The weekly Glimpses of God are opportunities to recognize, with greater clarity,the presence of God in the various places, people, events, situations and circumstances of your daily life. I offer them to you as an opportunity to reflect on howmuch God, as you understand Him, is a part of your life,how He chooses to use you and how you have chosen Him.They are glimpses because we can miss them if we are not paying attention. But if we open our heart to His love, if we open our ears to hear His gentle voice, if we open our eyes to see His light, if we open our hands to feel His hand in ours, and if we are open to share these gifts with others,then we too are being a Glimpse of God to those
in our family, church, community,neighborhood, society and world.
Glimpse of God for the week of July 11, 2021
Christmas in July. Considering all that is going on in our world, you might be asking how I can even think about Christmas in July. But now that many restrictions have been lifted, fewer deaths have occurred and fewer people have gotten sick from Corona, I would say that we can celebrate with joy and hope that we are on the right path to healing and wholeness, but we should not take the right path for granted. We still need to be vigilant with our safety procedures so that we can avoid a resurgence of Covid19. I believe that if we adhere to our new normal guidelines, we will continue to emerge as a physically, emotionally, and healthier people. This is a reason to proclaim Joy to the World.
Last year at this time, we could hardly think about Christmas because the isolation and anxiety over unemployment, getting sick from Covid, and not being able to see loved ones, was weighing many people down. Stores are still trying to recover from being closed and unemployment is still high, yet many businesses are hiring, which is a sign of hope. The shining star is there to guide those who are seeking to come to know the Savior through the pandemic, the star is there to enlighten us as to where God was and is during the pandemic, to see the good that came out of it and to see how it has changed and transformed each one of us.
This is not a glimpse encouraging you to begin your Christmas shopping or to write out your Christmas cards, so please put the keys down, the lists away and keep the stamps and address books in the drawer. What is Christmas in July? In our commercial and consumer world, it is where retailers have Christmas decorations and all the necessary items out for sale so that the consumer can get a jump start and shop ahead. July is in the middle of summer where it can also be the hottest time of the year, so that when we talk about Christmas, there can be a sudden feeling of refreshment and cooling off.
But on a deeper and a more spiritual level, why is or should July be different than any other month? Why don’t we celebrate Christmas every day and not just the one day a year? On December 25th, we as Catholic Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, where God chose Mary, a young virgin to be the Mother of God and Joseph to be His foster father here on earth. Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, we know that it is the Christmas season because it is officially Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. How do you know it is Christmas? You can’t miss the various and many clues; decorations and advertisements abound everywhere; in the Malls, on houses, in stores and on televisions, Christmas cards are sent out, Santa Claus appears everywhere either in his PJ’s or in his full red suit, people celebrate with parties, the poor, hungry and homeless are remembered through various food collections, special dinners, coat and clothes drives, the sick children are thought of in a special way through toys for tots, people are kinder, gifts are exchanged and children send their Christmas lists to Santa at the North pole early so that they can get everything they want.
Christmas is not just about the bright and positive, it is also about the cross of Christ experienced first by Mary and Joseph. Christmas is also a time where many people grieve the loss of their loved one and would rather cry than celebrate or smile, families are broken, wounds are renewed, lives are lost through war, homicide, suicide, and addictions and all of these lives are gifts that have been taken away, the poor are still poor, many of the homeless are still without a home, the hungry are still hungry and peace on earth is still our hope and prayer. There is still more darkness than daylight and the weather can lead to cabin fever.
My Glimpse of God for this week is not to eliminate Christmas in July, but rather that we make the meaning of Christmas our daily mindset; a mindset focused on a greater and deeper sense of faith, hope, love, compassion, service, mercy, peace, joy, authenticity, presence and trust. As we begin a new week during this month of July, let us focus on some of the aspects of our faith and discipleship and seek to live it out as if it were Christmas every day.
SUNDAY – Spirit of Christmas
The spirit and gift of Christmas is a state of mind and one that we are blessed with every day. We are called to be a selfless, and not a selfish, people. We are all God’s beloved sons and daughters, and when we share the gift of our love and beloved-ness with others, it helps them recognize with greater clarity how unconditionally loved they are by God and others. The Spirit of Christmas is a spirit of self-emptying love, surrender, trust, hope, and joy that permeates and penetrates our very being and dwells within our hearts if we are open to God’s Holy Spirit and His plan for us.
We are and can always try to give of our self. If someone is grieving and needs comfort, be God’s instrument of consolation and support. If someone is ill and needs a good listener, be the ears of Christ and listen in silence. If someone is alone and in need of a visitor, be the visitor of compassion, support, and empathy. If someone has hurt you, be merciful, listen and forgive as God has forgiven you. If someone is joyful, be joyful with them and do not let your life crosses, struggles and challenges overshadow their joy. God loves a cheerful giver.
Today, if you are carrying a heavy cross, do not try to carry it alone, remember Jesus accepted help, so let others help. If you find that you are not your best self, remember that what you see is only a partial view where God sees the whole picture. That picture is one of love, compassion, healing, and wholeness, so rejoice that your better self is emerging, just move out of your way so that you can see it more clearly. If you find that you are being tough on yourself because of mistakes, weaknesses, or sins, remember that God knows what is in our heart and that you are sorry, in humility admit your wrongs and seek His mercy so that He can take action to heal, forgive and make you whole.
MONDAY – The Senses of Prayer for you today
May Jesus open your eyes so that you can see the wonderful gift of His presence in those that surround you: your family, your friends, your community, your neighbors, your coworkers and yes even the stranger.
May Jesus open your ears so that you can hear the laughter and listen to the stories of those around you and respond with the empathy, compassion, joy, mercy, and love of Jesus. May you hear and listen as you open your heart to His message. May Jesus touch your nose so that you can smell the various aromas of the foods that are being prepared for your table, the breakfast table, the fastfood table, the dinner table, the snack table. As you enjoy the aromas, may that prompt a prayer of thanksgiving for those who are preparing your meal. Remember each meal, beginning with Holy Eucharist, is a gift given by God to nurture and sustain you spiritually and physically, so that you can be a stronger witness as a Member of the Body of Christ to all. May Jesus touch your sense of taste and allow you to enjoy all that you partake of weather at the table, or on the run. Taste and see the Goodness of the Lord.
Today: May Jesus touch your mind, body, spirit, and soul with His grace. May you reach out and touch someone today that needs comfort, consolation, healing, empathy, compassion, peace, joy, love, and laughter.
TUESDAY – The Greetings of Christ
When we greet each other with a smile, kind words or a friendly gesture, it is the recognition of the presence of another that spreads love, mutual respect, understanding, peace, mercy, compassion and builds up the Kingdom of God here on earth. When the Christmas season approaches, respectful of the other holidays that are also being celebrated in and around the same time, you often hear various greetings from Merry Christmas, happy holidays to Happy Hanukah.
I believe that these greeting are one’s attempt to be respectful of the many religious holidays and to acknowledge a person’s celebration. Why wait till the season to greet others? Normally a smile, handshake or a simple hello are ways to acknowledge another’s presence without causing any political or religious debate or offense.
With Covid19 how do we greet others as Christ’s followers as builders of the Kingdom here on earth? By offering peace through prayer, perseverance during fears and doubt, and persistence amid challenges and feelings of being overwhelmed. We encourage each other, support each other, and call each other to be their best self despite what contradicts that goal. Christ did not preach just at Passover. He did not perform miracles just at parties, He glorified the Father all the time without fear or hesitation. We are d to do the same. Sometimes it is easier to give praise and thanks to God when things are going well, but when things are difficult, it is a special gift and grace form God to be able to offer Him thanks and praise.
Today or the next time that you want to greet another but hesitate because of fear, the uncertainty of their response, or because you do not know what to say, offer a nod and say a prayer for them. When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples, the first words from His mouth were Peace Be with You!! Let these words echo in your heart as He speaks them to you, and as He wishes them for all His children through you.
WEDNESDAY – The Presence/Presents of Christmas
Christ comes to us and gives us the greatest gift that we could ever ask for or imagine receiving, the gift of His real presence in the Holy Eucharist, and His healing presence in the Sacraments of the Reconciliation and Anointing. His gift of Self to us was a selfless, unconditional self-emptying gift that we could never earn or deserve. Knowing that, He came to earth as an infant through the virgin Mary, suffered His passion, died on the cross and rose from the dead, to show us, not only how unconditionally loved we are, but that there is no sin that could ever diminish or take that love from us. Do we believe that, and can we live in and with faith that empowers us to rise above our weakness and trust in His mercy?
We are the Body of Christ and we are called to be the Body of Christ to others. Being present to others and giving of our self is not always easy, but like Mary and Joseph, if we trust in God and follow the star of His grace that guides us, we know that He will always protect us, guide us, and lead us to those who need to experience His gifts of love, mercy, and peace through us. There are so many ways that Christ is calling us to be His beacon of light, love, and compassion, we just need to listen, look, and respond the best way we can.
Merry Christmas today. Enjoy the presence and gift of Jesus in those that surround you. Keep the spirit and meaning Christmas alive by your words, deeds, attitudes, and prayers and do not give the secular world the credit for your witness and love for God through Jesus. The gift of Jesus is in all those that surround you. If the eyes of your heart , spirit and mind are open, you will see so many gifts from Jesus, gifts like; the smile of a friend, the words of consolation, the long awaited embrace after covid, the joy in being able to see another’s facial expressions, the jokes that raise our laughter level, the person in line ahead of us that invites us to go ahead of them because they have more, the person who defers to you in traffic, the child that embrace you after a hard day at work, and the opportunity to gather with others.
Today be mindful that the gift of Jesus that is given to you each time you attend and participate in the celebration of Holy Mass. You are the Body of Christ, so as you encounter your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, remember that the presence of Jesus is in each of them. Seek Him and you will find Him.
THURSDAY – The peace of Christmas
We hear this song throughout the season but not much during the rest of the year. If we prayed for peace more often, but more importantly, if we believed that we are instrumental in bringing about peace in our home, community, church and world, peace would abound in ways that we cannot even imagine. Peace is like the ripple in the ocean, one little prayer, selfless action, random act of kindness, can bring about peace so that it ripples and grows further out from us to those who need it most.
If you are like me, once a little song enters my mind, it stays, so with that, pray these words, sing these words, post them, but always remember YOU are God’s instrument of His Peace here on earth.
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. Let there be peace on earth the peace that was meant to be. With God as our Father and family all are, we, let us walk with each other, in perfect harmony. Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now, with every step I take, let this be my solemn vow: to take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally, let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
HOW???? Listen to the Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love, injury…. pardon. doubt…faith, despair….hope, darkness…light, sadness…joy, Oh Divine Master, grant that I might not seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
FRIDAY- Serve in the name of the Lord
As the festive season approaches, we often and always hear of the many organizations and ministries that reach out to the military, the poor, the homeless, the addicted, the sick children and the homebound. We as a community, neighborhood, city, town, state, and country, amazingly and generously respond to the needs of those less fortunate and need help. When the season is over, it seems that the requests for these same people are silent or muted. We do not hear as much about them. Yet their situation has not changed, and they still need help. Wouldn’t it be nice if we reached out in the same way all year?
With Covid 19 many of these same groups have been the recipients of the generosity and support of various agencies and individuals. I know that there are many agencies and organizations that assist these very same groups, and many more, throughout the year, but Christmas brings their needs to the forefront so that people can respond with their Christmas hearts more generously. People’s generosity and care during the covid19 crisis this past year have brought out the reality that it is Christmas every day and that we are called to help others, give of our self instead of being selfish and seek to raise up those who are bowed down because of their crosses.
Now that we can gather with others because many restrictions have been lifted, and masks are optional for those who have been vaccinated, let us remember that those who were homeless are still homeless, the poor are still among us, the addicted are still suffering and the unemployed are still seeking employment to feed and support their families, there is never a time to stop being or seeing Christ in others who are carrying heavy and burdensome crosses.
Today, if there was a group that you were generous towards for Christmas or during this pandemic, think about them and pray for them. With your Christmas heart, reach out to them in whatever way you feel called. You do not need to give them a gift but remember them in a prayerful way throughout the day, the week, the month, and the year.
SATURDAY – Joy to the World
The angel announced with great joy that the Savior was born. As you move through another weekend, another part of the hot, humid and rainy month, find your joy and share it with others. Is your joy in Christ? Proclaim it by your smile and your love. Is your joy in that you are His beloved? Look in the mirror and say thank you. Pray for your mom who accepted the seed of faith of your presence, and where God formed you in her womb and gave you your name. Pray for your dad who loved you the nine you remained hidden and loved you to the new physical life that you took on. Is your joy in your vocation: married, single, cleric, religious? God has called you and you have generously responded to His call to be His witness and Kingdom builder to those entrusted to your care, love, and concern. If married to your spouse, children, extended family, and grandchildren. If a religious; to your community, your past and present students, your employees, your elderly religious sisters, your caretakers, your family, your nieces, and nephews. If single; to your friends, family, extended family, and community.
Is your joy in your accomplishments? God has given you the talents and gifts that have allowed you to become accomplished, but your identity does not lie in what you do, but rather in who you are:
His beloved child loved unconditionally and without measure. Look at what you think means a lot: your degree, your job, your successes and seek to see the hand of God and His Holy Spirit in your life.
Today, all of those that you have touched, and have touched you have been a source of joy to you and for you. They, and well as you, are a joy to the world and in the world. Our world needs more joy. Can you spread the joy by speaking of those who have given you joy in the past, or give you joy in the present? God is waiting to hear from you. The angels proclaimed it from the roof top, how will you proclaim it?
From your knees, from your lips, in your greeting, in a nod?
As you draw nearer to the weekend and make plans on how you will enjoy it, my Glimpse of God for this upcoming week will continue with the Christmas theme. but will focus on the signs of hope that brought you through the pandemic and made you a stronger person.
As I reflect on Christmas in July, I cannot eliminate or ignore the spirituality of the Christmas tree and the decorations that are placed it.
SO…..next week the daily reflections will be on the various aspects of COVID19 that, willingly or not, we embraced. What is their spirituality and how does reflecting on it now, remind you of your inner strength, courage, your ability to persevere and stand strong?
6FT DISTANCE GROUND SIGNS,
AND YOUR OWN SIGN OF HOPE.
Glimpse of God for the week of July 4, 2021
How appropriate that we celebrate our newfound religious freedom and our nations independence, July 4th on a Sunday. After the pandemic has caused us to feel quite unfree and independent, and with little ways to celebrate any occasion safely, this year we are invited to gather to celebrate our nations freedom at the Eucharistic Table. As we gather at the table of the Lord, we celebrate our first freedom as children of God as we listen to the Word of God as it proclaimed in Sacred Scripture. It is the Scripture where God reveals to His people, how they can become a free people.
What is our freedom in relationship to our faith? It is not just about being given the right to practice our religion freely without the fear of persecution but is more about us choosing to practice our religion and worship our God. It is about freely choosing to worship our God, not out of fear or guilt, but out of love, respect, and reverence. It is through the proclamation of the Sacred Scripture, the living word of God, that we hear God speak to our heart where He invites us to grow in a deeper relationship with Him. As God reveals Himself through Sacred Scripture, how we choose to respond will make us either a freer people or a people bound up in our guilt and sinfulness. As we listen to the Word of God, we are given the grace and wisdom to make good choices. It is through our good choices that we can avoid sin, but when we do sin, we then can choose to seek the mercy and healing power of God. God created us and instilled in us our free will. It is through that free will we can choose to be obedient or disobedient to God and His will and plan for us. This is not a task that we are given without help. Sacred Scripture, which is the inspired word of God, is there to assist us our spiritual journey.
As Mass continues and we celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we are then given the Body and Blood of Jesus. Jesus our redeemer, who suffered and died for us, who set us free from eternal damnation and opened the doors for us to eternal life, set us free and invites us to stay a free people. Our freedom is celebrated each time we receive the Sacraments especially Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. In the sacrament of reconciliation, through confession, absolution, and penance we are set free from our sin. In the Eucharist, but all throughout Mass, we are given the opportunity to repent of any wrongdoing and weakness, that does not require going to the sacrament of reconciliation, and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. Our spiritual freedom does not mean that we will be free from sin, we are human, but what it can mean is that when we do sin,
we recognize our sinfulness and repent, and choose not to fall into self-righteousness, despair, discouragement, or hopelessness. When we can recognize how we have fallen short of God’s desire for us becoming our best self, the person that He created us to be and have the potential to become, we are free. That freedom is choosing to see how we have fallen short but with hope in reconciliation and not despair, with courage to go forward and not turn back, emerging as victorious and not victims. Our spiritual freedom is when we choose not to be bound up in Satan’s deceptions.
SUNDAY – “F” faith vs fear
Having faith is one of the biggest tools in becoming and remaining a free person. With faith, not a perfect faith, but a greater desire to believe in the God who promised to always be with us, that He would never abandon us, that you will never be overcome, and that we never have reason to be afraid. If we believe that then we have chosen to meet our fear face to face and in trust that we will not be defeated. Remember that fear is the devil’s tool to take you away from God by having you believe that there is something that you cannot overcome, that you will be defeated by it, and that you have been abandoned by God.
As you celebrate your spiritual freedom, are there areas in your life that you would like to have greater faith so that your fear will dissipate, and you will experience a newfound independence?
MONDAY – “R” reconcile vs regret
When we want to and choose to be free, we are choosing to let go of that which is constraining or binding us to our past choices, weaknesses, sins, and injuries. When we choose to be reconciled to God and others by admitting our mistakes and sins, it is in that reconciliation we are renewed in God’s grace, mercy, and compassion. Being a new creation, we are then able to go forward in that same mercy and compassion that has been shown to us and extend it to others. We then can choose not to look back and hold on to anger, grudges, resentment, and vengeance.
It is when we do not choose to be reconciled, that we can have regrets. We regret that we have isolated ourselves from others because of injuries that have been inflicted on us or by us, regrets that we are angry about, and it is surging within us and making us more miserable, that our past choices and our need to be in control is controlling us and making us feel defeated, discouraged and despairing. Regrets can be eliminated by one act of reconciliation with God, who then gives us the strength and courage to seek reconciliation with others.
As you celebrate your spiritual freedom, are there areas in your life where you would like to seek reconciliation with God and others; over a past sin, injury, grudge, so that you can experience a greater sense and reality of true autonomy, healing, and wholeness?
TUESDAY – “E” embrace vs exclude
As we choose, with the grace of God, to recognize that which is binding us, we can then choose to embrace it or exclude it. What I mean by that is when God invites us to grow in our faith, we are being invited to see ourselves as God sees us; His beloved child who is loved unconditionally His greatest creation, and that there is nothing that we can say or do that will make Him love us less, He cannot, His love is perfect. In those truths that we need to see both the weak and the strong sides of our humanity. If we fail to recognize our sinfulness, our weakness, or our bad choices, but justify them or deny them all together, then we cannot undergo personal or spiritual transformation. God knows our hearts better than we do so He knows our choices and the reasons behind them, and He is ready and willing to forgive us. I believe that we are not bad people, but rather that we are all sinners striving to become saints and, in our desire, we fall short and give in to the devil’s temptations. SO, when we acknowledge our choices or sins in the light of God’s love for us, their power to diminish our belief in God’s love for us as His beloved child is defeated and we come out living more to our potential to be our best self.
As you celebrate your spiritual freedom, are there areas in your life where you would like to acknowledge or embrace instead of denying or excluding, so that you can undergo a greater spiritual and personal transformation?
WEDNESDAY – “E” entrust vs endanger
As we seek our spiritual freedom so that we can undergo a greater spiritual and personal transformation, we sometimes put it at risk by not commending or entrusting our will to God. We seek to be in control, we try to fix our problems, we attempt to heal our brokenness and fail to see His presence and His love within us. We endanger our spiritual freedom because we seek to stay bound in control, self-righteousness, fear, ignorance, or self-reliance. Yet we are never out of God’s loving sight, or out of His desire to forgive and extend His mercy and compassion. Entrusting God means surrendering your fears, your will, and your control. This might be scary, but not impossible. As a sinner who is seeking to become a saint, a co-builder of God’s Kingdom here on earth, and a beloved child of God, I do not believe that you mean to or want to endanger your spiritual freedom, it sometimes just gets lost in the stresses and crosses of daily life.
So, as you celebrate your spiritual freedom, can you surrender those areas that are calling you away from God and risking the spiritual freedom that God has given you?
THURSDAY – “D” delight vs discourage
God delights in you and adores you. You are His beloved child, loved unconditionally, and His greatest creation. He called you by name when He created you. You are one of a kind, there will never be another you. You are unique and special, you are YOU. You are a sinner striving to become a saint, a builder of His Kingdom here on earth, an instrument to bring others to know, love and serve Him better in this life so that we can all experience His presence in the life to come. Do you believe that, or does that discourage you? Does your sinfulness or weakness discourage you to the point that you cannot believe that God loves you unconditionally? That He delights in you? that you are loved beyond measure? and that Jesus died for you and not just everyone else? When we delight in someone or something we experience a great joy, happiness, and peace. God wants you to believe in His love for you so that you can experience His joy, happiness, and peace.
As you celebrate your spiritual freedom, where or what keeps you from believing that God delights in you and can you pray for the grace to let go so that you can find delight in yourself?
FRIDAY – “O” open vs obstructed
As we seek our spiritual freedom, we can choose to be open to it and all that it stands for, or we can put obstacles or obstructions in its way so that we cannot experience the freedom we are being invited to receive. Sometimes the idea of being free, forgiven, healed or whole can be scary, we do not know how to respond or live with this new freedom. For instance, being healed means recognizing where we are broken and then allowing God to fix the brokenness because we cannot. Being forgiven means that we have to admit that we have caused another harm and that we were wrong and sometimes our ego gets in the way and we justify our actions instead. I believe that the two phrases that are hardest for humanity to speak are “I am sorry” and “I forgive you”. When we say that “I am sorry” we are admitting that we have caused another harm, intentionally or not, we see that we have hurt them, and we feel remorse.
When we say that “I forgive you” we are given the grace to recognize the remorse in another who has caused us harm and we extend God’s mercy to them as He has so often extended it to us.
When we are open God’s grace overflows within us to without us. But when we put obstructions in the way because we would rather stew in our anger, shame, guilt, bitterness, vengeance, or grudge, then God’s grace is left waiting at the door of our heart and mind and we need to open the door for it to make its way in. There is not obstacle or obstruction that cannot be removed and overcome with faith and trust in God.
As you celebrate your spiritual freedom, are there areas in your life where you would like to be mor open to God’s grace so that you can overcome the obstacles or obstructions that are keeping you from opening the door of your mind and heart to His love, mercy, and compassion?
SATURDAY – “M” mercy vs memory
God’s mercy is greater than we can ever imagine or put into words. He doesn’t remember our past sins but rather our present desire to repent, conform to His will and seek personal and spiritual conversion, and transformation. Yet when we sin or are injured, we often do not want to forget, but choose to dwell on the injury or sin. We continue to allow the shame, guilt, anger, and grudge to fester and take root so that the love, mercy and compassion of God cannot make it’s dwelling within our heart, mind, spirit or soul. Our memory serves us well when we choose to remember the good times, the great people past and present that have touched our life, and the events and celebrations that have brought us great joy. Our memory also serves as a tool or instrument that reminds of the painful events or injuries that have also formed us and make us who we are today. God is not expecting us to forget those aspects of our formation, but what I think He is inviting us to do is to not allow our memory of the painful experiences to control us, make us feel like a victim and cause us to despair. But rather to remind us of His healing power that will make us a victorious, hopeful, and a resurrection people. As we seek God’s mercy, we are called to share that mercy with those who are in most need. With those who have injured us, or us for us, who have injured another. When we can share that mercy, then the pain and the effect of the memory will fade and grow farther away in the rearview mirror and we will steer straight ahead to healing and wholeness that God desires for us.
As you celebrate your spiritual freedom, are there areas in your life where you would like your memory of past hurts or injuries lead into seeking God’s mercy so that you can offer it to those in your life who are most in need?
The Declaration of Independence was officially adopted on July 4th and marked by the ringing of the Liberty Bell at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Let us remember all who have fought for our freedom.
Glimpse of God for the week of June 26, 2021
This week’s Glimpse of God comes from the word “receive” and how Jesus’ love and His Good News of reconciliation, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy, and hope, are received by His listeners both then and now. How His actions of healing, restoration and raising from the dead, His words of being “Blessed” as spoken on the Sermon on the Mount, the many parables that He told, the disciples understanding of all of Jesus’ words, actions, and silence, and how we receive them today.
What does it mean to receive something? How do we respond when we receive something?
I would imagine that it all depends on what we receive to how we will respond to it. When someone gives us a gift, we usually receive it with gratitude, and when we are given a raise at work, we usually receive it with joy, yet when we receive a poor evaluation or are given a negative review we tend not to respond positively, but with feelings of hurt or anger.
Now how does the word “receive” represent a Glimpse of God? Let me explain….
When we attend Mass, we receive many gifts from God. The first is when we listen to His Holy Word as proclaimed in Scripture, we receive His words that can speak to our heart, and how we respond to them is up to us. We can have an open mind and heart where the words take root as we seek His direction on how He wants us to build up His Kingdom here on earth, or it falls on rocky ground because our hearts and our mind is closed to the revelations of God as He chooses to reveal Himself. The seed scatters and cannot take root where it can be nurtured.
