Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Do You Believe?

At Easter we are asked to renew our baptismal promises and state strongly and clearly what we believe as Catholics. We take it for granted don't we? I do, I do, I often do we pause to think about what we are giving our assent to?

Do I reject sin and Satan and all that tries to keep me away from God? Sure if I knew it was something bad and harmful--I'd stay away from it! But more often there's a subtlety to how sin takes root in my heart and leads me to question everything I thought I believed. My ego can rise up so quickly that I'm choking on false humility before I know what happened. It's then that I hold on with both hands to God and beg for help to be my best self.

Do I believe in God? Creator-Redeemer-Sanctify-er?  Of course I do! I mean, I think I do...but when I reflect on my actions, well, sheesh, sometimes I act like the future of the entire world rests on me...on choices I make and what I do. The world has been redeemed already by Jesus, and I need to remember to get out of God's way sometimes.

Do I believe in the Church? When I listen to the first reading from Acts of the Apostles, the story of the early church, how everyone came together and shared what they had in common. How they listened to the stories of Jesus and prayed and worked together for the good of all. Heck, yes! That's the church I believe in with all my heart.

I feel blessed to say I think this is the image of church we try and create here at St Francis de Sales. Sure we get some of it wrong sometimes, because we're human. For the most part though, I think God is using us to create a vision of parish that is extraordinarily welcoming to all in our neighborhood. We are many ages, ethnicities, and personalities gathering to pray each weekend for the good of our world. We look for new ways to be disciples of Jesus in our city. We invite others to join with us in both prayer and actions for the good of others.

The gospel today about Thomas feels bittersweet to me. How embarrassing and painful it must have been for Thomas to be 'called out' by Jesus about his lack of faith. I think I would have crumbled right then and there. Somehow Thomas remains whole, even when confronted with his weakness. It doesn't appear as if Jesus intends to shame him, but rather Jesus challenges him to move through his doubt into a stronger faith and life of witness.

That is my prayer for each of us this Easter season. That we will have the faith to rely on Jesus in our moments of doubt and confusion. That we will hold on tight with both hands to the God who continues to call us and love us into newness of being. That we will feel the glory of the Easter Alleluia down to our very souls. That we will forgive ourselves for our failings and be grateful for our moments of grace. Do I believe in the resurrection and new life in Jesus? I do!  Do you?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hands and Feet

Weather beaten and work worn. Tired and calloused. Lined and arthritic. Hands and feet that have seen so much of life. They speak of struggle, of love, of length of days.

Young and pink. Fresh and supple. Ready to clap, to dance, to play, to celebrate. Hands and feet that are hopeful and open to new adventures. Wherever God may lead.

Grant me the wisdom and grace to look beyond the hands and feet I shall see this week. Let me see their longing for you in their lives. Let me see their hopes and dreams and regrets and sorrows, their fears and their prayers.

Help me be fully truly present as I find you in the hands and feet of your sons and daughters. And I beg you, as I reach out to touch them, I pray you use them to touch me.

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.