Conversion Confessions: Assuming Mary

“When Jesus saw his mother* and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” John 19:26-27 NAB

Like all good movies, there will most definitely be a prequel and subsequent sequels to this conversational confession of my conversion to Catholicism. Yet, with the Church’s celebration of Mary’s Assumption today, I could not bear to let this day pass without sharing my own journey of rediscovery of Mary. Not having grown up in the Catholic faith, I knew of Mary, but did not truly know her. For, while well acquainted with biblical stories, I still never fully reflected on God’s choosing, her response, or her role in the life of the Church. Beginning with an initial inquisitiveness, this path has led me through faith, scripture and onto a pursuit of heart and mind to understand who Mary is and truly wants to be, in my life today.

My confirmation day in the faith was the equivalent of suddenly finding out that you have family- all over the world, spanning centuries of belief , that are joining in on the celebration. That not only are you part this timeless, vast community, but they are to be a part of you as well, and in the struggles, hopes and joys that are to be encountered.  This is such an incredible immeasurable gift that quite honestly I feel I have been unwrapping it ever since that day! So too has been the journey of getting to know our mother Mary. No longer is she resting still in the shadows of the nativity scene, just one of the many characters of a beloved story but an indelible part of my own story as a woman of faith.mary&babyJesus

Paramount to this animation of faith, is that in considering her as God’s chosen, I am compelled to also recognize Mary’s beautiful choice to add her “Yes” to God. In doing so, she modeled a faith so pure and trusting, expressive of her love of God and desire for service, that in this moment she became the very first disciple.  At the tender age of probably 14 or 15, she possessed an awareness of the situation before her, expressed deep acceptance and commitment, and spent a lifetime of learning and growing in faith and understanding. Isn’t this what we too desire in our own lives as Christian daughters, sisters, and mothers? Do we not want to be known by our love, dedicated lives of service with hands and feet that lead others to Jesus? Following Mary’s guidance, over the last few years, I began recommitting myself to God at the start of each new day. Before my eyes even open, and despite my inclination to stay in bed,

  I simply say “Thank you God for the gift of this new day”. Then quite deliberately before my feet hit the floor I say “Yes!”. To what you might ask? It is my yes to what God has in store for me, in the ability to accept the unknown as opportunities of grace and the choice to be a part of God’s loving plan in my life.

So too has it been in my life as a mom. With each of my three children, I have prayed, “Lord please grant me a healthy child that is loved, nurtured and is to flourish within. May I be worthy of this gift of life, and may you continue to guide me in guiding him or her in the light of your love”. (Lk. 1:39-56) For me, Mary has been a part of God’s promise to do just that- to become a constant guiding light for my children. Equally as true, she has comforted me when I have been at wits end, seeking more patience than that day had allowed. In keeping with this very thought, one of my favorite scriptures as a parent has been the finding of Jesus at the temple (Lk 2:41-52). Tangibly, I can sense the very real frustration, and “anxiety” of Mary and Joseph as they, having searched for 3 days, finally discover him teaching all present including themselves.  It is said that Mary, not fully understanding, took her Son’s words and “kept all this in her heart”.

Yes Lord, when I have failed to understand the why I too need to keep your words in my heart.

This is no more fully witnessed than at the foot of the cross. Oh, the profound sorrow that she as a mom felt at the loss of her Son, and the love poured out for a rejecting world! Yet, here too Mary was asked to meet this both with an open acceptance, and allow God to transform the pain into the hope of salvation. Even in Mary’s life, there is transformation, for in the simplicity of Jesus’ presentation of the gift of Mary to John we begin to grasp the importance of the larger family. We are never alone, but part of an immense communion of believers. Thank you God for the hopeful promise that we like Mary will enjoy an eternity with you one day. Until then,

“Father, please use my humble hands, feet, voice, and heart to serve you as you will.”