When we receive the Holy Eucharist, we are receiving the real presence of God, the Body and Blood of Jesus Himself. When we receive the Holy Eucharist, we are then commissioned to be the Body of Christ in all that we say and do, by our actions, through our life choices and in our attitudes, our words, and our prayers. As members of the Body of Christ we have a responsibility to live as connected members and not disjointed, as people that realize that we need Christ to sustain us on this earthly journey so that we can attain our goal of reaching heaven when our earthly journey has ended. We need the Holy Eucharist, the Body of Christ; the bread of life, to nourish and sustain our body, mind, soul, and spirit. We need the Blood of Christ to quench the thirsts that arise when our life struggles leave us parched, and we suffer from burnout and need to seek refreshment in the Lord alone. When we are connected to community, we are not connected to find faults with others but to build them up. We are all sinners striving to become saints and how we receive, welcome, and embrace others as members of the Body of Christ will show them how we truly received the good news of Jesus Christ. Do we use the good news as a tool to build others up through our support, encouragement, forgiveness, compassion, and mercy? Or as a weapon to tear down because we believe God appointed us as His judge here on earth, so therefor we pass judgement on others, we seek revenge because we have been injured, we justify our anger and jealousy, and we do not feel that we need to try to understand or show empathy towards others.
The same message of love is listened to by all yet how we receive it is different. What makes Catholic Christians stronger receivers of the Word is that we have the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments of the church that we can receive when we are in most need. The graces that we receive when we partake of the sacraments are innumerable and beyond the understanding in the mind of humans. God is very generous and is always waiting to shower His blessings and graces upon us.
Yet as we participate in the sacraments, we can behold the rite or ritual and the actions that are shown, but we cannot behold the graces that are received because they are not tangible or visible. The graces received and the effect of God’s grace can only be recognized through the eyes of faith, the spirit of trust, and the openness of both heart and mind. The good thing about being on the receivers end with God is that we do not have to be perfect, just humble enough to admit that we are not, we do not earn or pay for His grace, we just need to recognize that as sinners, He died for us once for all and therefor our debt was already paid.
We only need to be open to His grace and allow it to work in our lives so that we can become our best self, the person that he created us to be and have the potential to become.
So, as we walk through this coming week, in anticipation of Independence Day where we received our freedom as a nation, let us be most mindful of what we receive and if it comes in the form of items, gifts, compliments, criticism, forgiveness, love, grace or silence, that God is with you as you open your hands, heart and mind to receive all of these. What they can call you to is what He wants to give you, an opportunity for personal transformation and growing deeper in love with Him and yourself.
SUNDAY – “R” replenishment
How do you need to be replenished? What is lacking or near empty in your life? Is it your ability to be understanding or compassionate? Are you angry or suffering from an injury that you need to be healed of? Is your heart broken over a failed relationship, the death of a loved one, the separation that has come because of Covid? The memory of someone near and dear to you? Can you allow God to refill your heart with His grace so that you can forgive, mourn with hope, and love yourself with a greater love, the love that God has for you and wants to fill you with? Can you receive these graces with open hands? These gifts that will renew both your mind and heart, can you receive them with love and humility, peace, and joy?
For today as we approach the celebration of our nations Independence Day, ask God to replenish you and free you from anything that is depleting your energy and not allowing you to be your best self, the person that God created you to be, and you have the potential to become.
MONDAY – “E” encouragement
Can you encouraged to keep going and not get discouraged or disheartened? Are you encouraged by the people around you, your family, and friends, loved ones, your community? What does encouragement mean to you? Can you receive encouraging words from another and humbly express your gratitude? Can you receive the words from God that lift you up and inspire you to raise others up? Today seek to encourage someone that is down and needs to be raised up. Encouragement is often about raising others up even when you do not feel like it. When we reach out of our self and seek to raise up another, we too are then being raised up over our discouragement to be more encouraged and stronger than we thought we could be.
For today as we approach the celebration of our nations Independence Day, ask God to encourage, inspire and free you from anything that is discouraging you and not allowing you to be your best self, the person that God created you to be, and you have the potential to become.
TUESDAY – “C’ compassion
What does compassion or being compassionate mean to you? Being compassionate means being merciful, kind, caring, kindhearted, loving, sympathetic and empathetic towards others. Being compassionate means loving oneself so that one can share your compassion with others. It means using the graces that you have received from God, so that you can share them as God reveals the how, when and who. Do you feel that you are not a compassionate person? Is it because of an injury or a hurt that you cannot get over or forgive? Do you feel that you cannot be compassionate towards another especially one that hurt you? As God has forgiven you and continues to show His compassion toward you are you not strong enough to also do the same?
For today as we approach the celebration of our nations Independence Day, ask God to show you how you are a compassionate person, but to also free you from anything that is causing you to be and act cold towards others and thus not allowing you to be your best self, the person that God created you to be, and you have the potential to become.
WEDNESDAY – “E’ embrace
God waits to embrace you. You just need to invite Him in and allow Him to embrace you tight so that you can feel His strength and receive His grace so that you can continue to go forward and build His Kingdom here on earth. He loves you unconditionally and there is nothing that you can do or say that will make Him love you less. So, what does God embracing you look like? It could mean a moment or moments of serene peace that envelopes you. It could mean a sense of strength and courage that you feel empowered by. It may mean a feeling of love and joy that only God could have planted in our heart. God embraces you every time that you receive Him in the Holy Eucharist, it is like a spiritual hug given to you by God and no one else can see this loving embrace but you feel it. You are changed, blessed, and now charged to continue to be His Kingdom builder here on earth.
For today as we approach the celebration of our nations Independence Day, thank God for His loving embrace, and ask Him to free you from anything that is causing you to reject His embrace and not allowing you to be your best self, the person that God created you to be, and you have the potential to become.
THURSDAY – “I” inspiration
Who or what inspires you? Do you think that you inspire others? Where does inspiration come from? As you walk through your day today, seek to reflect on what comes forth from you and how those thoughts or actions help others and cause them to be lifted and raised up. Your inspiration, your creativity, your insight allows others to see themselves, their crosses, their joys, their struggles, their celebrations, their world, their God in a different way, you are a glimpse of God as He chooses to reveal himself though you.
For today as we approach the celebration of our nations Independence Day, ask God to continue to inspire you so that you can share your inspirations with others, and free you of the weariness that is not allowing you to be your best self, the person that God created you to be, and you have the potential to become.
FRIDAY – “V” value
You are held with great esteem before God. God does not put a price tag on you or a discount tag on you, or a no return ticket on you. He died for all sinners of which you and I are included. God knows your heart better than you do and He knows that you do not want to turn away from Him. You are His greatest creation and His beloved child; He loves you unconditionally and there is no sin that will make Him love you less or cause Him not to what to be in relationship with you. His love cannot be measured or expressed in words, only in action and that action was His death on the cross. He proved that on the cross. Were you there? Did you never hear those words that came forth from His mouth: Father forgive them for they know not what they do? The “them” was those then, those of us now and those who will follow. He values you and loves you and He wants you to love yourself as He loves you. You are a beautiful creation that enhances the Kingdom of God here on earth.
For today as we approach the celebration of our nations Independence Day, ask God to show help you to recognize how much He values you and to take way those things or thoughts that make you feel less than a beautiful creation, and not allowing you to be your best self, the person that God created you to be, and you have the potential to become.
SATURDAY – “E” enjoyment
It is July 4th weekend and there are many freedoms to celebrate. The freedom as a nation, the freedom from wearing masks, the freedom of being able to see our loved ones and being able to embrace them safely, and the freedom of religion that allows us to celebrate the many graces of freedom that God has bestowed on us. We are free to practice our religion, to give our will over to God and invite God into our heart, mind, soul, and spirit, we are free to live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ, we are free to forgive and be forgiven, we are free to be our self and not what others want us to be, we are free to forgive others or hold on to a grudge, and we are free to love our self as God’s beloved child, loved unconditionally and His greatest creation. Or we can conform to what others ask, expect, or control us to believe and not choose Christ who is the way, the truth and the life, our true freedom lies in Jesus who once and for all gave of His life so that we can be free. The question is do you believe that He suffered and died for you or just everyone else?
For today as we approach the celebration of our nations Independence Day, ask God to free you from anything that is depriving you from enjoying life as He has set it before you, and not allowing you to be your best self, the person that God created you to be, and you have the potential to become.
Glimpse of God for the week of June 20, 2021
Let me begin by saying Happy Father’s Day to all those men who are Fathers, Fathers, Foster Fathers, Fathers by adoption, Blended family Fathers, God Fathers, Grand Fathers, and father figures. Let us remember all our Fathers, especially those who are deceased, and entrust them to the loving embrace of God. If we were estranged or hurt by our fathers, let us seek the grace from God to forgive them so that we can entrust them to the eternal and loving embrace of God.
Let me offer praise and gratitude to all the Priests that we call Fathers who lead us closer to our Heavenly Father by their love for God, the administration of the Sacraments and their love for the flock that God has placed in their care. Let us remember women who are single parents due to divorce, death and separation, and as they fulfill both roles of father and mother and seek to protect and provide for their family. Let us encourage and support them as they try to raise their children with all their strength courage, trust, and faith in God and in those are present as support and encouragement.
This year is the year designated by Pope Francis as the year of Saint Joseph. Joseph is the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. He is the patron saint of workers and Patron of the Universal Church.
Joseph is the man in the shadows of Mary and Jesus, yet he played a crucial role in protecting Mary and Jesus from harm and death. Joseph was a man that listened to God, followed His command given to him through an angel and with courage, commitment, and love, and trusted as He was led to the unknown and uncertain. Joseph was the protector and provider of the Holy Family and he taught Jesus the skill of being a good carpenter and a good son. He is seldom mentioned in the Scripture, yet He played a very crucial and significant role in our salvation history.
How are you and I followers of Saint Joseph, how do we show our love for Saint Joseph in our daily life? What qualities of Saint Joseph do we exude as we strive to follow Jesus and become our best self, the person that God created us to be and have the potential to become? What do we see in Saint Joseph that we want to possess?
As followers of Christ and imitators of Him, we know that the person Jesus became was due to the upbringing that Mary and Joseph provided. Joseph exuded the qualities that a good Jewish boy becoming man and a believer in God would want to possess; love, mercy, compassion, understanding, patience, faith, courage, perseverance, humility, trust, hope, and joy. It is in and through those qualities, that Jesus learned as he was growing up, how to be His best self and share that self with others.
As a follower of Jesus and lover of Saint Joseph, how do I want to be more like Him? Although Joseph was a father, any person that desires to possess his qualities and His faith is one with him. In several dreams the angel appeared to Joseph and told him what he needed to do to so that he, Mary, and Jesus would be safe. Although Joseph did not understand, he listened and did as he was commanded. He trusted and followed blindly if you will, because he knew that that message that was spoken was from God. In his fear, anxiety, and the uncertainty of the direction that he was to go, he submitted His will to God and went forward.
Today, we all have been facing fears, anxiety, uncertainty during the pandemic and wondering what direction we were and are to go in to remain healthy and stay safe. We, like Joseph, have had to surrender our will to the God who knows all and sees all, and trust that we will emerge from the tomb of covid19 to a new life, one that has been transformed and renewed through the power of and love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We are being called to go forward and live in the light of God’s love with the eyes of our heart and spirit focused on him and not on what the world has to offer.
For all Fathers who are striving to be the best father that they can be, I hope and pray that they seek the guidance of Saint Joseph as they seek to be their best self, the person that God created them to be and have the potential to become with their children, their spouse, their siblings, their God. As a Man and a Father, as a Grandfather, God Father, Uncle, Brother, these men have chosen to follow the example of Saint Joseph as they provide for their family and build up their family with the building blocks of love, patience, peace, joy, faith, humility, hope, trust, fidelity, respect, harmony, compassion and understanding.
Saint Joseph leads us to Mary and Jesus. He protected, provided for, and embraced the love of God that he experienced through the love of Mary and Jesus. We might not hear the message of God through the voice of an angel, and we might feel inadequate to do what He asks of us, but the reality is that He knows what we are capable of and He calls us to trust in His knowledge and direction that he chooses for us to go. I believe that Joseph may have felt inadequate to take on the responsibility to raise the Savior, the Son of God, the Holy One, yet he trusted in the God who called Him, and He went forward each time with that same trust.
As we reflect on Father’s Day, I composed rosary consisting of the events in Joseph’s life that made Him the man that God created Him to be and the example of true faith, trust, and hope that we all desire. I hope it helps as you desire to follow on the road that Saint Joseph walked, one that consisted of trust, faith, hope, understanding, inner peace and love, joy, and humility. He walked with Jesus, he carried Jesus, he raised Jesus. He was able to do so because he possessed selfless, unconditional, and eternal love for God, Mary, Jesus, and himself.
THE HOLY ROSARY
ACCORDING TO THE LIFE EVENTS OF
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven, and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
THE FIRST MYSTERY (the first large bead)
The angel appears to Joseph and tells him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Pray for courage to follow God’s will in the face of difficulty.
Dear Saint Joseph, please help me to have courage and trust in God when the decisions that I need to make are difficult and contrary to what others expect of me. Please help me to believe and remain hopeful even when I do not understand the situation that I am facing, when all seems impossible to comprehend, and I need to surrender my will to God completely as you did. Saint Joseph, I know that you do understand and can help me. Thank you
THE SECOND MYSTERY (the second large bead)
The angel appears again to Joseph and tells him to take Mary and flee to Bethlehem where she would give birth to Jesus. Pray to trust God as you go forward on your journey that may be filled with some uncertainty, doubt, or disbelief.
Dear Saint Joseph, please help me to always be open to God’s will for me even if it means beginning anew so that I can better see God more clearly, follow God more nearly and love God more dearly. As you followed the angel’s command, you and Mary left the comforts of home, family, and friends and gave birth to Jesus in a foreign land, away from home and in the midst of strangers. In your obedience to God, you and Mary realized and lived out your trust in that you were not being abandoned but guided and protected. Help me to recognize and remember that even when I feel alone and cannot be with family or friends, that I have not been abandoned and that God is always with me.
THE THIRD MYSTERY (the third large bead)
The angel appears to Joseph to tell him to leave Bethlehem and flee to Egypt to escape Herod who was trying to kill Jesus. Pray that God protect all life from conception to natural death.
Dear Saint Joseph, please help me to see as God sees and not be afraid when life challenges get painfully difficult, hard decisions need to be made, and I become afraid, discouraged, and anxious. May I seek to recognize God’s action in my life and trust that in whatever way He calls me to follow Him, that I trust as you and Mary did in God’s divine providence and love as you courageously went forward to the unknown and uncertain.
THE FOURTH MYSTERY (the fourth large bead)
The angel appears to Joseph and Mary and tells them that they can return to the Holy Land because Herod has died. Pray for the grace to have an attitude of gratitude especially when God’s action in your life is so evident and lifesaving.
Dear Saint Joseph, God’s plan for us is often different than what we planned, thought, or expected. Even when we do not understand, as His plan unfolds, we can see more clearly how He was guiding and protecting us.
Help me to surrender my will to His as you and Mary did. As you listened and followed the Lord’s angel, may I listen and follow Him as the Holy Spirit and my guardian angel lead me, knowing that He will safely guide me to where it is that He wants me to be.
THE FIFTH MYSTERY (the fifth large bead)
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus settle in Nazareth and Joseph teaches Jesus about the carpentry trade. Seek to better acknowledge and share the gifts and talents that God has uniquely blessed you with, and not hide them or diminish them.
Dear Saint Joseph, help me to always be grateful and to show my gratitude to God for the many ways that He has blessed me and has made me a better person in light and in spite of life’s challenges, crisis, and distractions. God’s gift to me is being His beloved child and possessing eternal life with Him when my earthly journey is over. As I live and grow in my relationship to God, what I do, how I use my talents and gifts is my gift to God. As Jesus’ foster father, you showed Jesus the gift and talent of being a good carpenter. You chose to share your gifts and talents and not hide them. May I learn from you that as I discover the talents and gifts that God has blessed me with, that are meant to be shared and not hidden, that make me become and want to be my best self, that I am cooperating with God’s plan love others and help them discover their best self as well.
At the conclusion of the five mysteries:
Recite the Prayer to Saint Joseph by Pope Francis
Saint Joseph, Hail Guardian of the Redeemer, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to you God entrusted His only Son; in you Mary placed her trust, with you Christ became man. Blessed Saint Joseph, to us too, show yourself, a father, and guide us in the path of life. Amen.
Recite the Hail Holy Queen
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Glimpse of God for the week of June 13
Taking care of “self” during the summer.
Last week’s Glimpse was about summer and how we can best enjoy the season with much more enthusiasm, encouragement, and energy than last summer. Covid19/the pandemic has caused us to reexamine much of what we do, who we meet with and how we perform normal activities. This summer will be one that we can celebrate our independence from wearing the mask, minimal or no gathering with others, and many other restrictions. We will be able to gather with loved ones; we will be able to see people smile and we can go to various places knowing that we and others are vaccinated and a bit safer than we were this time last year. This summer, with the wisdom of God as our guide, we can look at the new normal and choose to adhere to it so that we can make our world a little safer and healthier. Although this summer will be different than any other, as we adapt to our new normal, it is in and through that difference that we can learn, grow, and be renewed as children of God, co-builders of His Kingdom and sojourners to our heavenly reward.
As we have walked through the pandemic these past 15 months, and are still walking in its midst today, the questions that I pose for personal reflection are not to be answered as if you were taking a test or writing an essay, but rather ones that make you think and want to explore deeper into their meaning for you and how that meaning may have changed or become clearer thee past 15 months. God is not looking for fancy words, a theological discussion or worst a dissertation, but rather your honesty as to how your brokenness has led you to healing, discouragement has been replaced with encouragement and support, injury has been replaced with reconciliation, and hope has triumphed over despair. God understands and listens to our silence, so do not be intimidated or afraid of the silent times. It is in the silence that you will hear the tiny whisper of His Spirit comforting, consoling, encouraging, healing and strengthening you.
Are we ready to emerge from our tomb and allow God to touch our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits with the refreshment of summer and all that it can include? Are we willing and able to walk with others who are just emerging from their tomb, waiting at the tomb, stuck in the tomb? Can we walk with them and be present to them as God invites them to live as a resurrection people too? Summer is for all. We all need to find rest in the Lord and with each other. Share your summer….Live your summer…..Enjoy your summer…
This week, as part of the last week glimpse, I am going to focus on each day’s reflection that I provided and expand on it. This week, we are looking at SELF. Reflect on just 3 questions. I pose many but not all for one time. Ask for that grace to recognize the questions that will allow you to delve deeper into your relationship with God so to come out your better self, the person that God created you to be and have the potential to become. As you answer those questions, you will see how the answers will enhance your relationship with God and others.
S – Self – Am I taking care of myself and finding the time to rest and relax so as to replenish my body, mind, and spirit so that I can more fully enjoy and be present in my relationships with God, family, and friends?
During the pandemic this past year, how have I grown spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally? What does my personal and spiritual transformation look like? Can I identify it? And how has it changed me? Can I recognize the presence of God, the positive experiences that have risen from the tomb of the pandemic/Covid19? How has faith conquered my fears? And when have I allowed my fears to overshadow my faith? And finally, if the pandemic had not occurred, would I have been open to the transformation that I experienced, or would I have been reluctant, and closed minded?
As we reflect on summer and how it affords us the opportunity to enjoy life, family, and friends in new and different ways, let us reflect on hos God is inviting us to see him through the eyes of summer: bright and shining in our life, the warmth and penetrating presence of the Son, the rays of His warmth permeating to the very core of our being. The many faces of Christ that we see in all those we gather with, celebrate with, pray with, shop with, and even the stranger that we pass on the road, the sidewalk, in the store and on the shore.
Glimpse of God for the week of June 6, 2021
WHAT IS SUMMER FOR?
What does summer mean and how can it change me?
Does anyone really know that unofficially summer is here, and officially it is quickly approaching? Summer usually begins with graduation parties, cookouts, and various other celebrations. We try to get out to the pool or beach as soon as we are able so that we can enjoy the sun and the company of others.
This summer, unlike last year, we will finally be able to gather with our loved ones, celebrate joyful occasions and re-gathering with those we have not been able to see or hug, embrace, or visit with during the pandemic. This summer we will have the opportunity to see the faces and smiles of those we love who have been vaccinated. We will be able to see their expressions, those of peace, joy, happiness, stress, worry, anxiety, and pain. By our ability to see their faces completely, we will be able to be more present to them and not just depend on what they say behind their mask, or instant message, tweet, text, or email. We will be able to see how the pandemic has been affecting them to this day. We will be able to be present to others and others will want to be present to us. We have walked the pandemic road and now we come to a fork in the road. We can choose to live our new normal and accept the measures that will continue to keep us and our loved ones safe and healthy, or we can choose to return to the old ways that were not as safe or healthy and could lead us to getting sick or causing others to become sick. I choose to accept and live our new normal because that is what I believe God is calling me to do and in choosing to live a safe and healthier life, my hope is that others will choose to do the same. People can still be vaccinated; the vaccine is out there and available so that no one is without.
I want to be renewed and revitalized as I continue to grow in love with life and walk with those who want to choose to do the same. We will walk this road to our resurrection from the depths of the pandemic. We will rise from the many deaths to self that we have experienced and together we will be healed, strengthened, and renewed, to a new and whole self. If we need some hope, a reason to smile, courage to continue, a boost of energy so that we can place one foot in front of the other, we will have each other to remind us of where we have been, where we are now and where we want to go. God has your back! We got this!!!
Although this summer is the beginning of us collectively living our new normal, it is a new normal and one that we need to accept, adapt to, and live out. It is our new way of living that will make us a healthier people. It is a new normal that will keep us safe, healthy, and hopefully a wiser people.
So how do we enter this summer season? A summer that people have been anxiously waiting for, anticipating and excited about. What will your summer include? How will you celebrate the end of wearing a mask? Seeing your loved ones for the first time? Hugging your grandchildren again? Returning to work in person? Shopping? Going to the beach? Attending weddings? Barbeques? Summer is a time to relax, settle into a different schedule, routine, or location. We can appreciate the gift that summer is and the gifts that God gives us through the season of summer.
The following reflection may have more meaning and significance than ever before. I believe that we need to look within and see God and how He has blessed, transformed, and strengthened us through these days and months of the pandemic. We need to have a grateful heart despite the challenges, struggles and difficulties that we have endured these past months because we have emerged from the tomb, we have endured the many forms of the pandemic passion and deaths. God invites us to renew our resolve to follow Him more nearly, love Him more dearly, and see Him more clearly each and every day, from this day forward.
We are a resurrection people. We have emerged from the trials and tribulations that Covid19 has placed before us. The Covid19 tomb has enveloped many with pain, anxiety, worry, fear, and yet as a resurrection people we can and will emerge with a renewed joy, enthusiasm for life, greater sense of appreciation for family, friends, personal encounters, hugs, embraces and smiles. We will also remember and lift up to God the many lives that have been cut short because of Covid19. With the many little deaths that we have endured we will walk with others who are also emerging from their tomb.
Are we ready to emerge from our tomb and allow God to touch our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits with the refreshment of summer and all that it can include? Are we willing and able to walk with others who are just emerging from their tomb, waiting at the tomb, stuck in the tomb? Can we walk with them and be present to them as Gid invites them to live as a resurrection people too? Summer is for all. We all need to find rest in the Lord and with each other. Share your summer….Live your summer…..Enjoy your summer…
S – Self – Am I taking care of myself and finding the time to rest and relax so as to replenish my body, mind, and spirit so that I can more fully enjoy and be present in my relationships with God, family, and friends?
U – Undo – Can I allow Mary, the Un-doer of knots, to undo the stress knots that I have, and allow myself to rest in the presence of God? If I recognize that stress comes from how I handle situations, challenges, and circumstances in my life, can I change how I react so as to live a more whole and healthy life? Can I ask Mary, the recipient of many stressful triggers, to calm my fears, lessen my anxieties, and help me to draw nearer to her Son Jesus?
M –Memory - The season of summer often brings back memories of our youth, and the things that we did as a family on summer vacation. If your memories are great and plentiful, continue to live them.
Try to do some of the same things with your family, or share them memories with those who surround you, so that they can come to appreciate your past and the love that your family shared on summer vacation. If your memories are painful, start your own new memories. Create new traditions. Build memories for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, so that they can pass them on to their children. Good heartfelt memories are incredibly special gifts from God especially created for us.
M – Measure – During these summer months, what do I measure?
Do I measure and count the moments, hours of my time spent with family and friends, or my time spent in prayer? Do I look at the time I spend in relaxation as a time of blessing, or do I see it as wasting time? Do I look at and measure the time that I spend at work as a necessary evil or as using the gifts and talents that God has given me to glorify Him? If God had a measuring stick, and He asked you to mark where you thought His love for you was, where how would you mark it? Would it be in centimeters, inches, feet, or yards? Would it be on the low end because of shame, guilt, false humility, or the high end because you realize that His love is unconditional and unfailing? He gave and continues to give His love freely and without measure, without cost, the cost was paid in full on the very cross that you behold. Do you believe this?
