Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bacon Cheeseburgers and Lenten Fasting

How’s Your Lent Going?

As of this 5th Sunday of Lent, we’re more than halfway through Lent and skidding into Holy Week with Palm Sunday coming up next week. How have your Lenten practices been going? Are you still craving bacon cheeseburgers on Fridays like me? Are you finding kindness and generosity a little easier to remember each day? Are you reflecting on how God is looking out for you?

The Gospel this weekend is that amazing story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. There’s lots of symbolism in this scripture for sure. I’d just put before you the most basic questions: where in my own life do I need to live more fully? How do I need to die to self in order to live for others? There's enough there for prayer and meditation to take me all through the Easte season!

As I look ahead to Palm Sunday I always find myself pondering this question: If we longed for the Eucharist the way we desire our palm branches on Palm Sunday, what would the Catholic Church look like?

Can you imagine what an amazing powerhouse for good we could be as a church, as a people of God, if we understood what Jesus in the Eucharist truly is for us….if we got half as excited about communion as we do palm branches?  

What do we value more, palm branches or Jesus in the Eucharist? What do our actions say? How can we be more true to what our hearts long for?

This is what I’m thinking and praying about this week. I’d love to know what you’re thinking and praying about as we come to the end of Lent. Email me at and let me know!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Do I Really Want to See?

I love the readings these three weeks of Lent in cycle A: The Woman at the Well, the Man Born Blind, the Raising of Lazarus. Each reading highlights the desires of our hearts-we thirst for more, we want to see, we want to live fully.

When I think about what it means for me to ask to see more clearly, I can't help but wonder if I really and truly want to see more clearly? It causes me to look internally and ask how honestly do I see myself and if I'm willing to look at my faults and failings and try to improve. Do I want to be more generous? Do I want to let people live their own lives and not judge them according to "who the heck am I to think I have a right to judge them anyway" standards. Can I be more honest? Can I try harder?

And really, who in their right mind wants to ask those questions....

If I have a minute to forget about myself, do I really want to look at the world around me? Do I want to see the ugly truths of prejudice and hatred and selfishness and the myriad ways we convince ourselves it's OK not to care for our sisters and brothers? Honestly, no I don't.

But here we are and it IS Lent, so I try my best to stay silent with the hard questions. I take solace in the fact that Jesus wants to help the blind man. I must believe Jesus wants to help me be better than I think I can be.

God gives me lots of folks who are gifts in my life to help me be "the best version of myself" -to see myself and the world around me more clearly. I know I don't always appreciate when you call my attention to the ways I fall short. But maybe for this week of Lent, I'll try and listen a bit more graciously, and be patient with myself as I try to grow a bit, to see myself and the world around me more honestly.

What do YOU want to see?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Angels among us

To who ever patted me on the back as I walked to communion last Sunday, Thank you. Your simple act of kindness meant the world to me. I felt as if you were an angel sent by God to let me know it was all going to be OK. That I didn't need to worry so much. That I was doing an alright job of it all.

I feel it is an honor and a privilege every year to walk the journey in the initiation of others who want to join us in our Catholic church. We talk a lot in the process of learning how to look for moments where God tries to reach out to us, to recognize God's actions in our daily lives.

I had said in a bible reflection earlier in the week, with tongue stuck firmly in cheek, that, just as Jesus had angels caring for him after the temptation in the desert, I wouldn't mind an angel or two to look after me.

Well, careful what you pray for.

No sooner had the words left my lips than I recognized the angels by my side. The email asking me if I was OK after something I had shared in the group. The pat on my back after a long weekend. The smiles and laughter of my nieces and nephew. The cousin who now says "I love you" when he hangs up the phone with me. The friend who helped me dig my car out of the snow. The one who did my laundry. The colleague who bought the salami for lunch.

Angels all around me.
All the time.

I am grateful, like the man born blind who we'll hear from in two weeks, that I have eyes to see.

And meanwhile, back at the like the Samaritan Woman...strong and not afraid to ask for what you need.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Another Lent is Upon Us

Today is Ash Wednesday. It's 3pm and it's already been a very long week, a long day. I'm not sure what to write, but I feel compelled to attempt this now before more time  goes past.

Last week's gospel -- consider the lilies of the field--hit me where I live. Jesus really challenges me to trust him with all the nonsense that fills my mind and my heart with worries. I either trust him or I don't. Which is it? I want it to be YES of course I least, most of the time. I'm trying to get better with those doubtful days, hoping they are fewer and farther between.

As we move into Lent I wonder if this will be a season of giving up or of 'adding in'. I'd love to add in more patience and understanding and to give up judging others and seeing the worst instead of the best. God help me!

I feel like I've been given the gift of time with my mom as she ages. I ask God to help me make the most of the time we have left. May I be grateful for who she is today, and not worry so much about our past or our future.

This Lent I want to pay attention to those around me. Their needs. Their joys. The blessings they bring to my life. I just want to learn to appreciate the moment I'm be grateful for the moments that bring joy, like visiting my nephew last weekend, or a delicious pasta dinner, as well as being grateful for the strength of mind and heart to breath deeply and get through more challenging moments. 

