Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Faith in the Child

A most blessed Christmas season to you! Remember Christmas did not end yet, it extends through the 12 days after...until the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, when the wise men followed the star in the East and brought their treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Christ Child--the Word who became flesh. And they saw his glory.

If we have faith in the child, we will "reign in peace in this life and forever in the life to come." *

"Now take a look now at the manger at Bethlehem. Perhaps we see a tiny arm reaching out at random from the manger. “The Lord has made bare his holy arm.” And this anticipates another baring of that holy arm, when it is stretched out on the wood of the cross, revealed to all nations, just as Isaiah said. God’s power would be revealed in the powerlessness of love unto death. This is what became flesh on Christmas day."    
Bishop Robert Barron

Lord, I pray you will increase our faith in you. You, O Emmanuel, who are with us! Daily in all that we do. May we recognize your presence more clearly this new year. May we see you in ourselves, others and all of your wondrous and glorious creation. Our entire being, our hearts long to reign in peace. Come, O Savior, O royal Prince of Peace! Bestow this great gift of peace that we may be a people of peace and give it unto others. That peace may reign in this entire world. As you humbled yourself coming into this world, we humble ourselves before you asking for true humility--a constant recognition that we need you and are dependent on you. May we, too, have the self-giving love that you have--daily in everything we do, everything we say, everything we think. Reign in us now and forever.


*excerpt taken from a sermon by Saint Quodvultdeus, bishop

Monday, December 26, 2016

Prepare Ye the Way

I lit a candle and sat in the darkness before dawn. Just breathed in the birth of the fresh morning. Quieted myself. Redirected my thoughts as necessary to remain contemplative. Rested in his presence in my prayer chair. Looked out the big picture window in front of me as the sun rose in the east. Eventually light began to fill the room.

And then, as I wrote in my journal, I wished the Lord "Good Morning" and ushered the invitation "Come, O Lord!" Give me the graces, I prayed, to prepare my heart for you. And I sweetly said, "I am yours, and you are mine. You have the words of eternal life so speak to me. I am listening."

Are you (the reader) listening too?

And then in that still small voice, I heard, "Behold, I am coming soon.  With the sound of a trumpet I will return. The earth will tremble and shake. For behold, I come quickly. (Rev 3: 11, 22: 7 & 12)

Are you ready for his coming?

Prepare ye the way. Daily, for we know not the day nor the hour.

Pray for Peace

"May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and let themselves be led by the desire for peace."    Pope Francis

Whose voice will raise up this plea for peace? Yours? Mine? His? Let it be all of ours.

Father, give us the grace we need to plea for peace. Not just to You in prayer and petition but where others may hear. Give us fortitude to stand firm. Courage. Anoint our lips that our words may go forth with the power of the Spirit and help lead others to peace. A peace that surpasses understanding. A peace that guards their hearts and minds... Phil 4:7

To lay down our weapons means to surrender any tendencies toward violence, whether it be real weapons or unkind words and actions. To believe that there's something more powerful than weapons. Someone more powerful. And that someone is Jesus Christ, The Prince of Peace. He walked the earth and said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Jn 14:6 He leads the way to peace and fullness of life. Follow him. Wherever he may go.

"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." *

*(J. Jackson & S. Miller)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Open Door

Yesterday morning as I sat in prayer and journaled, I poured my heart out with these words, "Dearest Lord, my Savior, we gave thanks yesterday for all your goodness and faithfulness. (It was Thanksgiving Day.) You are awesome. Glory to you, O Lord. My heart rejoices, my heart rejoices. I love this quiet time alone with you early in the morning. I give you my heart. Make it yours, I pray. Speak to it and lead me in your way and truth so I may have life and bring life to others. You alone are holy and you alone are worthy."

Then I could hear a melody within the silence of my mind with those words, "You alone are holy, You alone are worthy, You alone are good, Almighty God. (That's the refrain). And then the verse, "The heavens are covering all creation, Your graces are reigning from above, With voices we surrender to your mercy, We pray for hearts open to your love."

 As I continued to listen, I heard him whisper in a still small voice, "Heaven and earth are open and rejoice this day."

So I went to my computer and googled this, "Heaven and earth are open" to see what more I could find and understand what he might mean by those words. Isaiah 45: 8 popped up on the screen and was particularly striking, "Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the Lord, have created it." There were those scriptural words, "Let the earth open up..."