  In Christ Always,

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My Brother: A Portrait of Suicide & Glimpses of Grace

Yesterday’s news on the untimely death of Robin Williams hit many of us hard.  Here was a man that we thought we knew well, at least we knew all of the characters that he played, and the many talents he possessed.  He was quick witted, funny, gifted, and seen quite habitually smiling. Yet, depression is an illness that is so often hidden, that is until it can no longer be. Suicide, then becomes a final expression of a state of no longer wanting to hide, no longer wanting to hurt, and no longer wanting to be. So too, was the story of my brother Paxton, his name meaning “peace”,  and his life cut short at the all-to-soon age of 40.

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My brother Paxton
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My sister Paula, Mom, Pax & Me (as a baby)

Smart, funny, loving, a practical joker, an incredible hugger, Pax would do anything to help someone he loved. At 14 years older (yes I was the “surprise” child), he was in many ways a father figure to me. He taught me how to float on Lake Norfork, to play penny ante blackjack, to work hard and how to laugh at myself when I took the demands of life too seriously. Listening attentively when I would ask for his advice, he would smile and ask me what I thought I should do. This was to be one of my first lessons in pastoral ministry. He was present with me.

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Years later, summer of my Freshman year in college

In wake of his death, this is what I felt the most, an overwhelming sudden absence and a longing for him to be present with me again. Mixed in also was a whole list of regrets, things I wish I would have said in that unknown last conversation that night, and times I wondered if I had appreciated fully. Questions as to why he didn’t know how much he was truly loved, or the extent of the devastation his death left us all feeling. Yet, what I discovered was that God was there too, breaking into my sorrow with glimpses of grace, mercy, and unconditional love.

At this time, in the rural South, suicide was a topic of non-discussion and I knew of no one personally who had experienced what our family had or was willing to talk about it. Those that did choose to comment, oh how I wish sometimes that they hadn’t. One of the most hurtful things spoken was that “suicide is an unforgivable sin, I’m truly sorry that your brother is going to hell”. Yes, that was said, and all in the pretense of being a person of faith.  Those words rung in my ears, and I could not reconcile them with the all loving God that I knew so well. Reeling from the sting, and recognizing others I knew shared this understanding,  I reached out to my pastor in Massachusetts, and in doing so God reached out to me.

            “Elizabeth, tell me, how are you doing?” was the kind Irish voice on the other end of the line. As I began to relate the events of Paxton’s death, I stopped, there was a point I couldn’t go any further. “Father, tell me why would someone say this to me? Tell me, please is this really what our church teaches, and our faith holds, is there really no room for God’s loving forgiveness?” As tears flowed and my heart pounded, I heard these words. “God loves Paxton. Only our loving Father knows the heart and the moments of death which allow for great grace of reconciliation.”  Hearing his words were grace for me as well, for while I knew of the state that depression and alcoholism had created, I also knew of Paxton’s quiet love of the Father and Son as a baptized Christian. Then God gave me another gift- a conversation shared by an elderly neighbor of his in the month before his passing. That evening she had walked out of her apartment to see him sitting and looking at the stars, and seeing him so happy she couldn’t resist joining him. Gazing upwards he said, “All those countless stars..He made them all..one day I will be a part of that, and with Him too.” She said that while the conversation surprised her it was the happiest that she had seen him in quite awhile. This chance meeting with her was yet another grace.

Over the course of the next few years, I slowly discovered that in speaking of my loss, of the painful rupture that suicide creates in the lives of those who they leave behind I had found the grace that only God can provide. Not alone, I had found peace in the listening support of family, friends, my faith community, and in the voices of those who too had lost a loved one to suicide. I also recognized that throughout this God was strengthening me, step by step, day by day to be of help to others- to be present- in their sorrow and their joy. This is today how I remember my brother,  best honor his life and continually glimpse God’s grace in the gift of ministry.