E – Embrace – During these hot summer months, are you open to embracing and being embraced? To allow oneself to be embraced, one must let down their guard, and open their hearts and arms to fully experience the love that comes from a genuine embrace. Being embraced sometimes involves forgiveness. Can you forgive? Can you ask for forgiveness? God wants to embrace you and tell you how much He loves you. He is waiting for you to let down your guard that is hiding the shame, guilt, fears that you might be holding on to. Can you open your heart and arms to God so that He can not only embrace you, but also touch and heal you? Once you let down your guard and take the time to feel the love and embrace the mercy of God, you will also realize that God has had you in His loving embrace since that moment He formed you in the womb. His embrace has been love that surrounds you, the peace that envelopes you and the joy that fills you, despite the challenges that confront you.
R – Refreshment – During these summer months, take the time to be refreshed, renewed, and rejuvenated. This is the time to rejoice in the longer days filled with sunlight, the warmth of the sun as you relax under its rays, as you sit outside or even look out the window, the brisk cold feeling of the ocean waves as they hit you, the calm of laying on a raft in your pool, and the ability to go on vacation where you can enjoy the great gift of God’s creation and the blessings that surround it such as faith, family, friends, nature and the joy of having FUN !!!!
GLIMPSE OF GOD FOR MEMORIAL DAY 2021
I would say that during these past 15 months, months overshadowed by the Corona Virus pandemic, many aspects of our daily living have changed. How we gather with family and friends, how we celebrate special events, how we spend our free time, all have taken on a new appearance. During this past year, joyful celebrations like graduations, weddings, holiday gatherings, parades, as well as funerals, sacraments, and any social gatherings were placed on a back burner, postponed indefinitely, or cancelled, but now as we return to a new normal, some of these events are occurring and people can attend in person. I believe that there is a new hope. Since the pandemic began, many changes have taken place. A major effect of the pandemic was and continues to be time spent with others. Due to isolation or fear of getting sick, people have had to spend more time with those in their immediate household and have had to stay away from gathering with those outside their household. I have been told that the quality time that folks have spent together has brought them closer as a family, as a couple, as friends, as roommates. This gives me and many others a renewed hope, a renewed sense of going forward and a renewed desire and reason to stay healthy by accepting the new normal and making healthy and safe choices.
Although this Memorial Day will be celebrated a little differently than usual, the reason for remembering this day in a special way has not changed or lost its meaning, On Memorial Day we remember our Veterans, past and present who selflessly chose to serve their country so that others could enjoy what it means to be a free people, a people that do not have to live in fear but peace. As we grow farther away from the fear of getting covid 19 because we and our loved ones have received the vaccine, this Memorial Day will still be one that we will celebrate differently than the way we had hoped. These past 15 months are days, weeks, and months that people of all ages, all social status, all education levels, all economic and political levels will remember with profound and transforming memories. The impact of Covid19 has challenged and effected all ages, from the youngest to the oldest, from the child in daycare to the parent in skilled nursing care, from the infant just born to the parent that just died.
This is a painful period in all our lives no matter where we live. Our global community is carrying this cross of suffering and death. I believe that it has been through that collective cross that we are all carrying, that we have become more united as a world, nation, state, community, neighborhood, church, and family. The restrictions that we have been called to enforce for the safety and health and well being not only of our self, but of those we love and encounter, have tested our patience, and our ability to endure. This pandemic and its effects of isolation has led us to be afraid, anxious, discouraged, angry and disheartened, yet we know, and we resolve that we will not to be defeated. There is HOPE.
In the face of this pandemic, we can choose to open our eyes and face it or close our eyes and complain about it. We can become a force to be reckoned with or a force that we bow to. We are fighting a war that we need to be prepared for and want to win. We want to fight for our health and the health and wellbeing of those we love; we encounter and the stranger.
We want to rediscover peace, freedom, and warm embraces amid our new normal. So how is this pandemic and the wars that our veterans have fought similar?
We are all fighting a war; the Corona19 war. We are asked to remember and pray for those who have lost their battle to Corona19, those who are still fighting it, and those who have been exposed to it and are self-quarantined. It is an opportunity to recognize that in the hearts of the men and women who bravely chose to serve our country that their choice was rooted in a deep love for God, country, and their fellow human being. There was and is a presence of selfless, emptying, giving and a sacrificial love and heart where God dwells and strengthens them to give all that they have for the safety, good and wellbeing of another, from those they know to the complete stranger. Our doctors, nurses, medical staff, EMTs, fire and police, are those war veterans who are fighting for the health, wellbeing, and safety of others. There too is a presence of a selfless, emptying, giving and sacrificial love that goes beyond any ego, selfishness, self-centeredness that could take root.
The Veterans, our heroes, that fought and continue to fight for our country, and for the peace and freedom of others in our global community, give of themselves completely and are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for what they believe and are fighting for. They have watched their comrades fall and could only hold their hand and speak words of peace and job well done.
They have lifted up those who were wounded from gun and mortar shots and the pain that wrenched through their bodies, and they have had to rescue those who were in the grips of the enemy. In a different way, our front-line heroes are doing the same. They have watched their comrades fall to the virus with only their hand to hold as they closed their eyes, they have lifted up those who contracted the virus and suffered through the pain and suffering that the virus unleashed on their bodies, they have had to test, quarantine, and isolate those who may have been exposed to the virus for their safety, health, and wellbeing and for the safety, health, and wellbeing of others. Our heroes, both our Veterans and those on the front line,
Our Veterans suffered and died for their country. Country is not just a word, but they suffered and died for humanity no matter who they were or where they lived. They deserve our gratitude, our thanks, our recognition, and our prayers. When they came home, they may have come home to a hero’s welcome, but that didn’t take away the pain of their memories and the suffering that they experienced and will continue to experience physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. Our Veterans gave of themselves completely. They fought and continue to fight for the causes of life, liberty, peace, and security.
If you ask a Veteran if they ever expected to face such a war in their own back yard, in their families, their community, their nation and their world, I will venture to say they would not have. This is a war where men and woman aren’t in camouflage searching out the enemy, but rather medical scrubs and masks, that rifles aren’t used to kill the enemy, but rather proactive testing, social distancing, proper sanitizing procedures, facial covering and vaccines, and where we are just hearing about it on the media but living out in our everyday lives.
With both combat and covid, the war affects are as devastating because people are dying, families are torn apart, there are more homeless, the economy is weaker, and the morale of the people is exceptionally low. But where do we go from here? We go with our Veterans with a greater determination to fight, live life with gratitude, and seek strength from each other, from our God, and from within especially when life’s cross gets heavy and seemingly unbearable.
As our Veterans did and continue to do, we seek the courage to fight when we feel we are without fight, we seek the strength to carry this cross when we feel fed up, we resolve to defeat the enemy and not be defeated by it so that we come out as victors and not victims.
So… as we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day, let us be mindful of how this day came about and let us pray for those who we are called to remember, our military past and present, that selflessly sacrificed and continue to do so for the good of others. Let us close our eyes and see that through their faith, courage, and determination, we are free and know what peace is. Let us pray that they know and believe in their hearts that they have done and continue to do the best that they could to be their best self, the person that God created them to be and have the potential to become.
If you are looking for Glimpse of God, seek out, talk to a Veteran, an active-duty member, a reservist, and listen to their story, learn from their wisdom and experience, and discover the God that called them, sustained them and loved them through the most difficult period and time of their life. Their time, their sacrifice, their love for God and others, all formed them to be the selfless and courageous person that they are today. We all need examples of faith, hope and charity. We can find it in those who served and are serving our country, the family members, close friends, neighbors and all other soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who support the home front while their loved ones are deployed far away. Our military, both active duty and reservists, are a Glimpse of God. Family, friends, and supporters are big glimpses of God, so where do you fit in?
Take each day this week to remember and pray for the Veterans who fought for us and for the front-line workers who are also fighting for us. As we begin to live our new normal, may the week ahead not make us weak in spirit, or our desire to fight, may the days ahead not put us into a daze where we choose to ignore our health and well bring and the health and wellbeing of others, may the hours in each day remind us that the day is ours and we can choose to live life to the fullest despite our limitations, may each minute remind us that nothing or no one is minute in the sight of God, and may each second offer us the opportunity to be the breath of God, where each second counts, and not wait to make that our second choice.
Glimpse of God for the week of May 16, 2021
To break something seems like a negative action and it usually is unless you experience a Break Through in some difficult area of your life, or you Break Bread or share a meal with another. To break something, be it an object by accidently dropping it, or you break a person’s spirit by sharing gossip or saying cruel words that cannot be taken back, usually out of anger, or jealousy or as an act of revenge, all need to be repaired or healed in one way or another.
Objects once broken will either need to be repaired or will need to be discarded. Relationships can be repaired or healed, reconciliation can occur and hopefully the relationship will not be discarded or become estranged.
God wants us to be whole. Once a relationship is broken and in need of healing, His grace is there for us if we desire to make amends and mend that which is broken.
What does it take to break an object? A hard blow by accidently dropping it, carelessness, anger. Once an object is broken, although it may be able to be repaired, it will not look the same as it did when it was new and carefully taken care of. You may be able to see how or where it was repaired, and you will know that something has happened to it. For some objects that have great sentimental value, this can be an emotional experience. With objects where one can see the wounds, if you will, with people, the wounds that are caused are deeper and more damaging. The wounds that are caused by our negative words, our tearing down, our jealousy, our anger vented, are usually hidden and not as visible as we were a broken vase of dish. To break one’s spirit by what we say or do to another causes a brokenness that needs to be healed and reconciliation needs to be humbly sought, so that wholeness can occur, and peace can be experienced. We need to recognize that only with God’s grace can these actions take place.
When we desire to repair relationships that are broken due to our harming of another by our words or actions, or because of the actions of another that have caused us injury, that is a response to God’s grace in our life. When we choose to mend or heal that which is broken, we are choosing to love others as God loves us and this begins with loving our self. When we can recognize that we have not been loving, or that others have not loved us, and we choose to heal that relationship, we see within our self, that we want to become our best self, the person that God created us to be, and that we have the potential to become.
This action is not easy and yet, as followers of Christ, we are called to forgive and when we truly follow Him, not just on an occasional trip, but throughout our earthly journey, we are trusting that He will grace us with His gifts so that we can be more loving and follow His lead as to how we are called to be the most loving that we can be. Relationships are not meant to be discarded as if they were insignificant or invisible. We are all God’s beloved sons and daughters, and as His children we are called to treat others with the respect and dignity. We are called to love others, we may not like them and when we realize that we can and should always pray for them and their good, and that God bless them because only HE knows their heart and ours better than we do our self. When we choose to hate, or not forgive or remain broken, we are choosing not to be healed but remain bitter and broken and this leads to a self-righteous, ego centered heart and spirit. God will not force His love or His mercy on us, He invites us to receive it and share it.
It is our choice. To break from God, to walk away, to suffer broken relationships, all cause deeper emotional pain, but unlike objects, we as humans cannot fix or repair these relationships. Without God’s grace, when we try to do it on our own, we tend to get frustrated by the lack of a desired response from another. So, we discard the relationship, and we walk away. When we walk away, we are not only walking away from the other, but from God, and we walk further away from living up to our potential to become our best self. When Jesus suffered and died for us, He did so that we can not only love others as we are loved by Him, but also to grow in a greater love of our self as seen though God’s love for us. As Jesus died on the cross, He asked His Father to forgive them for they know not what they do. We all sin, and I believe that we often do not think of the harm that we are causing another or our self. We act out of our present experience and say or do something that injures another and breaks their spirit. Jesus has the spiritual repair kit; it includes the grace to desire mercy and forgiveness, a greater sense of compassion, a desire to be healed and become whole, a prayer for peace for all those who are broken in our lives, reconciliation with those who have caused us to become broken or those who we have caused injury to, and a spirit of gratitude for the graces that He gives us each and every day not to give up or give in to what seems insurmountable.
Now when we experience a breakthrough, we are experiencing a God given grace to get past whatever has been a block and getting in our way to personal, emotional, psychological, or spiritual growth. Breakthroughs are experiences that we cannot forget or let go of quickly. When we experience a breakthrough, we experience a grace filled freedom, a sense of inner peace, a spirit of love and I would imagine a greater self-worth because whatever has been in the way of our growth has now been put aside and we had a choice in that putting it aside. The obstacle or experience that has been in our way does not disappear, but it may become smaller and not as intimidating. The fear of it diminishes and we are given a greater courage when God knows we will draw upon it, to conquer and be conquered, to become victorious and not remain a victim.
To Break bread, to receive the Holy Eucharist at The Celebration of Mass, is the key and essential action that will lead us to healing and wholeness. Jesus repairs what is broken both through the Holy Eucharist and The Sacrament of Reconciliation. As we choose to be a resurrection people, a Eucharistic people, we are then becoming a more radiant light and rays of inner joy and peace, hope, healing, wholeness. Breaking bread together is an action that Jesus invites to partake of. We gather as sinners striving to become saints, and we leave as sinners strengthened to be more saintly.
As you and I walk through another week, let us be mindful and pray for healing for all those who are experiencing brokenness in body, mind or spirit. As we pray for others, let us also pray that if we are experiencing any type of brokenness from the past or present, that we also seek God’s healing and not diminish it or discard the experience as nothing. Let us focus on what we need to do mend the brokenness around us and to recognize with greater clarity what we need to do to avoid breaking down others.
SUNDAY – T – Thanksgiving for the brokenness that can lead to a greater sense of spiritual growth and maturity, healing, and wholeness. It is not a pleasant experience to be broken or cause another to experience brokenness, but when we seek the grace to become healed, and whole, we can also experience a greater sense of oneness with God and others.
MONDAY – O - Other centered so that we can become more God centered. When we choose to be selfless and not selfish, we are choosing to act as God did, and not as the devil is tempting us to. To seek forgiveness or to forgive is a selfless act. When we experience brokenness, we are torn, discouraged, and hurt and need to seek God’s peace and healing so that you we can find and experience the gift of His peace and joy. When we choose to recognize that others are also hurt because of our words or actions, and in need of God’s healing, both of us will experience a greater joy in the act of reconciliation and forgiveness.
TUESDAY – B – Believe that God wants what is best for us and that we are meant to be healed and not broken, so if we cannot reconcile with another, ask for the grace to forgive them from your heart and God will take that prayer and turn it into your reality.
WEDNESDAY – R – Reverence others and yourself as God’s beloved children. When we reverence and respect others as God’s beloved children, we in turn treat them with that respect. That means wanting them to be healed and whole as much as we want to be healed and whole. Healing is a gift and grace from God that He wants for all His children, so if we can do anything on our part to share that gift, as Christ’s followers, we are called and expected to do so.
THURSDAY – E – Embrace His gift of mercy and spiritual healing. It is there for all of us. Do not turn away from it out of sense of fear or unworthiness. There is nothing that we can say or do that will make God love you less. Period!!! Embrace His gifts, allow them to permeate your very being from the top of your head to the toes on your feet.
FRIDAY – A – Allow yourself to be forgiven and to forgive so that you and the other can experience God’s gift of true and inner peace, happiness, and joy.
SATURDAY – K – Know that God wants only the best for you and others. As we all walk on this holy Ground of our spiritual journey, we can assist others to becoming their best self, the person that God created them to be and have the potential to become, and as we choose to do that, we are choosing to become our best self, the person that God created us to be and have the potential to become.
Glimpse of God for the week of May 9, 2021
Happy Mother’s Day to all
To all: Mothers: Grandmothers, God Mothers, Foster Mothers. Mothers through Adoption, Blended Family Mothers, Fathers who serve the dual role of Mother and Father, Consecrated Religious Women and Men who exude the love of the Blessed Mother in all that they do and those they encounter, and woman who are preparing to give birth.
As we set aside this day to celebrate the gift of motherhood, we also want to recognize that every day, every second of each day, we should celebrate those who have been like a mother to us. We should, and want to remember, in a special way those who have gone before us, our mothers, grandmothers, and others who have exuded the charism and qualities of Mary, our Mother, to us so that we can become our best self, the person that God created us to be so that we can be a radiant reflection of Her Son Jesus to others.
I am sure that as we all have prayed the Hail Mary, we often envisioned the encounter of Mary and Elizabeth. As Elizabeth approached Mary, she uttered the words that bless God through Mary, the Hail Mary.
As you honor Mary on this Mother’s Day, have you ever thought of how she honors you through the Hail Mary?
Here is how I think she honors you, you as mother, grandmother, God mother, foster mother, blended family mother, adoptive family mother, father fulfilling both roles, siblings that take on the responsibility of raising their siblings due to an absent mother, and those who choose religious life and radiate the love of Mary and their love for Mary to all they encounter.
I hope that this reflection brings you to a deeper relationship with Mary and a better understanding of how you echo her YES by your surrender, trust and love for God and her Son Jesus. Mary loves, honors, and hails you as you follow Jesus Her Son, walk with Her, and love God with your whole heart, mind, spirit, and soul.
Hail Mary: We honor Mary as we approach her in prayer. How does she honor us? As we recite these two noticeably short words, we are honoring, recognizing, and blessing God’s action through her. She in turns honors and recognizes God’s action through us. She sees and wants to let us know that she is present in our prayer to her, but also, she recognizes in our actions how we try to reflect her Yes in our Yes, to radiate the presence of Her Son as we strive to be His body, His witness, His love to others.
Full of Grace: we are full of the grace of God. That grace we received at our baptism and continue to receive through the Sacraments of the Church. Mary wants to remind us that we never are empty of God’s grace, that He is always ready to shower us with His grace whenever we approach Him and ask for it. Full of Grace, means that we are not half empty although there are times when we think we are, God doesn’t do anything halfway. We might think that we are short on grace, but God’s graces are abounding and overflowing, we just need to open the eyes of our heart and mind, spirit, and soul so that we can recognize them as God chooses to reveal them to us.
The Lord is with you: Although Mary was the first living tabernacle, the tabernacle where the Son of God chose to dwell, the living Christ, we as members of the Body of Christ, who choose to receive Him in the Holy Eucharist, are also living tabernacles for Christ and where He chooses to dwell. Christ dwells within us. As we receive Him as we partake of the Body of Christ, we are consuming His very being into our very being, into the very core of who we are.
Our identity as Christ’s followers, as God’s beloved sons and daughters, as builders of the Kingdom of God here one earth, as Mary’s children entrusted by Christ to her care and love,
is recognized, strengthened, and blessed as we choose to witness to that presence within us to those outside of us.
Blessed are you among women; Mary was blessed beyond any other woman that God has brought forth from the womb. She was conceived without sin, chosen to be the Mother of our Divine Savior and endured the sorrow of his passion and death. She was blessed with the grace of God to endure, persevere, and overcome the challenges that they devil presented. These challenges or temptations could have taken the form of doubt, despair, discouragement, bitterness, resentment, and indifference, but she chose to believe in her God and His promise that He would never forsake her or abandon her and live her Yes in complete surrender and trust.
Many of us, both mothers and fathers, recognize the presence and blessings of God in our lives. Mary wants us to know that we too are blessed by God. He hears our prayers and gives us the answers that we need to hear when we need to hear them, they may not be the answers that we want to hear, but they are what is best for us. Mary was chosen to be the Mother of our Savior when God saw the time as best. We are not being called to be the mother or father of the Son of God, but we are called to bear witness to the Son of God in and through our lives, we are called to share our knowledge of Christ with others, we are called to stand up for what we believe especially when it is difficult, and we try to carry our crosses and face our life’s struggles and challenges. As we face the many temptations of the devil that may come in the form of despair, discouragement, revenge, bitterness, indifference, we can overcome them by remembering that our yes and Mary’s Yes were made in trust knowing that God will never abandon us or forsake us.
And blessed is the fruit of your Womb, Jesus: Mary gave birth to Jesus and blessed was she. The womb of Mary, the place where God chose to dwell in Mary. A woman’s womb is a place, a home, where God chooses to dwell each time she conceives a child. Many women do not conceive. What we conceive in the womb is what God calls the gift of life. Yet we are all called to be life giving, to be the breath of life, to share the life of Christ with others. We are all called to respect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Mary’s womb was the first to bring forth the Savior, yet His birth through her, allows us to give birth to His presence to others by how we live, the example we lead by, and the love that we show for and share with others.
Holy Mary, Mother of God: Mary’s love, dwells within each of us. She is our Mother, and her love is unconditional, eternal and a sign of Jesus’ presence as she cares for us, intercedes for us, prays for us, and brings us closer to her Son as she knows we want to be. Mary is the Mother of God, but we are all called to be Mother to those in whose face we are called to see God; the poor, the homeless, the forgotten, the addicted, the estranged, those we dislike and those who may hate us.
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Mary is always praying for us and with us. We can and are called to pray for others as well. We are all sinners striving to become saints. Christ died for all. You and I are not exempt from His mercy, grace, peace, reconciliation, and compassion. Mary wants us to realize that as she intercedes for us to Jesus, we are asked to pray for her intercession for others. Praying for others is a selfless act. As we lift others up in prayer, we are placing our prayer and needs after theirs. Mary was selfless and as we pray for others, we too are following her example of selflessness and love. As we walk with others in and out of love, who are approaching the doors of heaven, we should want to pray for them that the doors of God’s mercy are open, and they can walk into His loving and warm embrace. As we approach Mary to be with us and our loved ones at the hour of death, we too can ask for her to be with those who may not have anyone to pray for them, who may die alone, who may die at the hands of others, who will suffer to death, who we might not like but are called to love, who may have caused us harm or injury, or who have made us feel like we were dead, invisible or unloved.
AMEN: I believe. I profess and believe in the love and power of God as witnessed by Mary. I want to recognize, with greater clarity, how I am being called to witness His presence in my life each day.
Glimpse of God for the week of April 25, 2021
The spirituality of “a bag”
This week’s Glimpse of God comes as a suggestion from Sister Elizabeth Novak, OSF a Sister at Assisi House, the retirement home for the Sisters of Saint Francis. She suggested that I write on “bags” and the various types of bags that we use. So, we came up with 7 types of bags and I will attempt to describe the spirituality of each bag,(as I have been inspired to do because I haven’t studied bags to know any more than you probably do), and how God draws us closer to Himself through by the various types of bags that we use, and by what we place in our bags or choose to take out of our bags. Wish me luck... The 7 types of bags that we chose are: handbag, trash bag, cosmetic bag, tool bag, shopping bag, carryon bag, and lunch bag.
Before I begin this glimpse, I thought that I would provide the definition of bag according to Marriam Webster, and it is “A container made of flexible material with an opening at the top, used for carrying things” so how is a bag a Glimpse of God? Why would God use a bag to reveal Himself? And can a bag become an instrument for us to recognize, with greater clarity, how God is choosing to reveal Himself by what we put in our bags or leave out of our bags?
So, as I think of the definition of a bag, I try to think of myself as a vessel and not a container. Our Blessed Mother bears the title Spiritual Vessel and for me to emulate her means that I am to be spiritually minded which in short means to see things with faith and to live by faith. As a vessel, I also think of myself as an instrument that God has created so that HE can fill me with His graces and as I am filled, I then choose to share those graces by being a person of compassion, mercy, love, peace, joy and understanding towards others. As a vessel, and an instrument of God’s in building up His Kingdom here on earth, I hope to flexible and open at the top (an open mind) as I choose to undergo personal transformation and conversion so that I can be my best self, the person that God created me to be, and I have the potential to become. Being flexible means not having a closed heart or mind, but one that is open to receive His graces and so that they can expand and allow me to do His will and be a more loving person. And as God’s vessel, wanting to be more flexible and open at the top, I realize that this involves both carrying my cross and helping other to carry theirs.
God uses our ability and desire to embrace His will and not discard it. As we enter another week let us try to imagine what our day would be if we went bagless and chose not to have our bags filled by God, or we chose to walk around with an empty bag or with a bag with a hole in it.
SUNDAY – “B” handbag
A handbag; hand - means that we choose to carry it and bag - which means those things that women choose to carry must have some significance or importance to them. A handbag for some women can hold everything from their cosmetics to the proverbial kitchen sink. I think that the only restriction that women have when they fill their handbag, is that they must be able to carry it or they will need to start taking things out before it is damaged. I believe what women place in their handbag are those items that they feel are important and that they need throughout the day whether at work, running errands, at school or just our and about. This can range from their cell phone, their cosmetic bag, their glasses, their keys, tissues, a brush or comb, a pen and paper, and other significant items. (Since I do not carry a handbag, I can’t quite fill in the blanks as to what the items may be…sorry…) If I were to begin to fill a handbag, and as a Glimpse of God, I would ask myself how is a handbag a Glimpse of God, what would God want me to place in my handbag and what would He want me to leave out? Are what we think as important and necessary the same or different?
If I think about a handbag in the spiritual sense and what it is used for, the first question is; are the items that I think are important and what I want to carry with me going to enable me to grow closer to God on my spiritual journey or prevent me from walking closer with God on my journey? If I were to ask God what He would want me to place in my handbag, remembering that He would not ask me to carry anything that was too heavy or that I could not handle properly, would I be open to His suggestions or reluctant?
