Monday, July 2, 2018

The Spirit of Truth

When I look at this picture it helps me imagine what I hope the spark of the Holy Spirit looks and feels like when it catches in our hearts!
There is just so much going on in our world that calls for a truly Christian response from each of us, and on days as warm as this it can all seem a bit overwhelming. I find myself asking of myself, what can one person do? Even Jesus in next Sunday's Gospel seems to have had a tough time figuring out how to make a difference in the lives of the people who knew him best.

Prophets call us to pay attention to what God is asking of us. Theirs is not an easy task, for no one likes to be reminded that they've fallen short of the mark. I wonder who our prophets are today? Who are the folks who remind us that we're supposed to be the best we can be, not our worst selves!

It takes great courage to speak the truth. I'm not sure I always have that courage.

We celebrate our independence on July 4th. I also always celebrate my dad, Jim Porcelli who was and lives on in our family memory as a wonderful man. My dad was a quiet guy, but I think he had convictions he was willing to stand up for. I believe he was an honest man who tried to do the right thing in all circumstances. He was a loyal friend. He was funny. He had his shadow side for sure, but when all is said and done, he was a man of principle.

So, while the rest of you celebrate Independence this week, I will hold in  my heart a memory of a man who taught me to be an independent woman, strong and loyal. A person who holds dearly to her values and tries to stand for the truth. My prayer for each of us is that, when the time for courage is needed to speak the truth, in love, the Holy Spirit will fill our hearts with all that is needed to speak and stand for what is right for our world.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

To Become What We Receive

Image result for image for holy eucharist

Sunday, the Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. It seems to me that this should be a huge wonderful celebration in our Catholic community, given that our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is one of the few theological realities that distinguishes us from our Christian sisters and brothers. Yet, very often we take the sacredness of the Eucharist for granted don’t we?

Every Sunday, or even, every day if we choose, we have the opportunity to come together in prayer and worship. Along with one another we hear Scripture proclaimed, we pray for the needs of our world, we come to the altar to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. We ‘Go in peace, to love and serve the world”.

We are supposed to become what we receive, aren’t we? Once we share in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are we not invited to be his hands and feet in our world? Aren’t we supposed to be changed to our very core by the mystery of the Eucharist? Shouldn’t we be better people after Mass then when we began?

Do we allow the Eucharist to change us? Do we want to let Jesus transform us to be more like Him or, is that too overwhelming a thought to grasp? May our prayer today for each other be that we have the courage to want to be more like Jesus. As we leave Church, let us take to heart the mandate to love and serve the world, as Jesus asks us to.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Pruning? Ouch!

Image result for google images of pruning plants

I've been thinking a lot about pruning this week. Probably because at least twice if not three times I've had the opportunity to pray with the "I am the Vine You are the Branches" scripture passage.  At first I got caught up in all the usual thoughts, didn't seem to move my heart anywhere in particular. Soon I realized that pruning isn't really about removing the dead useless branches as much as it is having the wisdom to remove healthy growth, so the plant can grow fuller and more healthier. God knows I can't keep a plant alive to save my life. I have no idea how to prune anything.  But God must be pruning me all the time. Apparently it's not a choice between good and bad, but rather a choice between good and better! So the question I'm pondering is, do I have the courage to trust that God knows what God is doing in my life? How much do I really trust God anyway?

I can look back on my life's journey and see all the ways God has led me from one place to the next. And in each of those moments, there really was a letting go of something that had made me happy, for the possibility of greater ministry, more work for the kingdom in a new place. It truly was a choice for something I didn't even know could be 'better'! What a "sneaky" God we have. Bringing us to more joyful moments we couldn't even imagine.

So here at St Francis de Sales we prepare now to celebrate baptisms, communions, confirmation, and a pretty significant anniversary for our pastor. I'll throw in my niece's college graduation for good measure! Oh, and another niece performing at Carnegie's gonna be a busy month.  And for all the blessings that will be shared in all these beautiful moments, I am most grateful.

These are the joyful moments I'll hold on to on those less than perfect days when my mom doesn't seem to recognize me, when I find myself in a ridiculous argument with someone close to me, or when a day is just too sad to move through. Maybe these are the moments of pruning that I need to endure in order to blossom better in the days to come.

I want to believe I trust God enough to let him prune me as he sees fit. I'm not sure that's true, but it's what I've been praying all week long, so, maybe...I'm getting there bit by bit. Hope you are too!

Thursday, April 19, 2018


I found myself transfixed by the word "hunger" in the weekday Gospels this week. A few images come to mind rather easily, the most vivid is what our communion line looks like on any given Sunday as parent and toddler approach the altar. So often, that little one is desperate to receive what mom or dad has just received from the priest or communion minister. With absolutely no knowledge of Jesus as Eucharist this little one very enthusiastically wants what mom or dad has. Surely you've seen this played out in your church. It may look a bit raucous sometimes, but what it always awakens in me are these questions: Do I want Jesus as much as this little one does? Am I THAT excited about receiving Jesus into my heart and soul? Am I hungry for Eucharist? And ultimately, will I let myself be changed because I have received communion today or will I be the same old person when I leave the church as I was when I walked in? What's different in me because of this communion with Jesus?

Those are pretty significant questions to dwell on as we move through the Easter season. I find them helpful for me because of what I witnessed at Easter Vigil: the joy of our "elect" young men who could not wait to be fully initiated into our church family. They are so very excited. They want so much to be closer to Jesus. I am truly humbled in their presence. Their enthusiasm for their faith and the God who has called them here is inspiring and I want to be more like them. I want to be on fire with the Holy Spirit. I want to believe again, that God is calling me to be his witness in this crazy, upside down world.

As we hear the stories of Jesus' post resurrection appearances, what stirs in your heart and soul? What do you want to be different about how you are living your life? What are you hungering for?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Will You Let God Surprise You?

Some of our "Men of RCIA" with apologies to the rest of the group who were out of the room when I took the picture....

I used to be a person who really just gritted my teeth and tried to make it through Lent without too much thought to pain and suffering. That's what I thought Lent was about. When people in my past talked to me about the Paschal Mystery...I could only hear the stories of suffering and death, I never seemed to be able to see the Resurrection.

It came to my attention recently, that my feelings about Lent have changed. Without my even realizing it, I know that Lent is now a sacred season that I find awe inspiring. I know what made the difference too...the difference has been walking my Lenten journey with those folks who are preparing to be initiated into the Catholic church. (RCIA folks)

What an amazing gift they have been to me, and to the church at large. These folks come from such different backgrounds, with wonderfully individual stories of how God has called them into a relationship with himself. Feeling a desire they could not yet fully understand, they courageously took the leap of faith to discover who this God was. They question. They pray. They struggle. They search relentlessly. And they respond to God with open hearts. They amaze me every day.

And their example inspires me to want to be as generous as they are in giving my whole heart to the service of God's people.  As we enter into these most sacred days, I hold my brothers and sisters who are on the journey to baptism, to becoming one with us, in my heart and in my prayer. I ask you to do the same for my friends here, Muhan and Ramel, and for those in your churches who are entering into the waters of baptism, and joining us for the first time and the banquet of the Eucharist.

We who are the church, are a crazy bunch, "crazy" in the most loving sense of how we talk about our family...for all our strengths and our weaknesses, these folks want to join us on our journey to salvation. How privileged are we to have these new believers, on fire with the love of Jesus, to join us and renew the spark of faith in our hearts.

May these holy days be filled with many blessings for one and all of us. May we all pray and celebrate well. May we leave some room for God to surprise us! 

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?