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, May 22, 2016

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

As the priest was giving his Homily last night, I thought, “Well, if he doesn’t understand the Holy Spirit, then how should I?” And there lies the very root of the Holy Spirit: We aren’t meant to understand it. It’s called a mystery for a reason. And, according to Father, we should rejoice in the mystery that is the Holy Spirit. It isn’t dependent on how intelligent you are, but rather on belief; it opens the door to salvation.

Just as I read in 1 Body 1 Bread, “we can understand the Trinity enough to know that we can never understand them very well.” It’s like that Christmas present that we can’t wait to open: we don’t know what’s in it; we have to wait for the “big day” to see what’s in it so that our question will be answered. I remember telling my mother when I was much younger that sometimes I couldn’t wait to get to heaven so all my questions would be answered. Understanding the Holy Spirit is a big one.
The Holy Spirit, to me, is more faith-based than the Father and the Son. It’s intangible; it allows our faith to be shown. As I read in ePriest: faith is the same for everyone, but it is very personal, too.

I live in the “Bible Belt”. We were one of three Catholic families in my public school (although one of those families wasn’t practicing). My faith is a very personal thing to me. I’ve had times when people have tried to talk to me about their religion. I’ve had times when people left me alone because of my religion. I’ve been uncomfortable when people talk to me about their religion because my faith is very personal to me. I have a personal relationship with Christ, and, just like my relationship with my husband, I don’t go blabbing about every little detail with people I’m close with, much less with people I barely know. Just as I think people know I’m married by my actions, I hope they know I’m a Catholic by my actions as well.

We have a picture in our mind of what the Father and the Son look like. What does the Holy Spirit look like? I think it’s more of a “feeling”, but that may not be the best description as I think about it. Maybe it’s more of how we live our life or the faith that we have. Pope Francis described the Holy Spirit as “love”.  Even St. Augustine couldn’t grasp the Holy Spirit; it took a child on the beach to tell him that it would be easier to fill in a hole on the beach with all of the water in the sea than it would be for him to understand the Holy Trinity. (Moments of Mercy from Loyola Press) The Holy Spirit is just one of those things that make us long for heaven so we can have questions answered.

Friday, May 20, 2016

In Your Face

 I had a rough end of the day yesterday. It was the last full day of school for the students. I thought I had done pretty well this year about not getting stressed out during the last week of school. I kept to myself for the most part, so things were going okay.
But then, “it” hit the fan. I found out about some personnel changes at both of my schools for next year. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t trust God with these changes. My first instinct for one of them was to voice my opinion to my principal, which I did. I know good & well that it’s not going to change anything, but I thought the principal needed to know about some things.
Honestly, if someone had come up to me last night with a job offer with at least the same salary I’m making now, I would’ve taken it. And it wouldn’t have mattered if it was in my field or not.
I was pretty bummed last night with the changes. First off, most of the time, I don’t do well with change. I am finishing my 30th year working in the public schools, so you would think I’d be used to it by now. But I’m not.
This morning, when I opened the Mass Readings for today, this is the first thing that hit me:
Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another,
that you may not be judged.
”James 5:9
Holy Crap! Are you kidding me??? Ok, Lord, I hear you! I need to trust in YOU; You alone know what is best for me. I need to turn it over to You.
Talk about “in your face”! I just couldn’t believe it. If that’s not the Lord talking to me, then I don’t know what it is.
Then, as I read the meditation from The Word Among Us, it was hit home. If we look at the person as equals in God’s eyes, we’ll see details we may have missed. It just so happens that this person’s spouse has been diagnosed with a debilitating, critical disease.  (I didn't know this when I spoke with my principal & I'm not sure that he knows.) So, it’s possible that with that person having a different assignment, it may be easier to take care of the spouse.  The meditation ended with the following: Be patient with each other just as God is patient with us.

So, I said my Rosary on the way to work, and walked in the door on my last day before summer vacation with a smile on my face and cheer in my voice. I’m working hard to place all of my trust in God. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pentecost


As I read today’s readings and started to read the reflection from Blessed is She, I remembered (because Mary Catherine Craig reminded me in her post!) that Pentecost is the Church’s birthday. Then I started asking myself “Why today?  Why not Christmas, Good Friday, or Easter, or even the Ascension? Why Pentecost? “ This was my very simple take on the answer prior to reading reflections or attending Mass: The disciples were sent out to proclaim the Good News in different languages. This was the day when the disciples had the Holy Spirit descend upon them, allowed them to spread the news to people of all languages (and have them understand), and truly get out there and do something. But, didn’t we already celebrate the birthday of priesthood on Holy Thursday? On Holy Thursday, we celebrated the beginning of priesthood, but today we celebrate the birth of the Church. This made more sense to me after I attended Mass and heard the Deacon’s Homily.
He started his Homily like this (please know that I am paraphrasing!) : After singing ‘Happy Birthday’, he asked why Pentecost is the Church’s Birthday. (Wow, great minds think alike!) The Church’s mission started on Pentecost. The disciples were locked away in a room, scared of what was going to happen, not understanding what was supposed to happen. Then, the Holy Spirit comes down, and gives them the courage to go out and spread the Gospel. In giving them the ability to speak languages, he gave them the ability to speak the Gospel clearly and effectively, simply and truthfully. They understood that they are to go out and proclaim the Gospel.
In very much the same way, the Holy Spirit asks us to do the exact same thing. Earlier today, I was thinking that I’m not a theologian; I feel like I’m a toddler in my faith and in talking about my faith. The Deacon had that covered, too. He said that we all aren’t theologians, nor are we meant to be. But, the Holy Spirit can come into us and give us courage, and the ability to speak about our faith clearly and effectively, simply and truthfully.
We just have to allow the Holy Spirit to enter us and help us be who God wants/expects us to be. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

7th Sunday of Easter



Although last Thursday was “officially” the Solemnity of the Ascension, my diocese recognized the day today. The main message during today’s Homily: 
Go do something.

