Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

Who is TNSPC?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Lepers & Saints

During RCIA, we start out by reading the next Sunday's Gospel and having a discussion. Sometimes it can be very interesting to see what stood out for some people.  This week, there were varying opinions: was the leper being prideful when he was healed? Why did Jesus tell him not to tell anyone? What was the "cleansing what Moses prescribed" (Mark 1: 44)?

The Cleansing Process

After reading Leviticus 14 1:32, I realized what a long, arduous process the cleansing is. It wasn't a quick sacrificial ceremony, rather, it took days. It begins with 2 live birds and cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop. 1 of the birds is slaughtered over fresh water, then the live bird (along with the other materials) is dipped into the blood. The person is then sprinkled 7 times with this blood. The person is then allowed to go back to his house, but he can't go in it just yet. He has to stay outside for 7 days (I'm assuming this is so that the house can be declared "clean"...the rest of chapter 13 of Leviticus discusses that process.), when he has to shave off all hair, wash his clothes, and bathe in water. On the 8th day, 3 lambs are brought before the priest: 2 male and 1 female. One of the males is sacrificed, with the blood being put on very specific places on the one being cleansed. Then, oil that also was brought is placed on specific body parts of the person. Next is a purification offering. Verses 21-32 discuss the cleansing process for someone who is poor, which I imagine a lot of lepers were since they were banished from the community and their families were shamed. It was an interesting read, for sure!

What's the Connection?

During the Readings during Mass, I thought of how the 3 Readings were intertwined. I think some Sundays I have a hard time fitting the 3 together, but not this week. The First Reading (Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46) touches on what I described in the previous paragraph. It seems a bit spliced to me, reading the whole Chapter makes more sense. This Reading gives us a glimpse of what it was like to have leprosy. Just a glimpse, though. Lepers were banished from their communities; their families looked upon with shame because it was believed that leprosy was brought on by the sins of the leper. Can you imagine? These days, leprosy is known as "Hansen's Disease", and, according to the CDC, can take up to 20 years to develop. It is treatable, and the CDC estimates 150-250 people in the U.S.A. contract the bacterial infection per year. (Hansen's Disease-CDC)
The Second Reading doesn't seem to have a connection between the First Reading and the Gospel, but after I listened to it and read it again, there's definitely a connection to the Gospel. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1) and See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself... (Mark 1:44) As part of our discussion at RCIA, we talked about not doing things for recognition (there's that theme again!). Jesus could have told the leper to run out and tell everyone about his great miracles, but that wasn't his purpose for becoming man and being on the earth. He didn't want people to think he was just about being a healer, a miracle worker. He wanted his physical healings to take a back seat to his true ministry: healing the souls of the people. He calls us to imitate him today, to do things for the right reason: to glorify God and not to call attention to ourselves.

A Hero or a Crazy Man?

St. Damien of Molokai was a Belgian priest who, when his brother fell ill before going on a mission to Hawaii, took his brother's place. He learned of a leper island with no structure. He helped, not only with the structure, but building houses and a chapel. More importantly, he helped with their souls. He eventually contracted the disease after living within the community for 16 years and succumbed to leprosy at the age of 49. There are reports that, upon his passing, all signs of leprosy vanished from his face. Upon statehood, Hawaii selected to have St. Damien as one of its representatives in the Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. When accused of immoral behavior by a Protestant clergyman, St. Damien was defended by Robert Louis Stevenson in his Open Letter to Mr. Hyde. (Franciscan Media) Father Damien was ordained in Hawaii...when he first arrived, he was not a priest. He was only supposed to minister in Molokai for a few months but asked (along with some of the inhabitants) to stay. Even though leprosy is not highly contagious (as was once thought), Father Damien did not pay attention to hygiene which contributed to his contracting the disease.
Want to go on a pilgrimage? In 2015, there were still a few dozen people living in Kalaupapa, which is now a National Historical Park. This includes mostly park employees. Visitors are limited to 100 per day (no one under 16 is permitted) and they have to be invited by either the park employees are the remaining inhabitants. Kalaupapa is accessible only by mule or hiking. There is a long-term plan for the park to be opened up for tourists.