In God’s Peace and Love,

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If you are considering suicide, or know of someone who is please take the time to speak to someone who knows where you are and can cast a lifeline of hope: National Suicide Prevention 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

For those directly or indirectly affected by the painful loss of suicide, this is what our Catholic tradition actually says in this matter[1]:

That, we are to be responsible stewards of the gift of life given to us, it is not for our disposal. (2280) Further, it is detrimental in cutting the connections to family, friends, and community, and therefore in opposition to our expression of our love of God. (2281) However, there are several conditions in which one’s degree of responsibility is considered affected. (2282) Finally, “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance”. (2283)


 

[1]Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pt. 3, Sect. 2, Ch.2, art.5 http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm

7 Advantageous Reasons to Wait Upon the Lord

                   First, let’s admit that very few of us, including myself, ever truly want to wait for anything. We search desperately for the shortest line at the store, GPS the quickest route to our destination, and watch with noses pressed against the oven for the cupcakes to be ready. Oh, who am I kidding , we drive by the nearest bakery or donut shop and wha-la it’s ready! While our patience for waiting has various limits, there is usually a point to where we cry out, (paraphrasing here), “You have got to be kidding me!” Yet, God has given us so many numerous, and advantageous reasons why we should do just that…wait…and trust upon the Lord.

Here are my top 7 that highlighted the week! 

1. “The LORD is good to those who trust in him, to the one that seeks him” Lamentations 3:25

 While my mornings begin in seeking God through prayer, and reflection..there are ample detours and the need to trust God throadworkroughout the day. Not the least of which are in actuality, real roadblocks, that this summer lead me away from the way home through a busy touristy area. This adds an unpredictability to the completion of my errands and, as I was discovering, a heaping tablespoon of frustration. Prompting me to ask myself, what could I be doing instead? TRUST. Be aware that God is there too, in my impatience, in this busy world around me. Now, as I close my eyes I can see the smile given by the young couple in beaconing them across the street, and feel the breeze off the ocean. I can hear the questioning voices of the kids on summer vacation with their parents..and God telling me that this too is a part of the day He has for me.

2. “Guide me by your fidelity and teach me, for you are God my savior, for you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:5

God never fails to teach us these things if we allow ourselves to be open to learning something new, and listening for that faithful voice. So often after leading children’s liturgy, I am reminded how much that they have taught me, with an open heart and a faith that is dependent, loving and trusting. Lord, with this faith of a child let me wait for you knowing that you will always provide.

3. “So that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:7

As many of us know, who write about or serve in a ministry capacity, we are asked to be fully reliant on the Holy Spirit for guidance and revelation.  Therefore when the invitation came recently to submit for a ministry journal, I took the time needed to pray for direction not just what to say, but whether or not it needed to be said at all. With gratitude Lord, your words, your will, and your heart always.

 4. “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated.” 1 Corinthians 13:4 

So, we have truly come to the heart of the matter. Waiting has much to do with Love. Patience is waiting with love, it is accepting that there is a timeline other than our own, and loving the other as God moves in each of our lives.  Having said this yesterday was not my best example of modeling patience as we are nearing the end of time left for summer reading and Khan Academy work. At day’s end, I realized that even as my day was rearranged to fit my son’s, that is where I was meant to be. Could I have been more kind about the sacrifice? Absolutely. Especially when I think of all the times that God and others have waited (patiently) on me, I then better recognize what God is asking.

5. “They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” Isaiah 40:31

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Though this is a typical reading for the end of life, personally I feel that it is even more appropriate for the living out of our daily lives. Summer it seems, offering a plethora of sunshine and warm weather, presents ample opportunity for family time, and a chance to reconnect with friends. Not to be outdone, so has this summer proven to be. This past week, ours was sprinkled with a graduation party, our sons’ friends, a get together with several families, my in-laws who winter in Florida and mass. Father, thank you for strengthening us during the “winter” times in our lives, when the world around us lays seemingly bare. Thank you also for this time to renew our souls in the joy and fellowship of friends and family. Kristen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.“You open wide your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” Psalm 145:16IMG_0582

Lord I am in awe of you! The beautiful story of waiting here, is one that spans a total of six years. During this time, I waited, and waited for this vine to bloom, only receiving lush greenery filling my arch. So many times I was tempted to give up, and plant something else in this spot. Yet, with pruners in hand, I tended it faithfully..until one morning I walked out to meet my surprise. It had a desire and a purpose to bloom, but in God’s timing. I could not rush it, or wish it to be only God could do that.  What amazing creativity and beauty you give us Lord when we trust in your promise.

