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

Sunday, August 21, 2016

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time: Working on Salvation

I used to refer people who asked me about being saved to the quote above. I haven't been asked in a long time about being saved. I'm not sure if it's because people automatically know I'm Catholic by the necklace I wear daily (it's a cross with miraculous medal in the middle), or if they just don't care if I'm saved or not! But that's a whole different topic for another day.
This week's readings remind us not to get caught up in "being saved", or, thinking that we are. We aren't to get too comfortable in thinking that we're going straight to heaven just because we do the right things, like go to Mass every Sunday & Holy Day. During the homily, the deacon said something that made me slap my forehead. During the teaching in the Gospel, Jesus says that there will be some who say "We ate and drank in your company..." (Luke 13:26)Just going through the motions isn't going to cut it. Just going to communion (eating and drinking in Jesus' company) doesn't mean we have our ticket to heaven punched. We have to live the Gospel; live as Jesus wants us to live. 
I was listening to Lino Rulli on the Catholic Channel (Sirius XM) the other day, and he talked about the narrow gate. He likened it to the Olympic Athletes...only the most fit athletes go to the Olympics. To get through that gate, we have to be fit...and we have to train for it our whole lives. As Father Greg Friedman mentioned in the daily reflection video on the USCCB website, It's a "mistake to sit back and think you're in". He goes on to say that it's not who you know or if you get there first. We're called to openness & hospitality; we're called to mercy.  ePriest   suggested that we pray for happy deaths. Lately, that's what I've been doing. My father is in his 90's, and while he's in incredible shape for that age, I know it won't be too much longer before he passes away. My greatest prayer for him is that he will have a happy death. ePriest also suggested that we pray for the "grace to persevere until the end". We can't give up on God if we want salvation. We can't judge others...we have to "attend to our own soul". 
As the deacon said during his Homily, there are 168 hours in a week. we have to give every hour to him, not just 1 hour on Sunday. He pictured Jesus saying "What planet are you on?" when he does something that is questionable. When something isn't convenient, that's when God is working through us the most. He is asking us to give of ourselves in His name. He left us with this thought: "Have we shown enough, done enough that Jesus will recognize us as being from His planet?"
As I read through the Readings this morning, this song from Matthew West kept going through my head:


Sunday, August 14, 2016

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Stay Focused

With the crazy flooding in Louisiana, did anyone else think it was fitting that the 1st Reading was about Jeremiah being thrown into the cistern, but there was only mud? Please remember all those dealing with this life-changing flood in your prayers.
This Gospel (Luke 12:49-53) foretold what we all go through at one time or another: people are going to say things about our faith; some will back off from our friendship because of how we live our faith. But, we shouldn't back down from our faith just because some people don't understand or don't approve. We have to look to Jesus and stay strong. We have to stay focused. Jesus knew that he was going to stir things up; even within families there would be believers and the doubters. The reflection from ePriest said that His message and mission are more important that family ties. When someone is talking about you behind your back, or treating you differently because of your belief, ePriest encourages us to ask for God's grace to show those people mercy. I've heard it said if you pray for those people, you will treat them with kindness. 
The reflection from USCCB gave me some insight to the history of the gospel. During Luke's time, women probably played an important role in the early church. Isn't the same true today? Why is it that it seems that more women than men are involved with the church? It does seem that women are more forthcoming with their Christianity than men. The women are more likely to bring their faith into the light, while the men seem to keep theirs hidden. So, today's Gospel still holds true today. We see (or, at least I do) in our own families that we have siblings and even children who aren't practicing the faith. We may have family members who may ridicule us for practicing our faith. The other day, Jennifer Fulwiler had a guest on her show (I don't remember who it was), and they were talking about how they're known among their friends as  "the religious friend" or the "crazy Catholic friend". Is that a bad thing? 
We know people who say they don't think they have to go to church; they can go somewhere (mountains, beach) and be close to God. As the priest said during his Homily, we are obligated to be a holy people...ALL of us. As Catholics, that means going to Mass and taking the Eucharist out into the world. The priest said that the world tells us we should be the center of our own world, but Jesus calls us to center our life on Him who is our life. 
As he said this, I thought about how it was so much easier to be focused on living faithfully during the summer when my schedule consisted of daily morning prayer, reading the day's Readings, morning Rosary, followed by Daily Mass. I was able to go home after that & really focus on being that faithful person. Now that I'm back at work and back in the "real world", it's much harder. I have trouble remembering who He wants me to be; I'm having trouble showing that mercy to people who probably need it the most. I'm falling back into my "old ways"; ways that made me feel, quite honestly, like crap. I need to refocus and keep my eyes on Jesus. If I do that, no one could doubt that I am living my faith. I will take my faith out of hiding, bringing it out of the light...even if that means getting burned.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time: No One Knows the Hour