St. Damien Prayer: (Diocese of Honolulu)

Damien, brother on the journey, happy and generous missionary, who loved the Gospel more than your own life, who for love of Jesus left your family, your homeland, your security and your dreams.

Teach us to give our lives with joy like yours, to be in solidarity with the outcasts of our world, to celebrate and contemplate the Eucharist as the source of our own commitment.

Help us to love to the very end and, in the strength of the Spirit, to persevere in compassion for the poor and forgotten so that we might be good disciples of Jesus and Mary.

Amen

Sunday, February 4, 2018

"Me Time"

Searching for Jesus

The reflections I read about today's Gospel (Mark 1:29-39) were about knowing that God gave you a purpose, or that we should always seek Jesus. Even Pope Francis got in on it:
The Homily was given by the Bishop through a recording (Bishop's Appeal Sunday), and he mentioned how we should all search for Jesus. He said that some people find Him at an early age, and some search their whole lives. I fall into that last category. Sometimes I feel like we're playing "hide & seek"...I find him and have a great relationship with him, but then I go through a dry period & I feel like I lose him for a time. Are you with me?

Not my take

Interestingly, though, that's not what I got out of the Readings. In the First Reading  (Job 7:1-4, 6-7), Job is talking about his sufferings. I remember those nights that seemed to go on forever...walking around the room or rocking a newborn. Just me & my baby for what seemed like hours, especially since I was so tired and just wanted to go to bed. Seeing the sun coming up was such a relief. Then it would seem like a blink of an eye that the day would be gone and I would pray for the baby to sleep all night. Thankfully, I didn't have very many of those nights; maybe that's why I remember them so vividly.
Fast forward to now...the babies are grown men and those sleepless nights are a distant memory. Every now and then, though, I will have a sleepless night thanks to the dogs. When I'm up, I'm up and there are nights when I can't go back to sleep. Nights when I lay back down, staring at the clock, knowing I have to get up in "X" amount of hours. Those nights don't seem as long as they did when I had babies to comfort. Oh, but the days! There just isn't enough time in the day to accomplish all I need or want to.

But I'm so tired!

In the Gospel, Jesus healed a bunch of people, then got up at the crack of dawn to pray. He had to be dog-tired after all of the healing he did the day before, yet he got up to spend time with God. Those mornings when I just want to stay in bed? Yeah, I'm going to have to remember this Gospel.
My parents were almost always the first to get up in the mornings. They never stayed in bed because they were tired. If they were still in bed after we got up, they were ill, and they were never ill. (A slight embellishment...they were rarely ill!) Once they were empty-nesters, they attended Daily Mass every day except Sat. (mom said that was their day to "sleep in"...sometimes until 8:00!) My mom would wake up around 6:00 every morning, go into the kitchen, and pray and read the day's readings. My father was raised on farms, so he had always been an "up and at 'em" kind of guy. There wasn't a lazy bone in either of their bodies. But I know they had to be tired. Just like Jesus was.

Early to bed; early to rise

What kept them going? It had to be the promise of salvation. Some mornings I can't wait to get up and see what the day's Readings are. Other mornings, I want to hit the snooze and take just another 15 minutes before I get up. Then I remember the passage in Matthew Kelly's Resisting Happiness where he talks about hitting the snooze button being the first resistance of the day. So, I get up and get on with my day. There's definitely something about being the first one up in the house. It's always been my "me time". Just me and the dogs, trying to get my act together for the day. My days definitely go smoother when I have that time to pray and read. Some mornings there isn't a whole lot of reflection going on, and on my Adoration days sometimes I'm a little slack because I know I'll have an hour that evening. Some days I have more to pray about than others because, well...3 grown boys. The worrying never stops, y'all.  I can definitely "feel it" when I don't have that time in the mornings. After reading the Gospel this morning, I guess even Jesus needed his "me time"!
So...what about you? When is your "me time"?

