Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Gracious Heart

What is there to say today but "Thank you"!

I want to start a new tradition in my family where we each take time to put on paper exactly what we are grateful for on this Thanksgiving day in this particular year. I think that's important because, each year we will be in a different place at least emotionally, and our hearts will be grateful for different things. Of course, this means I need to remember to bring the same notebook each year to record our pressure there!!

Aside from the obvious thankfulness for the love and craziness of my family, especially my nieces and nephews, and that of my friends...(especially that Jersey crowd!!) I think this year I'm grateful for the ways I can see I have grown. I'm not so afraid, still a little, but not lots. I'm more content. More peaceful. More grounded. I think I have learned to trust that God really is in charge and will take care of me, better than I can take care of my self. From that awareness comes the ability even at this point in my journey to dream new dreams. To wonder what comes next? What the heck does God have in store for me next year? And to think about that excites me. To imagine what the future holds for all I love, but especially those adored nieces and nephew...well, that just is amazing.

There is sadness in thinking of the friends I've lost this year. But I know, beyond all knowing that they are at peace, and I am so grateful for that belief. I rejoice with friends who are expecting new life in their families, and with those who are nurturing little ones on their path. I am grateful I still get to play with the kids at church just like when I was a teen ager in my home parish.

My life feels complete.

For that, and for you, I am most grateful.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hope and Peace

It happens every so often that our liturgical readings really and truly reflect what is going on in our world. Wow, is that ever true these we see in the news all around us terror and threats and mayhem and destruction. Our readings reflect that as well, we call these the 'end times' readings...filled with images of what the world might be like when the Son of Man comes.

As I look closely at this Sundays readings I am surprised. I keep thinking I should see something that frightens me, but what I see in all three readings are words that describe how awesome our King is! Dreams speak of dominion and glory, and countries proud to serve Him. Psalms speak of splendor and strength of holiness and trust. Revelation speaks of faithfulness and power and John reflects Jesus' passion for Truth. I don't see fear here. I see hope.

And hope is what I need.

I was on the subway today, for a longer than usual commute. My goodness! In the space of the time it took to go 4 stops I witnessed three occasions where strangers were actually yelling at each other. I don't scare too easily after 20 some odd years living in Manhattan, but I was a little nervous. I didn't know if things would escalate or get out of control. I didn't know why people were so cranky. Then I remembered everything that we've been seeing in the news and prayed...Oh dear God, we have every right to be cranky...we're scared...of the unknown crazy person out there who will do something awful.

So how do we live with that fear? I don't know. But I know I'm not going to hide. I'm going to take a deep breathe, pray more for sure, and try to treat others better...and continue to live the life God gives me. Each day. I hope being aware of God's care for me, will make me better able to love the ones around me, and be patient with those who are afraid.

We need to be people of Hope and Peace.  Please, God, help us all.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

My words last forever

In the Gospel this weekend Jesus says "heaven and earth will pass away but my words will last forever". Somehow, on this bleary Thursday, this comforts me. I know the readings at this time of the year are all about the 'end times' and generally serve to unnerve me a bit...but today, not so much, probably because of how my week has gone.

I was very fortunate this past Sunday - Tuesday to join a group of certified directors and coordinators of Religious Education in the Archdiocese of NY for our annual Wisdom Gathering. OK, let me stop you right now and clarify that 'certified' means we've all gone through a certain course of study to improve our skills, not the other kind of at Bellevue...! Stop snickering!
In any case, a few days away, quiet, prayer, study of scripture with Sr. Carol Perry, a bit of laughter and friendship was truly life giving.

I came back from this event into an amazing evening of parish community building...a group of 31 folks from the parish who really didn't know each other all that well, went out to dinner together just for the fun of it! What a great night! And really, what a terrific way to take the church out of the church and bring it into the neighborhood! Thanks to Charlie and Maria who took such excellent care of us at Lexington Pizza. Tuesday evening was table fellowship at its best.

But then, Wednesday was amazing. While everyone else took the day off, (thank you to all the Veterans who are such an example of loving service), I had the opportunity to take 8 of our young people on a special confirmation retreat out at Bishop Molloy Retreat House in Jamaica, NY. I don't know these kids all that well. What a delightful day with a bunch of polite, funny, thoughtful and kind young people. But here's when they stole my heart...

The retreat team had provided an opportunity for the sacrament of Reconciliation for the students. As we went into chapel I explained to them the time was theirs if they would like to receive this sacrament. I expected some hesitation. I expected questions. What happened next blew me away...they couldn't wait to go! They were so anxious to be 'next' on line...and so sincere in their approach to this sacrament. How could I be the ONLY one NOT to go...those kids actually shamed me into going to confession!! I couldn't believe it.

So, after lunch when we were talking about how people give witness to their faith, it gave me great pride to share with them how their example of wanting to go to confession pushed me to receive the sacrament I so often shy away from. I could tell them what a great witness they were to me. I will never look at those 8 teens in the same way again. I am so grateful to God for their witness to me yesterday in so many simple ways.

So, among all the things Jesus said I hold onto his command to  love, respect and welcome his 'little ones'. Those words will forever be with me  I promise I always will. They have so much to teach me.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Giving and Trusting

Two of the three readings this weekend talk about widows and their generosity. I feel guilty. I'm not that generous. I work hard for the paycheck I receive and I try to stretch a dollar pretty far to pay bills and spoil nieces and nephews. When I wonder what God is asking of me as I listen to these readings, I think...I've given up so much already, according to societal standards...what more do you want from me?

I should never ask that of God...because the answer is always the same...God replies very simply, "Jayne, I want it all..." Oh man....I'm in trouble.

How did she do that, the widow of Zarephath? She had only enough to feed her child and herself and yet she shared the little she had with a stranger? How does the widow give away the tiny bit she had to live on, in a society that had no regard for her as a could she risk giving her last pennies as a tithe to the temple? How would they take care of themselves after they gave it all away?

Maybe there's a lesson in trust for me here...

If God truly wants me to give all I have away...metaphorically, literally, and any other way, maybe the way I can do that is if I trust God to take care of me when I have nothing. I can spend the next 20 years worrying about who will take care of me when I can't work anymore...or I can trust that in my old age, God will provide. I can worry about how will I  afford a new car when this one breaks down, or I can trust that God will show me a way...and maybe mass transit is a better option for me some days. I can worry about paying the bills, or I can believe another when it is said "I'll help you." How hard it is to ask for help, believe in help, trust in's easier to try and do it all myself.

So, maybe when I hear these readings this week I need to remind myself that it is about more than important as that is...for me at least, it's about trusting, on every level, that when I need help, from my God, from my friends, from my family...that I will find help. And I probably won't even need to ask, because it will be offered out of love.

I need to trust.