How great is that? The disciples were standing around, looking up, and the two men dressed in white went up to them and asked them what they were doing. Jesus left them with their assignments, yet there they were, just looking up. The men shook them out of their daze, and they knew it was their job to do something.
The priest related this to when he was young, and during summer break he and his brothers would sit around the table and complain that there was nothing to do. His mom would shoo them outside and tell them to “go do something”.

What will you do with what God has given you? Will you sit there, staring at the sky, or will you “GO DO SOMETHING”?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mary: What's in a Name


My parents waited to name their 6th daughter, their last daughter, Mary. That last daughter would be me. Some children go through a part of their lives wishing they had a different name. I don’t remember going through that phase. I once had someone ask me why my parents waited so long to name one of their children Mary (I am #8). I had no answer, and when I asked my mother, she didn’t have an answer, either. It was just meant to be.
Of course I feel a closeness to Mary, since she is my namesake. As a child, I was extremely afraid of thunderstorms; more so than any of my siblings ever were. If I had a nickel for every time I said a Hail Mary during a storm, I’d be financially set to retire today. Saying a Hail Mary gives me a sense of comfort, a sense of security, like none other. (Saying "now and at the hour of our death" kind of freaked me out as a child, though!)
I have quite an imagination. This is why I avoid watching horror movies.  When the movie Halloween came out, I just had to hear about it to have nightmares. After discussing it with my mother, she told me to ask Mary to protect me. She said that the devil leaves Mary alone; he doesn't even think about touching her.  I guess he knows better than to mess with her! 
It wasn't just horror movies. During school, we discussed Bonnie & Clyde, and we saw pictures of their car riddled with bullets. Revisiting that picture in my mind kept me from going to sleep at night. When I talked to my mother about it, the first words were Say some Hail Marys. I can't even count the number of nights I fell asleep clutching my Rosary in my hands. My Rosary was (and still is) my security blanket at night.
Even now, when something is going on with my boys or my imagination runs rampant over something I saw or heard about, I go to Mary. She gives me the comfort and security I need to push thoughts out of my mind. I know that she is my biggest advocate to her son when it comes to trials in my everyday life. I know she is right there, rooting me on. 
I think it's very sad that you don't hear about parents naming their daughters Mary. I know one child named Mary, and I work in a school system. It's a beautiful name; one that holds so much responsibility, so much love with just the word. Paired with the middle name (in my case, Mary Patricia or Mary Pat), it becomes unique. Is it a "cutesie" name? Not really, but the beauty of it should override cute. 
So...let's bring back the name and the honor it gives the girl who bears it. Let's give Mary the honor that she deserves. Let's strive to be more like her.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

6th Sunday of Easter

This week’s readings were all about uncertainty, the fear of the unknown. As the priest said during his Homily, the disciples were concerned about what they were going to do after Jesus left them…and what was going to be done to them. They learned that they are never truly alone; even when they knew Jesus wouldn’t physically be with them.

There was also the uncertainty of what is expected of the Gentiles; these earliest non-Jewish Christians. Are they expected to follow the same dietary rules? Apparently the disciples weren’t all on the same page; as the priest said, they “came close to drawing blood”. Can you imagine the arguments/debates they must have had?
 I did have an “AHA” moment reading the first Reading:
‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols,
from blood, from meats of strangled animals,
and from unlawful marriage.’
---Acts 15: 29
Again, I’m no theologian, but is this where being able to eat fish on Fridays originated? It makes perfect sense to me that it is.

The priest stated that 1 fact remains: Jesus will always be with us. Throughout all of the Councils, beginning with the Council of Jerusalem as described in the first Reading all the way up to Vatican II, there is consistency because you can’t change what God has revealed. He said that some people say that the Church is out of touch, but he indicated that it was a good thing because that means we have more of a chance to be in step with God, again, because you can’t change what God has revealed.

I thought it was neat the way the priest tied the Reading and the Gospel together. The message in both of them is the same: We aren’t alone. Jesus is always with us, especially in the Sacraments, and most especially in the Eucharist. As the priest said, “don’t let our hearts be afraid, because He is always with us.” I had a moment of thinking he was going to burst out in song when he said that “we’ll never walk alone”. He ended the Homily by saying that God only wants thanks for what all we have been given, all He has done for us.


It’s hard to imagine how the disciples felt about Jesus physically being there, knowing He wasn’t going to stay. The Homily put a different light on how they must have felt: the beginning of Christianity was put on their shoulders. Some of the Jews turned their backs on them, but then they had to determine God’s will for the Gentiles to become Christians. Apparently, it wasn’t all hugs and kisses. ePriest compared how they must have felt to loved ones who leave for the military: they assure their loved ones that they’ll be back. And they’re missed terribly.

The Word Among Us shared this definition of peace: It's the grace to be holy and resist evil. It's the grace to forgive. It's the grace to remind us that God is with us and we leave nothing to fear. (Jn 14:27) 

May we not let our hearts be afraid, and may we all have the peace of God in our hearts.