Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Can You See the Divine in Yourself?

The story of the transfiguration makes me wonder what Jesus knew and when he knew it.

I mean, when he got up that morning, did he know it was going to be an outstandingly spectacular day? Was the transfiguration on his 'to do' list? Or, were they out hiking and enjoying the beauty of the day when suddenly this crazy event happened? We know the disciples were amazed at the sight. I wonder what Jesus' own internal felt experience of the event was? What did he see, hear, and feel?

I wonder because while I believe that Jesus was both human and divine as the church teaches us, I am not sure what he himself knew of  his divinity. I can imagine that he would have grown into his understanding of what his relationship with his father was. Days like his baptism and the transfiguration must have been peak moments of knowing of his father's love for him in a most unique way. What did he do with that? What did that feel like to the carpenter's son?

As we move into this Lenten season is the question we ask ourselves really that different? How in touch are we with the Father's love for us? Do we recognize that we are God's own sons and daughters and thus have a spark of the divine in us? What does it feel like to recognize that just as the Father called Jesus his beloved son....he says the same to us, about us...

Most days I know I don't feel like that. Last Sunday night at Vespers, Sr Carol Perry invited us to use this Lenten time to change our hearts. Yes we need to repent, but frankly, (she said? I heard?) it's a given that we are all sinners....God knows that already, and loves us anyway. Our Lenten task is to change our hearts. To believe that we are loved by God and to act like it! How are my actions different if I start from a place where I believe that I am God's beloved?

If I believe I am God's beloved I think I am much more gentle with  myself and with the world around me. I stand firm in my purpose, to be the change for good I want to see in my world, with a sense of peace that the world cannot shake.

If I believed in the good that God sees in would that feel like? What about you? What in you needs to be transformed this Lent?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

When do I feel like the leper?

The person who is outcast has come up rather frequently in the last few Sunday Gospels, whether it be the person with the unclean spirit or this weeks' leper.  For some reason, my attention has been caught by the idea of how the leper might be feeling, as one who is outside the community, trying to find a way back into his family, his friends, his place of worship.

In a perfect world we all feel welcome in the circles we inhabit, most of the time.  But where is that perfect world? Most times when I hear these Gospels, I feel badly for the poor leper, the outcast, who is shunned by their loved ones through no fault of their own. I feel pity for the other.

Oddly enough, today I feel like 'the other'. If I dwell on this too much, I can start my own pity party. I can feel like no one understands me, no one loves me, that I'm being punished for something I have no clue about. Maybe I'm just tired of being cold for so long, that it's seeping into my soul. I am longing for the warmth of the sun to shine on me and brighten both my outlook and my heart.

Today I remember my dad who went home to God 19 years ago. This morning as I walked across the park the sun was shining brightly on the trees and seemed to shine right on my face. I stopped several times to feel the warmth and imagine my dad watching over me today, sending me a special message of his love. Sometimes that's all you need to feel less alone, some small sign that you are connected to the larger universe.

Where do you find your connection to God? To the greater story of who we are as a people of faith? As we get ready for Lent, for the coming of Spring, what gives you hope? I pray that each of us, like the leper, actively look for ways to stay connected to our sisters and brothers in faith, today and always.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

How is Life this Busy?

  feed your own ego i'm busy meaning - Google Search

I really don't understand how for months I have just been too busy to collect my thoughts to share a bit of reflection on a weekly basis. I couldn't even tell you what I've been doing. I've been busy, sure, with all sorts of things that are seemingly very important. It saddens me to think that I'm not being faithful to prayer and reflection. And so, here I am to start again. Sort of like dieting, right? Every day is a new opportunity to make good choices. I choose to be mindful of how God is trying to reach out to me in the days I am given.
These are the things I would like to be busy about: dreaming, living simply, loving, laughing and being grateful.

I had to chuckle when I read the first reading: Job is the picture of a person who needs a vacation! All of life is drudgery and he can't get out of bed in the morning. Does that sound familiar some days or what??

And the demons make an appearance in the Gospel again this weekend.  Between casting out demons Jesus has time to heal Peter's mother in law. This is a man who knows what its like to be busy in ministry! I really have nothing to complain about, I know. It helps to know that Jesus understands when I can't seem to remember where I am, what the next thing is, or try to open my home door with my work keys.
I absolutely love that Jesus went off to that lonely place to pray. I know I need more of that in my life. In these days leading up to Lent I want to give myself the gift of quiet time. How or where I don't know yet, but I'm going to look for it. What about you? Do you need quiet too?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Will YOU Get Out of the Boat?

I was given the glorious opportunity to spend a week at a lake house in the Adirondacks recently and it was absolutely beautiful. While the app on my phone said that it would be rainy most days, somehow, God prevailed and each and every day was sunny and warm. Perfect days for reading, relaxing, kayaking...and trying to swim a bit in that cold lake water. As a woman who grew up on Jones Beach in NY, I find lake water very cold, even in the summer. But, beggars can't be choosers and the gift of a week at a lake is not something to be scoffed out. So most days saw me slowly work up my courage to get into the water, stay in for about five minutes and then run out muttering: "It's cold, it's cold, it's too cold...."

Today's Gospel is about Peter coming out of the boat, at Jesus' beckoning, and risking walking on the water.

Yesterday in our country we saw crazy behavior from crowds protesting in the South.

Today we come to church...and do what? How do we understand yesterday's events in light of the gospel?

We ask ourselves what the heck is going on in our society?

I don't know the answer to that really. I suspect it has something to do with the idea that we've stopped listening to each other. We may be so preoccupied with being right that we can't even discuss another point of view. I don't know.