I felt strongly that the Lord was saying righteousness is indeed being poured down from above and springing up and salvation is indeed bearing fruit. We may not see this with our physical eyes, but with eyes of faith, we can believe that what the Lord has spoken is true. And I do believe! "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Then I was led to an article * about "open door" and want to share with you these three P nuggets:

Open Door of Power
We are invited to pass through the door. The door stays open. This door did not shut and will not shut. The door Himself is Jesus. He is the open door.

Open Door of Promise
God always keeps his people and his covenants with his people close to his heart. God keeps his word and does everything He has promised to do.

Open Door of Praise
"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, honor and power." Revelation 4:8, 19:1
"I will enter his gates with thanksgiving; And his courts with praise." Psalm 100:4

So, today, remember these three words: power, promise and praise and believe that through Jesus we enter through the open door and will receive our promised inheritance: eternal life, and will praise him with great rejoicing now and forever and ever.

*Sermon by Mike Hullah

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Three P Words

Our new Bishop, David Konderla, was invited to speak at a women's retreat last Saturday. He quoted our retreat scripture theme from 2 Thessalonians 3: 5, "May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ", then spoke about three P words--prayer, providence and prudence.

"Prayer is essential;" it "grounds us. We must be listening" to the Lord, he said."We do not work out of our own power. We do not have faith..." out of our own doing either. "Everything," he reminded us, "is a gift. Everything returns to Him." Bishop David encouraged us to "trust that the Lord is doing this" and that "Jesus changes our lives if we stay out of his way." He exhorted us to "do everything without worry and anxiety."

"The key to prayer," he instructed "is practical and human. Go to bed, get seven hours of sleep..." get up earlier and have time for prayer. We can "be a more transparent instrument when prayer is done well, especially in the morning."

Providence. "God is in our life in large and small ways all the time. Not just the good things. Bad things happen to good people. Things are just something that happens in our lives." He continued to encourage us, "See God more often. Live with ambiguity. Seek meaning in everything."

Being practical again, Bishop David said, "Catch early signs and symptoms of not praying." For example, "If someone cuts us off in traffic," ask yourself, "where are we going in such a big hurry?"

Insight again: go to bed earlier and pray.

"God is around us all the time," he said. "Our awareness dims in and out from time to time." So we need to "pull Him to mind when He dims."

Prudence is the "mother of the virtues." It "helps us know which virtue to apply. We practicing virtues when "we're praying and attentive and sensitive to God's presence around us, in good and bad things, big and small." We need to live our lives in virtues" which means "stable habits," like being patient.

Three powerful P words: Prayer, Providence and Prudence.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The LORD says:
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah,
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
From you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
Whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
(Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
And the rest of his brethren shall return
to the children of Israel.)
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
And they shall remain, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace. Micah 5: 1-4

As we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, on this Feast of her Birth,   I consider…

Can the Lord take something small and make something great of it, or take someone small and make someone great of them?

Indeed, the answer is a resounding “Yes” as we see clearly in this reading from Micah today.

The Lord chose our Heavenly Mother, Mary, to be the Mother of Jesus, our Lord and God. The reading from Sacred Scripture in Micah says, God chose her from Bethlehem-Ephrathah, “too small to be among the clans of Judah.”

Sometimes do you feel small and wonder “Can the Lord use me since I feel like nothing?" Again, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Look what he did with Mary; he can do the same with us. Of course, only Mary will be the Mother of the Messiah, but we can be someone’s spiritual mother today. We can nurture them and speak tender encouraging words to them as only a mother can comfort.

Especially as we give our “Yes” as Mary did at the Annunciation, to be used as an instrument of the Lord, He will move in wonderful ways through us. We don’t have to think of being great or famous or any nonsense like that, just great today in small ways by doing a little something for someone that seems great to them.

When I feel overwhelmed with a sense of my littleness, I think of St. Therese of Lisieux, that great and wonderful saint that taught the “Little Way”—here’s a link to read more about her: When I remember this way, I can take a breath of fresh air better and aim to do something little that only the Lord can make great.

Even Jesus, as Micah continues, relied on the strength of the LORD, “He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD,…” and in the power and majesty of his name.

By this way, we can do great things on this earth:

  • ·      Believe
  • ·      Joyfully surrender
  • ·      Give our “Yes” to be used
  • ·      Focus on being a blessing to someone today
  • ·      Rely on the strength of the Lord 
  • ·      Stay in the Word
  • ·      Do all in the powerful name of Jesus

And then Micah reminds us He shall be our peace. 
This is the way of peace.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Phil 1: 2

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

In The Woods

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.

When considering "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.

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!