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, December 13, 2015

3rd Sunday of Advent

Yeah, so I kind of didn't get around to posting last week. Yet another reason why I'm "not so perfect"!
Here's my recap of last night's Homily:
REJOICE! We're half-way through Advent and our focus shifts from anticipation to joy. In order to see the blessings of God, we must be filled with joy.
Our priest took care of a woman who had taken care of his parents up to the time of their deaths. She passed away last Saturday. I know this is a time of mourning for him; she was a mother-figure to him after his mother passed away. Yet, he insisted that we have to be filled wtih joy. After mass I asked him how he was doing, and he said he was doing okay. I told him I knew it had to be hard, and he responded that he has to put it in the hands of the Lord.
Earlier yesterday, I tried my hand at making some pastries. Everything seemed to be going great: the dough rose (twice!), but when it came to the baking part, it didn't work out. And I missed my mama something terrible. This is the second Christmas without her, and it seems like this one is harder than last year. She wasn't there for me to call and ask her what was going on with the pastry. She wasn't there for me to call and ask her to run over to look at them. Even though I called one of my sisters (who is 1000 miles away), it wasn't the same. I felt so alone.
Yet, I do rejoice in her passing. I know she is with our Lord, and I know she rejoices with me. As I drove to church, a thought popped into my head: this is why Mama didn't bake this certain kind of pastry. She had trouble with it, too...I just bet that she did. That was why she made a coffeecake and cinnamon twists out of that same recipe.
So, I will do what Father suggested: I will take time to rejoice so I don't lose sight of where I am going.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

First Sunday of Advent

Happy New Year!
In today's Homily, Father spoke about waiting, which is what Advent is all about. How many of us pull out our cell phone when we have to wait? It distracts us so the time will go by faster, doesn't it?
Father used that analogy to underscore that Advent is a time of waiting...not "distraction" waiting, but waiting filled with hope and joy. He urged us to be active in waiting with God's presence in our lives.
We have so many distractions this time of year: the presents, the decorating, the baking...the GIVING. Advent should be a time of quietly waiting in anticipation of what is to come.
I love this time of year. I love lighting each candle in the Advent Wreath. I remember how it seemed like we'd never light that last candle when I was growing up. I loved the anticipation; in fact, I still do.
Best quote from today's Homily: Christmas has no meaning if we don't see the reality of Easter.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

I Could Have Done More

Last week, as I was leaving a store, I noticed a woman walking across the busy street. She walked with a cane and a limp, and it looked as though walking pained her. There have been many times when I've seen someone walking on the road and have wanted to stop and ask if they need a ride. But, nowadays, you can't be too careful. Being a coward, I've always just driven on.
Something stirred inside me this time, so I pulled into the middle of the road (it's a 4-lane with a median) and asked if she needed a ride. She walked over to my car and told me she was just going to a neighborhood on the other side of the road. She told me her name, and then proceeded to tell me that she had been sleeping on a bench for the past few nights. She also told me a lot of her medical history. She fought back tears as she said she has a tumor that  needs to be taken out, but no one will operate on her because she doesn't have the money. She said she's tired and hurting and may die. She told me that she found someplace she could spend the night, but it was $15 and she only had $8. I rarely have cash on hand, but I had a $20 bill and 6 $1 bills. I debated quickly about giving her the 20, but then decided I needed to hang onto it because I was going to see one of my sons on Saturday. I gave her the $6 and told her I wish I knew of someplace for her to go.
I didn't give her a ride; she said she could make it to where she was going.

Here's why I'm feeling like crap about this whole situation:
~ When she walked over to my car, I panicked just a bit. I thought, "What am I getting myself in to?"
~ I should've given her the $20. It wouldn't have been hard for me to get another $20 out of the ATM. Plus, that $20 is still in my pocketbook...I didn't even need it when I visited my son.
~ After I gave her the money, She leaned on my car & I could see a pack of cigarettes tucked in her bra strap. She could've used the money she spent on cigarettes for a place to sleep. I don't know how much they cost, but I'm sure they aren't cheap. I judged her, and I regret that.


She did say that she knew I was "righteous" because people she knows will honk & wave instead of stopping to help. I hope I brightened her day just a bit.
I don't know if I'll ever see that woman again. I live in a small town, but that was the first time I've seen her and it may be the last. I'm just not sure if I did enough.