But this is what I heard at church this morning. I need to have the courage to get out of the boat and take the risk to walk into the unknown, for the sake of my brothers and sisters. For the sake of the world I love, I need to try to move beyond where I am warm and comfortable. I need to step into a situation totally foreign to me, and try to learn something new. I need to be vulnerable.

I don't want to get out of the boat. The water is too cold.
But that doesn't matter...this life isn't about being comfortable is it? It's about being called to make a difference, for the better...with my sisters and brothers.

Even as I write this, our Social Justice group is meeting in the parish. I am so proud of the work that they do, and the care that they have for the community we belong to. I love that they are teaching the rest of us in the parish how we can make a difference for the better.

So, cold water or not, who's going to get out of the boat with me? How are we going to make a difference...knowing that God will help us on our way.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Live Jesus!

It is my hope in the next year, to learn more about who St Francis de Sales was so I can try to practice some of the virtues he taught.  By now you have surely noticed the amazing new banner hanging outside our church. This beautiful piece of artwork, created by Br. Mickey McGrath proudly shouts St Francis’ motto all over 96th St: “LIVE JESUS!”
Two simple words that will take a lifetime to understand, I think.
What does it mean for us to LIVE JESUS now in the 21st century? What does it mean to LIVE JESUS here in the midst of the city, at the crossroads of El Barrio and the Upper East Side? What does it mean to LIVE JESUS in whatever your current circumstances are? What does St Francis mean by those simple words: LIVE JESUS!?
I can only begin to tweeze these words apart to begin to understand them. I imagine this has something to do with letting the very heart of Jesus message of love and compassion for others begin to become part of the very fabric of my being, of my everyday life, of the way I approach the world around me.
It has to mean too, that on a very basic level I need to get to know who Jesus was/is so I can adopt his way of life and incorporate his virtues into myself.  As much as that sounds like a tall order, maybe the way I can best begin is to think about those qualities of Jesus that I most admire and start, one at a time, to make them a part of who I am.

So I think I will start with how accepting Jesus was of others.  He didn’t judge folks, he listened to them in love and invited them to follow him and get to know his Father’s love.  I would really love to be more accepting and less judgemental of others.  That’s where I’m going to start. What about YOU? Where will YOU start? (No judgement there, just a pretty direct invitation!)

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Where Is Your Center?

I find myself wondering again, where the time goes when presumably the schedule should be a bit lighter now that the Spring Sacraments are done. It is true though that there is never a dull moment in parish life.

So, when Elisha visits the 'woman of influence' in the first reading on Sunday, how kind is she to set up a place of respite for him? Someone else would be trying to get rid of a guest who overstays their welcome! Not her, she is most hospitable and her goodness is rewarded magnificently.

I had an opportunity last weekend to meet a group of people who could not have been more welcoming. They were so very gracious. They told us over and over again how much they were moved and touched by the hospitality that was offered to their son and daughter at our parish of St Francis de Sales. It reminds me that our 'influence' can be far reaching. A kindness offered to someone on Sunday becomes the seed of great faith when given the time and love to blossom.

The beginning of the Gospel always unnerves me. Does Jesus really mean those harsh words? Or was he just trying to catch our attention so that we could hear the truth-that God must be in the center of our lives. Our decisions need to be considered from a heart of faith. This I can understand and pray with. I know when God is my center, there is a peace beyond all understanding even in the midst of the turmoil of my life.

My prayer for each of us as we enter into the summer months is that we keep God in the center, in the good times and the hard, at work, at the beach, in the everydayness of grocery shopping. May we remember that God is with us in it all, and may we stay centered in God's love.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Where is the Spirit calling you?

I am realizing the day is getting away from me at a rapid pace as we try to prepare for our Parish Pentecost Event this Sunday. We are also hosting the Last Class Party for our families in Religious Education classes as well as welcoming two young men into the initiation process. Busy? Absolutely! The Spirit is working overtime here at St Francis de Sales for sure!

As we approach Pentecost I find myself thinking about the folks who were in that upper room with the disciples. Last week's reading said Mary and the other women were there too. They are not mentioned at all this Sunday in the account of the Spirit's coming. I wonder why....

I'm reading a book now called "Everyone Leads" by Chris Lowney. It is one more idea of how we need to revitalize our beloved church in order to continue to grow and serve the world in the next century. He has me fascinated with a quote by Pope Benedict (!!) who is referencing back to the documents of Vatican II when he states that the laity are called to be not only collaborators in leading the church but more truly that we are CO RESPONSIBLE for the LEADERSHIP of our church. To hear that the church believes that WE are  (co) responsible for our future is quite a lot to take in. I'm pretty sure this is news to most of us on both sides of the aisle.

But not so much here at St Francis. I do think that we are on the cutting edge of believing that we are leaders in our church and are excited about preparing ourselves and each other to be the most responsible, most creative, most welcoming Catholics around 96th St. There is an energy here that is exciting to be a part of.  Today I received a compliment about how welcoming, well spoken and kind our maintenance man is! I am proud to say we all share a vision of how we want St Francis de Sales to be a place where people learn how to "LIVE JESUS" and his message of peace in the midst of our crazy city lives.

As we prepare for our Pentecost event I am hopeful that our time together will be filled with great conversation on how to seek creative ways to bring the message of Jesus and the church into our neighborhood. I anticipate much laughter, the seeds of new friendships planted and a renewed sense of hope for our parish. We have much to be grateful for. We have much work to do for the kingdom. 

Aren't we all called by the Spirit of Pentecost to change the world? 
Let us go forth into the world, blessed by the gifts of the Spirit, to renew our corner of the earth.