Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cling Fast!

I'm so sorry I missed the last few weeks of blogging...I didn't realize how busy the days could get when you start planning and catching up on stuff that got put to the side while you were doing the actual things you spent last summer planning for! Yikes!

I took a look at the readings for this weekend. I really could not get passed Psalm 63...I think I love every word in this Psalm, here are just a few that call out to me:

You are my God whom I seek
my flesh pines
my soul thirsts
I gaze toward you
your kindness is greater
my lips glorify you
I bless you while I live
I lift up my hands
I call upon your name
my soul shall be satisfied
You are my help
shadow of your wings
I shout for joy
my soul clings fast to you.

Now you have to read the whole psalm to appreciate that I just took out the words that make my heart sing. When I wonder why these words in particular speak to me, I need look no further than the daily realities of our lives.

New births, new loves, graduations and vacations are all causes for great joy. Illness, loneliness, difficulties with family or colleagues, the tragedies in the news are all the things that make me want to hide in the shadow of God's wings and find my comfort there. And I is from the very embrace of God that I find the comfort I need when things get hard, where I find the courage to pray and ask for the blessings and strengths that I need to go forward one more step into the unknown.

How about you? How do you find the courage you need to move forward day by day? Where do you find God when it seems like the world is crazy. The cross of Jesus is never very far away is it?  Some cultures really seem to be way more comfortable with or are much better at accepting sorrow and suffering as a part of life. Then there are those cultures (like my Italian forebears) who look to celebrate and rejoice as often as we can. Both have their place.

June brings Grads and Dads...warm weather and vacations...May we be able to celebrate all the good, even in the midst of the daily crosses. Hold on tight to God. Cling fast!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How Does God Love Us?

Happy Trinity Sunday. All I can ever remember is my 6th grade teacher speaking of the Trinity in terms of a great mystery. I must admit, it hasn't gotten much clearer for me these last 50 years or so. But if I think of the Trinity within the concept of relationship and love I can find some kind of light in the midst of the mystery.

Relationship is at the heart of all our ministry isn't it? We try to be present to others, pastoral, caring. We teach, we sing, we preach, along side our sisters and brothers. It is only in the mystery of our relationships with one another that we find a glimpse of the love God has for each of us. Our small human minds and hearts cannot truly understand the scope or magnitude of the love the Creator has for the creature. When your heart swells with love for another, when you are touched by the honesty of someone's conversation, when you are privileged to witness the devotion between a couple, or between a parent and child...then you come to know a little bit of what God must be like.

Look around you today for examples of love, of faithfulness, of devotion. Look around you to the ones you love today, the people who touch your heart and remind you of how much more the Creator cares for you than you can even imagine. Tell someone you love them today. I hope that you get to hear that you are loved by another too.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Happy Birthday Church!

I love Pentecost Sunday. It was the very first time I was a lector I think, as a 14 year old in my home parish. Those were a lot of tough words to get through...the names of all those foreign places. I smile every year as I listen to the lector of the day make his or her way through Phrygia and Pamphylia and so on. "You can do it!" I silently cheer....and with the help of the Holy Spirit, they get through it all.

We teach that the Holy Spirit offers each of us many and varied gifts. Each Confirmation student tries to learn and remember: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of Lord...(I know they have different names now, right Olivia? But these were the ones I struggled to learn...Olivia is the next Confirmandi in our family....) As I sit here just now, I wish one of the gifts involved being well rested or getting enough sleep. However...maybe that falls under the category of being wise enough to take care of one's health. question to myself today is which gift of the Spirit will I ask for on Sunday? What gift do I need most in my life? They are all precious and all important. One is not better than the other. I don't know which to ask for as I pray during Pentecost Mass. I do so appreciate 'awe' (I think that was "Fear of the Lord") because I am so grateful for the ability to recognize God's presence in the world around me, through people, through events, through nature and music...

I am mindful that God knows me better than I know myself...and so maybe my prayer on Sunday will be to ask God for the gift God knows I need most...and for the vision to recognize how God is gifting me, so that I may be grateful.

What gift of the Spirit do you need most? What will you ask God for? Isn't it good to know that when all is said and done we will be gifted with peace as well as those precious gifts we need to live the life God calls us to?

Happy Pentecost to you. Happy Birthday Church! Celebrate Well!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Leaning In -- to love...

Wow. Not for nothing but if Jesus really said the words attributed to Him today in John's Gospel, I don't know how anyone understood what he was talking about. There are a heck of a lot of pronouns in this passage...and I had to read it out loud to my self to try and follow it...and was exhausted before I finished. 

Here are my "take aways" from today's Gospel:
God loves us even as he loves Jesus...(wow!)  and
We are God's gift to Jesus...(!!)

I'm not sure how this makes me feel...I know I don't feel worthy of this immense love...but at the same time I am very grateful for it. I did nothing to deserve it, but I am so glad to know that I exist within the reality of God's love for me.