What are some of the items that a woman of faith; a sinner striving to become a saint, a person that wants to be her best self, a person that wants to exude her colors of love? One item might be her cell phone because that keeps her in touch with others (especially during this pandemic where isolation and personal touch is limited) who are isolated and anxious and where a phone call shows that someone cares and the voice on the other end confirms that they are not alone. Keys to her home and car would be in the bag so that she is not locked out from the home where love dwells and the car that allows her to run errands of mercy and love, a friendly visit, volunteering, or work to support her family. God never wants us to feel that we are locked out from His love, mercy, or compassion. Because of His deep and unconditional love for us, we can never say or do anything that will make Him love us less or lock us out and away from His presence. If we have the keys to our home, the keys of faith, trust, respect, hope, love, compassion, and surrender, we can never lock our self out or be locked out because with those keys, the lock can never be jammed stuck. The keys to our car allow us to drive and perform acts of love and mercy, support, and necessity so that we can continue to do our work as His followers and be Kingdom builders here on earth. A hairbrush or comb, with God’s sense of humor He knows that most women would not be happy if we got out of the car or the house and our hair was a mess or one hair was out of place, so to laugh with us, a brush or comb would be included. Tissues would be a good item for the moments that we share with others who are grieving and need a tissue to wipe the tears, or when we are caught up in a sad or joyful memory of a loved one who has gone before us in faith, or when we have had a stressful day and crying is the only good relief that we can think of, or when we suffer from allergies or a cold and do not want to look gross after we sneeze because our nose is running and we can’t catch it. God never wants us to be ashamed of what we have no control over, so when we have a cold or suffer from allergies, tissues would be his gift so that we can continue to do our work and not feel so embarrassed that we lose our self-confidence and want to run and hide. Another item would be reading or prescription glasses. We need to have a good view of the road before us, ahead of us, behind us, as well as the surroundings all around us. Glasses help us to have a clear vision of what we are surrounded by: people, roads, books, steps, and other things that we encounter as we place one foot in front of the other. Now as we wear glasses, either prescription because our vision is not that great or reading because we cannot see the words clearly, we choose to wear them because we want to see better and not get hurt when we fail to recognize what is ahead of us, be it the road, the steps, or the person. God chooses to have us put glasses in our handbag so that we can see Him more clearly in our self and in others. When we are able to recognize His presence in others and in our self, we can see better how He, as our loving creator, has called us and loved us into becoming a clear and brighter reflection of His presence to all those we encounter as well as they are to us.
Although glasses are placed on our eyes to help our vision, the glasses that God places on the eyes of our heart and mind are those that improve our vision and expand our thoughts; compassion, mercy, love, peace, joy, and understanding. They also assist us in our personal and spiritual transformation as they help us see our self better as we move forward on our journey from where we were to where God has brought us today.
So, I have listed some of the items that I think God would want us to include in our handbag. The question to those who carry a handbag is, are they any different than what you carry now? Can you see them in a different, spiritual light as you choose to carry them in your handbag?
MONDAY – “A” shopping bag
A shopping bag, either plastic or paper, is one that we fill when we go shopping of essential items at the grocery store. For some shoppers, there is often the desire to get a lot and then try to carry it in the least number of bags possible. For instance, when we shop at the grocery store, with our mental or physical list in hand or head, we usually go for the food items first, fresh or frozen, the items that we need to prepare meals, put in the school lunches, snack on, the healthy or the not so healthy, then we proceed to the personal care items, and then the other items such as pet supplies, cleaning supplies, and the like. We know what we need, and we think that we can get it all at once. So, we go from aisle to the aisle placing them in the cart and when we think that we have everything on our list, we go to the checkout.
When we get to the check out and are ready to pay, we are either expecting the amount or surprised at the amount. The question is; as we look at the spirituality of the shopping bag and if God were to look inside our bag, would we be ready to put things back if He asked us to or not? Are the items in our bag going to make us a healthier person? A healthier family member? And make healthier family members? As we look with God, into our bag, would He be surprised at what He sees, not that He does not know everything even what we shop for, but would we see the look of surprise in His eyes as He peered into the shopping bag? As we shop and want to grow spiritually, God is wondering if our items are going to make us a better person physically so that we can become a spiritually healthy person as well? Will they help us maintain a healthy weight so that we can continue to walk with Him and others and keep one foot in front of the other vs having to stay seated and look from the sidelines? Are the foods that we chose to put in our shopping bag junk foods where we send our body into a flux where we cannot concentrate because our sugar, sodium and other levels are all askew, and thus making prayer, speaking to and listening to God speak to us, more difficult? Are they going to help us as we seek the strength to undergo spiritual and personal transformation and need to surrender those things that are keeping us from becoming our best self?
TUESDAY – “G” cosmetic bag
This bag may consist of those items to make a women’s facial presentation look healthy, brighter and a show a welcoming face vs one that looks sickly or drawn. Cosmetics allow women to dress up their face so that they feel good about how they look and can go forward with a better self-esteem and worth. In their bag there might be make up for the eyes, lips, and cheeks as well as other stuff.
Let us begin to uncover the spiritual making of eye makeup. I am not a makeup artist, so this is my best inspiration for this reflection. As a woman, I believe that what we put on our eyes for people to see, comes from our heart that only God sees. How we feel, how we choose to love, represents the beauty of our heart and the gift of God’s grace within. When women place eye shadow or liner on their eyes, they are placing the color of love of their eyes that is inspired from their heart. As they use bright or non-bright colors, it can be an attempt to show how they are feeling or how they want to best express themselves. As they see with the eyes of their heart, with the eyes of God, how they desire to show the love, mercy, and the compassion of God to others, they show it on their eyes that others do see. Lip stick or gloss can be how women want the breath of life that they speak to be with color, and with the shining radiance of the Son of God. As disciples of Christ, do we not want our words to be heard, and our message to be listened to? As Christ’s disciples, should not the words that come forth from our lips be words that build up others? As builders of the Kingdom of God, do we not want to and are we not able to articulate His message with joy and the joyful colors that are at our disposal? Cheeks, the color of our cheeks can show that we are healthy and happy. They can be pale or red, drawn, or full, yet no matter what they look like, in or out of our control, we can still choose to place some color on them and be God’s messenger with humility, and without reserve. SO, what if you do not wear any makeup, does that mean that you are not God’s messenger? No. I think that it means God has chosen you in your present state or situation to face the world naturally and take the grace that He has given you from within and bring it forth with the colors of love that you want so much to share. The colors of love that you possess that come forth from you naturally is all that God needs and desires from you to proclaim His kingdom here on earth. Make up allows one to bring that which might be reserved or uncertain to come forth with a greater certainty and hope.
WEDNESDAY – “L” tool bag
A tool bag, a bag that would consist of tools that most men would need as they worked to either repair something or make something. I like to think of a tool bag as the bag that parents create for their children as they grow that is filled with the essential tools they need to become caring, loving, respectful, faithful, law abiding adults in society. Tools that will enable them to become their best self, the person that God created them to be, and have the potential to become. For this reflection, I would like to combine both the tools given by a parent, as listed above, to their children as well as what a person might put in a tool bag.
Some tools in a tool bag might be a hammer, screwdriver, tape measure, pencil, wrench, nails, and screws. What is the spirituality of a hammer? Just as a parent wants their child to grow and become their best self, I believe that some parents felt as if they had to hammer their values, morals, rules, and directions into their child’s head just so that they wouldn’t or couldn’t forget them. And at some other point, they realized that this process was not the best way to instill the truth, significance and importance of their values or morals, rules, or directions. Children accepted them though out of love, and ignorance and did not want to feel guilty if they did not. Is that what God wants us to do? Should we hammer away at someone to get them to accept what we say or think, out of fear or guilt, or pound away at how unworthy we are of God’s love and totally missing the gift of the unconditional love of Christ as HE died on the cross for us and for our salvation? God does not do that with us, nor does He want us to do that with others. We cannot pound our ideas or faith into another’s head or heart, they must be open to receive them. We can gently speak them, but not force them upon another.
A screwdriver helps to loosen or tighten screws so that something does not fall apart. What are our spiritual screws? What does God give us so that we do not fall apart, where we do not have a screw lose or a too tight? I believe that our screw drivers are the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation, and Anointing of the Sick. These Sacraments help us when we fall into sin and are unable to get a grip on our choices so that we can stop. They also help us to be reconciled to God when we choose to acknowledge our sinfulness before Him and want to change and start over. The screwdriver is a tool that God can use that allows us to be tightened in our resolve to be our best self, and to be loosened when we fall into guilt, shame, low self-worth, discouragement, despair, or self-pity. When we fall into so much negativity, it is because we have allowed our thoughts, our judgment of our self, and our understanding and love of God, to go all over. In that distraction or deception, we are not able to ground our self. We flounder and go whatever direction the wind leads and not the direction that God lead us.
God’s does not use a tape measure to measure the amount of our mistakes, or our sins or the times that we have failed to be our best self or treat others as we want to be treated. God’s tape measure would be used to show us the endless amount of mercy and compassion that He has for us, the unconditional love that He not only has for us but has shown us through the death of Jesus on the cross. He would use it to show and remind us of the love that we have demonstrated for Him by the love that we have shown for others, especially those who have hurt or injured us. God’s tape measure does not have numbers on it, but it is marked in the increments and the acts of love, peace, joy, happiness, mercy, compassion, understanding, reconciliation, and truth, that you have performed with humility and trust in Him. There is no end……
THURSDAY – “E” carryon bag
The carryon bag, that which we bring with us when we travel and need to have when we get to our destination. In that bag there could be items like our daily medications, cell phone, computer, important documents, clothing, work items, or a music player. These items we place on the carryon bag because we know that there is a possibility that the luggage can get lost.
As aggravating and as much of a hassle that could be, we feel that the items that we place in our carryon are those things that we cannot afford to lose or be separated from. A sense of security, personal worth, and our emotional and physical energy level would all be diminished if we had to go through the stress and frustration of having our carryon bag lost or stolen. So, what is the spirituality of the carryon bag? Let me ask that in another way…if you were boarding a plane knowing that this could be your last flight, what would God want you to have with you as you prepared for your earthly journey to end, and your heavenly journey was just about to begin? What items would He think you would need to carry on in preparation of seeing Him face to face?
I think that God would put a cell phone on your bag so that you could call your loved ones and with the peace and courage that possess you and let them know that you are not afraid but ready to meet Him face to face. The Word of God in the form of a letter that and one has given you reminding you of their love, the Word of God that you carry in the form of spiritual reading, the voice of God that you listen to in your choice of reflective and meditative music, the comfy clothing that you wear as you sit in His company in prayer at home, photos of your loved ones that have touched your life and whose life you have been an integral part of, and rosaries to unite yourself with our Blessed Mother as she walks with you on your journey to meet her Son.
I do not think that hotel reservations or itineraries are necessary since God has your reservation to Hotel Heaven, and your itinerary is in His hands.
FRIDAY – “S” lunch bag
Take a break. It is time for lunch. What is in your lunch bag? Lunch is the meal that one partakes of in the middle of the day while at work, school, home, or away. It is an essential meal if one is to keep up their strength throughout the day until they get home for the dinner meal. As one takes a lunch bag, this is usually not a big bag, but one that can be used to place essential items like a sandwich, a drink, a snack, a piece of fruit and maybe a piece of candy. What could God want to do with a lunch bag, what could the spirituality of a lunch bag look like? Lunch is an essential meal that one partakes of to maintain energy and strength until the next meal. If that is the case then, what we place in our lunch bag should be nutritious and good for our health. Our spiritual lunch bag is that bag that we fill when we need to be strengthened during the day so that we can keep going. Strengthened as we face the daily stresses of raising a family, working, ill health of parent or self, loved ones or spouse, financial worries, broken relationships, or other forces that rob us of our energy and our spiritual focus. What does God want to give us so that we can maintain our spiritual focus and live a healthy life? We have Jesus as our bread of Life so when we need to be energized, strengthened, and renewed, the Holy Eucharist is our bread of life and His precious blood is our spiritual drink. Our snack is that which we can partake of as a treat to remind us that we are not lost in the stresses of life, just possibly sidetracked and our snack will again renew us to that we can go forward or make a
u-turn back to God. What is our snack? Personal prayer, random acts of love and kindness as shown by our words and deeds, a smile to another who is struggling to carry their cross, a word of mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation, or a request for mercy, and to be reconciled. These snacks are not easy to digest, they may be sour or hard to swallow, but once they permeate our being, they are sweet to our souls.
SATURDAY _ “S” trash bag
It has been along week and we have focused on various bags a lot. The trash bag, a bag that we use to dispose of those things that we think or believe are trash and we do not need or want to recycle. In our spiritual journey and after our weekly reflections, there are probably some thoughts, ideas, personal views, or understandings, that we might need to discard of if we are sincere about spiritual and personal transformation, and our desire to grow nearer to our Lord and God. Are any of those items, ideas, thoughts, personal views or judgements rising from what we place or placed in our handbag, shopping bag, cosmetic bag, tool bag, carryon bag, or lunch bag? Can you ask God to go through your various bags and remove those items that He knows that you do not need and are not best for you, and place them in the trash bag? As you do, do so with respect, care, and reverence because although you might not need them now, they have been an essential part of you spiritual and personal growth and maturity, and although not necessary anymore, they were important to you at some point. God will discard them in the best what that He can.
Glimpse of God for the week of April 18, 2021
For many of us coming to Disney World in Orlando has been and continues to be an opportunity to grow down, be a big kid and enjoy oneself. As you know from many of my previous glimpses, John and I like to visit Orlando on a regular basis.
We have just returned from Orlando and this experience was quite different than any other. As like previous visits, we stayed at the Shades of Green, the military hotel right in the center of Orlando. At the Shades of Green hotel, there is not a need that goes unmet, and it is a place that we are treated as royalty. (I believe that since those who stay there have all sacrificed: service people, spouses, and families they deserve to be treated as royalty.) We began our day by attending daily Mass at Corpus Christ Church in Celebration Florida, and then we would go about our day with whatever activity we had planned. In our past visits and stays in Orlando, as we would go about the day either driving, walking in the parks, or just walking around the hotel, there were always lots of folks walking around and Disney buses to take one from one park to the other. When we would visit the parks, the crowds were unbelievable and many. The monorail would be filled with tourists wanting to go from one park to the other. The lines to the ticket windows, the transportation center, the safety stops, and various rides or attractions were always exceptionally long. On the highway there would always be as many as twenty buses passing us as we would travel to our destination.
The pandemic has changed Orlando and the people who visit it. Many things have been eliminated or temporarily put on hold. You need reservations to get into the parks, even with tickets, you cannot just show up at the park without a reservation. Only two of the monorails were being used, the buses were running on a minimal and revised schedule, the hotels were not at full capacity, and some had closed, in our hotel, cleaning the rooms was only done by request, we had to clean the rest room and sitting area. Amid all the changes, we
were able to make reservations for Epcot. And as Disney does all things thoroughly, from the time we entered the park to the time we left, we felt as if was the safest place to be. The crowds were amazing yet cooperative as temps were taken, masks were being worn and folks did their best to stay socially distant from each other.
SO… how is this a Glimpse of God? Where is God amid Orlando’s pandemic experience? As I recognized how Disney went from having more to having less, it parallels how when we are called to spiritual transformation, we are being called to go from having more to having less.
From a humanity sense of wealth to a spiritual poverty. I believe that spiritual and personal transformation occurs when we accept God’s invitation to let go and surrender to Him those things: objects, past hurts, needless baggage, unnecessary cares and worries, and the guilt that emerges from our sinfulness, trusting in Him to fill our hearts and hands with what He knows we need for our spiritual health and wellbeing, so that healing and wholeness can occur. Spiritual and personal Transformation is an invitation to rid ourselves of what is binding us and inhibiting us from being free: free to love Him more dearly, follow Him more nearly, see Him more clearly and serve Him more sincerely.
Orlando is where dreams come true. It is another way to see how it is the place where God’s dream for us can come true. Our dream and God ‘s dream for us is to be united where our will be His will and that we surrender those things that keep our wills apart. As we let go or leave behind the unnecessary, we can take on the necessary because we are able to recognize what we need to be our best self, the person that God created us to be and have the potential to become. When we take on all the unnecessary stuff, we lose sight of what is really required that which God wants us to have so that we can unite our will to His. Growing down is an invitation to become more childlike and not childish.
A big Glimpse of God was seen in all the measures that were taken from the moment that we stepped in the hotel hallway, the time spent in the park, our returning on the bus, and the folks that we passed as walked around Orlando. God was coming through by and in the selfless and humble examples set by parents, staff, and visitors.
A more clear and radiant Glimpse of God came in and through the priests and parishioners at Corpus Christi parish in Celebration Florida where we attended daily Mass. Corpus Christi, which means Body of Christ, parish in Celebration is no coincidence. As followers of Christ during this easter season, we should want to celebrate being the Body of Christ as did the early Christians even amid persecution. At Mass we receive what we are: The Body of Christ and we are called to be the Body of Christ in all that we say and do, in our thoughts and attitudes, by our actions and in our prayers. We are called to serve as Christ did, from those close to us in our family, community, church, the elderly, sick, and addicted to the those farther off: the poor, the homeless, the forgotten. Corpus Christ parish is a parish where they take this call, this mission to build up the Kingdom of God here on earth, very seriously.
In this parish, we had the joy of attending Mass celebrated by Father Tom Waldon. From the moment that Father entered the Church to the time he left after Mass was over, he exuded a what seemed to be a deep and genuine joy for his vocation, his call to servanthood and celebrating Mass. When he celebrated Mass, he prayed the Mass and did not just go through the words. His smile was not a fake smile, but one that indicated a deep and genuine joy from within of being a priest, a servant of God. I believe that it also came from his personal faith life and relationship with God that confirms his identity as God’s beloved son, loved unconditionally, His greatest creation, and confirmation that he is striving be his best self, the person that God created him to be and has the potential to become.
When we serve Christ yet as members of the Body of Christ, we serve each other. What does that look like? Do we put on an apron, grab a pen and paper, and take orders? Do we want the order to be simple and quick so that we can go about our business? For some the answer may be yes, but for others, those who are experiencing transformation, the answer might be “not today”. It may have been “Yes” yesterday when life challenges and my cross was heavy, but today, I want to be a true servant and meet God through others as He invites me to. I want to delve deeper into my relationship with God and learn where I need to let go so that I can be filled with His graces to carry out my call to serve and be the Body of Christ. As we allow God to work within us, our call to servanthood will be a call to humility and not recognition. We might not put on an apron, unless we are serving meals to the poor and homeless, we might not need a pad and pen, unless we are writing down the prayers and needs of those we encounter, it might not be drive thru but walk in as we pray and are present to those who are mourning, suffering or addicted and need to be listened to, it may not carry out with a quick answer so that we can move on to the next person, but rather a dine in as one chooses to come in and make the decision to follow yet a decision that is made with uncertainty and they are looking for affirmation, encouragement and support.
We are all called to be servant to be the Body of Christ. from the young child who assists around the house and helps their parents, to the sibling that helps the younger children with their homework as they struggle to understand it, to the young adult who realizes that one is being bullied by peers, to the grandparent who shares their story with their grandchildren to that they gain a bigger sense of their family’s identity.
We are all called and can be servants as we all strive to be build up God’s kingdom here on earth. For me, as a member of the Body of Christ, servant does not mean slave but a devoted and helpful follower.
So as we all begin a new week, let us seek to recognize how we have been called to serve and in our service how we have been transformed to a greater image and reflection of God’s presence here on earth.
SUNDAY - “S” SELFLESS Vs SELFISH
When you serve others, do you give of yourself without cost or do you serve to get something in return. Being selfless means allowing God to work through you to those He places on your path trusting in Him with the encounter. It means being true to yourself and to God and being open and willing to give what God asks knowing and trusting that He will give you the graces that you need to give what is necessary. Being selfish means wanting more for yourself and giving less to God and those you encounter.
A prayer for today: Lord, please help me to be more selfless and less selfish.
MONDAY - “E” EMBRACE Vs ESTRANGE
Being a servant before God, being the Body of Christ can often mean encountering someone that has caused us harm by their words, deeds, or actions. When we are given these moments, we can choose to embrace them with the grace of God and be merciful and compassionate, or we can choose to be bitter and hold a grudge. Remembering that how we choose to treat others is how we will be treated. Do you choose to embrace the lost and forgive them or do you choose to turn away from them, tear them down and estrange them from others?
A prayer for today: Lord, help me to embrace those who have hurt me so that there are less wounded people in the world where I may not be one.
TUESDAY - “R” REVERENCE Vs RESENTMENT
As a servant and as follower of Christ, we are called to treat all people with respect and dignity, because we all God’s beloved children, created in His image and likeness. So as servant you will encounter those who seem to have it all and where you want some of what they have. Can you, do you, reverence who you are as God’s beloved son or daughter, loved unconditionally, His greatest creation, knowing that it does not depend on your physical looks, the amount of wealth that you have acquired or your education level? That your success and social status mean nothing before God who sees all of His children with the eyes of compassion, mercy and love and not through the eyes of humanity that sees the amount of one’s possessions, education level and wealth as a gauge of success?
A prayer for today: Lord, help me to better recognize and reverence you in myself and not resent others.
WEDNESDAY - “V” VICTORY Vs VICTIM
We are all victorious as a resurrection people, as easter people, as believers and followers of Christ. We have emerged from our Good Friday tomb to the light and radiance of the risen Christ. As a servant do we want to emerge from our tomb as victors over bitterness, anger, envy, sin, jealousy, or do we want to stay in our tomb so that we can remain bitter, hold a grudge, be unforgiving and not seek God’s light guiding us to a newness of life? Will we stay as victim to whatever binds us, or do we want to emerge and be free so that we can walk humbly before God, renewed, reconciled, and rejuvenated? As followers of Christ and as His servants, there are times when we have been a victim and felt defeated, yet there are also times when we have chosen to conquer and not be defeated.
A prayer for today: Lord, help me to recognize and celebrate my victories, our victories.
THURSDAY - “A” AFFIRM Vs AFFRONT
As a servant we encounter many people that we affirm while there are others that we turn away from and find fault with. As servants we are called to love others. It is easy to affirm those we like, those that like us, and those we know well. How easy is it to affirm someone that thinks differently than we do, or is mor educated than we are or whose social status is higher than ours, after all what affirmation do they need? What can we say or do to affirm them? When it all said and done, we can have all the possessions that money can buy and be the most popular person but if we do not believe that our true identity lies in being God’s beloved child, loved unconditionally and His greatest creation, all the other fluff means nothing. We can lose, forfeit, and be robbed of the fluff, but we can never lose, forfeit or be robbed of God’s love for us.
A prayer for today: Lord, help me to affirm others today and not affront them.
FRIDAY - “N” NECESSARY Vs NEEDLESS
As a servant and follower of Christ, there are times when we take on the unnecessary out of fear and insecurity. There are times when we do not trust God’s Holy Spirit to guide us and lead us, so we fill our encounters with words and more words that are unnecessary and empty. Saint Francis said to proclaim the gospel and if necessary, use words. They will know we are Christians by our love…we all know or remember hearing that song, but do we take it to heart? Being a servant, undergoing spiritual transformation, involves ridding ourselves of the needless so that we can embrace the necessary. Only each person can determine what is necessary as to what is needless.
A prayer for today: Lord, help me to shed the needless so that I can better recognize what you know to be necessary for my personal and spiritual health and wellbeing.
SATURDAY - “T” TRUSTING Vs TIMIDITY
It has been a long week where personal and spiritual transformation has been occurring. Can you approach Sunday worship, receiving Jesus in Word and Sacrament, trusting in His love and mercy, knowing that you have done your best and that you are sorry for the times that you have fallen short of your best? God invites you to come before Him so that He can grace you with His presence so that you can go forth and continue to be His follower and humble servant.
A prayer for today: Lord, give me the courage to say Yes to your will and do not let me remain in any way timid or afraid.
Glimpse of God for the week of April 11, 2021
What did Mary Magdalene, The Apostles, Thomas, and The Disciples on the road to Emmaus, have in common after Jesus rose from the dead? What they had in common was that they were prevented from recognizing Jesus after He rose from the dead. They thought that He was the gardener, a stranger in town, or just another man. What was preventing them? What did Jesus know about each of their hearts that needed to be healed by His presence after He died on the cross and they felt abandoned, left alone to figure out things, led to a darkness that they never felt or expected?
All were prevented, unable to see or recognize the risen Christ. The very Jesus that they broke bread with, ministered together with, experienced His miracles, shared their stories about their brokenness, their joys, their hopes, their sorrows, and their hopes about the Messiah and how He would change things for the better. Christ raised people from the dead, healed the blind, the deaf, the crippled, he ate with sinners and ministered to the outcasts, and these very apostles, disciples, and women followers were with Him to see it firsthand. They had come to know Jesus and the kind of person He was. They learned of the kind of person that they would need to become if they were going to be His followers, and follow His example from His life to and through His death and to His resurrection.
Yet they were unable to recognize Him after He rose from the dead, Why? Seeing Him after He rose from the dead, frightened them instead of being jubilant and happy to see Him, they were unable to recognize Him for who He was, and they stood in disbelief. What was preventing them from seeing Him as Jesus and not the gardener or a stranger? Was it their grief at His horrible death, was it their anger at how they followed and believed in Him, and now they had no one to follow and they felt abandoned and left on their own? Was it fear? Was it overwhelming disbelief at all that happened, and they still could not make any sense of it all?