Every now and then, I can hear things that my mom said to me. After reading today's readings & gospel, I heard her loud and clear. I think it was after I read the book "3 Days of Darkness". Seriously...don't even look at this site unless you want to get scared out of your wits; which goes right along with today's readings. I'll get to that in a minute. Back to my mom: I talked to my mom about this prophecy, and she said, "No one knows the hour when Jesus is going to come." She was definitely next to me this morning as I read and reflected. 

We should be faithful, vigilant, ready, but not to the point of being scared. We aren't called to live our life in fear, but live our life as if each day is our last, each moment is our last. I remember in college, the fraternity where I was a little sister had an "end of the world" party. And yet we're still here. I guess that pastor that claimed to know the hour was a little bit off.

As I reflected on the first reading (from the Book of Wisdom), the Jewish people knew to get ready---they had signs and heard the words of the prophets. We also know to get ready, we only have to heed the warnings. This is setting up the biggie...the Gospel. God has given us everything we need to be ready for the 2nd coming. He has given us priests who are in charge of the Church...the building and the parishioners. The greatest gift we have been given is communion. If we tire of waiting for Him to return, we may become complacent and start being lax in our faith. (As I write this, I realize it's kind of like what's happening with me right now; since vacation I'm having a hard time getting back in the routine and "feeling it".) We may fall away from our faith. God entrusts us with faith. If we choose to go against Him, we will eternally pay for it.

I like to read a few different reflections on the readings, just to see if we get the same thing out of it. When I read the Blessed is She reflection, it was totally different. Gina Fensterer discussed private vs. public faith, and it made sense. She quoted a high school teacher as saying, "Faith is personal, but never private." Gina zoomed in on the lines

For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice
and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution. (Wisdom 18:9)

I've often said that my faith is very personal; that's why I feel very uncomfortable when someone begins talking to me about "being saved" and pushing their religion/faith on me. We have an obligation to not keep our faith private. We are called to share that faith with everyone we meet...not necessarily through words, but through our actions. It goes back to the question: Do people you meet know that you're a Christian without you telling them?

During the homily, the priest's first words were "Be ready". It's necessary to set yourself aside and build treasure for eternal life. However, we should do so not in fear. We should recognize the gift of life. HOW??? By living out our faith that has to be deep in our souls. It's not just going to Mass every Sunday, it's taking the Eucharist out into the world. this shouldn't be done out of guilt, but out of joy. The treasure isn't to be kept to yourself, it's to share with others. As he always does, he left us with a couple of questions to think about: What are you doing with the treasure of faith? How can you live out that treasure?

A couple of thoughts. Growing up, my family was only 1 of 3 Catholic families in our school (and 1 of the families wasn't  practicing). I heard my protestant friends talking about Revelations and the 2nd coming. I like the Catholic belief on that a lot better. It's not one of fear; it's one of joy. It's one of being elated when Jesus comes again, because we have lived our lives to get ready for that time. We have taken that special treasure out to share it with the world. If we've lived our life as we should, we should look forward to when Jesus comes again, not be afraid of it.

Hearing the message about taking the Eucharist out into the world and doing so out of joy is something I need to be reminded of right now. I'm having a very difficult time having a good attitude about going to work. I've been doing this for 34 years; I have no doubt this is what God has called me to do, and I do love my job. I just can't figure out why I'm having this attitude right now. I'll take this message with me out in the world this week and will hopefully get back on the right track!