Which, as I write this, makes me think of how appropriate this is for Mother's Day. I can recall as a smart mouth child in the midst of some argument with my mom yelling the words "Oh yeah, well I didn't ask to be born..." and in fact I didn't...(and I was, at times, a brat)...I exist here because of the reality of my parent's love for each other and for me. I did nothing to deserve that love. At times I am the most unworthy of that love, and yet, my parents, my mom continues to love me in the best way she knows how. And today, I am grateful that somehow, this confusing Gospel reminds me to be grateful for all she has given me, done for me and loved me.

We talk a lot about 'leaning in' as a way to grow in skill and proficiency. Somehow today I'm thinking I need to pray for the grace to 'lean in--to love' to learn how to be more grateful for the people in my life who love me the best way they know mom, my aunt, my family my friends...and to be grateful that even though some days I don't deserve their love...they continue to love me in spite of my self.

So, Happy Mothers Day to all who love us with a mother's heart...and let us all lean in a bit to love one another better.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Where Do You Find Peace?

In Sunday's Gospel Jesus speaks very clearly about PEACE...and just as clearly states that the peace that he will leave with us is not at all what our world would recognize as 'peace'. Which makes me wonder what the difference might be.

In these pre election months in our country it is often very disturbing to watch all the news coverage of those who would be running for office. It is very unsettling to me to listen to them, hear their speeches and ponder what kind of world will I be living in if this one or that one gets elected. Will they work for peace? Exactly what is their idea of peace?

This past Monday evening in our RCIA group we had the opportunity to learn a bit about "centering prayer".  After an explanation of the process we sat quietly for 20 minutes in silence.

For some of us this was a great challenge...especially when we are so used to the noise and busyness of our lives, taking care of our children, running for the train, multitasking on our smartphones...20 minutes of sitting still, thinking about nothing, trying to listen to what God might want to reveal...well, none of us came out of the experience saying it was easy. Some felt rather anxious about the whole thing.

Can I feel peaceful in the midst of the chaos of my life?
How does God share God's peace with me?
Where do I even begin to look for that peace?

Look at the cherry blossoms while I'm walking down the street. The sun on the water as I try to get that walk in around the reservoir. The little one talking to their mom on the train or bus. That elderly couple walking slowly hand in hand. The sun setting over the river. (cause I'm not up early enough to see the sunrise!!) Sitting on the stoop watching folks on their commute home from work. The feeling of gratitude I have that I get to 'work' in a field I love, that I am so lucky to be in ministry at St Francis de Sales. Gratitude. Gratitude for family and friends who will help me keep it together when chaos threatens to overwhelm me.

That's where I find peace-- In gratitude. When I can pause to be grateful for all that God has blessed me with, that's where I find God's peace. The world doesn't have to be perfect around me, I just need to remember to say Thank you for the good things that are a part of my life. When I recognize the goodness, I find God's peace within me.  What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

God Dwells with Who? With Us!

Image result for google image love one another

The Gospel this week is short, sweet and too the point: Love one another. What more do we need to say about that? 

The truth of this is fleshed out in the other readings, and in our lives every day....we are called to recognize that God has indeed chosen to make his dwelling with us! To live in our midst, to wipe our tears away, to shelter us from storm, support us in our sorrow and rejoice with us in the moments of gladness. That's what we hear in Revelation. 
The HOW of that...I suspect is what Paul is referring to in a slight line in that first reading that we can so easily missed...he and Barnabas 'strengthened the spirits of the disciples ... and commended them to God'.
I think that is the we know God is present in our lives, by how we love and care and support one another...
In baby showers and weddings, at funerals and in lonely moments. When we struggle to accept illness and loss of vitality, when we are frustrated by thoughtlessness...when we are overwhelmed by the daily worries each of our lives contain. If we're lucky, that's when we find God in the support of those around us.
I am grateful that I am lucky...that I do find God in the love of those around me. I am glad too, that I can sometimes be the face of God for others. I pray I always let God shine through me, let God do the work God wants to do with me. I hope I never get in the way of what God is trying to do.

Happy Sunday to all...and may we each try to be the face of God for others.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Can We Help One Another

I thought I'd have more time today to gather my thoughts...but alas...that was not to be.

I was reading a great book in the car this morning, while waiting for parking to be legal, (you have to own a car in NYC to understand what that means...) and I am captivated my this book. The title is Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber. It was loaned to me by a friend and I can see it is going to be the source of much prayer and reflection for me. You should find it and read it. I especially love the title of the second chapter...just saying...

Looking quickly at the Gospel I see we're talking about sheep again. And I can hear Fr Tony quoting the Pope and saying that the shepherd should smell like the sheep. (yuck!) I get it though...and I agree wholeheartedly!

I know that my inclination is the opposite of that...I don't like getting messy and dirty and dealing with the hard stuff of life. Most days I can push myself to overcome my hesitation and enter into another's reality. I need to ask God to help me do that more often and more graciously. How about you? Can you enter into another's suffering and comfort them? We all need someone to hold our hand or lend a shoulder when life gets tough. We are lucky when we can help each other.

God bless us all as we celebrate the wonders of this weekend!