What causes us to not see the resurrected Jesus in our life and in the face and life of others especially during this last year of the pandemic? How have we been preventing from seeing Jesus during the isolation, frustration, anxiety, and uncertainty that the pandemic has caused within us? As we have walked, tried to run, crawled, and stumbled through these last 13 months, are we able to recognize where Jesus was and is, and how we are blessed by His presence in the unique and new ways that He has revealed Himself? The disciples were prevented from recognizing Jesus for various reasons. We are prevented from recognizing Jesus for many reasons as well. Sometimes when we are afraid, caught off guard, surprised in a painful way, we are not able to open the eyes of our heart and mind to seeing Christ as He is in these moments. What else prevents us from recognizing Jesus? it the pain or separation that comes from the physical death of a loved one? is it our woundedness where we need to be healed, and made whole? is it the death of a relationship through separation, divorce, disagreement? is it the death of an ideal? of a dream? is it anger, loneliness, or fear? We are prevented from seeing the risen Jesus in the faces and lives of others when we cannot see past the pain of our cross, our own personal suffering, whether it is spiritual, emotiona,l or physical.
Mary, Thomas, and the Apostles were in the very presence of Jesus and witnessed to his many miracles but lost clarity of His presence because fear got in the way. We like them, have the very real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist when we become afraid and need to feel His calm and warmth, reassurance, and peace. When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, it is then that the eyes of our heart and mind are opened and we recognize Him as He is, our Savior and Redeemer. We then are invited to see our self as He sees us; His beloved sons and daughters, loved unconditionally and His greatest creation.
I believe that our anger, our sorrow, our weariness at what we are coping with can prevent us from seeing the Risen Christ and experiencing the resurrections in our life that Jesus has in store. You cannot have a Good Friday without a Resurrection Sunday. They go together. Jesus' first words to His followers who stood in disbelief were "Peace be with you!" He didn't reprimand them for not recognizing Him because he knew their hearts and how much they loved Him, but yet how they were filled with so many other emotions. The resurrection experiences in our life come in the forms of peace, joy, happiness, reconciliation, healing, compassion, mercy, understanding and a renewed desire to be the best person that God created us to be despite our crosses and the challenges that they bring.
It is difficult to experience resurrection if we cannot let go and let God bring us these gifts because of our disbelief that He wants to give them to us and our fears that we will be called to change and be transformed forever.
When Jesus saw Mary Magdalene, she at first was unable to recognize Him as Her Lord and Teacher. He saw through her fear and instead of causing more pain for her, He touched her heart because He knew the depth of her love for Him. He brought that forward, past her fear, her pain, her deep sense of loss and much confusion, and it was then that she recognized Him. He offered her Peace. That is what He offers all of His children. He knows that depth of our love for Him even in the midst and the weight of our crosses. When we say Yes to His will, and desire to do and be the very best we can and surrender our will to Him each day, then we are experiencing a resurrection.
So this week, let us take time to see the resurrected Jesus in our lives and in the faces and lives of others. "Rabboni" which means teacher. Your prayer for the week can be: Teach me your ways O Lord and make known to me the path that I must travel to walk closer to you.
SUNDAY - "T" – Thanksgiving
Are you thankful for the gift of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection that gives you your personal resurrections? Through Jesus' passion, death and resurrection you have someone that knows your pain, your suffering and your confusion and can help you as you carry your cross. He blesses you with His peace, joy, and happiness here on earth, so that you can move forward and recognize your resurrections and rejoice in them.
MONDAY - "E" – Empathy
Are you empathetic, understanding, compassionate towards others who fail to recognize the risen Jesus in their life because of the weight of their crosses and the pain that they are feeling? or do you put them down, judge them, lose patience with them, see yourself as better than them? Empathy requires an open heart, one that is in relationship with God and wants to share His good news of mercy, healing, peace, love with others, and how they are His beloved children, loved unconditionally, and His greatest creation. You cannot be empathetic if you want to hold others back and think yourself as better than them. Recognizing the risen Christ and the resurrection experiences in your life means that you have the heart of Christ and the desire to expand it so that Jesus can fill it with His presence in the way that He chooses to reveal it.
TUESDAY - "A" - Amazement
Are you, can you allow our self to be amazed? Can you see, do you see the many signs of resurrection in your life? Do you recognize your resurrections, the place where you experience the Risen Christ in your life? Do you see them in and through the healing that has taken place through reconciliations? Can you recognize the Risen Christ, your resurrections in your joys, your family, your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your church, and your place of employment? All of these can provide signs of resurrection and the peace that Jesus wants for you. Can you see them? Ask for the ability to recognize the Risen Jesus as you encounter others, see circumstances differently, recognize that personal grudges as an unnecessary weight that is holding you back from peace and seek the grace to let go.
WEDNESDAY - "C" - Charity
Are you charitable in your words, deeds, actions, and attitudes? Do you offer peace, reconciliation, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness to others, especially those who have caused you pain and have made your cross heavy? Jesus offered peace to His disciples even after they denied Him, abandoned Him, and hid in fear. He forgave them because He knew their hearts. He knows your heart and how it wants to be the best in love. He offers you His mercy and peace so that you can be more charitable. He does not want you to hold onto grudges because it is then that you miss out on the hope of reconciliation, renewal, and reconnection.
THURSDAY - "H" - Honor
Do you honor yourself, others and God by how you treat yourself, others and in your relationship with God? Can you honor others, who are also God's beloved children, who have offended you in some way? Do you recognize that God honors you? Or are you your greatest offender? Do you want to ask God for His grace and love to penetrate your brokenness so that you can recognize not only how He honors you, but loves you beyond any sin or weakness that you have committed? God's love is greater than any sin that you can commit, and He wants that to be your resurrection. He wants you to embrace your new life with Him as risen.
FRIDAY - "E" - Embrace
Do you go towards Jesus as He holds out His arms to embrace you or do you run from His embrace? What brings you towards Christ so that you can be embraced by Him? Is it your desire to say thank you and talk to Him about what you are experiencing in your life? Is it because you want to be healed and you realize that only he can heal your woundedness in whatever form it is taking? You can't fix what is broken or shattered, only Jesus can. You can become the wounded healer though and that is a great gift, a big resurrection, the recognition of the risen Christ in your life.
SATURDAY - "R" - Revelation
What or how has God revealed Himself to you this week that has made you respond with joy and happiness, that brought you a deep sense of peace and gratitude, thanksgiving, and serenity? Was it a reconciliation of a relationship? forgiveness of self for something that you have held on to but now are able to let go of and forgive yourself for? Was it a blessing that you have been praying for and have received and found it to be better than you could have imagined? What resurrections have you experienced this week? Do you see the Risen Christ because of your resurrections more readily in those around you? How has He revealed Himself to you? How have you revealed Him to others this week? How do you want to reveal Him to others?
Glimpse of God for the week of April 4, 2021
The Spirituality of the Easter Basket
Happy Easter Sunday!!! Christ has risen from the tomb and He invites us to rise from our tombs as well. The Easter season has begun, and we have 50 days until the Feast of Pentecost Sunday to relish in the joy, peace, and amazement of the great promise of Christ’s resurrection, and if we are still enough, in our mini resurrections as well. Pentecost Sunday: the birth of the Church as the risen Jesus filled Mary and the Disciples with His Holy Spirit. This Easter season we will continue to celebrate our new birth especially as more people receive the Covid 19 vaccine, more restrictions due to the Virus are lifted, and we can again communicate with personal visits with the great joy of seeing each other face to face.
As we continue to move through each day of our spiritual and physical journey amid some restrictions, anxiety, and isolation, we must remember that we are an Easter resurrection people, people who believe that new life is always promised after we carry our cross and enter the tomb of every Good Friday that we endure.
I realize that many people may not have had the experience of receiving an Easter basket, or even making one up for those they love, so I hope that this Glimpse of God brings you a sense of new joy in what I describe as the Spirituality of the Easter basket. I hope that you can better recognize how God has called you to know Him and yourself better as you relate to Him and others through the Easter basket. This is my inspiration and I hope that it helps you to look at the Easter basket with new eyes.
As you look into the makeshift Easter basket, and the daily reflections, think of what you have in it, what you would like to see more of, what you dislike that was placed in it, what you intend to consume first, and lastly what comes to mind as you look at the basket half empty. Do you see God’s actions and presence in the Easter basket?
He is your basket, He is always embracing you, filling you with His grace as He knows you need it most, and is always loving you and protecting you. It is never empty because His love is never void or missing. You might feel empty at times, but that is only so He can fill you with the necessary graces during those times, yet even in those times, He is speaking to your heart and calling you to listen to your heart very closely. Those candies in your Easter basket that you consumed first and enjoyed, were His gifts to remind you that you are His beloved child, that He sees the sweetness of your heart where love dwells: love for Him, others, and self, and He genuinely enjoys you and your invitation to Him to be a part of your life. He laughs with you, He cries with you, He is silently present to you as He whispers to your heart, and He is loud as He calls you by name wherever you are. He is there to console you, lift you up, forgive you, and shower His blessing upon you. Always!!
What does your Easter basket and what fills it say about your spirituality and relationship with God? Does what you place in your Easter basket mean anything deeper than just what the items look like? The basket with a handle or not, the grass, the jellybeans, the dyed Easter eggs, the candy filled Easter eggs, chocolate Easter bunny, and of course the traditional little chick “peeps”. Did you ever wonder what the various colors that were used to dye Easter eggs meant? What is or was your favorite color when you dyed your Easter eggs? And why? Did you create designs on them or leave them as they were? Does your Easter basket have a handle or did it at one point? Do you carry it carefully?
I will attempt to describe the Spirituality of the Easter basket as I have been inspired to. This is my own idea, and my prayer is that you recognize God’s presence and your response to that presence in your Easter basket.
SUNDAY – THE EASTER BASKET WITH A HANDLE AND SEEMINGLY WITHOUT A HANDLE
The basket represents how God carries us through the good times and the challenging times, He will never let us go. He has a grip on our life and all that it includes, and He sees the beauty in us that enables us to shine with hope like the grass and be the rainbow of color as in the Easter eggs. Amid our sufferings and the crosses that we call carry, the Easter basket comes, not to be source of denial of our crosses and pain, but a reminder of the strength that we possess as we carry our crosses, and the strength of our character that reinforces our faith in that God is carrying us.
As followers of Christ, even as we strive to be our best, sometimes our weak side emerges. When that occurs, we try to handle our crosses, our troubles, our pain with our own ideas, our own solutions, our own self, and we think that we are in control. When this happens, our Easter basket handle seems to be missing, it may have been loosened or even fell off. When we think that we are the only ones that can carry us through our challenging times, and we do not ask for God to step in and help, we are in a way taking the handle off our Easter basket. We are not allowing God to carry us because we are trying to carry our self. We are not allowing the loving embrace of God to warm us, assist us or comfort us. God understands this because He knows our hearts better than we do. He knows that we love Him so much and that we can sometimes get overwhelmed in worry and anxiety that we are too ashamed to turn to Him. We instead turn into our self and away from Him.
As your basket is filled with God’s love in so many and varied ways, it can get heavy if you try to carry it alone. When we emerge from our tombs, we see Him and our self in a new light, the light of love and hope, healing, and peace. If you carry it alone, you might miss the sweetness of God grace. You try to carry it but at but at some point, you realize that you need God, and you ask Him to help you. It is at that very moment you are given the grace to see the handle and you realize that it had not fallen off or even got loose, but that it was just tucked under the basket. You just could not see it because life had blinded you for a moment.
So… as you look at your Easter basket remember that Jesus accepted help. If you come to a time where you want to walk away from your basket, know that God is going to take the basket. He takes the basket; He takes and embraces you in all your beauty and picks you back up and brings you through to the next step. The step that brings you closer to the entrance of your tomb so that His light may shine brighter on you, and that you may see that you are not alone. He loves you and is always there to embrace and carry you.
MONDAY - THE GRASS THAT IS THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR BASKET
The grass is a source of protection so that the strong person that you are, when faced with trials that make you feel fragile, or joys that make you put your guard down, you are protected and will be safe in God’s arms. The grass represents our salvation in Christ. Without the grass to protect the basket, or Christ to protect us from the evil one, we would be helpless and hopeless. Without Christ or the grass of our Easter basket, we lose sight of our unique giftedness and gifts, they go unprotected and we can feel broken or lost. The grass protects the fragile contents of our basket and Christ protects us who can be at times very fragile.
What does your foundation of your Easter basket look like? Is there a lot of grass and does it cover the treats? Do you eagerly wait to see what is underneath the grass?
In faith, what does your foundation consist of? Is your prayer life a significant part of your foundation? Is your relationship with God important to you that you nourish it on a regular basis? Are the present life experiences that you are living through strengthening your foundation or weakening it? Can you wait with eager expectation to see what God has hidden and waiting for you? God is God of surprises, are you ready to see what they are for you?
TUESDAY - THE EASTER EGG
The Egg represents the tomb and once opened, represents the resurrection. As we color the eggs different colors, I believe that the colors that we choose represent our unique personality that has developed as we have endured crosses, tombs, and resurrections of our life experiences. The eggs are a reminder of our baptism and how we were immersed into Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. We are all called by name at our baptism, and it is through our unique calling that we develop a favorite color of egg, or we lean towards a color or colors that make our personality shine.
WEDNESDAY – THE TRADITIONAL CHICK “PEEPS”
Those chewy, sweet Easter chick peeps. Today they come in many forms and types of animals, shapes, and characters, but they are still chewy, sweet peeps. The chick represents the resurrection. Since chicks come from eggs, they represent the resurrection as they break forth from the shell or the tomb and walk freely away from darkness into the light. How many chicks are in your Easter basket? How many resurrection experiences do you recall as you look at the peeps in your basket? Are your resurrection experiences a sweet memory for you that you can take a whole peep and enjoy it? Or are they bittersweet that you can only take a bite at a time of your peep? When you recall your resurrection experiences, do you recall hearing Jesus call you forth from your tomb to His light so that you can experience the sweetness of His love and healing?
THURSDAY – THE CANDY FILLED EASTER EGGS
As we come forth from our tombs, we come forth our better self, our sweet side emerges. The sweetness of compassion, mercy, love, peace, joy, understanding, empathy emerges where previously perhaps, bitterness, anger, helplessness, discouragement, and revenge dwelt. Our sweet side makes us better people, and not bitter people. The candy in the Easter eggs is a gift from God to remind us that we must endure our Good Friday so that we can experience our Easter Sunday. He reminds us that we will come out better, that His love for us as His beloved children doesn’t change, but rather grows, and He shows us this by placing the varied colored, and candy filled eggs so that we can be not only be reminded of His great love but also of the sweetness of our inner and outer beauty.
FRIDAY – THE VARIED COLORED JELLYBEANS
The jellybeans are usually one’s favorite candy in the Easter basket. They are not only sweet, but they are also small, and many can be consumed quickly. They are easy to pick up and pocket so that they can be enjoyed at various times.
But they do have a spiritual meaning, they represent a relationship with Christ and can be used as a source and instrument of prayer. So, the next time you are about to consume a jellybean, think of its spiritual meaning and take a moment to reflect on how Christ brings you closer to Himself when you least expect to.
THE BLACK JELLYBEAN – represents sin and how we are drawn to sin when we seek to do our will and not God’s.
THE RED JELLYBEAN – represents Jesus’ blood and how selflessly He shed it for our sins so that we can be reconciled to Him and inherit eternal life.
THE WHITE JELLYBEAN – represents being cleansed at our baptism and every time we approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation and attend Mass.
THE YELLOW JELLYBEAN – represents heaven and how where we hope to meet God face to face when our earthy journey has ended.
THE GREEN JELLYBEAN – represents growth and how we grow in our relationship with God and each other in the light of God’s unconditional love for us as His beloved children. The growth is when we strive to be our better self, the person that God created us to be and have the potential to become.
THE PURPLE JELLYBEAN – represents the royalty of Christ. Christ is our King and as our King, He invites us to build His kingdom here on earth, one prayer, one act of kindness, one act of mercy, one step at a time.
THE PINK JELLYBEAN – represents gratitude or Thank you. That which we should be praying to God daily since we have been blessed with so much. If we count our blessings and not just our challenges, we will see how our blessings have gotten us through our challenges, how our blessings of faith, family, friends have helped us carry our crosses and face our challenges without giving up or giving in.
THE ORANGE JELLYBEAN – represents the Lord, Orange(aren’t) you glad that you know Him in a deep and personal way?
SATURDAY – THE EMPTY EASTER EGG
As you look at your Easter basket you see many delectable items are still there, and many gone, but they were good, I hope. The candy, the beans, the eggs that are left either because you didn’t want to lose sight of what they remind you of: the good times, the happy times, the times that God touched you with His healing and new life (candy filled eggs) or because you didn’t or haven’t been able to let go of what they remind you of: past hurts, pain that was inflicted upon you, or your own weaknesses and sins. (empty egg)
Remember that even amid your pain and hurts, the heavy weight of your cross, the egg, although empty, is God’s gently way of telling you that there is so much room that He wants to fill you with His healing and that He want to make you whole. In your emptiness, He wants to fill you completely with His graces of reconciliation, healing, compassion, mercy, love, peace, and joy as and when you need them most.
Emptiness is a gift, an anticipation of God greater gifts. Can you open yourself, trusting in God and surrendering to Him your cares, concerns, worries, and stresses so that He can fill you with His love and graces? Can you keep the empty egg in sight to remind yourself that even when you feel empty inside you are becoming a vessel for God to fill you and heal you in ways that you could never imagine or believe?
GLIMPSE OF GOD FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 28, 2021
A continuation of the Lenten reflections:
Look out the window and see and appreciate His presence in all of His creation; the sun, the moon, the stars, the grass, the creatures that crawl about and those that hover over, the people that we know and the stranger that we pass by, the beauty of the day, the beauty in the hearts of those that care about us, and the beauty of a God who cares even more for you.
As we begin this new and holy week, as you look in the mirror, take the opportunity and the grace to see within yourself the love of Christ as King: King of your heart, mind, soul, and spirit, and look out the window to see that same presence in others. When you are not able to recognize His presence as King because you are focused on your weaknesses and sins, shortcomings, and failures, and those of others, look into the mirror only to remind yourself that you are loved by God just as you are because His love is much greater than all of these. Seek His grace so that you can recognize, in a greater way, the presence of His great mercy, compassion, and unconditional love that HE has for you, that He has showered upon you and that you have shared with others. His death is a reminder that He sees all that you see, but He looks into the depth of your heart to see that which you have not begun to.
If during this holy week, as lent gradually comes to an end, and you journey into the days of the Sacred Triduum, you find yourself asking, “How have I grown in my relationship to Christ, or how have I been a reflection of His presence in my life to others”? As you look back and recall how you found yourself helping others and giving of your time, talent, and compassion, and mercy, know that your desire is in response to God’s grace, so trust in God and believe that you are closer to Him than you think.
We measure our progress and that of others with human expectations and limitations, but God looks into the very heart that He created and sees its width, its depth, its woundedness, its potential and fills it with His compassion, His mercy, His peace and His grace so that we can be the best loving person that we can be. You are what He wants you to be, for you can be nothing less. What you are is God’s gift given in love and out of love, what you become is your gift to God.
This week that we call Holy is an invitation by God the Father to draw nearer to Himself and His Son Jesus. It is through Jesus’ suffering of His passion and death that we are made stronger to suffer our passions and deaths so that we can emerge from our tomb with a renewed hope, sense of self, healed and whole. This week we can all become a little bit more holy, a little bit more open, a little bit more Christ like if we choose to humble ourselves and recognize that not only did Christ endure all that HE did for you and me in and out of love, but that He would do it again. Yet HE does it again, repeatedly, every time we participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments of the Church. Through these great gifts and in His great love He continually comes to us to feed us, heal us, strengthen us, make us whole and remind us that we are His beloved children and that HE died for us. He died not because we are saints, but that we are sinners striving to become saints. That we are sinners who are striving to be the best person that we can be, the person that He created us to be and have the potential to become. As He reassures, affirms, confirms, and validates that gift of unconditional and eternal love in and though these special gifts, these special invitations, these special graces, He beckons us to come to receive them so that we can emerge from our tombs with a renewed sense of self, hope and wholeness.
Glimpse of God for the week of March 21, 2021
A continuation of the Lenten reflections.
Be still so that you can feel the gentle breeze of God’s Spirit,
as He touches your heart and opens it to His healing love and deep abiding peace.
Don’t be busy just for the sake of being busy, or to run from anything.
Lent is a time to listen as God tells you what is most important to Him,
and that He wants you to know, believe and trust in.
That you know and believe with all your heart that you are His greatest creation,
His beloved son or daughter, that HE loves you just as you are,
that there is nothing that you can say or do, no sin, that will make Him love you less,
and that His love for you is free, unconditional, and everlasting.
As we enter a new week; a new week of our Lenten journey, the first week of spring, the week of vaccines given to many in need and still many in want, the vaccine that is bringing forth a renewed hope as we look to life and living in our new normal, new life as we look outside to flowers in bloom, trees with leaves, birds in the air, beautiful blue sky, more day light and sun shine, but most importantly the beauty and the love of the Son of God’s love shining over us and filling us with His hope, peace, joy, and courage as we choose to carry our cross and live each day trusting and surrendering to Him.
So, as I offer this week’s reflection, I place them in your hands and in your prayer. Take each day and choose to be still and listen to God and not be busy just for the sake of being busy. Listen intently as God tells you how loved and beloved you are to Him and what that means. His message is as individual and unique as you are, and although He loves us all unconditionally as His greatest creation, how He wants to show you His love, how He wants to confirm and affirm your response to His love, and how He wants to strengthen you in His love, is His message to you and to you alone. He wants to speak to your heart and mind like no other so be ready for the great message and surprise that He has in store for you.
SUNDAY – ‘‘B’’ Believe
Do you believe that you are God’s beloved son or daughter and that He loves you unconditionally, freely, without measure, and without cost? If so, do you are you able to share that message with others especially those who do not believe or know God’s love in their life?
If not, why not? What holds you back from wanting to proclaim this good news? Fear, uncertainty, lack of trust or knowledge, confrontation, laziness, weariness, if any of these are prohibiting you from letting others know that they are God’s beloved as much as you and I are, look to the cross and seek the graces from Christ who had all of your fears, weaknesses, lack ofs…., nailed to the cross because He knows your heart better than you do yourself.
Ask to go beyond and outside of yourself to proclaim His message of love in a time where so many need to hear it most.
If you do not believe in the love that God has for you, can you take this time during these remaining days in lent to be still so that you can listen with your heart to exactly what God is trying to tell you, and just maybe, you are now ready to receive and embrace the message because your heart and mind are more open to Him?
It takes one to be SILENT to LISTEN.
MONDAY – ‘‘E’’ Embrace
Embrace your cross and do not flee from it…easy to say but not so easy to do, right? As we face our crosses each day and attempt to carry them with all our strength and courage, they sometimes get the best of us, and we want to just leave them alone, avoid looking at them, deny that they are what they are, and even getting angry that they are exactly what they are: too heavy, too unbearable, and too hard to imagine carrying. YET Christ could have done the same thing and if He chose to deny, look away or abandon His cross, where would we be today? LOST, ALONE, WITHOUT HOPE, THE SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH AND THE PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE.
My first book, Shopping for a Lighter Cross, (available on Amazon or by me), looks at life and how through the good and challenging times, I was given, as we all are, the graces to overcome the negative events, situation, people, or circumstances, and choose not to be defeated by them, but to become conquerors and resolve not to allow anyone or anything to them defeat our mind, heart, or spirit again. We are all given crosses to carry, and this pandemic has given many a heavier cross than they had prior to, the cross of isolation, fear, anxiety, depression, discouragement, doubt, and despair, but in all these new emotions, God wants us to embrace them and not run from them. He knows our hearts and what exactly is filling them, and He needs us to be honest with Him so that He can touch and heal us, give us hope, and courage and strengthen us so that we can move forward and not stay stuck, or go backward.
What part of God’s message do you embrace and what are you far from embracing?
The cross that you run from is the cross for which you will eventually run towards.
TUESDAY – ‘’S’’ Stimulate
As you reflected on believing on Monday, God wants to go one step further with you.
Believe what you profess and profess what you believe. If you believe that God loves you as His beloved, and greatest creation and you allow that truth to permeate your very being from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, how would anyone know?
As you choose to listen more intently to God and His message of love for you, look to see if it arouses you, stirs in you an excitement, a renewed sense of self, a sense of new life, new beginning and if it does, are you motivated to share that new life with those you encounter?
They will know we are Christians by our love…..we all know that song, but do we live it?
Love is meant to be shared, not boxed, and if we are recipients of God’s great love, which we are, then we are called, commissioned an expected to share it. If you and I are stirred in the graces and love of Christ’s love for us as shown from the cross, then it should flow from us to others. How do we share it? Ask God. He will tell you how He wants you to share it in correlation to how blessed you are with it and who needs to experience it most from you. If could be a family member, a friend, someone living in fear and isolation due to the pandemic, a coworker who is financially struggling, a sick relative, an estranged family member, a stranger. God will reveal to you how you can be a great instrument of His peace, love, and hope to another. Look at it as a stimulus check……
WEDNESDAY – ‘’T’’ Trust
To trust, what does that mean to us and once we define it, how do we show that trust in God, others, or ourselves? If trust means to believe, confide in, hope in, and depend on, then in one way there are many that we say we trust. As children we are called to trust in our parents, siblings, family members and other adults. As we grow into adults, we learn to trust in spouses, coworkers, the Church, peers, friends, and community members.