7. “This is the LORD to whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!” Isaiah 25:9 and “Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 25:5 

Seeking Joy1Waiting also allows for preparation and celebration. A week from tomorrow, I will be assisting with a women’s Seeking Joy! Retreat to be held at Holy Family Parish in Taunton, MA. It is a day of prayer, reflection, laughter, music and yes…shopping! Whether you are able to make this retreat or one like it, the time spent together with other women of faith, is an invaluable gift of joy.

May God lead you this week to ponder and embrace the opportunity to wait upon the Lord!

 

For other stories of Quick Takes, visit Jen at ConversionDiary.Com.

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Witness to the Miracle: Bringing Forth Our Gifts

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Today, in discussion of the Gospel Reading of the miracle of loaves and fish, I asked the children gathered what should we do with the gifts that God has given us? What if what we have is thought to be little? Conversely,  if we have acquired much, and have leftovers, what would we do with it? While,  I thought that I was leading them to provide typical answers of the things that they would buy or do with the new wealth they, much like the boy in the Gospel, truly offered gifts of the heart.   The first little girl said, “I would give ten percent to the church”, another boy said “I would seek to build shelter for the homeless”, and still another said,  “I would keep only very little, enough for my family to be able to live and eat”. Oh, out of the mouths of babes! I had to smile, as I then asked, “Do you know that this is exactly what Jesus has entrusted us to do as followers, in caring for the needs of our community?”

Re-imagining the Scene: Blessed and Broken (A beautiful invitation to reflection)

           If we look at the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, given to the multitude, it is bread given as an act of grace and an entrance into our present understanding that “all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him”[1]. From this encounter of Christ, we are then called to love and to be a sign of Christ made present in the world.  That our gifts, like that of the boy, though seemingly meager, can be multiplied through God’s grace and used to care for the material and spiritual needs of our community.

Still, in recognizing the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, can we truly attest to this continual miracle of Christ’s grace and presence multiplied in our lives, in our church and in our world today? Absolutely! Yet, just as in Jesus’ time, we also are faced with challenges to a deeper profession of that faith and witness to the miracle. For, intimately connected to this experience is a conversion of heart and transformation of self.  It is a call not to “follow human logic rather than God’s logic” and in doing so fail to understand the message of the miracle that is to occur.[3]  Rather, through “faith and prayer…we may share the little we have”, find that God has made it “suffice for everyone”, multiplied in fruits of “faith, service and love”.[4] I believe that Pope Francis is speaking clearly to our responsibility as disciples to answer Jesus’ question in offering our resources and trusting “without reserve…knowing everything is possible” through God.[5]   While this is our mission as disciples, we are still learning and growing in understanding, as did the apostles, in placing our trust fully in Christ.

As a church, and individually as disciples we need to ask ourselves if we are committed fully both to evangelization and service. This is a demanding call to imitate Christ’s love for humanity both in word and deed, in the tasks of “pastoral mission, communion and participation”.[6] While Vatican II reemphasized these, it was Evangelii Nuntiandi that so clearly issued the challenge for us today as a Church. Here, the Christian ‘life of prayer, the Word, teaching, charity’, and “sharing of bread…only acquires its full meaning when it becomes a witness, when it evokes admiration and conversion, and when it becomes the preaching and proclamation of the Good News”.[7] The contextual situations of poverty, oppression, homelessness, and disease particularly prevalent in the Third World do not allow them to adequately provide for themselves.[8]

Today we too are to answer the directive posed to us by Christ.  First, following the model of Christ, we are called to a greater awareness of the material and spiritual need of those within our local and global communities. In order to do so, requires that we are truly transformed by, and a witness to our encounter with Christ present in the Eucharist. Then, bringing our gifts and resources with confidence, we offer them to God to be blessed, multiplied and shared, turning none away. Finally, we are reminded of our task as disciples to gather our surplus, to allocate it appropriately so that none is lost and that all are filled.