Friday, February 2, 2018

{SQT} Seven Random Things

I'm joining in with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for another round of Seven Quick Takes. Today  I have some random quick things:

---1---

What I'm reading: I'm actually reading a couple of things right now. As I mentioned in this post, a Sister recommended Interior Freedom (Jacques Philippe). I'm taking it slow so I can really digest what he is saying.
I'm also reading Created to Relate (Kelly M. Wahlquist). This is the winter book club with WINE (Women in the New Evangelization). I'm not doing so great with participating in the online discussion, but the book is very interesting. The premise is how we, as women, are created for relationships. Anyone who thinks there is no difference between how men & women are made needs to read this book! 

---2---

What I'm listening to: Audrey Assad's I Shall Not Want. Every. Single. Day. I need to hear the Litany of Humility every morning.

---3---

What I'm watching: After all of the violence and questionable Netflix I watched over the snow week, I've switched gears. A.D. Kingdom and Empire is incredible. Roma Downey & Mark Burnett have brought the apostles to life. I can't get enough. I wish they had slowed things down a little, though. It seems a bit rushed & I want to relish what I'm watching!
I'm also watching Victoria on Amazon Prime. Season 2 is on PBS but I always forget to watch it so I may have to catch up with a free trial!

---4---

What I am praying:  The Novena to St. Monica for one of my grown sons. The worry never goes away, y'all. I have given it to God, but there are times when the concern, the anxiousness, the worry takes over.

---5---

What I am baking: My SIL shared a recipe she found on FB last week. I tried them; they are heavenly! When I first saw the name (Kentucky Brownie BOMB Bars) I thought they might have bourbon in them, but no. No bourbon. But delicious just the same!

---6---

What I'm writing: Over on my "personal blog", I'm revisiting my October trip to Ireland. Our pilgrimage to Knock was published on Monday. Want to read it? Click here.

---7---

Best quote I heard this week:

Friday, January 19, 2018

{SQT} A Week of Snow Days

I actually have time to join other bloggers at This Ain't the Lyceum for a Seven Quick Takes post! Since I've been off of work all week (one of the perks of working for a southern school system that includes some mountains!), here's how I wasted a week's worth of time spent my time:

--1--

I was able to begin most mornings with an extra cuppa. And it was marvelous. I sat my butt down in front of the tv and watched my favorite local news team, checked email and Facebook, all while sipping my Publix Raspberry Chocolate coffee with Amaretto coffee creamer from a real coffee cup (not a travel cup!).
I love my coffee cups! This is one of my favorite.

--2--

One of the things I said I wanted to do more of this year is write. So, that's what I did this week. I not only caught up on my speech blog, but I wrote ahead and have next week's post already scheduled. I have 2 posts scheduled on my personal blog...I'm finally getting around to writing about my October trip to Ireland. I'm spacing those posts out and posting on Mondays and Thursdays. My SIL & I saw so many things that it's going to take a while (and several posts) to go through it all.
Our first leg of the trip (Dublin) is "live" on the personal blog.