Yet we all know, or unfortunately have experienced, a betrayal in trust from those we placed our trust in, and that has been and can be a very painful eye awakening life experience. YET there is a God whose trust has never been broken, whose promises have always been kept and whose love is always there to heal and bring about wholeness when humanity has betrayed our trust.
So, as you continue to walk on your Lenten journey, as hard as this may be for you to do, think about one person that has betrayed your trust, or whose trust you have betrayed, and seek God’s grace so that you can also seek mercy for them and from them.
Our Lenten journey can be a great journey of personal and spiritual transformation, conversion, and renewal if we allow it to be. With that, there is a great need for trust, surrender and courage to face those things that hinder us from truly experiencing God’s mercy so that we can be transformed and renewed. As we recognize that we are hindered, we also often recognize the source of that hindrance, be it a person, event, or circumstance.
So today, seek to be unhindered…seek to let go and be free. Seek to trust in God that now is the time to be merciful and seek mercy, trust and not be afraid, and choose to live life not hide from it. It takes courage to not be afraid and it takes trust to believe in your courage.
THURSDAY – ‘‘I’’ Inspire
To inspire: (my definition) to bring about the love, light and gift of God’s Holy Spirit as it is revealed to you to another by your presence, words, example, silence, attitude, mercy, compassion, peace, deep abiding sense of happiness and joy, and your wonderful gift of self.
This is a simple yet most difficult question for your reflection today. Who do you inspire and who inspires you? Who has been a source of inspiration to you throughout your life, in the good and challenging times, when you felt alone and without a sense of purpose, when you just needed to hear from another? Who looks to you for inspiration, and there are those that do, and what have you offered them that they continue to seek it from you?
God calls one to a spirit of humility to realize that they are inspired, and He inspires one to recognize true humility.
FRIDAY – ‘‘L’’ – Listen (A previous reflection that I think works well for today)
Both of these words use the exact same letters, but in different order.....
It takes the silent to hear and listen to the voice of God in the depths of your heart.
Is your heart able to be silent so as to listen to God's gentle voice, or is your heart filled with the noises around you that you can neither listen or be silent?
Perhaps today you can be silent so that you can listen to what God wants so much to tell you...
that He loves you and even amid the noises He still knows your heart and hears your prayers.
SATURDAY – ‘’L’’ – Learn
We call learn from many different sources: from our life experiences, our mistakes, our sins, each other, children can learn from their parents and guardians, and parents can learn from their children, spouses and siblings can learn from each other, students can learn from their teachers and teachers can learn from their students, we can all learn from each other if we are open to and choose to. It requires humility to listen and learn. We can think that we know it all and are in control, but it doesn’t take long for us to realize the deception that those untruths lead to, pride, big ego, selfishness, self-centeredness, and loneliness. That is not what God wants for us so knowing our hearts as only He does, God places in our life those that can plant a message or seed of knowledge that can help us to grow and become our best self, the person that God created us to be and have the potential to become.
So, as you have come to the end another week in preparation for Holy Week, I have one simple prayer reflection: God has given you a packet of seeds, seeds of knowledge, humility, selflessness, peace, mutual respect, trust, belief, stimulation, encouragement, inspiration, silence, and freedom, who would you give seeds to and what seeds would you keep? Remember that both serve as a reminder of God’s desire for you to grow into your best self, and how you have helped others to also grow into their best self. What seeds do you want to grow more with and in and who might need a seed of hope in the form of encouragement….
A seed planted in great love grows greater love.
LENT IS A TIME TO:
GLIMPSE OF GOD FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 14, 2021
A continuation on the Lenten reflections…
FORGIVE and not to be bitter.
We are called to forgive ourselves and others, and not hold on to the past of bad choices, deep hurts, and poor decisions. Only in true forgiveness can we experience genuine and lasting freedom,so that we can be the beacon of Christ’s mercy, love, and compassion for our self and to others. "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”.
This week’s Glimpse of God is not one that will consist of a daily reflection, but rather a reflection on the act of forgiveness and how we partake of that act both for ourselves, and others.
Do we allow God to forgive us, do we allow others to forgive us? do we forgive others? but most important do we forgive ourselves? To forgive, to be forgiven, God’s grace and peace is alive and well.
I believe the two hardest phrases to say are “I am Sorry” and “I forgive you”. Both indicate an action by a person to admit to a wrongdoing and how it has caused injury to another and seek their forgiveness, or to forgive another who has caused them injury and then to let it go and never bring it back up. Forgiveness is not an act that one does because it sounds like a good idea at the time or is cool, but because deep inside they realized that they have either caused injury or they have been injured, and there is a humble need to pardon or seek pardon so that the peace, reconciliation, and love can prevail.
To seek forgiveness and to offer forgiveness, is an act of the will, but forgiveness is not yet experienced. The act and desire to forgive and seek forgiveness is a gift from God. That gift and grace that God invites one to receive and be held accountable for is one that sets a person free and allows them to share the gift of true freedom with another. As we seek to forgive or be forgiven, we can pray the words of Jesus on the cross, Father forgive them for they know not what they do. When we sin, we often do not see the choice for what it really was or is. We give into temptation and only afterwards are we able to recognize that the devil duped us, and we got duped. We are like the other person and therefor need to be seen as God sees them and not just how we want to see them; with blinders on, with bitterness, with hatred, or with fury, but perhaps with the eyes of compassion, understanding, love and openness.
As I reflect on our Lenten journey and how we are deeply immersed in acts of prayer, penance and alms giving, as well as a conscious choice of turning away from sin and being faithful to the Gospel, I hope that you are having a spiritually rewarding Lenten journey, one of personal and spiritual transformation, renewal, and a restoration.
As I reflect on forgiveness and this week’s glimpse, I pose the question: Who is the hardest person to forgive? Is it “God”, “the Other” or “yourself”? Who do you beat up more often over bad choices, deep hurts, poor decisions, or sins of omission? You can beat up others by your choice to ignore them, criticize them, reject them, taunt them, and isolate them, your act of silence can devastate them, and your cruel words can destroy them, yet we can all find ways to point out another’s sin by the way we respond to them.
So how are you and I any different when it comes to forgiving our self?
I believe that like the gift of love, if we do not have it for ourselves, we cannot love another, if we fail to truly forgive our self, we cannot truly forgive another.
Forgiveness for ourselves is God’s will for us. He wants us to experience the peace and the joy that comes from being reconciled with Him and others, after we recognize our sin and express sorrow for it.
He knows our heart better than we do, and so He knows that our heart’s desire was not to stray or walk away. But we fell short of following our heart’s true desire of making the right choice and following God’s direction, and decided to either take a short cut, walk on the side of the road, head backwards or just stood still.
He forgives us and we are called to forgive our self so that we can truly forgive another. If we fail to forgive ourselves, we make God a liar, His truth has no room in our heart, and we stand as a hypocrite. Christ died on the cross, but before that, He suffered His cruel and bitter passion. He suffered and died for our sins, all of ours, all of humankind, not just the other persons. If He chose, and He did, to endure all of that so that we can experience His mercy, love, compassion, and reconciliation, who are we to discount or deny that same love, mercy, compassion, and reconciliation when it comes to our sins? Yet we do….when we say that God can’t or won’t forgive us, or that we are unlovable because of what we said or did, then we close the door of our heart to God and we dwell in the negativity and falsities that the devil wants us to choose so that we walk away from God and not towards Him.
When we fall short of what we know and feel God is
calling us to do so that we can be our best self, the person that He created us to be and have the potential to become, we then beat ourselves up. We do not think as God thinks because we are so
focused on our short comings that the only thought about God is how disappointed He is or ashamed of us He is. Not how much He loves us despite our sins, or how unconditional that love is despite our
sins, or how much He can’t love us less despite our sins. We let our sins take control of the mercy and love of the God who created us, suffered, and died for us, opened the gates of heaven to us,
and gives us the sacraments of healing and life.
We have a hard time forgiving another because we cannot forgive ourselves. We struggle to forgive ourselves because we think of the sins that we committed and how big they seem to be and think that we are unforgiveable, unlovable, and unredeemable and yet our sin, already known to God, cancels all three of these false ideas.
As genuine and authentic people, people that not only profess to be followers of Christ, but live as followers of Christ, forgiving others, but we first need to forgive ourselves.
What does forgiving ourselves look like? What words would we use? How can we experience true peace if we choose not to forgive ourselves? Where is God when it comes to forgiving ourselves?
Can you look at any moment in your life where you fell short of forgiving yourself and the reasons that you used, and ask God for the grace to let go and to see yourself as He sees you? Then be prepared for a great sense of peace to permeate your being because God has been waiting to lift the unnecessary burden off of your shoulders and wants to fill you with His peace, so that you can walk proudly but humbly with your head held high, your eyes focused on the road God has set before you, and your heart ready to love God, yourself, and others with a heart that has been expanded, strengthened and filled with more love that it is overflowing and ready to be shared in the form of forgiveness, compassion, peace, joy, and true happiness.
All of these are gifts and graces that God has in store for all His followers. You are His follower. You are His beloved child. You are His chosen one. You are His. You are His greatest creation. He has called you by name. He loves you unconditionally. There is nothing that you can say or do that can or will make Him love you less, He cannot, His love is perfect and that is impossible. God wants you to be genuinely happy and only His peace can bring you His happiness. I
f there is something that you cannot forgive either in yourself or in another, reflect on the words of Jesus; Father forgive them for them know not what they do…then look in the mirror and listen to Jesus say; Father forgive my beloved child standing before you, for they did not know what they were doing. I know their love for me is great and I want them to realize that and let go of what is the keeping the mirror foggy and not allowing them to see themselves as we see them, beloved, adorable, and precious in our eyes.
Choose not to be bitter…you can choose bitter candy, bitter drinks, and even bitter foods, but don’t choose a bitter heart, because that you can’t spit out, wrap up and throw away, or pour down the drain. You can surrender it to God though and ask Him to exchange it for a more loving and forgiving heart. I can assure you the gift that you receive back is one that you will open with great pleasure.
A continuation of the Lenten reflections:
LOVE ourselves and others, especially those who do not like us, and we really do not like, but we are called to LOVE, and to HATE those things that take us away from God and make us want to be more self-centered and selfish, instead of being more Christ centered and self-less.
What does it mean to love yourself unconditionally? Does it mean not seeing your faults because your ego is so inflated that there is nothing that you cannot love about yourself less than totally or absolutely? or could it mean that despite your faults, or in light of your faults and sins, you accept them because you are able to recognize that that God forgives you, knows your love for Him is deeper and that you want to choose to grow it that love despite any bad choices? If we choose not to love our self, we cannot love others or love God. Love comes from within and it is within our heart that God dwells with His compassion, mercy, joy, happiness, and peace. How we choose to share those gifts is how we choose to love.
Do you love yourself unconditionally or do you find fault with who you are, do you look at your imperfections, sins, weaknesses, faults, with your eyes wide open, and judge yourself unworthy of being loved by God or others? or can you see yourself as God sees you? HE sees you and loves you totally, without reserve and completely, and that means He sees all and sees past the negative. He sees your heart and what fills it, and all He sees is love: your love for Him, others, and self, imperfect though it is, it is the love that emerges from your desire to be in a deeper relationship with Him so that you and grow in love with Him, self and others. What would it mean to love yourself unconditionally, after all God loves you unconditionally and He knows all about you, He knows your heart better than you know it yourself, and cannot love you less than unconditional, eternal, complete, and without exception?
Parents choose to love their children unconditionally. They choose to unconditionally love those that they have been given the grace to conceive, raise, and love into the world, with a complete and unconditional love. The seed of love that only God can and does sow in their minds, hearts, and spirits, and as they share that love, the seed continues to cause growth and the beauty of love flourishes.
Can you love those who have hurt you, that you do not like or who do not like you? Love conquers all, do you recognize that in the people, events, and situations that have challenged your ability to love and not hate, to forgive and not hold a grudge, to be reconciled and not remain estranged, they have made you the courageous and better person that you are, and that evil has not conquered your love, but has built it up and made it stronger?
What does it mean to you to be selfless and not selfish? To be other centered and not self-centered? Do you feel that you get lost as you focus on others, or do you find a renewed sense of self in love and God, as you walk with others in their moments of pain, experiences of suffering, and joyful celebrations?
This week as we enter another week of lent, a time of prayer, personal conversion, and transformation, as we turn away from sin and choose to be faithful to the Gospel and the God who loves us unconditionally, let us recognize that God calls us in love, and out of love, to seek His will and become our best self, the person that He created us to be and have the potential to become.
SUNDAY – “T” Trusting
What does it mean to trust as you choose to love? Not looking back on old messages, but on the truth that God loves you unconditionally. Who do you trust to show you the truth of God’s message of unconditional, complete, and absolute love for you? parents, family, church community, leaders of the Church, friends, and co-workers? And who looks up to you to point them in direction of the truth of God’s unconditional love? Choose to seek the truth with the eyes of love and keep them open, so that the eyes of distrust can remain closed.
MONDAY – “O” Other centered
As you choose to love, turn away from sin, and towards God, how other centered are you? Have you been able to look out the window to the see more of the needs and concerns of others, or are you still looking in the mirror at yourself with your faults, sins, flaws, and weaknesses? As we choose to look to the needs and concerns of others, as we become more selfless and less selfish, the love of God is taking root and we are becoming a new creation, growing in the unconditional love of self and acceptance of others. Do you recognize that God is constantly making you a new creation with every beat of your heart that chooses to love and not hate, every word that springs forth as the breath of God that chooses to forgive and not tear down, and every time you choose to walk with another in their shoes, not judging but walking with compassion, love, and acceptance?
TUESDAY – “W” Without reserve
Without reserve or restriction? What does that look like and how can that become a greater aspect of your loving yourself, others, and God? To place no restrictions on your love? How hard is that especially when it is difficult to love someone that does not like you, or that you do not like? Only with God’s grace can we overcome placing restrictions or conditions on our imperfect love. Only with God’s grace can we choose to love despite our desire to hate, hold a grudge or not forgive. Choose to live in the truth and grace of God’s love so that you do not fall into the grave of the devil’s lies.
WEDNESDAY – “A” Accepting
Have you, can you, accept your weaknesses and love yourself unconditionally? Can you accept that God loves you so much because you are His beloved child, loved unconditionally, His greatest creation and that there is absolutely nothing that you can say or do that can make Him love you less? This is the truth of God, believe it, live in it, and it will set you free.
THURSDAY – “R” Reverent
In light of your baptism, you have been blessed by God, called by name, and as you were immersed into the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, you burst forth, you emerged as a new creation, one set apart by God to give him glory and honor. You are blessed and therefore you should reverence the very person that you are as God does. What does it mean to reverence yourself? Could it mean that you forgive yourself, not see just bad choices that you made, but seek to recognize the greater good that possesses you and that you possess, can it mean reverencing others, that you forgive others as fellow sinners striving to become saints, and we need each other to build up the Kingdom of God, can you reverence them as God’s beloved child as God does? Go forth in reverence and not backwards in rejection.
FRIDAY – “D” Determined
As we begin this third week of lent, is lent bringing you a sense of a greater self-determination or less? Is the pandemic causing you to fall back on, or driving you to, a greater self determination to change, seek His will and guidance? Are you resolving each and every day to turn away from sin and towards God? If so, that is all He asks of you, so you are on the right track. Do not give up or give in but seek to recognize the graces that have transformed you into the strong person that you are and have become through your self-determination, self-conviction and steadfastness. Demand to be determined and not be determined to be in command.
SATURDAY – “S” Selfless
Choose to be selfless and not selfish and the fruits of your choice will be those of compassion, peace, joy, happiness, forgiveness, love, acceptance, truth, and not the pits of discord, injury, hurt, hatred, darkness, and pain. Be fruitful and multiply, and not fruitless and in a pit.
Glimpse of God for the week fo February 28, 2021
SURRENDER those things that keep us from being the person that God has created us to be and keep us from becoming the person that He knows we can be, those things that are standing in the way of our seeing Christ more clearly in our self and in others, in life’s challenges and in our crosses. LENT IS NOT A TIME TO GIVE UP and think that we cannot do what God knows we can and invites us to believe that we can and that we, with His help, will.
STRETCH OURSELVES: our imaginations, our minds, our spiritual comfort zone, and our hearts. We need to stretch so that we can see ourselves accomplishing and overcoming the hardest challenges that face us, but we think will defeat us. We need to allow God to stretch that which is set and confined so that HE can reset, reform, and reshape us into His image.
This week I will reflect on the second paragraph of what Lent is or can become and it begins with STRETCH OURSELVES: our imaginations, our minds, our spiritual comfort zone, and our hearts. We need to stretch so that we can see ourselves accomplishing and overcoming the hardest challenges that face us, but we think will defeat us. We need to allow God to stretch that which is set and confined so that HE can reset, reform, and reshape us into a better reflection of His image.
So, as we enter a new week of Lent, what does it mean to stretch, be stretched, or undergo stretching? what do we desire or want to be stretched?
According to Marriam Webster: to stretch is to draw up (one’s body) from a cramped, stooped or relaxed position.” To be stretched can mean that one is broadened, unfolded, expanded, and extended. To undergo the act of stretching involves the action of straightening, widening, and enlarging.
So, as we stretch our spiritual comfort zone, and are stretched beyond our imaginings, has the act of stretching made you a better witness to Christ, are you being transformed by the act of stretching, and do you, can you recognize that as you stretch your spiritual comfort zone, it is an opportunity for you to invite God in so that He can fill you with His many graces and blessings? As you have been expanded, transformed and reformed into a better reflection of His presence, love, compassion and mercy, are you grateful to be stretched? Or do you want to return to being cramped, in a stooped position and so relaxed that you do not want to grow or experience personal and spiritual transformation?
During Lent and every day, I believe that God invites us to stretch and be stretched in our spiritual life so that He can fill with His graces and blessings, expand our understanding of how He is calling us to be our best self, the person that He created us to be and have the potential to become, and stand up to what we believe and truly desire, and not and not be so relaxed in our life that we ignore the need to grow in our spiritual relationship with God, others and self.
So, my question to you is what does it mean to be stretched out of your comfort zone? What comfort zone needs to be stretched the most? Is it your spiritual life where you recognize that you have been on the lazy side of your personal and community prayer, your time and your communication with God have been less than what you would like, your idea of serving others make you feel exhausted?
Are you afraid of what God may have in store for you and that your fear keeps you still and less open to Him? Is it your love life where your heart is broken due to injuries imposed on it by others? Has a relationship been broken beyond repair? Are you experiencing a hurt that has caused you to become bitter and vengeful instead of forgiving? Is y our heart a vessel with many cracks and you desire to be healed and mended? God can stretch your heart where you can forgive, feel new, whole, and healed. Are you ready to be stretched to experience those graceful and grace filled moments? Is it your physical wellbeing, where you recognize that you need to take better care of yourself, but are afraid to change your habits and are too tired to initiate any change? God has an excellent spiritual exercise program that can make you feel better and live healthier. It includes prayer pushups where you can place your prayers before God and truly ask that they be answered according to His will and desire, knee bends where you can kneel before the God who loves you and tell Him how much you love Him and desire to serve Him better, walking so that you can place one foot in front of the other at His pace and not yours, Sit ups so that you can take notice of what and how God is acting in your life with a clearer vision and direction and lying flat on your back so that you can allow God to enter into your very being from the top of your head to your tippy toes. Let Him enter through your hands of service that have helped carry the crosses of others, to your heart of love, that has forgiven and sought to heal the brokenness and woundedness around you, to your feet that have walked in another’s shoes, to your senses that have seen, heard, and listened to the stories of those who were hurting and in need of experiencing the presence of God in their life through you. There is nothing that God cannot do if we are open and willing to experience His many forms of surprises that He choose and wants to give us.
Is it your psychological life where you feel drained from the pandemic and its restrictions? Has isolation, depression, discouragement, lack of hope, fear, and anxiety permeated the core of your being and you do not know how to properly cope so that you can move forward?
Being stretched by God is not meant to be an experience where you think that God is not pleased with you or that you have disappointed Him, but rather an experience where He not only recognizes that you are open to His will and desire, but also that you seek Him so that you can grow and become your better self, the person that He created you to be, and that He knows you have the potential to become despite any and all obstacles.
Once you feel that God is stretching you to become a better, healthier, healed, more whole person living in His love and light and being a beacon of that love and light, then you will have come to recognize the graces that not only have enhanced your spiritual life, but also your personal, physical, professional, and psychological life.
This week let us allow God to stretch us as He sees we need to be stretched, and let us commit to remaining open and not wanting to return to being closed, left in a cramped position, or stooped in shame, guilt or weakness.
SUNDAY – “S” – be stretched with inner strength
Today I seek to be renewed with inner strength because….
MONDAY – “T” – be stretched with trust
Today I hope to grow in trust as I am stretched….
TUESDAY – “R” – be stretched with resolve
Today I resolve to be…..
WEDNESDAY – “E” – be stretched with empathy
Today I will seek to be more empathetic towards as I am stretched….
THURSDAY – ‘T” – be stretched with totality of intention
Today I will allow God to stretch me completely and not put limits or restrictions on what He knows I needs to experience…..
FRIDAY – “C” be stretched with compassion
Today I will try to be more compassionate with myself and others as I experience the grace of conversion, transformation, and renewal through being stretched as God saw I needed to be.
SATURDAY – “H” be stretched with happiness
Today I choose to be happy in the Lord, and happy with myself and others. I know that we are all being called to be stretched. As Mary and Joseph said Yes to God and allowed themselves to be stretched beyond their imaginings, my surrender to God and being stretched has allowed me to feel freer and more flexible, less confined, and no longer stooped in shame or guilt.
Glimpse of God for the week of February 21, 2021
Happy first weekend of lent. This week, for many, has been a week filled with challenges, tragedies, and tribulations as well as triumphs, accomplishments, and rejoicings. As we entered another week of the pandemic, many people were able to receive the vaccine, and many are scheduled to receive it, yet there are still many that have not been able to be scheduled and we need to pray that they get it as soon as possible, so that our new normal can lead us to be a safer and healthier people.
Lent is a time to look to Christ as we carry our cross. He carried it first and although we may think ours is too heavy, too much, and too difficult, I believe that as we look to Him for His gift of grace, guidance, and gratitude, we will not only carry our cross, but we will see how much stronger a person we can become and have become because of it and be thankful that we did not quit and was not defeated by it.
Last week’s glimpse was titled Lent is a Time to and I listed several concepts or ideas that I thought Lent could be more about. I tried to expand on how we can grow in our relationship with God and others as we strived to become our better self, the person that God created us to be and that we have the potential to become.
This week and through lent, the glimpses will expand on those concepts with the reflection coming from you. I hope they help as you grow in your relationship with God through acts prayer, penance, and self-denial, so that your heart can become more like Jesus’.
Acts of prayer which can include prayers for peace, pardon, and hope, (Lord make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love, injury pardon, doubt..faith, despair..hope, darkness..light, sadness..joy,….), acts of penance which invite us to be more humble, merciful and reconciled, (….forgive me my trespasses as I have forgiven those who have trespassed against me….) acts of self- denial, Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. so that our heart can be more like Christ. Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is strong, compassionate, and merciful, one that focuses on the good and seeks not to destroy, dismantle, or discourage another who walks with us on our earthly journey as a brother or sister, a sinner striving to become a saint. We will gain a heart which is not closed, but expanded and open to the transformative love and graces of God.
LENT IS A TIME TO:
SURRENDER those things that keep us from being the person that God has created us to be, and keep us from becoming the person that He knows we can be, those things that are standing in the way of our seeing Christ more clearly in our self and in others, in life’s challenges and in our crosses.
LENT IS NOT A TIME TO GIVE UP and think that we cannot do what God knows we can and invites us to believe that we can and that we, with His help, will.
SUNDAY – In the spiritual sense, what does it mean to you to surrender? Does it mean having a gun of guilt pointed at you, or a wielding knife of fear that you surrender or throw your hands up and give up to that which is making you so afraid? When God asks us to surrender to Him, he is not asking that of us to control us or make us frightened of Him, but to give of ourselves; our will, our desires and our sins so that we can experience personal and spiritual transformation. To give of our weaknesses, our need to control, our ego, our sins, so that HE can transform us into a better and more vivid reflection of His love, presence, and peace to all those we encounter. When we surrender, we do not throw up our hands in defeat we open our hands in prayer and petition, pardon and peace. We open our hands so that He can fill them with his graces and blessings and then with hands wide open, we can then share those graces and blessings with others.
MONDAY – What are you being called to surrender to God so that you can become your best self, your better self? Is it a personal grudge? News of a physical illness? Death of a relationship? Broken dreams? Self-centeredness? What do you think your life would be like if you were to surrender these? Have you become so comfortable in your grief, self-righteous anger, justification of hate or bitterness, that if you were to surrender, God would leave you empty? Or rather, could you imagine that He would and is waiting to fill you with the graces of peace, pardon, love, compassion, mercy, so that you can experience true inner peace and freedom? More importantly God wants you to recognize the truth that you are His beloved child, loved unconditionally, that you are His greatest creation and that there is nothing that you can say or do that can make Him love you less. His love is perfect.