The Gospel may be difficult to live, but it is unrelentingly simple in its teaching. The Gospel is radically simple, and there is genius in its simplicity.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

To say I had a difficult time hearing what the Priest was saying during his Homily today would be an understatement. I sit in the choir section which makes it difficult to hear very well, and he is hard to understand (I'm not sure if it's the frequency of his voice that I have trouble with.).  Plus, I was having some difficulty paying attention.
Today's Gospel was JN 6:1-15, or the "Fish and Loaves Story". The priest did say some things that I understand that got me thinking:

God gives us more than we want and need. He uses this for reconciliation and to bring people together.
We may think we want & need more, but God knows best. He's giving us everything we need & want...and then some.

We still use food to bring people together.
Man, do we ever! Food was and is a big part of family gatherings. We always had more than we needed. I think most families' gatherings center around food. Summer get-togethers, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, birthdays, anniversaries: what would they be like if there were no food?
The parish that we attended in SC had "Supper Club" groups. It was a great way for parishioners to meet other parishioners they may not have met otherwise. Once a month, someone in the group was responsible for the main dish; others brought the sides & dessert. We met several people we wouldn't normally have met, and we even liked most of them! 
Even at one of my schools where I work, when we have monthly meetings, food is offered. More parents come to them when food is offered.

I think Father definitely pegged it this morning...even though I couldn't understand half of what he said!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wow. I really haven't been doing well with keeping up with my posts!
This was Deacon Weekend...the Deacons were in charge of the Homilies.
With everything going on in the news lately, the 1st Reading really grabbed my attention, especially the "opener":
JER 23:1-4
Woe to the shepherds
who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,
says the LORD. 
Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
against the shepherds who shepherd my people:
You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. 
You have not cared for them,
but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. 
I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them
and bring them back to their meadow;
there they shall increase and multiply. 
I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them
so that they need no longer fear and tremble;
and none shall be missing, says the LORD.


The Deacon at the Mass I attended talked about the WWJD bracelets that were so popular some years ago. He talked about how, when it's his time to stand in front of God, he wants to be able to say he did and said everything he possibly could. He talked about how it's our responsibility as Christians to stand up for our beliefs.
As for those bracelets: I think it's time to bring them back.

Monday, June 22, 2015

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Yesterday's Homily focused on the gospel (MK 4:35-41). Specifically the part about being still. When my boys were little, there were times when I just wanted some quiet...and for them to be still. There were times when I thought it would be nice to be a nun so I could have some peace & quiet.
It's important for us to have some quiet in our life: time to just be still and hear what God is saying to us. To further emphasize the gospel, this appeared in my email yesterday:

When was the last time you just sat with God in a quiet, empty church? Isn't it time for some carefree timelessness with God?

Just being still is one of the hardest things. I have so many things running through my mind, even when I try to be still and just be. There have been many times I've sat in the Adoration Chapel and tried to push things that need to be done out of my mind. Usually starting with prayer helps, but even then there are times when I'm so distracted that it's hard to even do that.
What do you do to quiet yourself so you can hear what God is trying to say to you?

Monday, June 15, 2015

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

As the 1st anniversary of my mother's death quickly approaches, I find myself thinking about her more than usual. Especially her seemingly unwavering faith. Not once did I see her not wanting to be at Mass. Not once did I see her miss Mass unless she was sick. This is why the 2nd Reading really spoke to me on Sunday:

"Brothers and sisters:
We are always courageous,
although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous,
and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
Therefore, we aspire to please him, 
whether we are at home or away.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
so that each may receive recompense,
according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil."

- - 2 Cor 5:6-10

The mustard seed gospel (MK 4:26-34) fit perfectly with my mom. She was always learning about her faith. She may not have had time when we were growing up, but once we were out of the house, my neighbor could see her early in the morning, reading the daily readings along with reflections. She was wise enough to know when to answer my questions about my faith, and when to let me figure it out on my own. 

During the Homily, the priest said that as we move into Ordinary Time, this is a time of growth. We have planted the seeds of faith, but it's up to us to do the work. And boy, do I have a lot of work to do!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Letting the Lion Loose