--3--

I caught up on Netflix and I'm not ashamed to admit it! There were new seasons on some of the shows I watched:
Peaky Blinders. Since the show is about a mob, there's violence. If you can get past that, you'll like it. (Sidenote: My SIL & I past Cillian Murphy-who plays the lead character- as we walked to our hotel our last night in Ireland. I didn't realize who he was until the other day when I caught up on this show. Probably a good thing...I would have chased him down if I realized it!)
Disjointed. Kathy Bates is an attorney turned shop-keeper...of a dispensary in So.Cal. If you can get past the pot-smoking and f-bombs, you'll like it. 
Broadchurch. This is a BBC show that is just marvelous. David Tennant (Dr. Who) plays one of the main characters. Every time you think you have things figured out, there's a twist.  This season was no different. Excellent show!
Travelers. I started watching the new season but haven't finished. It's kind of a weird show...the travelers inhabit people's bodies who are scheduled to die and take over their lives. (Told you it was weird!) Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) plays the lead in this one.
Episodes. This is a new show I'm watching; I don't know how I missed this one before.  It's another BBC show: a couple writes a successful British show and is asked to bring the show to the USA. After they agree and move to LA, they find that the British show won't fly here and it gets a total make-over. Matt LeBlanc (Friends) plays the lead actor (as himself) in this one. It's a little over the top, but I'll finish watching this one. The show portrays Hollywood with extramarital affairs and "embellished body parts".
There were some shows that I just couldn't watch:
Ozark. I was given the recommendation to watch this one from a friend. Jason Bateman is a financial advisor who is laundering money for a cartel. After his partner embezzles millions of dollars from the cartel guy (and is shot), Marty (Bateman) makes a deal with the cartel to turn the $8 million to $500 million in 5 years. He takes his family to the Missouri Ozarks and gets to work. I just found this show disturbing. (Yeah, I know...go figure. I can watch Peaky Blinders and Disjointed with no problem but find this show disturbing!) My husband liked it and continued to watch, but I had to stop after 4 episodes.
Grace and Frankie. I watched the first 2 seasons, but for some reason, I just can't keep watching. 
Hinterland. Another British show, but this one is exceptionally dark and bloody. I couldn't get past the 2nd episode.
I probably didn't make the best choices with the shows I watched!

--4--

After 2 days of not setting foot outside of my house, I had to run a couple of errands in town. As I left WalMart, I thought about what day it was (yep, I really had to stop & think!) and realized it was Thursday...a day when my parish has noon mass. (My parish is across the street from WalMart.) I had enough time to go home, put things away, slap some makeup on, and get back over to the church for mass. It was exactly what I needed yesterday after throwing somewhat of a pity party for myself, I was reminded that I am in my profession to help children...not for recognition. This was even after a previous post I had written.  I would have sworn that the priest had been in my head that morning because he said the exact same words I did: jealousy, negativity, and focus. You've gotta love when that happens!
We still have snow on the ground, but the main roads are clear.

--5--

This little ragamuffin requires quite a bit of attention.
This is our house guest until June...hopefully.
She's in, she's out. She goes out and doesn't want to come in, so I leave her out until she starts barking. She belongs to one of our sons who realized after he took her that he can't have her in the house where he's living. She can be really sweet, but she's a pain the butt since she's not 100% house-trained and is over a year old. 
She was napping next to me, then woke up and moved over with her "nap head"!

--6--

Last Friday, my principal allowed me to take a half-day to attend the mass funeral of a family friend whom I have known my whole life. Today I will attend the funeral mass for a friend of my parents. One of the precepts of the Catholic Church is to bury the dead. That doesn't mean to actually dig a hole and literally bury them, but to attend masses and pray for the repose of their souls. As bad as this sounds, I was relieved that we didn't have school today so I could attend the mass. I just feel in my heart that I need to be there as a representative of my parents. So, I'll have to get out of my jammies, get showered, and appropriately dress for the mass. It's not the most favorite thing I've done this week, but I'm glad I can be there to show support for the deceased's wife. 

--7--

There were some things that I halfway did:
I cleaned up our back spare bedroom. I really should have done a better job, but I did get all of the stuff off of the bed. I'm bad about putting stuff on the bed, thinking that I'll come back later and put it where it belongs. But then I close the door and forget about it and it piles up.
I kept the kitchen clean, but I didn't reorganize the pantry. I don't think it needs it since it's only been a few months since my kitchen was complete.
My pantry "before"
My pantry "after"
But you know what? I don't feel an ounce of guilt for not doing some things that really need to be done! Maybe I'll save that for our next round of snow days!

The Sacred Heart fountain at church is partially flowing, partially frozen. 

This was day 3...there's a saying that if snow is on the ground for 3 days, it's hanging around waiting for more.