Let us hold each other close in prayer these holy days and encourage each other to make this Lent a time of transformation. May we be stronger in mind, heart and spirit at the end of these next 40 days. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Loving Our Enemies

Image result for image turn the other cheek

I guess what I'm wondering is this: how come when some people, thinking in a fundamental or literal manner, want to understand scripture "literally", how come it's not the part about loving our enemies that they want to argue for ? Sometimes I think it would be easier to give up a tooth (not an eye so much) than to forgive someone who has wronged me or someone I love.

Jesus packs a lot into this weekend's Gospel, another passage from the Sermon on the Mount. Lots to chew on: offer no resistance to one who is evil, turn the other cheek, give to the one who wants to borrow, and pray for those who persecute you. And ends with: Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Who can possibly live like this? That is a very tall order!
I wonder how I listen to this passage and not feel like I've failed before I even begin?

Sometimes I can be good at parts of this passage. Occasionally I can turn the other cheek. I try hard to forgive, to not hold a grudge, but I'm not always successful. You would think it would be easier than it is to pray for your enemies...I'm surprised just how difficult I find this one.

So, I'm not sure really where this leaves me. Jesus says God allows the sun to shine on the good and the bad. Some days I'm the 'good', but honestly, some days I'm probably the 'bad'. Not terrible mind you, but not my best self. I've got a lot of growing edges.

Maybe what helps me understand this scripture are words like compassion and respect. Those are the gifts that I should be able to offer others, and I surely hope that when I'm not being my best self, that's the way others will treat me. When I struggle with the idea of perfection I have to remember that in his original telling Jesus didn't mean that neurotic perfection that can so mark my struggles, but rather a more cultural (for him, in his world) understanding meaning to be impartial, to leave nothing out, to hold all people in a loving way. Still not simple, but at least in this sense perfect doesn't actually mean perfect as we understand it today. I can let go of that one!

So, as you listen to the readings this weekend, what word gives you comfort? What makes you squirm? Spend a moment or two there and ask God what God is trying to reveal to you today.
And enjoy the sunshine that warms us all.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Light and Love

 So many images from this weekends scripture jump off the page for me. There are the strong words of Isaiah...share your bread with the hungry, give of your own want to the poor. Only when we do that will we be taken from the land of gloom into the light. (there it is again--that image of light!)

Paul's words in Corinthians that seem to show another side of that mighty man. I so often see him as a tower of strength and defender of faith. In this reading he seems oh so very human, speaking of feeling weak and scared. I certainly can identify with that!

The Gospel we've heard so often, that we are called to be salt and light to the world. To add our particular flavor--our Christian/Catholic values to the world we live in. To share with others the very light of the love of Jesus. Not through our words but by the example of how we live our lives. How we treat others. How we stand for what we believe in, what we hope for.

Our words without our actions can sometimes just be hypocrisy. We need to put legs on our beliefs. We need to DO the good deeds we talk so easily about, the things we pray for.

As I was thinking about this past week, I saw, in these photos, people who are light to me. Who share their goodness every day just by the way they move through the world. The mom and son who are part of an amazing family that add so much to our parish, by their example of steadfast love.

The woman who truly is the heart of the parish and how she cares endlessly for all of us.

The staff I have the joy of sharing each week with, who strive to bring the light of Christ's love to each person they meet.

They parish young adults who are gearing up to be prayer leaders in small groups during Lent this year. Their desire to share their faith with others is breath-taking to me.

So, where do we go from here? What do we do with all this? I have this idea stuck in my head that I need to make a PBnJ sandwich and give it to the next street person I see. I feel like I have to DO something for someone else this week...

How do YOU feel after you pray with these readings? What are you being called to do? Let's try together to make our faith more than just words this week. Let's put our faith in action.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Live Jesus

For those of us who come to St Francis de Sales Church on E 96th St, this symbol should look familiar. It is the family crest of St Francis...and the motto on the bottom loosely translated means: "He will not fail". 

Not a bad motto to have if you're a saint or a softball team...(our parish does indeed have a softball team that takes this as its' motto, pretty clever huh?)

The other motto often associated with St Francis de Sales is the simple phrase: "Live Jesus". 

This past Tuesday was the feast of St Francis de Sales and this Saturday the parish will celebrate with what looks to be a great pot luck international feast. It is a time for the entire parish to come together for prayer, food and fellowship. It has been a blast the past few years and this year promises to be the same. 

I find myself wondering, especially in light of the Beatitudes this weekend, what might it mean to LIVE JESUS in our day and age. What did St Francis mean when he took this as his motto back in the day? I don't think it was as simple as live LIKE Jesus, because if that's what he meant, he would have said that right? So to Live Jesus...does that mean to see the world with the eyes of Jesus, with his heart, with his compassion?

The world talks about New Years resolutions in January...and by now everyone has given up. What Live Jesus--was our resolution for 2017? To figure out how to be more...merciful, more forgiving, more loving...maybe it can be as simple as each of us prayerfully considering what one aspect of Jesus' life is most compelling to us...and then trying to adopt that attribute at least a bit more as our own? To try and live JC 24/7 would be way to hard and I'd give up before I even started. But if I thought I could be more open to strangers this year...more outgoing and share of myself...that I can try. 

So, Happy Feast of St Francis de Sales to each of you. I invite you all to think and pray about what it might mean for you to try and live Jesus this year. If we try together...we will not fail.