Yesterday, a coworker talked about the Funeral Mass she attended the day before for a neighbor. This was the first time she had ever been in a Catholic Church. She said (chuckling as she said it) that as they were leaving, her husband looked at her and said, "And that is why we're Southern Baptist". I looked at her & said, "What did he mean by that? I don't understand." Then she started back-pedaling and said that he thinks church is being yelled at by the preacher. I was so hurt & offended that I didn't know what to say.
I did tell her that if you didn't know what was going on during the Mass, I could see how it could be confusing. I also told her that every single part of the of the Mass comes right out of scripture and the Bible. Another co-worker grew up Catholic but does not attend Mass; she piped in and said that she feels more at home going to Mass than she does in a Protestant service.
I went on to tell her that the wonderful thing about Mass is that I can attend anywhere in the world and know what's going on, because it's the same anywhere you go. I referenced when I was in Denmark a couple of years ago: Once I knew where in the Mass we were, I followed along without any trouble, even though I don't understand Danish.
My co-worker used the words "intense"...but she also used the word "creepy". Even though I've lived in the South my entire life, it still puzzles me that people can be ignorant and intolerable of others' religion...not just Catholicism.
I ran across this quote this morning in an article on Catholic365.com and thought it was perfect:

The truth is like a lion. You don't have to defend it, let it loose, and it will defend itself."
-St. Augustine of Hippo



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sixth Sunday of Easter

This Sunday, being Mother's Day, the Homily was all about love. Father spoke of Woodstock (!); a time when we all about love and were excited about love.  Somehow, we have lost sight of that love. God calls us to love one another, even when it is difficult, and even when the receiving person doesn't want it. It was at this point he brought in Mother's Day. How many of us who are parents can identify with the receiving person not wanting our love? (Think about those teenage years with our kids...or even with us.)
What do we have to give Jesus?  We have nothing but our love. We will receive abundance in return, but all He asks is that we give Him our love.
This was the first Mother's Day without my mother, who passed away very unexpectedly last July. We never placed that much emphasis on that day; I told my father that every day was Mother's Day. That didn't keep me from getting teary-eyed at the end of the Homily. Father said that he enjoys seeing the crowd on Mother's Day, because that's the day that mothers can guilt their children into coming to Mass with her. At the end of the Homily, he referenced it again, and asked everyone to pray for those of us who would give nothing more than to be sitting next to our moms in the pew.
I can honestly say that I gave my mother all of my love, and received an abundance in return. Father said that "love is when you don't get anything in return", but I would have to disagree with him on this point. I don't think it's when you don't get anything in return, but rather, when you don't expect anything in return.
For it is in giving that we receive.  (Prayer of St. Francis)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Maker

As I was driving to work this morning, I had to stop on the side of the road and take a picture of the view:
As I pulled back onto the road, this song came on the radio:
Perfect start to the day! I floated the rest of the way to work!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Fifth Sunday of Easter

I skipped last week's post. I went to Mass, but I just didn't get around to writing last week's post. It happens. LIFE happens.  I'm back at it this week, though!
I had a hard time keeping my focus during last night's Homily. I play my flute during Mass, and I really flubbed up the Gloria. It's in a style that I've never been comfortable playing, so I practiced it all week and ended up psyching myself out. Anyway, that's my excuse for not being able to focus on what Father was saying!
He began the Homily by saying that we all make mistakes. (Thank you, Father, for starting out like that!) 
His main message (or what I understood to be his main message) is that God puts us where he wants us to be...it's up to us to follow through with that. If we choose not to, He will still be there for us and will guide us back.
After Mass, I talked to a friend who will change jobs next year. She said she really prayed about it, and felt bad about leaving her current position. She said the Homily really spoke to her and couldn't have been more perfect. 
I truly believe what Father said: God puts us where we're supposed to be. It may not be where we want to be or think we should be, but we do have to put it in the Lord's hands.
Did the Homily or your service speak to you?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

04/19/2015: Third Sunday of Easter

This Sunday just happened to also be First Communion in my Parish. It is so sweet to see the little girls in their white dresses, and the little boys in their ties. I happened to look at the 2 groups during the Mass right around the Homily. The girls were listening intently; the boys were a little fidgety! It just made me smile.
I remember my First Communion, being so excited to finally get to walk up to the altar and receive the Eucharist. I had a brief thought that the Mass probably felt like an eternity to those children.
I play the flute with the Contemporary Choir, so we walk in to the Sanctuary just a couple of minutes prior to the beginning of Mass. When we walked in, I was a bit taken aback at how noisy it was. There is usually a Rosary said prior to Mass, so I'm not sure if there was one today, or if it was finished and then people started visiting.
Father tied in the Homily with First Communion, reminding the children that Jesus is present to us every time we go to Mass. He called them to take Him with them every time they walked out of the Church.
I am very humbled every time I have the pleasure of playing for Mass. Especially today. Our director was not at that Mass today, so it was only the guitars and myself as the instrumentalists. We played the Introduction for the Communion Song, and toward the end I thought, "Wow; this sounds really beautiful"...and then Father started talking, asking the congregation to allow the 1st Communicants to receive the Eucharist first. I had no idea what to do. The "lead guitarist" stopped for a second, and I lost my place. I waited until I could find a spot to jump back in, and then started playing. Very humbling, indeed.