Sunday, January 14, 2018

Deliver Me

The Struggle is Real

As a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) in the public schools, I have a pretty thankless job. The thanks I do receive is usually in the form of having a child "graduate" from Speech/Language Services. My school system (especially my special education coordinator) has tried on a monthly basis the past few years to spotlight some of her teachers/SLPs in different ways. A couple of SLPs appear to have been targeted for providing professional development, either in person or through technology. I'm really struggling with this. I have been an SLP for over 30 years and have had an enormous amount of different experiences that I could share with other SLPs and teachers. I bust my tail each and every day for my school system and have learned about technology in order to "work smarter, not harder". Yet I am overlooked. Therein lies the struggle.

It's All About HIM

The past couple of weeks God has certainly been sending me messages. It's not all about me. The reason I am in my profession is for Him. I have to remember why I am an SLP...not for the recognition but to serve HIM. It all started to hit home for me during the Gospel Readings about John the Baptist. No doubt John was an important part of Jesus' ministry by paving the way. Did he ever once say, "What about me?" "Doesn't anyone see what I'm doing?" It would appear that he didn't...he pointed the way to Jesus. I am no John, for sure. I am also nowhere near being able to emulate Jesus. Even Jesus didn't want recognition, he wanted it all to go to God the Father. His whole purpose in becoming man was to bring people closer to God and to save our souls.

A Life-Altering Recommendation

I was at a diocesan CCW meeting last week. Our spirituality commission chair is a wonderful young sister. She began our opening prayer and subsequent talk on...you guessed it...humility and doing everything for God, not for recognition. Our president then followed up on the same topic. I'm fairly certain that they didn't coordinate ahead of time. As we queued up for lunch, I found myself right in front of Sister and I mentioned how I needed to hear what she said because I was really struggling with it. She recommended that I read the book Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe. She said that she's read it several times; it helps her put things in perspective. As soon as I sat down, I pulled out my phone and ordered it. I've started reading it but am taking it slow so I can digest what I'm reading. If it helped Sister, I have no doubt it will aid me in keeping focused. 
The president ended with her report with this prayer that I will be adding to my morning prayers:
"O my God, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve to be served, to give without counting the cost, to fight without fear of being wounded, to work without seeking rest, and to spend myself without expecting any reward, but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will. Amen." — St. Ignatius of Loyola

The Epitome of Humility

As I read Saturday's mass readings, the thought occurred to me that these didn't really relate directly to the whole "make sure you're doing it for God" theme. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. I wanted God to talk to me and to remind me that it's not about me. (And by feeling that way I made it all about me!) Then I read the reflection in my Magnificat. Father Jean-Nicolas Groll, S.J. wrote, 
Oh how true it is that to be anything in the sight of God we must be nothing, we must pretend to nothing, we must only desire to be ignored, forgotten, despised, and considered as the most vile and abject thing in the world.
He continues by encouraging us to show devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the epitome of humility and sacrifice. Once again, God didn't let me down! 

Humility.

Shortly after the new year, I looked through the prayers in the front of my Blessed is She Planner (which is great, by the way! It has everything a working-which pretty much includes all of us!-Catholic woman needs in a planner/calendar.) and ran across The Humility Prayer. Well, I immediately had an "earworm"; you know, a song that is stuck in your head that you just can't get out. Audrey Assad performs I Shall Not Want on an album. I've been listening to it almost every day on my way to work just as a reminder. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

What Shall I Bring?