May God bless you in your gift of self, service, and love!

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How fitting is the naming and mission of this Massachusetts food pantry..  http://www.loavesfishespantry.org/  Now, do you know of one in your area? 🙂 St. Vincent de Paul


[1] CCC, 1329

[2] Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, 32

[3] Francis, Angelus, St. Peter’s Square, June 2, 2013

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Francis, Journey to Rio de Janeiro on the Occasion of the XXVIII World Youth Day. July 28, 2013.

[7] Paul VI, Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi. “From Christ to the Church’s Evangelizing”. I (15)

[8] Manus, “John 6:1-15 and its Synoptic Parallels”, 69.

Small Success Thursday : God is in the Details

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Today in celebration of St. Ignatius’s Feast Day (#FindIggy @.loyolapress.com) and in collaboration with other amazing Catholic moms www.catholicmom.com, I have decided to share my own “Small Successes” for this week!

1. Summer course at Boston College- completed, grade in and transcript sent to Loyola Chicago

                                BC arrow Loyola

Ok, so I have taken quite a few classes for my Master’s degree, but as a mom of three in the summertime, my attention span is at times like that of a gnat! It seems that I just get started on a paper, blog, or project only to feel the tapping on my shoulder followed by a little face in my own. Headphones are not an obstacle to them at all! Don’t get me wrong, I want to play as much as they do. (Which may be a wee part of the problem) So, I find that I barter and promise to have a little uninterrupted time so as to truly enjoy the time spent at play. Having said that, my kids are really supportive of what mom is doing, even praying for me at finals! While the two weeks were intense, the commute incredibly long..the course was amazing. Now with all the paperwork in to Loyola, I am already thinking about this Fall.

to do 2. Caught up on many of the items on my “to do” list that I had neglected while taking the above course.

This is not limited to but includes giving haircuts for 1 of the 3 boys, laundry, vacuuming, and back to school textbook ordering.   Did I mention that one of my boys is an almost 15 year old that despises haircuts, noting that he isn’t truly himself with “short” hair? Parochial school is another new thing for our family this year and with school textbooks, and uniform ordering let’s just say that I am still sane, family pocketbook lighter, but sane. Yet, it is a wonderful feeling to sit in a neatened house, albeit short lived, and feel somewhat caught up on my 1st career duties!

 3. Start of my pastoral field education placement with…my ministry colleague Allison Gingras! 

http://www.reconciledtoyou.com/

Some of you might already be familiar with Allison from her reconciliation ministry at Reconciled to You, “Blink” spots on Catholic TV, Catholic 24/7 radio, or contributing posts on Catholicmom.com. I met Allison a couple of years ago, and right away I felt a friendship and a strong inclination that God had put us in each other’s paths for a reason.

 “Father, you are the most gifted human resources manager that I know! You know what we need before we can even ask and still it pleases you so that we do. Moreover you know what this big beautiful world needs and how we can best serve. Please Lord give me your eyes to see as you see, ears to be attentive to your voice in prayer and through others, and the understanding to discern your will always.”

Invited to: Work 6 & and Rest One..It’s a Family thing!

eucharist-2“The Eucharist is not something we do simply to commemorate what Jesus did for us. Rather it is something that Christ does for us, filling us with grace and nourishing us with His own life. Let us live the Eucharist, in a spirit of joy and concern for all our brothers and sisters in need”. Pope Francis

This morning, I was thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know) about how incredibly busy, but restful and fulfilling my Sunday had been. While it seems odd perhaps to hold these adjectives together I believe that they highlight what it really means, to me, to “work six and rest one” in keeping the Sabbath holy. As so often the case, in anticipation of Sunday, there was an extra spring in my step as I reflected and then prepared for the day ahead. You see, my joy is not solely in going to mass with my immediate family, but is found in joining my larger family in Christ, in sharing communion together. Here, I am graced with brothers and sisters from varied backgrounds, of all ages, and nationalities each praying to the same Father. Each resting the work of their own hands, to bring all that they are- to be blessed and broken and enjoined as one in the beautiful sacrifice of Christ.