Friday, August 5, 2016

{SQT} Pedis, Adoration, Confession: Not at the Same Time

I had an awesome time getting a pedi the other day. I walked in, and there was a woman who recognized me from church. She knows my dad & told me some wonderful stories about my mom. Then, my sweet pedi girl grabbed one of the beautician's customers; she's a new faculty member at one of my schools, but I hadn't met her yet. She knows 1 of my sisters-in-law, so we all chatted for a while. Then, the talk turned to Catholicism. I just may have put the RCIA seed into her mind, so we'll see what happens!
I had a busy Sunday church morning. I played for mass, then spoke with a lady about hosting our CCW wine & cheese night. After being at home for a little while, I went back over to the church for Virtus training. My opinion: the Catholic Church is doing a good job of making sure people are trained to know the warning signs of abuse. 
Now that he's home, I can tell you that 1 of my sons just returned from studying abroad in France. He texted me when he first got to Paris & told me he went to confession at Notre Dame. NOTRE DAME, y'all!  And not the one in Indiana! First off, it's quite the miracle that he went to confession in the first place, but to go at Notre Dame! I told him to go before he got on the plane, but I'm glad he went post-flight.
When we lived in SC, Perpetual Adoration was a very big thing in our parish. My current parish has it, but it's almost an after-though. It's such a beautiful thing, to spend an hour alone with Jesus. I signed back up for an hour after being on a few years' hiatus. I just can't put into words what that hour is like.
The St. John Vianney Novena to pray for priests started yesterday. I get novenas delivered to my email daily through www.praymorenovenas.com
The other night, I looked outside and saw just a hint of a rainbow. I grabbed my camera and took a couple of shots. I was afraid to try to change the setting...I thought if I started messing around with it, the rainbow would be gone.
This youtube clip is making the rounds again on Facebook. It just makes me laugh:


Sunday, July 31, 2016

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Well, today's readings couldn't have come at a better time! I had a discussion just yesterday with some friends of mine who are in the Speech Pathology field, and we were talking about re-evaluating our online stores. Or, rather, re-evaluating how much time we're putting into making materials and putting them online. As we're getting older, we're realizing making a buck just isn't all that important anymore.  Today's readings helped put things back in perspective for me. I'm not a business person; I'm a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). So what if the younger ones are being lucrative with their online endeavors? Not only am I an SLP, but I'm a pretty darned good one. That's what God has called me to do. I don't make a lot of money, but I make enough.
I started thinking about the times growing up, and even well into adulthood when I felt inadequate because I didn't have "things" that other people I knew had. I remember asking my mother once if we were rich. Her response was that we may not be rich in money, but we were rich in love. When you're in 3rd grade and your friends all have the latest Nike tennis shoes while you have knock-offs, that's not very comforting. But, while some of my friends' fathers were rarely home, mine was home almost every night (except on those rare occasions he had to go out of town on business). My parents' marriage lasted for almost 62 years (my mom passed away 2 months shy of their 62nd anniversary). So, yeah, we had a LOT more than some of my friends had.
During his Homily, the priest said that he used to tell people that he's never seen a u-haul being towed behind a hearse...until Facebook. We've all heard the phrase "you can't take it with you", but Father said it makes a difference what we do with what we have today. We'll always want more; the good parents aren't the ones who give their kids everything they want, they're the ones who end up with an adult who makes good, moral decisions. (Well, he didn't say "moral", but I'm throwing that in!) He quoted CS Lewis, "Nothing is truly ours until we give it away." We have to give up the sense of "it's all about me" and turn everything over to God. In closing, he gave us a prayer of asking God to give us the courage and strength to let go of vanity and to seek the treasures of heaven.
That got me thinking about the beginning of the school year, or, really, the school year in general. My current special ed director is big on recognition; which is great, unless you're the one working your tail off and not getting any. That's when it's easy to fall into vanity; it's easy to complain about doing everything right & even going above and beyond but not getting recognized for it. I read a quote that is perfect for a reminder:

Do not seek to be regarded as somebody, don't compare  yourself to others in anything. Leave the world, mount the cross, discard all earthly things, shake the dust from off your feet. - - - St. Barsanuphius

In other words, get over yourself and put your big girl panties on.
ePriest discussed how material things split our hearts in many pieces, thus pulling our love in as many places. It's impossible to love 1 thing when our hearts are pulled in so many different ways. "Our heart is capable of loving multiple persons and God, but only to the degree it is capable of focusing on one of them. When we love God first, our love for others increases in intensity." It's not that material things are all bad, but we have them to use to fulfill God's plan for us. We are encouraged to "take stock of our loves to make sure they don't compete with love of God."
This week, I hope to take stock in what St. Barsanuphius said and, as Matthew Kelly would say, be the best version of myself.

Friday, July 29, 2016

{SQT} Oops...First Post Since Last Friday!