Last Wednesday at RCIA, during the reflection of the upcoming Gospel, I kept thinking about the movie "The Little Drummer Boy". The 3 Kings (or Magi, or Wise men) brought Jesus precious gifts from their region, "normal" gifts for a king.
During the first reading, Isaiah spells it all out:
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
                                         Isaiah 60:3
It is just amazing to me all of the prophecies in the Old Testament. Why haven't I noticed it before now? Then there's this also from the first reading:
bearing gold and frankincense
                                       Isaiah 60:6
The gospel tells the "story" of the Magi and how Herod tried to trick them into telling him where Jesus was. The Magi were warned in a dream so they left without reporting to Herod. Has anyone else noticed how powerful dreams were back then? Incredible! It makes me want to start paying better attention to mine, for sure.
If you were going to see the Baby Jesus, what would you take him? This question was posed to us at RCIA by Sister. Someone jokingly said, "diapers...you can't have enough diapers". If you're a parent, you know that's true. But, being serious...what would you bring?
The Meditation Song for Mass was "In the Bleak Midwinter" (Gustav T. Holst and Christina G. Rossetti). The last verse says it all:
 What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet
what I can I give him: give my heart.
We may be the richest people on the planet and have more than enough material items, but if we don't give our heart we've given him nothing. That is all he asks of us: to give him our hearts. 
One way we can do that is by using our talents for the Church. We all have a talent. I'm not talking about the "artsy" talent. As St. Caesarius of Arles said, it may be the talent of devotion or chastity. It may be dedicating our lives to live as the saints did. It may be doing our best to live without sin. If you aren't involved in your parish, get involved. Look through the different ministries your parish offers and find one that suits your talent. Greeters have a special talent to make people feel welcome as they walk through the door. Eucharistic Ministers have a talent to serve the parishioners. You don't have to be a musician; you don't have to have a lot of time to volunteer. You only have to have the willingness to bring your talent to the feet of Baby Jesus.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

It Takes Time & Effort

When my husband & I were on vacation, we went to a local parish for Mass. As we walked in to find a place, I almost chose a “half pew” directly behind a longer one, but we ended up sitting in the next pew back. A group of what appeared to be college kids ended up sitting in the 2 pews ahead of us. It was obvious that only 3 of them were Catholic. My first tip-off was that one of the young men who sat in front of us walked in carrying something that looked like chocolate milk, and they all ranked of cigarette smoke. I took a deep breath and thought, “Well, at least they’re taking time out to go to Mass.” The young man with the drink took a couple of swigs during Mass, and at one point, handed it to a young lady in front of him. She took a swig as well. The thing is: this is one of the young ladies who is Catholic, and this was right before communion. She then proceeded to put a piece of gum in her mouth. You have no idea how badly I wanted to say something to her.
The disrespect was just unbearable, and it made me extremely sad. Yes, I should have been paying closer attention to the Mass, but when it happens right under your nose & the Catholic young lady keeps turning around to talk to the young man behind her, it is very difficult to not see it.
Had I thought ahead, I should have shown the young man with the drink where he could follow along in the missalette. He honestly seemed to be paying attention and, if he had the proper direction, would have been more respectful as far as the drink. I actually felt a little sorry for him when, after the Lord’s Prayer, he kept going with the Protestant ending. His Catholic friends should have prepped him for that.

It’s so hard not to judge

Now, about the young lady who took a swig & popped some gum in her mouth: I soooo wanted to say something to her, but had to keep saying to myself “Don’t judge; God will take care of her.” I said a small prayer asking God to direct her. But, man, it was hard to not say anything!
This whole episode reminded me of the mass for the Immaculate Conception at my home parish. Since it was on Wed., the Middle School Youth Group sat together. After it was over, I saw our guitar player roll a soccer ball over to the group. As it turned out, there are children in that group that don’t attend Mass. They haven’t had Formation Classes. Apparently, their parents just drop them off the youth director fuming, and she’s usually pretty even-keel. The priest walked over and had some words with the kids as well.

It takes time & effort

I admit to not giving my boys the strict religious upbringing that they should have had, but I did make sure they went to CCD/Religious Formation. I made sure they knew how to act during Mass. It hurts my heart that kids today don’t know how to be respectful during Mass. Even more, it hurts that the parents don’t realize what a miracle takes place every time a Mass is celebrated. If they did, the kids would have a better understanding. Maybe the parents don’t understand it themselves. In a world where we are all busy, it’s all about getting ahead and trying to get the kids athletic scholarships. Instead of putting their faith first, people are trying to fit their faith into their lives. It takes time to learn the truth about our faith. It takes time and effort to put God first. It takes time and effort to teach our faith to our children. It takes time and effort to answer questions, and, if we don’t know the answers, to find them. But that time is so worth it. Are you putting in the time and effort?