As a Eucharistic minister, I witness this so profoundly as each person steps forward to receive Christ. Some hands are soft, others rugged and worn, nonetheless within their eyes, I see God…and what a beautiful sight that is to behold!  At times I sense their sadness, others times their joy and still others their deep appreciation for this moment to pause to recognize Christ present with us.

Yet, what of those in our community, who because of age, illness or injury cannot be with us on Sunday? While many of us were able to experience the beautiful mystery of Christ’s presence this Sunday in the Eucharist, imagine if you could not. So often we might take for granted the ability to come and partake in communion together, yet for so many of our “family” this not an option.So in reading this,  I am asking you to please consider offering your gift of faith, love and service  to bring Christ, made truly present in the Eucharist and in our community, into their lives as well.

I promise, the joy and love that God provides in this ministry is one that can forever change your own life and serve as a continual source of blessing. This has been the experience of my husband and I, who have been serving for the past five years. We feel graced to have been witnesses to the sacred, these moments of profound gratitude, and light of Christ’s love into their lives.

So, what does this gift require? Our time spent in total at a facility is about an hour, although admittedly quite often we choose to spend longer! Perhaps you may be able to go once a week, yet if you can only go every other week, or visit someone home bound, you will be providing an immeasurable gift that might make their reception of the Eucharist possible.

In faith and prayer, I ask that you consider this beautiful ministry. God Bless-

EXAMEN-ing My Day

http://paperdali.blogspot.com/2010/07/saint-ignatius-of-loyola-san-ignacio-de.html
http://paperdali.blogspot.com/2010/07/saint-ignatius-of-loyola-san-ignacio-de.html

“Receive, Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to your divine will, that you dispose of me. Give me only your love and your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.” St. Ignatius

In just one week (July 31st), we celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius, a former Spanish soldier, who experiencing a profound conversion to the centrality of Christ, much like St. Paul, answered the call to follow. St. Ignatius recognized that putting Christ first, means also discovering anew God’s presence and the Holy Spirit at work in the midst of our daily lives. It is a seeking and then an awareness to God within and without- in all that we see, hear, feel and do. So, in a simple, modified form of the Examen I wish to share with you my day.

1. Become aware of God’s presence.

This morning, before I opened my eyes, I felt You there God. Not ready yet to leave my restful state, I said “thank you” for the day to come, and “yes” to what gifts I might be shown to see and do. I saw your beauty in the sunrise, in the dew on the flowers, and in the little white butterfly family that returns each Summer. I heard your joy in the laughter, albeit giggles, of my children. And I felt your peace as joined in the “Our Father” and prepared my heart to receive such blessed communion at mass.  You are here with me now as I enter into this time of contemplation, Spirit lead me. 

2. Review the day with gratitude. 

My heavenly Father, I thank you for both the ups and downs of this day, for you were present in every moment. How I praise you for the gift of friendship with you, for those you have placed in my path, and those opportunities for others to see and know you through me. I give praise also for those who you have given to guide me, who listen, support and advise, who reflect your indescribable love. For those moments that were difficult-oh, the strength you have given me, you never let go. You are amazing God!

3. Pay attention to your emotions. 

Initially, I felt reluctance at starting my day so early, for it is the summer and as I had rationalized I had been so busy the last few weeks.  Yet, I realize that I was in fact procrastinating my pressing “to do” lists, and seeing them as tasks rather than invitations to see You at your best. I was also hesitant to answer the phone from  someone who I have felt continually attempts to  confront peace with frustration and aggravation. However, while I still have much to learn, you gave me courage to stand firm in your grace. 

