wants of us.
  • Abandonment--most excellent--desiring His will; whatever He wills." 1
After an hour of fellowship, praise, testimony and teaching we broke into small prayer groups to minister to one another.
"I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands." 2 Tim 1:6
Prayer warriors interceded and asked the Spirit to come in the fullness of power and might.
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-control." 2 Tim 1:7
The Word of God went forth from scripture to confirm God's leading.
"So is my word that goes out...It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose to which I sent it." Is 55:11

We learned from one another as we listened attentively and shared our gifts.
"Listen to my instruction and be wise." Pro. 8:33
The Divine Physician came with gifts of healing.
 
The gift of tears was welcomed.
Inspired, encouraging, uplifting prayers and words went forth taking us to a new level of His glory. "And we....are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." 2 Cor 3:18

A scribe in each small group wrote down all that was shared with each woman so she could go home and read and reread what the Lord had spoken to her through her sisters.
"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." Rm 15:13

"Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."  2 Tim 1:2

Love,
Sheila
                                       
FOOTNOTES                
1. Father Mark Kirby, O.S.B., translation of a conference for Pentecost by the Benedictine Mother Mectilde de Bar.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pray for Peace

Yesterday on the Church's Baptism Day, Pentecost, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address to those gathered in St. Peter's Square. Here is a brief excerpt of what he said about peace in the world.

"This day of Pentecost I would like to entrust to your intercession the cause of peace in the world. May the Holy Spirit inspire courageous proposals for peace and support the effort to advance it, that dialogue might prevail over arms and respect for man's dignity overcome party interests. May the Spirit, who is the bond of communion, rectify hearts twisted by egoism and help the human family to rediscover and carefully safeguard its fundamental unity."

Let us join our hearts as one universal family to pray for this peace which our world so desperately needs.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Come, Holy Spirit!

In yesterday's post I shared about the five glorious mysteries of the holy rosary. The third mystery is the descent of the Holy Spirit. Like many people, I am praying a nine day novena for Pentecost which is celebrated this coming Sunday.

"Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and enkindle in us the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created,
and Thou shall renew the face of the earth."


May the Holy Spirit fill your heart with the fire of His love!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Glorious Mysteries

The glorious mysteries of the holy rosary remember the life of Christ and his mother, Mary, after he died and rose.

1st Glorious Mystery--The Resurrection
  • We remember when Christ rose three days after his death.
  • We pray for the grace of true faith. 
2nd Glorious Mystery--The Ascension
  • We remember when Christ ascended into heaven after coming back to earth.
  • We pray for the grace of holy hope. 
3rd Glorious Mystery--The Descent of the Holy Spirit
  • We remember when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in the upper room.
  • We pray for the grace of the fire of charity. 
4th Glorious Mystery--The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
  • We remember Mary when she was assumed body and soul into heaven without dying.
  • We pray for the grace of true devotion to Mary. 
5th Glorious Mystery--The Crowning of Mary in Heaven as Queen
  • We remember Mary as Queen of Heaven.
  • We pray for the grace of eternal joy.

As Christians, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus on Easter. And last Sunday, forty days after Easter, the readings at Mass in the Catholic Church and those of mainstream Protestant denominations were centered on the ascension of Jesus. This coming Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter will come to an end, and Christ's Passover is fulfilled, the catechism says, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bottom of my chalice

"At the bottom of my chalice there was peace, always peace." 
St. Therese of Lisieux

Novice 
In the aforementioned quote, St. Therese of Lisieux was expressing how peace reigned within her no matter what bitter cup of suffering, sadness, or disappointment she experienced in her life. She had a deep and intimate relationship with the Lord and because of this she was able to find peace in the inner sanctuary of her soul.

Like Therese we are called to "put out into deep water" Lk 5:4   our net (a relationship) with the Most Holy Trinity--the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we do develop a deep relationship with these persons, we will receive the "peace that surpasses understanding" Phil 4:7 as well as an abundance of other gifts and fruits of the Spirit.

Recognizing our humanity and the struggles that we face, Fr. Bob Colaresi, a Carmelite, wrote this wonderful prayer:

"Jesus, our brother, we need Your healing touch. There are areas of our mind that are paralyzed or underdeveloped; that are plagued with fear, ignorance and blindness; that are crippled in the darkness of poor self-images; that expect disaster and defeat. We have a narrow-mindedness that does not expand our vision or wisdom; attitudes of self-reliance that do not let others touch or minister to us; a need to have the mental control of understanding, which flees before mystery; a brain which does not balance information with the instincts of our heart. We are so serious we no longer laugh at ourselves. There are areas within us that are not whole and do not balance our experience of all the events You send us.

Heal us with peace amid the storms which rock our mental stability. Calm us to carry the crosses You send us to refine and draw us closer. Heal us of our arrogant self-reliance so that we can be more dependent on Your love and presence, deep within and around us. We ask You this, through the intercession of St. Therese, who teaches us confidence and trust in Your love."

I am reminded of the scripture verse from Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Peace be with you!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Watered Flowers

Betty took her last breath this morning.

She plucked my heartstrings about a month ago when she watered the artificial flowers on the dining table.

The next day she told me they looked better and thought they were growing.

That's when I heard a melody inside my heart.

Not long after that Betty choked on some green beans sitting right there across from me as I fed mama. That nearly took her last breath then, but she survived. I watched as they tried to do CPR. She came back from the hospital with her head and shoulders slumped over.

Betty continued to pluck my heartstrings as I saw her barely able to feed herself anymore.

Then they moved her to the memory center and we didn't sit together after that.

She breathed her last breath. I'll remember Betty and those flowers. I don't know how they got watered, but there was water in the vase again today.
May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.