TUESDAY - Does surrender mean becoming a more authentic and genuine person? What are your dreams for your self before God? To be your best self? More authentic, less worldly? If you were to ask God for the grace to recognize one aspect that is keeping you from becoming a more authentic self, what do you think He would show you? If you can place that aspect before Him in prayer now, can you recognize that He is already transforming you and inviting you to become your better and more authentic self?
WEDNESDAY – Is surrendering to God like surrendering to humanity? Who has your best interest at heart? Can you surrender to both and be in accord with God’s will and desire for you? Think back when you were called to surrender your will for the will of another, what did it feel like? Have you grown from that experience? Did you surrender to your parents? Parents to your children? Religious superior? The Church? Your spouse? Your employment desires? Your relationships? Your friends? In any of these relationships, were you called to give up your will or need to be in control, say the last word, not be the center of attention, let another shine, listen to another who was grieving? To forgive one who has harmed you instead of returning bitterness for bitterness? Was compassionate to one who had vengeance in store?
Surrendering our will is not about giving up on our self or shrinking to the point that we feel invisible, but rather seeking to not only becoming our best self but helping others to become their best self so that together we can continue to build up the Kingdom of God here on earth one prayer, one act of mercy, one act of kindness at a time.
THURSDAY - Lent is not a time to give up. Does giving up mean you have been defeated? Conquered? Non victorious in your fight to avoid despair, discouragement, and sin? During lent you might find yourself saying that you are going to give up chocolate, sweets, cursing…. If these resolutions are going to bring you closer to God and to His Son, if they are going to unite you to the passion and death of Jesus, if you can recognize that Christ died for you and if you were going to give up something, it should draw you closer to that reality and that it your reality not just everyone else’s, then this is something worth giving up.
If what you give up is not drawing you to a deeper invitation to conversion, personal transformation, and spiritual renewal, then what good is it?
FRIDAY – Fridays during Lent we are invited to recall Jesus’ road to Calvary as we meditate on the Stations of the Cross. As you reflect on the stations of the cross, look at one station that reflects your faith journey this week and pray with it. For instance, you may have experienced feeling condemned falsely by another who was jealous and angry at you, or you may have been a Simon of Cyrene as you helped another carry their heavy cross and choosing not to talk about yours, or you may have been there with Mary in sorrow and yet not without hope, or with Jesus as He fell not once but three times, recalling how you had a weak week and prayed for the grace to be stronger. Each station invites us to relate to the event so that we can draw strength, not discouragement, from Christ as we journey our road to Calvary. Invite Mary and the many other cast of characters to be with you as you recall how they comforted, consoled, wept over Jesus and how when you weep over your sins you are uniting their experience with yours out of and in love for Christ.
SATURDAY - LENT IS NOT A TIME TO GIVE UP and think that we cannot do what God knows we can and invites us to believe that we can and that we, with His help, will. Do you believe this? How has this come to fruition this week for you? When you look in the mirror, do you see a more authentic and genuine self? If you do not please take comfort and strength in the reality and truth that not only does God see your better self-emerging, but He has, and continues to, love you through that transformation and eagerly awaits a new day with you for it to continue.
The unexpected act of falling.....in love?
When did we fall in love with you?
Was it at our birth when we fell/came forth from the womb
into the arms of the doctor and nurse
and then was embraced by mom and dad?
The gift of life, the gift of love was, is precious,
more precious than we ever expected or imagined,
it was a miracle.
Our first vision of our falling IN love was when you gave us our first breath of life,
it was your love given in and through life.
Was it when we were growing up and fell at the cross,
where the pain of our sinfulness
met the glance of your unconditional love, compassion, and mercy?
Where and when we fell in sorrow for the recognition of not just our sinfulness
but for the first time we realized beyond words, your great love and awesome care for us.
It is now Lord as we lay down our burdens, our stresses, our pain, our pandemic anxieties,
our anger and the ache of alienation.
Have we fallen in LOVE with you?
YES! we have.
We have unexpectedly been brought low, drawn down so that we can only look up
and be lifted by you and each other.
And that is not all bad because as we recognize we have fallen,
we know that it is in LOVE...
LOVE FOR YOU LORD, OUR GOD AND REDEEMER, LOVE FOR OUR FAITH, LOVE FOR EACH OTHER,
LOVE FOR OUR SELF, LOVE FOR OUR VOCATION,
LOVE FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST AS SEEN AND SOMETIMES UNSEEN IIN OTHERS,
LOVE FOR OUR PERSON OF SELF: PRIEST, BROTHER, DEACON, FATHER, MOTHER,
WIFE, SISTER, FRIEND, GRANDPARENT, UNCLE AND THE STRANGER.
Love for being considered your disciple and being counted among the persecuted,
and the blessed.
LORD...FALLING IN LOVE..
The gift, not the disgrace, of seeing the place where we all walk as Holy ground
and being so close that we can only raise our eyes,
take your hand and be raised with you to the new an unexpected vision you have in store for us.
LORD, have we, Have I, fallen in LOVE with you? Again?
I hope so, and I pray that I continue to fall in love,
and not fall into the temptation to hold onto anger, impatience, bitterness, or frustration.
because it is in the falling in love
that I know you will lift me up and walk with me. again....
LENT IS A TIME TO:
SURRENDER those things that keep us from being the person that God has created us to be and keep us from becoming the person that He knows we can be, those things that are standing in the way of our seeing Christ more clearly in our self and in others, in life’s challenges and in our crosses. LENT IS NOT A TIME TO GIVE UP and think that we cannot do what God knows we can and invites us to believe that we can and that we, with His help, will.
STRETCH OURSELVES: our imaginations, our minds, our spiritual comfort zone, and our hearts. We need to stretch so that we can see ourselves accomplishing and overcoming the hardest challenges that face us, but we think will defeat us. We need to allow God to stretch that which is set and confined so that HE can reset, reform, and reshape us into His image.
LOVE ourselves and others, especially those who do not like us,
and we really do not like, but we are called to LOVE
and to HATE those things that take us away from God and make us want to be more self-centered and selfish instead of being more Christ centered and self-less.
FORGIVE and not to be bitter. We are called to forgive ourselves and others, and not hold on to the past of bad choices, deep hurts, and poor decisions. Only in true forgiveness can we experience genuine and lasting freedom so that we can be the beacon of Christ’s mercy, love, and compassion,
for our self and to others. "Forgive them for they know not what they do”.
BE STILL so that you can feel the gentle breeze of God’s Spirit as He touches your heart,
and opens it to His healing love, peace, and deep abiding peace.
NOT BE BUSY just for the sake of being busy or to run from anything. Lent is a time to listen as God tells you that there is only one thing that matters to Him. That you know and believe with all your heart that you are His greatest creation, His beloved son or daughter, that He loves you just as you are, and that His love for you is free, unconditional, and everlasting.
LOOK OUT THE WINDOW and see and appreciate His presence in all His creation; the sun, the moon, the stars, the grass, the creatures that crawl about and those that hover over, the people that we know and the stranger that we pass by, the beauty of the day, the beauty in the hearts of those that care about us, and the beauty of a God who cares even more for you.
BUT IT IS NOT A TIME TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR if you are looking to point out your sins, your flaws, your weaknesses, or your shortcomings, but only if you are looking to remind yourself that you are loved by God just as you are because His love is much greater than all of these. His death is a reminder that He sees all that you see,
but He looks into the depth of your heart to see that which you have not begun to.
AND AS YOUR LENTEN JOURNEY CONTINUES, and you find yourself asking, “How have I grown in my relationship to Christ, or how have I been a reflection of His presence in my life to others”? As you look back and recall how you found yourself helping others and giving of your time, talent, and compassion, know that your desire is in response to God’s grace,
so trust in God and believe that you are closer to Him than you think.
We measure our progress and that of others with human expectations and limitations,
but God looks into the very heart that He created and sees its width, its depth, its woundedness, its potential and fills it with His compassion, His mercy, His peace and His grace so that we can be the best loving person that we can be. You are what He wants you to be, for you can be nothing less.
What you are is God’s gift given in love and out of love, what you become is your gift to God.
Glimpse of God for the week of January 31, 2021 and February 7th
This week’s Glimpse of God comes as a challenge from Sister Elizabeth Novak, OSF, a retired Sister of Saint Francis, that resides at Assisi House in Aston. She suggested that I write on
Transportation, and the various modes that we use to get from one place to another. I then realized that I had to ask the questions of how are our modes of transportation a Glimpse of God, and what is the spirituality of transportation, is there one? I believe that there is, and it can be clear to some and a cloudy for others. This is not a bad thing. The spirituality comes when we can recognize the presence of God the various and many ways that He can and does choose to reveal Himself. These revelations can be quite surprising and awesome.
The seven types that we decided to expand on are: Feet, Bus, Bike (2-wheeler not motor), Plane, (747 not puddle jumper), Boat (sailboat), Train and Car.
Since there is so much spirituality in the Car, I have made a separate week of reflections for next week.
This is one of my hardest Glimpses to translate into a spirituality, or to show how God reveals Himself to us as we use these various modes of transportation to go from one place to another, from one destination to another. I hope and pray that what I share is sufficient for you to see how you are responding to His grace as you move forward on and in your spiritual journey. As you walk on God’s holy ground, that which we call earth, to your eternal reward in heaven, whether that destination be in feet, on the road, on the waters or in the sky, on two wheels or four, or on tracks, God travels with you and when you are in a jam or need roadside assistance, God calls on His AAA service (Army of Angelic Assistance).
Yet, as I reflect on this idea, it comes to me that when we place one foot in front of the other, I believe that we are already responding to God’s grace to go forward and not get stuck, to move onward and not go backward, to risk and trust and not be afraid. Even if we are called to use a form of assistance such as a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair, we still choose to place our feet on the ground and go froward. As we have taken and continue to take these various modes of transportation that have been made available to us, our time spent on them can and will continue to be a time to encounter God as He reveals Himself.
Be open, enjoy the ride or walk, and allow God to speak to you heart as He travels with, alongside, ahead and behind you, He has got you covered. God calls, draws, and invites us to a deeper relationship with Him in through the instruments of His creation that can be very surprising and transformative. These instruments of revelation can be through others, the animals, creatures, and landscape that make up the canvas of His creation, circumstances, situations, objects, and even words. All of these are God’s channels of grace, and He invites us to use them so that we can encounter Him in a different and deeper way. As we travel God calls us to expand our horizons and be open to the new and glorious.
As God knows our heart better than we know it our self, He knows what we truly need and what will sustain us as we walk on our journey of faith and self-discovery. As God revealed Himself to Mary and Joseph through the Angel, to trust and walk-in faith, He calls us to do the same. How we move, slow or fast, balanced, or unbalanced, with assistance or alone, in the air or on the water, on the tracks or on the open road, does not matter to God, He just wants to be open and allow Him to speak to our hearts and draw us closer to Himself.
So, as you begin a new week, one that may have a big canvas of snow to behold, (although a sled is not one of the instruments that I am including here), just take a moment to remember when you took the open hills with your sled or have watched others sledding, how God spoke to your heart and the freeing experience that sledding provides.
SUNDAY – “OUR TWO FEET” - where we can arrive at our destination at our own pace. We can take big or little strides and as we do, we can absorb the beauty that we are given the grace to behold. We walk by faith and not by sight.
When we first awake in the morning or as we go through our day, we often find ourselves getting up on our feet and walking: whether it be going to the restroom, to our desk, to another room in the house or outside, we get there by placing one foot in front of the other and preferably at our own pace and not at the pace set by another person. There are also those of us who need assistance of a cane, walker, or wheelchair with our walking, but that does not diminish who we are or invitation to walk in the direction that God is pointing out to us.
God speaks to our heart and when we listen and respond, we are in union with Him as we strive to do His will. When we awake and place one foot in front of the other, we are placing our trust in Him in that the pace we set is His pace, and the places that we go are directed by Him for His purpose and to glorify Him. As we get up throughout the day, we rise to move towards something or someone, some event or situation. I believe that as we move towards these, we move inspired to do so, we do not aimlessly walk around in circles.
As you are called to visit someone, go to work, make a phone call, or whatever draws you to place one foot in front of the other, ask God to guide your footsteps so that you do not stumble into sin or weakness by stepping on another by your words, actions, or attitude, or running (figuratively) past another to embarrass or diminish their self-worth, that you do not stop and go backwards out of fear of laziness, that you do not judge yourself to be lazy because you have to use a form of assistance, but rather see that form of assistance as God’s gift to you so that you can continue to be his witness to those you encounter in their weakness and fragility. Use your footsteps as a channel of God’s peace in that you walk in mercy and extend compassion as you encounter another who is stuck, wanting to go backwards, go off the beat and path or just give up. Choose to walk with those whose journey and cross is heavy so that they experience the presence of God with them in you and through your patience, love, empathy and sincerity, know and recognize that they too are walking in the direction that God is pointing out to them.
MONDAY – A BUS – a channel of transportation where we are called to wait and are at the mercy of its schedule, traffic jams, bad weather and canceled routes.
Being on a bus affords us the opportunity to encounter others as we travel to our destination with them. Amid Covid19, there is not a lot of conversations with or being able to see the facial expressions of those on the bus, but this does not eliminate the possibility to recognize the gift of God’s grace in the riding experience. Waiting for a bus, in all types of weather, puts us at the mercy of the bus driver, the other commuters, cancellations and schedule changes.
As with our spiritual life, God is the driver and there are times when He changes our schedule to show us that where we think we need to be and where we truly need to be are different. He shows us how and when we need to be present to another, this can become an unexpected schedule change but a spiritually fulfilling one.
God gets us out of our spiritual traffic jams when He sees that we are trying to fulfill and accomplish much, but it is our will and not His. When our spiritual life, our prayer, our desire to be in union with Him gets jammed up, we become frustrated and fall into spiritual dryness or burnout. This is a jam, and by His grace He has us get off the bus so that we can get a better picture of what lies ahead. Being on a bus reminds us of the great mercy, patience, and compassion that God has for us in that we are called to travel with others who are, or might be, experiencing the same spiritual dilemmas or joys that we are. He can choose to place us on the seat next to them or to stand by them, in any case we are placed where God can bring us to see His presence in and through the ride.
TUESDAY – 2-WHEELER BIKE – a channel of transportation that provides a sense of freedom yet one must abide by the rules of the road, a sense of independence and a healthy choice to go from one destination to another.
We can remember our first bicycle, it was probably a four-wheeler and when we were ready, our parents took off the training wheels and we went off riding the two wheels, with great pride and a sense of growth and accomplishment. Our parents had to let go and allow us to ride ahead, with the possibility and reality that we could fall but with great hope that we would choose to get right back up and go forward. Our parents showed us how to ride a bike safely, the safety material that we were to wear, and how we were to share the road and respect those on the sidewalks and roads.
God chose our 2-wheeler when He saw how we had matured in our faith and relationship with Him. The two-wheels could be faith and self-discovery or conversion and transformation, where you have built up strength and they would drive your desire to grow and mature in your faith. The training wheels could have been trust, courage, patience, perseverance, or whatever it took you to finally feel as if you could move forward in His will, His plan for you and your desire to serve Him, that you believed that HE has called you and that you are His beloved child. He has been training us and guiding us, but He has let go and knows that we desire to choose His will as we ride the road of life, He has given us a free will and this allows us to make our choices and trust that we will go forward with Him having our back, and if we fall, He would be there to pick us up and get us back on the road without giving up. Riding the road with God on the two-wheeler gives us a freedom and sense of individuality. We are God’s beloved children created in His likeness and image and all unique. God has called us to be our best self, the person that He created us to be and have the potential to become. Riding the bike shows us that we choose Him freely and without constraint. We know He is always with us, but in our freedom to choose Him and His will, we choose to show that we are His followers, trusting in Him that HE has our back and that when we fall, He will lift us up and give us the push that we need to go forward.
WEDNESDAY – A PLANE – a channel of transportation that one takes with a great deal of faith: faith in its safety, the smart and healthy choices of others, and your ability to overcome the fear of the air yet traveling on a plane can provide a sense of comfort, solitude, support, and good company.
When we get on a plane after all the security measures have been taken, we often find ourselves exhausted and we think as we get into our seat, we can finally rest,
yet for many that is not the case. Often people get on a plane afraid, insecure, alone, and anxious and these feelings can arise for many reasons.
Often people board planes to go on vacation, to see family, for work, for joyful celebrations like weddings and for a brief escape because of a good flight deal, but in all of these scenarios, once one boards a plane, a certain amount of trust and courage has to offset any fear, and an inner peace has to offset the outside discord. When people on a plane are going to a family or loved one’s funeral, they either don’t want to talk to anyone because they want to be in their grief, or they want to talk about their loved one and share their great memories with a stranger so that the person is remembered in another way by someone else. When one is going on a vacation,
they talk about where they are going and how they are anticipating their time away to relax, rejuvenate and be renewed. In many cases people are hidden behind their technology and avoid eye or speech contact with anyone. BUT in all of these scenarios, God is there amid the feelings of pain, joy, grief, anxiety, fear, or loneliness that accompanies every person on the plane. God is in the air, on the ground, next to and along side of you as you go from one spot to the other, as you place one foot in front of the other, and as you seek to be the presence of God to another. The prayer that I often think is meant for folks on a plane is the prayer of Saint Francis because it embraces al that is within us as we go on a plane, the feelings that we board with, that we anticipate and that we want to let go of: Lord make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred let me sow love, injury ..pardon, doubt …faith, despair…hope, darkness...light, sadness…joy, discord…unity, Let me not seek to be consoled as to console, understood as to understand loved as to love for it is giving that we receive, pardoning that we are pardoned and dying that we are born to eternal life.
THURSDAY – A TRAIN- an avenue of transportation that God provides as an opportunity to soak in the beauty of the journey that is found via the other commuters, the sights outside, conversations on the train, our anticipation as we await to arrive to where we are going or coming from.
Whether we are on our way to work, a family visit, vacation, school or other required places, God is there sitting or standing with us as we travel and behold all that encompasses the ride.
A train ride can offer us the opportunity to soak in what surrounds us: the scenery, the people, conversations and the silence, the various stops that the train makes and the hustle and bustle that occurs as people get on and off the train.
So where is God on the train? He is standing next to you as you observe the beauty in the scenery, and He hears you offer up to Him a prayer of praise and gratitude. I give you thanks dear Lord for the many blessings that surround me…. He is in the conversation that one imparts on you as they unburden themselves about what is going on in their life and how much they are struggling. the support given through silence is greater than the support given through empty words. He is with you as you review your schedule and list of chores that will accompany you this day and you seek His guidance as to what needs to be done and what can wait…. your kingdom come; your will be done…. He is with you as you give up your seat so that another who is elderly, fragile, or worn out, can sit for the remainder of the ride: do unto others as you would have them do unto you….
FRIDAY – A SAILBOAT – a channel that offers God’s gift of peace, serenity, wonder and awe, as we surrender and place our trust in the elements of nature and their effect on the direction of our journey.
A sailboat is a gift that God gives us to either gently ride on the waters trusting in the sail to guide us to our destination, but there are times when the waters, the winds take us on a journey that is rough, and we become afraid. It is then that we must surrender to Jesus and ask Him to calm the waters as HE did on the sea with the apostles. The winds determine the sail and the direction that it will go. The winds of our faith life, the storms, the gentle times, all steer us in the direction that God is calling us to go. God is there in the sail and will not allow us to get stuck in the storms or get thrown overboard.
Although we might not have the opportunity to be on a sailboat, we can imagine how the winds and storms of our life take us off course or cause us to become afraid. We begin the day trusting and believing that things will go as normal and as usual as they have been, but then comes a sudden change: we find out that we are ill, or that someone we love is ill, that someone has passed on to eternal life, that we have lost our job, that our marriage has failed, that our children have chosen to go their own way and leave us, that one has become estranged from the family, from us and from God. These can be sudden changes that effect our sail and the direction that we thought that we would be going. But with God as the captain of the boat, HE will not allow us to sink, but to ride out the storm so that we can see how strong we really are and how the winds, the rain, the storms of life will not defeat us but call us to conquer our fear in faith and trust, self-conviction and determination.
SATURDAY - A CAR – a modern and necessary avenue of transportation especially for those who do not live near public transportation and desire the independence that a car offers. Even if you choose not to drive, imagine being in a car and what the car’s spirituality can be.
There are many aspects of a car that I felt drawn to write about each one and how God can speak to us through their use. You can take this reflection into next week and as you do, even if you do not drive anymore or take another form of transportation, take this as an opportunity to pray for those you love who do drive, that they can recognize the presence of God in their car and how He is calling them to a greater relationship with Him each time they get into their car.
Front window -As we end this week and begin a new day, let us look at it through the big open front window. Let the big, open, streak free, non-tinted window be how and where we allow God to show us all that lies ahead. Not looking to the future but looking at the gifts that are right before us and see them in all their beauty. As we sit in the front seat, we can look ahead and carefully navigate the path that we choose to drive. God is in the driver’s seat in that He knows where He wants us to go. The question is are we ready and willing to go in His direction or do we want to veer of course, take a short cut, or make a u turn?
As you get into your car or take the time to imagine being in a car, look out your front window. Is your window into the world, that is your relationship with God, fresh, reconciled and renewed so that you can see what lies ahead and the direction God wants you to go? Or Is your window so full of streaks, the streaks of personal weakness and shortcomings, that you cannot see straight as to what direction is the right direction?
Or is your window just little cloudy from daily frustrations and life challenges that it makes it difficult for you to see the direction that God is setting before you because you have not made the time to pray and ask for His help? Whatever your front window looks like, always remember that the Son will always shine and can always break through even the worst of our dirt, streaks, smudges, and dust.
Take a hold of the steering wheel and go. We use the steering wheel to keep the car straight on the road so that we can be safe and avoid hitting others. When we take the steering wheel, we can use both hands with a good grip, or one hand with a loose grip. How we choose to hold the steering wheel can reflect how we relate to God, others and how we see our self.
We can choose to use both hands and that is where we choose to keep God close and not want to let go so that we do not veer off course and hurt others by our words, actions, deeds and attitudes. We realize and choose to keep God at the center of our journey and in control, where He chooses to use us as the steering wheel so that we can freely choose the direction that we will go. When we choose to use one hand with a loose grip, it can be our way of saying that we are comfortable with the direction of our journey and that God is a part of the journey, but we are taking a risk and are not fully connected or invested in the journey. Driving with one hand involves taking risks. The risk that if we hit a pothole or must swerve to avoid something, we will not be able to control the car as well because we don’t have both hands on the wheel.
Look at how you choose to hold the steering wheel or walk on your journey of faith. Do you put both hands on the wheel so that you have the control that you need to avoid hurting God, others and yourself? Or do you use one hand thinking that you have everything under control and only when things go seriously wrong do you return to using both hands in prayer?
Gear shifts: Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, what one are you in?
Park: Do you want to stay in park because life challenges are too hard or unbearable, and it would be easier to just stay put and not move ahead? Or do you want to stay in park to admire the view? The view of God’s awesome creation? The view of your journey and how grace filled it is? The view and canvas of God and how He has chosen to reveal Himself: through a sunrise, a sunset, a rainbow, the green grass, the rain fall, the various trees and bushes in their array of colors that they hold.
Reverse: Do you want to go back into a special place and time, where a cherished memory lies and a loved one is alive and well. Do you want to go back to a period of your life where you were happy and felt a genuine inner peace? Do you want to go back to bring up a painful hurt, or a grudge? Do you want to live in the past because it was a happier less stressful time? Living life in reverse is not living at all.
We cannot live in the past if we are Christ’s followers. We must trust In Him so that as we live in the present and choose to go forward, we can take the past, recognize it for what it is and how it has shaped us and use it to form us for the future. We cannot deny our past; good, bad or indifferent, it has made us who we are today, but we need to, we can choose to forgive so that the person that God wants us to be, the best person that we can be, is what we make of our self for the present and into our future.
Neutral: Are you stuck in neutral, unable to decide what to do or where to go? Is your spiritual life in neutral? Is God the God of your present, the God of your past or the God not yet known? Being in neutral allows one to stay and be idle, but not indefinitely.
It is not park, but a temporary pause. Life is a long sentence, sometimes we want to put a period where God wants to place a comma because He is not finished with us yet and we are not finished either. There are times and periods in our life that we want to remove or end, yet our growth, our healing in not done or so God places comma instead. The pause is a respite where God allows us to take a deep breath and exhale any negative stresses. When we take a breath and put our spiritual growth back into drive and out of neutral, we are allowing and inviting God to take us on the next step of our faith journey, the journey of healing and wholeness, peace, joy and happiness as He defines it.
Drive: Let’s take a drive. Let it be slow, let it be with purpose, let it be with an open mind and open heart so that you can experience the freedom and the refreshment that comes. As you drive, invite God on the ride. Invite Him to steer, change lanes, change gears, go faster if necessary or slow down if needed, stop or just take a pause. In all things, let God tell you the direction that He wants you to go and the best way to get there. Have faith and don’t let the past keep you stuck in reverse or fear keep you in neutral, but allow your trust and courage put you in drive so that you can continue to move forward.
Gas tank icon, how much gas is in the tank?