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. 

Please Lord, be persistent with me and help me to always be loving and forgiving, even when I feel tempted to be less than what you have shown to me.  You see me as I truly am, you know my thoughts and my heart…and you love and forgive. Lord, please strengthen my steps, embolden my spirit, and help me approach each new day with faith, love, peace, and joy. 

5. Look toward tomorrow. 

See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/#sthash.DJi24cCQ.dpuf 

Unpacking The Treasures of Our Faith

Theology in Context

         As my BC classmate Olga has so beautifully spoken, now is the time that we realize the joy in “unpacking the treasures of our faith”. In devoting long hours of reading, writing, and contemplating the lived experience of the US Latino/a, we have discovered more of our own journeys as well. With each incredibly diverse faith experience we are given insight into our God who desires to be meaningfully encountered in our daily lives. It is, in a very real sense, a rediscovery of who we are, and who God is calling us to be in the world around us. Yet, it is not a discarding of the past but rather embracing these gifts of faith experienced sacramentally and through prayer, song, and devotion, while reaffirming their significance today. As I gaze at this picture,  I glimpse the divinely created men and women who are an embodiment of a lived theology, whose presence give voice to joy, struggle, and hope. Who are, as well, part of the community of faith of the past, present and future hearing the call to respond to challenges, walk in accompaniment, and live out their faith expressively in the world. Muchas gracias y abrazos a todos!

How do you experience God most meaningfully in your life? Is  there a treasure of your faith that draws you nearer? Is there perhaps one yet to be unpacked, its richness yet undiscovered? 

 

Sowing seeds: How is your soil prepared?

Preparing our soil
Essential Nutrients

Today as I prepared for leading Children’s Liturgy, I wanted the children to consider some of the ways that we too nourish the soil in our hearts to allow God’s Word to grow in our lives. It isn’t simply that God’s Word is spoken, and we can choose to accept it or not. There is much that we can do to prepare our hearts to hear the Word each week, and continually to nourish it. Just like a tender young plant, it needs our awareness (found in prayer), attentive removing of weeds and rocks (through confession and reconciliation), our participation (experienced in community at mass), and above all- love.  While so simple, do we arrive at mass, and leave without noticing any change at all in our lives? Do we even remember the Gospel reading or the homily?

To this, I sometimes challenge my family to tell me what they heard at mass. At times it is a joke from the homily, perhaps a song, a particular prayer, and quite beautifully the Word itself. It’s is so interesting to hear how each one of us is touched differently, and yet carries the potential to bear fruit not only in our lives but in the world around us. This is the second important take away that this parable contains. We are not only the soil but when we live fruitful lives, we then can be sowers of God’s love in the lives of others. Carrying God’s Word within, we become sharers and sowers in the darkest places of hate, division, and despair.

This evening is the wake for the father of one of our youngest faithful. Today, we lifted her and her family up in prayer together in community. Lord, may this seed of love bear much fruit in the hearts of your faithful, and may you grant this family peace as they gather to remember this loving father, husband and friend to many.

Peace,

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A Great Cloud of Witnesses

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“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us* and persevere in running the race that lies before us” Heb 12:1

Today as I began my class at BC, all I could think about as we went round the circle introducing ourselves is this passage from Hebrews. How blessed I feel to be surrounded by such an amazing “cloud of witnesses”! Hailing from all over the United States, many are originally natives of Columbia, Peru, Mexico, and Costa Rica, and all are witnesses to an incredible passion for the faith. These men and women have served as leaders in the church, and within their communities, quite often through grassroots programs as part of the Catholic Extension Program. “Building faith, inspiring hope, and igniting change”, these projects to build churches and homes, support faith and educational ministries, and social outreach are led in some of the poorest areas of the nation. So as classes commence, I assume my place alongside these marathoners who have not taken the easy road but chosen the path and the mission to love. Needless to say, I have much to learn!

Peace,

Elizabeth

For more about the Catholic extension program, or how to help visit: http://www.catholicextension.org/