What did you bring away from the Homily (or Mass)  or your service this week?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter)

This week's Homily didn't "grab" me like other weeks' have.  Father talked of his grandmother who lived in a house that had latched doors. He said that every time he was leave her, she told him that she would leave the string over the door. He explained that when they expected someone to come in late, after they had already gone to bed, the person coming in would pull the string to open the latch so they could go in the house.
Where I thought he was going with this story: God always keeps the string over the door for us. Even when we stray from our faith, that string is there; we only have to pull on it and the door will open.
Where he actually went with the story: The string wasn't over the door when the disciples and Jesus' other followers were in the locked room following his death. They were scared and in hiding. He asked us to close our eyes and imagine that we are in that room, and to imagine that we are the ones who are to keep the children occupied...and quiet. I could feel a portion of the tenseness that those followers had to have felt, especially when there was a familiar knock on the door.
He asked us how we find mercy when our world has been upended. To find mercy, we have to extend mercy. And, to do that, we have to hand every aspect of our life over to Jesus.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Easter

What a weekend! The Triduum kicked things off. I wasn't planning on attending the Easter Vigil, but ended up going. I went to early Mass on Sunday since I was playing, and then went to the late Mass so I could sit with my husband. 3 different Masses, 3 different Priests, 3 different Homilies. Surely there's a bonus in there somewhere for me!
The Easter Vigil was beautiful. We walked in to an unlit Church, went outside for the lighting of the Easter Candle, and then processed back in by candle light. When the lights came on during the Gloria, the anticipation was over. What a spiritual experience! The lights, the music, the bells...just incredible.
My Parish had 17 people come into full Communion; 2 were baptized. It really was amazing: young, old, different races. We truly are a catholic (with a lowercase "c") church!
The priest for Saturday night reiterated what Pope Francis said last week: We can't turn our back on the persecution that is going on in other parts of the world. This tied in to the early Mass' Homily: we are called to be witnesses to our faith. That in turn, tied in to the question from the Homily that I heard 2 weeks ago: If being a Christian was a crime, would there be enough evidence to persecute me?
The Homily at the late Mass was a little different. Father said as he walked outside, he thought, "What a perfect Easter morning!" He said he went on to think about what that 1st Easter morning was like. Did Jesus, after he rose, wonder (in his human state): What in the world is going on? I thought I was dead! But, in his divine state, he might have nodded his head and said He knew His Father's plan.
I always look forward to the weeks after Easter: Jesus appearing to the disciples and their reactions.
What grabbed your attention during the Easter Mass?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday

There was no Homily this morning during Mass. I don't recall if this is the usual thing, or if Father just wanted to make sure to stay within the "Holy Hour"! I did, however, have another "AHA" moment during Mass.
Since it is Palm Sunday, the Gospel was the reading of the Passion. I have always not preferred to speak the words of the crowd, "Crucify Him!" I've always had a real problem with saying that. Then today, it hit me: We put Him on the cross EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. With things that we say, do, and even our thoughts, we put Him there. No one is perfect, and God knows I'm far from it. Every single human crucifies Him. That was His purpose for becoming human.
Now if I could figure out why it took me 53 years of hearing the Passion to understand it!
How about you? Did you have an "AHA" moment during your service this week? Leave a comment and let me know about it!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

5th Sunday of Lent

I attended Mass at the local university this week. We were out of town in the morning, so I was unable to attend my home Parish.
The Priest began the Homily with 3 questions:
1. What is the purpose of wheat?
2. What is the purpose of human beings? and,
3. If being a Christian was a crime, would there be enough evidence to persecute me?

Father spoke of Erik Erikson's "Psychosocial Stages"; specifically stages 5-7. He spoke of being yourself and being okay with being yourself, and how this transpires over time. He also spoke of our responsibility to help the younger generation through these stages. (I believe this takes care of #2.)

Father explained that the answer to #1 is: Food.  One grain of wheat by itself won't do much. Some of the grain is used for food, while some of the grain is used to produce more grain. I honestly didn't get a whole lot of the Homily; it wasn't until a few minutes later that I "got it".