Oops. I guess I never got around to posting this week. I think I should get a pass since it was my first week back at work. Yep, summer vacation is over. The students start on Monday and they have a day off on Thursday for Elections, but the teachers have to be at work. No kids = almost a day off.
I'm working hard at getting back into my routine, including saying the Rosary on my way to school. Not having a set time to be at work this week (the time wasn't the same every day) threw me off a bit, but I'm getting back into the routine.
I have a calendar in the front of my journal notebook; each day I'll write a word or short phrase from the daily readings that grab my attention. It may be a word or short phrase that summarizes them. The past couple of weeks 2 words seem to be recurring: Hope and Perseverance.  The first readings from Jeremiah just seem to be screaming that our country should hold onto hope. The words are real today just as they were in Jeremiah's time. We have to persevere with our prayers for our country...and for the world.
World Youth Day. I know someone who is there; I can't wait to hear all about it! Pray for safe travels for all who will be on their way home shortly. 
I swallowed my pride yesterday and invited a coworker to CCW. We've gone through some tough times in the past 10 years that I've known her. I felt a tug to invite her, and we had a meeting together yesterday, so I bit the bullet. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
Take a look at what's on UCatholic's website. Wonder if they're reading my blog? 
As I left church one night last week, I snapped a picture with my phone. I wasn't sure if the colors would show up in the picture as they really looked, but they did.
I'm joining Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for the link-up.




Friday, July 22, 2016

{SQT} Back to the Real World


Vacation is over. SUMMER is over, even though it’s still the middle of summer. Back to work on Monday. Back to the harsh reality of working. Guess it's a good thing I love what I do!
The violinist at church enlightened me about borrowing audio books from the library. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it; maybe it was because I had a really, really cheap (<$100) tablet that I may have dropped and messed up the audio. Or maybe it's because said tablet had 0 storage on it, even after putting in a massive SD card. Oh, and one other thing: it would only stay on for about 4 hours, tops, and I couldn't use it when it was charging.
Right before we left for vacation, I broke down and got a Samsung Galaxy. I have a couple of iPads for work, but they're the school system's, and I refuse to use them for anything but work. Anyway, I found this tablet on Amazon (yay, Prime!) and it works marvelously!
Now the only problem I have is that I put some books on hold and they're all ready at the same time!
One of the best books I've read this summer is "Saving Sammy: a Mother's Fight to Cure her Son's OCD" by Beth Alison Maloney. This book sheds light on PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections). It is commonly known that strep can cause rheumatic/scarlet fever, but it can also attack the basal ganglia; symptoms include OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), tics, moodiness, anxiety, and/or separation anxiety. The symptoms appear seemingly overnight. I have a friend whose daughter has been diagnosed; I had no idea what they were going through until I read the book. I'll be handing this book to my special ed direction next week and encourage her to pass it around the department.

I have to say something that I just can't hold in any longer: I very much dislike the way Michelle Obama has cheapened the role of first Lady. I really enjoy James Corden's Carpool Karaoke, but (and this is just my opinion) the FLOTUS should not be participating while she is in that position. I feel the same way about the Obamas showing up on talk shows, as well. You can agree or not, but I'm just giving my opinion. I would say the same thing if any of the former First Ladies participated while their husbands were still in office.
Now that I've gotten that off my chest: When we were on vacation, for the latter part of the time we were in SD there was a lovely family from Kansas beside us. As we were talking, the husband pointed to a notebook that his wife had and mentioned that she was super-organized. I went over to take a look, and noticed that she had a page with the Catholic churches in the area. I took a look at what she had. The church was right on the road as we got into town, so we knew exactly where it was. If that family hadn't been camping beside us, we probably wouldn't have attended Mass, and we would've missed out on a beautiful service. The church (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel---Keystone, SD) was just wonderful. It is a mission church; there's only 1 weekend Mass celebrated. 
We were greeted by an elderly lady as we walked in; she made us feel very welcomed. The deacon gave an excellent homily. Afterwards, we stood in the parking lot and talked with our "next door neighbors" for a few minutes, just like we would do with friends at our own parish. It just felt like home.
We could have gone over to the next town for Mass at 10:00; however, we would have felt compelled to take yet another trip to the winery if we had done that, though!
One of the things that amazed me on our drive home from Colorado were signs by the side of the road in Kansas. (I believe we saw some in Iowa-on the way to SD- as well.) Some of them had the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the words "I trust in You". Some of them were pro-life. It really warmed my heart to see that, as well as billboards for Catholic radio. Being from the Bible belt, we just don't see those things as often. It really gave me hope for our country.
By now, I'm sure everyone has seen the following clip:

The youth director from my parish and her son (who will be entering the seminary this fall) left 2 days ago for World Youth Day. They have some once-in-a-lifetime things planned while they're there. Please keep them, and all attendees, in your prayers.

I'm joining Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for the link-up.


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