Father presented the Candidates who, in 2 weeks, will become full-fledged Catholics. They stood with their Sponsors' hand on their shoulder, in front of the congregation. Then, the congregation was invited to come into the aisles and place a hand on another's shoulder. Here was my "aha" moment: As we placed a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us, we were all connected as one. The last person in the back of the Church was connected to the Candidate. Just as the grain of wheat is no good on its own, we need each other to guide us to be better Christians; better Catholics. We can't do it alone.

Father ended with #3. We should act enough like Christ that the evidence would be evident. He gave us something to think about this week.

What grabbed your attention this week in your service? I'd love to hear!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

One of the Best Homilies Ever


Photo courtesy of StockSnap.io
I attended Mass on Saturday this week, since that is when the Contemporary Group (of which I am a member) sang.  This was the first week I wrote in my "Mass Journal".
This week's Gospel included John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave his only son. During the Homily, Father pointed out that before the Gospel Reading, Nicodemus came to Jesus in the darkness of night, but left in the light of Christ. Father summarized the reading with: He who lives in truth walks in light.  The role of the Church is to act a mediator between us & Christ, so that we may have a personal encounter with Christ, and walk in the light.
He told us the story of Alexander Papaderous, a man who, as a young boy, was a prisoner in a Concentration Camp during WWII.Dr. Papaderous relayed his story to a group after being asked what is the meaning of life:  He found a broken mirror from a German motorcycle, and tried unsuccessfully to put it back together.He kept the mirror and was enthralled with how he could use it to shed light into dark places. He smoothed the edges on rocks, and kept the mirror.
This man could have held on to the anger and hatred, but he chose to let it go. He used the mirror as inspiration for his life.
The bottom line of the Homily: Let go of hatred, resentment, and anger. Walk in the light.

To read the whole story of Alexander Papederous, click here.

I am a fragment of a mirror whose design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect life into the dark places of the world-into the black places in the hearts of men-and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.
                            --Alexandros Papaderous 

What message did you get from your service this week? Leave me a comment and let me know! I'd love to hear from you!

Here We Go!

The thought of starting a blog dedicated to being Catholic popped into my head in the middle of Mass one Saturday evening. During the Homily, anyway. Not that it was a bad or boring homily, in fact, it was one of the best I’ve heard that particular priest give. My initial reaction was, “I’ve already got 3 blogs; surely I’m not supposed to start another one!” Since it came to me during Mass, it couldn’t be the devil trying to make me stay on the computer longer than I already am; could it?

Here’s how it happened: While looking around Matthew Kelly’s website (Dynamic Catholic) a couple of weeks ago, I found this thing called a “Mass Journal”. Being raised Catholic, bringing a book into Church was a “Protestant thing to do”. I mean, they’re the ones who carry their Bibles into church, highlight, and take notes during the sermons. Catholics just don’t do that. We’ve been taught to open up the missal/missalettes, follow along with Mass and the readings using these books that are in our pews. 

During the Homily, we listen to the priest (hopefully) relate the readings to our daily life. Well, Matthew Kelly suggests that we take a Mass Journal (and a pen!) into Mass with us, and jot down things that strike us during the Homily or the Readings. We use the journal during the week to reflect on what touched us during Mass.  

I was in a drugstore one day, and browsed the stationary section, just to see if there was a small journal that might be appropriate for a Mass Journal. I found one…a very small one that I could attach a pen to. I told myself I would wait until the Easter Season (which begins on Easter Sunday) to start. But, I already had the journal, so I thought I would try it out to see how it works.

So, there I was, listening to the Homily (which again, was very, very good) & taking little notes of things that Father said that I wanted to remember. And, here’s the weird thing: I’m reading a book called Confessions of a Mega Church Pastor (Allen Hunt). In the book, I had just read the part concentrating on Thessalonians (5:15): “See that none of you repay evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.” You’ll never believe what Father said in his Homily! He didn’t quote the verse, but he did talk about not repaying evil with evil.

I truly believe that there are no coincidences. So, I’m going to try this Catholic Blog and see what happens. My plan is to shoot for posting once a week to discuss what touched me during the Sunday Homily. I’m not a perfect Catholic by any means. I have an extremely long way to go to be anywhere near the Catholic my sweet mother was. I’d love for anyone who reads this (Catholic or not) to leave a comment with what touched them during the Homily/Sermon they heard.

P.S. Just after I posted this, I opened an email from The Dynamic Catholic, and here's what I read:
Coincidence?  I think not.

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