It is the middle of the week, how much gas, energy do you have left? Are you running on empty or do you have a full tank? Is your spiritual life being nurtured by the sacraments of the Church, a good spiritual director, and personal prayer time, or is it being taken for granted and you are running on fumes? We all know that if you run out of gas, you are stuck and might even have to push the car to a safe area. In our spiritual life, if we run out of gas, that is we have run out of our own ideas and solutions and we need to ask God for His help to get us back on the road. We need to be filled with God’s graces so that we can keep going and not falter. Both for our cars and our spiritual life, we need to be aware of bad gas which can destroy the car’s engine and bad advice that can lead us into temptation and cause us to sin. For today, get the premium gas. Go for the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. Give yourself the gift of these graces so that your gas tank will always be full, and your heart and soul will always be ready for the journey.
Look at your gas gauge and ask God to fill you with His grace, love and blessings where you are running low and almost empty or have been running on fumes and are suffering from burn out. His grace is enough for you and He waits for you so that He can shower His graces upon graces upon you.
Gas and brake pads
Life comes at us quickly and there are times when we want to put the brakes on and yet there are other times when we think that things aren’t happening quick enough and we want to put our foot on the gas. When we are driving, we often get behind someone who is going so much slower than the posted speed limit and we find our self becoming inpatient and frustrated. We think that we need to rush. We think that there is too much to do and we are wasting time, so we speed up.
Our spiritual life is similar. We often think that God is not doing things quick enough, so we decide that we can do it better and make hasty choices. We do not take the time in prayer to seek God’s wisdom or insight. When we put our foot on the gas, we go so fast that we miss the present moment and the many graces that God has ready for us. When we speed in a car, we can get into a serious and life-threatening accident.
When we choose to omit God in our spiritual life and make hasty choices, we can get into many spiritual accidents where we fall shot, sin, hurt others, hurt our self and leave God in the dust. It is only when we put on the brakes that we can avoid a serious accident and are better able to listen to God as He gives us direction and the proper speed limit to travel.
Ask God to post His speed limit on your heart so that you can absorb and embrace all that He has to show you so that you won’t miss anything because you were going too fast or too slow.
Rear view mirror
If it has been a challenging week, look in your rear-view mirror and be filled with hope in that the challenges, worries, pain, and suffering are now behind you and you now have the opportunity to begin anew. Use the weekend and take the time to find refreshment. We take our cars to the car wash, take you tired body to a place of rest, relaxation, and refreshment. Your cross may not get lighter or change but your ability to carry it, your outlook of it, your weariness from it, will change as you seek strength and hope from the God who loves you unconditionally, is with you always to remind you that you are His beloved child and His greatest creation.
Pamper, pamper, pamper yourself. That can be in whatever way that you need to so that you can reconnect with God and allow His loving embrace to refresh you.
Glimpse of God for the week of January 24, 2021
There is a theme here….
John and I were in Adamstown, North of Lancaster yesterday, and we found this Snow Buddies hidden in a back room, in the corner for no one to find, but it was calling our name. You see, we were married in 1998 and although you cannot recognize the writing on it, we placed our Wedding date, which is October 4th, the Feast of Saint Francis, the time we were married which was at 2:30pm and the Church that Father John was Pastor of which was Saint Katharine of Siena in Wayne, PA.
This week’s Glimpse of God gives me great joy, not only because we found the Snow Buddies Snowman, but also because I like snow, building snow families and enjoying the picture that they create when completed. Beholding the beauty of snow brings me a deep sense of joy, makes me smile when my eyes can look upon it, reminds me that even in the midst of the severe cold of winter, the snow that accumulates, the frost on the windows, the lack of daylight and the lack of desire to be outside because I get cold too easily, building snowmen, snowwomen,
snowchildren and snowpets, creates a picture of joy with a great smile to go with it.
What is this glimpse?
This glimpse is that of THE BUILDING OF THE ACUTUAL, OR KINDLY RECALLING THE MEMORIES OF SNOWMAN, SNOWWOMAN, SNOWCHILDREN AND SNOWPETS.
When I was a child, the first thing that I did when it snowed and the snow was good for packing, was to go out and make a snowman. My snowman was as unique as I was. It would have a variety of things that could be found around the house to be used as his ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and shirt buttons. Then the topper would be his hat, hopefully like the one that Frosty wore, but in my case, any hat that I could find around the house would do. My snowman, depending on the cold and the packing of the snow, would have two or three big balls of snow. The biggest on the bottom, the next smallest would be his belly and the smaller would be his head. If it was too cold or the snow wasn’t packing snow, he would have a big belly and a small head. When I was done, I would look at he finished product and smile.
How can it bring me to see God more clearly? Does God work through such “made up” characters? I believe that God works through and with all His creation and creatures. We are His greatest creation and when we seek to see His joy, in the small and big ways, and desire to bring it to others, then we are working in unison with Him in bringing about and building His Kingdom here on earth. We are all called to use the gifts that God has given us. Snow is a gift. We can complain about it, tolerate it, ignore it, or use it to bring joy to children and the big kid in all of us.
I still smile today when I see children creating a snowman, snowwoman, snowchild and even a snowpet. I do not think that the fun that I experienced making or building a snowman can be compared to anything else, but today I include the snowwoman, snowchildren, and snowpets, as well.
So, if you come to our house during the winter months, inside our house your eyes will behold the many sizes and shapes of various snowmen, snowwomen, snowchildren, one snowdog, and yes even a snowcat, along with various penguins, and reindeer. Inside I am surrounded by various snow creatures that make me smile and remind me that even with the simplest gift, that of snow, God invites, allows, and waits for me to be attentive and creative, both inside and outside. I also believe that as people enter our home and smile, they are remembering something that brings them joy. I do not ask why they are smiling; I can only imagine that it may be for the same reasons that I do.
So, as we enter a new week of winter, although without a great accumulation of snow, but some snow none the less on Tuesday, according to the weather people, let us think of ways that we can bring a smile to another and strive to accomplish that task. This week’s reflection is on “SNOWMAN” as in Frosty the Snowman, and watching his shows always did, and continues to bring me great joy.
SUNDAY - “S” - Sincere
In all of interactions with others, our first thought is that we need to be sincere genuine and authentic as Children of God, followers of Christ. We cannot, should not interact with others, attempting to make them smile or bring them a sense of peace, happiness, or joy, if we are not sincere in our reason and desire to help them. We cannot bring happiness to others if our message is just words and not from the heart. People who are suffering or unhappy for whatever reason, are not always looking to hear the right words, as much as they are looking for someone to be honest, sincere, and humble as they interact with them. People see through our deception, our false image, our need to make our self feel good at their expense, and our ego that thinks we are succeeding and fooling them. Today as you reach out to another, remember that you do not have to pretend that you are perfect, but you do have to be sincere when you meet another imperfect human being, just as you are, and seek to raise them up.
MONDAY – “N”- Not me
When we seek to help another to make them happy, it should not be about us. God will reward us, will show us that in our spirit of humility and selflessness, that we are being taken care of, that we are loved, and in our being loved, we are able to love others. As you go to help others today, go with the attitude that it is about them, and that God will give you the words to speak. He will show you how to be present and to that person. He will also show you how, it is about you and how you responded to His invitation to build another up, and not tear them down or ignore their plight.
TUESDAY – “O”- Open minded
When you reach out to others today, keep an open mind. One never knows what another is thinking or feeling, yet what they say can shock, surprise, or hurt you. Keeping an open mind will allow you to see things better from their perspective, experience, or circumstances. Today, as you reach out to others to help them, remember that they are in a need and in that need, they are vulnerable, and when one is vulnerable, they tend to say or do things that they would not normally do or say.
WEDNESDAY - “W” -Wise
Being wise or having wisdom is not something that one can fall upon; it must be gained by personal experience and the ability to see things from another perspective. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is wisdom. Wisdom is a gift that allows us to make the right decision, as God would want us to do. When we strive to make another happy or help raise them up, then we are using the gift of wisdom. Wisdom differentiates the right motives from the wrong and enables us to make a decision that goes in accord with the will of God and not our own. They say that wisdom comes with age. I believe that as we mature spiritually, we desire to make the right decision no matter what it may be.
As you seek to help another today, pray for the gift of wisdom so that you can see more clearly where and what God is calling you to say or do.
THURSDAY – “M” -Merciful
We are all called show mercy, just as God has been and continues to be merciful with us, we are called to share that gift with others. When you seek to make another happy, you are seeing beyond any weakness and looking to the heart. Being merciful is not something that we can take lightly. As we are weak, so too is our brother and sister in Christ. When we seek to help others, we are seeing their need, not their weakness.
Today when you go to help another, remember that they might feel vulnerable, needy, and possibly stressed to the point of being angry. See past this and look to their heart.
FRIDAY – “A” - Awesome
God is awesome!!!!
His gifts are not only special, but awesome because they have been chosen just for us.
People have been placed in our life to show us that we are all God's chosen beloved children and that we are here to help support each other on our earthly journey.
For today as you recall the many memories that bring you joy, like the snowmen do for me, offer a prayer of thanks to God for those memories. As you are placed in the lives of others, and you want to help them recognize the awesomeness of God, do not just use words but let your heart speak. Let your heart speak of the love that it is filled with and that you want to share. Others will see the power, presence of the awesome God more clearly and with greater clarity.
SATURDAY - “N” - Newness
When we attempt to lift others up, we often find our self more lifted than the person that we hoped to help. God works with the hearts of His faithful and when our hearts are in the right place, He can work wonders. We experience a newness. We experience a refreshing spirit that not only is uplifting, but also transforming. As I look at the many snowmen, snowwomen, snowchildren and snowpets in our home, I experience a refreshing spirit of joy and happiness. No matter what the day had or has in store, I believe that in and through the gifts that God showers upon me: His grace, His mercy, His peace, His unconditional love, these gifts transform me and invite me to transform the lives of others. So, when I seek to help others, it is not my idea, but rather God is speaking.
So today when you extend a helping hand to lift another up, remind yourself that it is God extending His hand to you and lifting you up so that you can do likewise. "For what you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do unto me."
Glimpse of God for the week of January 17, 2021
This week’s Glimpse of God comes from thinking about my sister recently moving to this area and all the packing and unpacking that she had to do, and a couple who had to pack up the belongings of their dear friend who recently passed away. Packing is not an easy task and for me, not one that I enjoy doing.
Anyway…. what does packing have to do with, or how is it, a Glimpse of God? The question I pose is, does it take the task of packing for us to realize and recognize God amid our daily life, activities, rooms, and objects in our home? Do we, or can, we recognize the presence of God in and through the many objects that we handle, some with great sentimental meaning and some with very heartfelt memories? When we pack to move or just to put things in storage, do we see the gift that the object is? As we go from room to room, or just pack up one room, is God with you as you pack? Do you ask Him for the grace to pack that which is necessary and leave behind that which is extra? On our earthly journey, we do not need extra things that can weigh us down and keep us from moving forward. The same goes for our spiritual journey, when things or stuff get in the middle or in the way of our spiritual life, then we need to let go of them. For instance, how much modern technology things do we need and how many things are too much? When we use them to heighten our prayer life, out time with God, then we are using them for our spiritual growth and development, but when they interfere and seem to be the center of our life and we cannot let them out of our sight, then we are missing out on spiritual growth and development. God wants our heart, and we want to give to give it to Him, completely not partially. So when one is packing or imagine packing, one has the opportunity to give a part of their heart to God through the objects that one holds, remembers and chooses to pack or not
What would it take for us to see God in our home the moment we open the door and enter in? Can we recognize that the rooms in our home can reflect our spiritual life in that God is present to us in those rooms in an incredibly unique and beautiful way. As we enter each room and begin to pack the items that are in that room, how do we place them in the box, or what thoughts cross our mind as we place them in the box? Does that specific room bring about good memories or sad ones, painful or joyful, calm, or chaotic?
Can we see God in the gift of our home and the many rooms that we enter as we go through it, the ordinary events, or routines that we enter each day, the pets that love us unconditionally? Do we bring God with us wherever we go?
Do we believe He is everywhere, even in the bathrooms and basements of our homes, of our lives?
We all know what it is like to have to pack our belongings, whether it is to move into another home because of downsizing, or moving after getting married, relocating for a new job, or moving into a dorm for college, it is something that some of us enjoy, and others not so much. Whether we have helped another to pack their stuff or had to pack for our own stuff, it is a tedious and time-consuming job. Depending upon the reason for the packing, like the death of a loved one, it can also be a painful experience. As one is left with the task of packing their loved one’s belongings, and in many cases finding a home for many of those belongings, this can bring about painful memories.
Packing can be likened to one entering their spiritual tomb where there seems to be a darkness that pervades. Whether one is packing to move, or one can take the time to remember when they packed to declutter or make more space, they enter the spiritual tomb as they let go, and trust that they will not be left empty, but will leave the empty tomb. The tomb can indicate where one is moving on from the present to the future and moving out of one’s comfort zone to be clutter free.
Isn’t that what we do when we pray for others and their concerns and needs? We place them before God with the hope and trust the He will hear and answer our prayer for them Although we do not see them as possessions, they can be likened to fragile items that once broken need to be mended and repaired. When we hurt another or we are hurt, we can liken our apology as the gift that God gives as we place the hurt in the box with the trust and hope that we are forgiven. With trust we enter our spiritual tomb and we come forth renewed.
I believe that if we can see God in the ordinary, we will be able to recognize Him more clearly in the extraordinary, be it in the people, places, or events. As you begin your day, try to see God in your home and the rooms you enter. What do they symbolize or represent? If you had to pack the objects in that room, how difficult would it be, what objects would you take, and what items would you want to leave behind. Can you see that the room represents your spirituality where God is present with each memory? If you ever have packed to move or helped someone move, do you remember the way rooms and the various objects were packed? What room was first and what room was last? Were some objects skillfully packed with great care, while others were just placed in the box with little significance or concern.
Sunday: The Vestibule – The entrance to your home. Your smile is the vestibule to your heart. As people enter your home, do they feel welcome? Can you seek to open your heart to others as they enter your home, the place where you dwell with family and you welcome friends? What objects in your vestibule bring a smile? The shoes of your children or spouse in a pile by the door, the coats on the chair because one was in a rush to sit at the dinner table for the meal? A mirror showing the reflection of those you love as they enter and leave your home?
For today: Think about if you had to pack those objects in the vestibule, What would you pack first? If your smile is the vestibule to your heart, what would you pack so as to keep your smile, so that you can continue to feel the joy and happiness of the Lord? Would you leave behind that which keeps you from experiencing the joy that God has instore and ready for you?
Monday – Your Bedroom – a room where you rest, your belongings are kept, a room that is private. Do you thank God for the gift of rest? Are you grateful that you have a place that you can recourse to if you need a break and want to be alone? Your clothes…Can you see God in the gift of clothing and how it covers the body, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, a temple that should be reverenced, honored, and protected. You are the Body of Christ, you were created in the likeness and image of God, so instead of being critical and judgmental, choose to rejoice and be glad.
For today, think about if you had to pack those objects in the bedroom, what would you pack so that you can continue to get the necessary rest that your body needs? And keep your personal time with the Lord in prayer?
Would you leave behind that which keeps you from accepting that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit, the Body of Christ? A beacon of His love and a reflection of His presence?
Tuesday – The Bathroom - The bathroom is a room of cleansing of the body, what do you want to be cleansed of? Can you ask God to cleanse your mind and heart of anything that is impure and blocking your path to becoming the saint that we all strive to be? Have you taken advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation recently? God is waiting and invites you to share your story so that He can cleanse and heal you and make you whole.
For today, think about if you had to pack those objects in the bathroom, what would you pack so that you could continue to cleanse your body and soul of those things that steer you into the direction of disbelief that you are beautiful in God’s eyes and that you are His beloved child, loved unconditionally and His greatest creation? Would you leave behind the voices in the mirror that convinced you that God doesn’t love you and that you were less than human because of your sinfulness. Those sins or weaknesses that you have overcome with and by the grace of God and the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist? God has forgiven and forgotten so must you.
Wednesday – The Living Room – The room where one watches TV as a family, plays games, where family gathers to talk, laugh, cry, share stories, and just relax. Can you thank God for the many living room experiences that you had that have brought you closer to those you live with, with those who you welcome into your home?
For today, think about if you had to pack those objects in the living room, what would you pack so that you could always be ready and wanting others to relax with, share stories and humor with, to grow in love together? Where quality time has strengthened your relationships with those whom you love. Would you leave behind those that interfered with the quality time that you wanted to spend with family and friends?
Thursday - The Dining Room – The place where you gather around the table, a place of presence, a place to be nourished and where bread is broken and shared. The dining room is the place where hard work produces food and nourishment for the body. Can you thank God for not only the gift of food, but for the ability to prepare it and for those who partake of it?
For today; As you enter the dining room try to see those you love enjoying the time together over the meal that you have prepared and rejoice. What would you pack so that you could continue to be present to those who gathered around your table for a meal, conversation, presence? Would you leave behind those that distracted you from wanting to gather around the table, that keep you from preparing a meal, that keep you away from those you love? Weariness, discouragement, isolation, ….
Friday – The Basement – The basement is a place where many things occur, and is often used as an exercise room, a playroom, and a place where things are stored. The basement is not on the same level as the other rooms for one has to go down into the basement. Where in our lives have we fallen or descended instead of standing up for our faith, a loved one, or ourselves?
For today, can we ask for the grace to stand up, stand tall in humility and not let others or false guilt bring us down so that we feel unloved or that God has abandoned us? God’s mercy is far greater than any sin that we commit, so stand tall and allow God to embrace you.
What would you pack? Those objects events or people that picked you up and raised your spirits. Those who enabled and encouraged you to stand up for yourself and for your beliefs.
Would you leave behind those events or people that lowered your confidence and brought you down to the level of indifference. Those events where no one had your back and you lowered yourself to the temptation’s that assailed you.
Saturday – The Kitchen - The area where meals are prepared, a place where conversations abound, and quick greetings are shared as one goes off to work, school or meetings. As you prepare your meals in the kitchen, can you recognize that our greatest meal, our spiritual nourishment is in the Holy Eucharist? You are invited to take and eat of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. As you enter your kitchen, close your eyes and vision when you receive Jesus in the Eucharist and share a prayer of gratitude.
For today: think about what it takes to prepare a meal: the ingredients, the time, the patience, the desire, and the energy and as you see what you need more of and what is overflowing, ask for the grace to receive that which is lacking and to share from what is overflowing.
What would you pack? Those ingredients that helped you prepare a meal with great love: patience, peace, joy, happiness, understanding, respect, and peace. Would you leave behind those objects or people that took away your peace and caused you to be inpatient, short, and judgmental with those in your home, community, and neighborhood?
Glimpse of God for the New Year 2021
The Spirituality of decorating a Christmas Tree, from Cookie
As we celebrate the New Year, some begin to think about taking down the Christmas decorations, and yes, even the Christmas tree. Not me…We have a Winter Wonderland that will remain up until spring and that includes our Christmas tree that will become a winter wonderland tree. Our winter wonderland consists of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Frosty and company, penguins, and other winter figures.
Anyway... this Glimpse of God comes in the form of the spirituality of decorating your Christmas Tree and what the various decorations might mean spiritually. This is an inspiration and nothing that I would have thought about without the grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I hope that it helps as you with begin to either undecorate your tree or look at your tree with different eyes; the eyes of faith, hope and thanksgiving.
Every part of the tree can have a deeper spiritual meaning, one that means more than just putting a ball or lights or a star on it, but rather one that speaks the message of God’s love to your heart, and through the many and different decorations that you place on the tree, you are remembering the various and many people that have been and remain God’s presence and love in your life.
As you look at your tree, look at it with the eyes of faith and begin to see how the tree, from the trunk to the branches, with the various colored balls, lights, ornaments and the star or the angel at top, speak God’s message of love: love of others for you and you for them, God’s love and presence in your life and in those you love, and how you are commissioned and called to reach out, like the branches on the tree, and spread the good news of that great love to all those you encounter.
Trees come in various sizes, shapes, types, and shades of green. They are short, tall, wide, and thin, just as we are. We are different and unique, created by God, and chosen as His beloved to be His witnesses to the world. Just as a tree radiates its beauty, the beauty that the decorations have brought out, we also radiate the beauty of God: the beauty of love, compassion, mercy, peace, joy, and hope and we bring that out in others. The tree, just as we, do not need decorations to be a light to the world or to radiate the beauty of God, it is inherent. God allows us to decorate our tree of faith so that we can remember how blessed we are and have been, and it can be a sign of hope amid life’s challenges.
This is a different type of Glimpse, you can take parts of it and reflect on them each day of the week, or you can pray to see what part of the tree decorations are speaking to you, and how God is calling you to a greater recognition of His love for you through it.
The Christmas tree beholds great hope, and the source of hope is the everlasting love of Jesus. The pandemic is the advent to the vaccine, a new normal and a greater hope for healing and wholeness.
SUNDAY - The tree trunk. The outer bark protects the tree from the outside world, and it is continually renewed from within. It helps keep out the moisture in the rain and prevents the tree from losing moisture when the air is dry. It insulates against cold and heat and wards off insect enemies. The trunk could not stand if its roots are not deep. Jesus is the true and only source of life. If we allow Him to nourish us, protect us from harm, insulate us from the evil one, and keep us from spiritual burnout and dehydration, our tree will grow much taller and stronger than we can ever imagine. The trunk is Christ. in that He is the source and strength, the root of our life in faith. We can choose to hold onto the trunk, see it for its strength and trust that we are deeply rooted. We place it in water to keep it from drying out and losing all its beauty. Jesus is our nourishment. We can choose to be fed and nourished by Him in and through the sacraments of the Church, especially the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If we choose to go it on our own and become dried out or over watered, Jesus is there to nourish us, forgive us, strengthen us, and lead us to grow stronger and with a greater self-determination and resolve.
Who has Jesus sent into your life that has been that true source of strength, courage, stability, and determination that has reminded you of who and what you are rooted in, and has grown from that trunk to be God’s branch of love and life?
MONDAY – The branches. The branches grow out of the tree trunk and serve as support structures for the various fruits, flowers, and leaves. The branches are those in our life that we have reached out to or have reached out to us in a like minded faith and spirit that has allowed us to grow in our faith and relationship with God and His Son Jesus. The branches are those who have embraced and supported us in our good times and challenging times, who have held us up when we faltered, fell down, or felt discouraged and hopeless. The branches are those who, as they held us up, did so out of love for us, God, and themself. The branches hold the lights, the ornaments, and the balls that remind us of the various and many ways that God shows His great love to us. We too are the branches that have held others up when they have been torn down or broken down because of another’s words, actions, or attitudes towards them.
Who has been a branch of life to you, who has raised you up, held you up, or reminded you that Jesus is still your center even in the midst of life’s challenges? Who have you been a branch of life to?
TUESDAY – The solid or colored lights. The lights light up and call attention to the branches. They shimmer and intensify the beauty of each branch that they are carefully laid on. The lights can serve as reminder of the many people present or in the past that have been the light of faith to us. By their shining light have made our light grow brighter and more vivid; the light that has helped us recognize with greater clarity the gifts of God’s joy, friendship, blessings, miracles, and love in others, and in our self. The lights come in varied colors and sizes. Our light bulbs are sometimes small with a little light, or a big glowing light, either way, we are shining the true light of Christ to others. We accentuate the branches in our life, those people who have reached out and embraced us, those who have been God’s strength and courage for us, and those who have called us to become our best self, the persona that God created us to be and have the potential to become. The solid or colored lights in our life have drawn us closer to our true source of life, Jesus.
Who has been your light and who have you been a light of Christ to? Is your light a solid color symbolizing perhaps forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, or trust that bring hope to others, or are your lights colored symbolizing the varied colors of new and renewed life; love; peace, joy, happiness, hope, healing, and harmony?
Weather you have solid or colored lights, they can serve as a reminder of how we are called every day to be God’s instrument and light to those in need in whatever way or avenue that He chooses?
WEDNESDAY – The sentimental ornaments. These ornaments can bring back memories of individuals, events, or milestones in one’s life and in the lives of those we love. As we place the ornament on the tree, we usually place it in front or in dominant place so that others can see it, remember the who or the why, and instinctively offer a prayer of gratitude to God.
Who or what ornament brings back sentimental and heartfelt memories? Can you vision the person that created the memory and thank God for the gift of their life, their support, their example, and their faith?
THURSDAY – The various colored balls. The various colors and sizes of Christmas balls represent the fragility of life. The glass balls represent that fragility of all people and how we are called to handle all with the care, dignity, and respect that God intended.
We are called to handle life with its many challenges with tender love and care. The very tender love and care that Jesus has for us, we are called to have for others.
When we feel fragile due to life challenges: unemployment, ill health, the death of a loved one, addiction, divorce, separation or the estrangement of family members, the colored and fragile balls remind us not only our fragility and challenges, but also how others have held us up, embraced us and allowed us to stay whole and not break under the stresses that enfolded us.
We can mishandle people by our words, our anger, our grudges, our gossip, and we can break them; we can break their spirit and we can damage their self-worth. None of which is God’s intention, or a part of His plan for His children.
As you look at the various colors and sizes of the Christmas balls that you will place on your tree, can you reflect on the fragility that each ball, each person represents, and pray that God heal, make whole and strengthen them? Can you pray that God hear and answer your desire to hang around a little longer so that your color, your strength, your choice to live life be granted.
Who do you know that is fragile, due to life challenges, and needs your prayers, support, and encouragement? Can you offer that in the form of a phone call, a zoom gathering, an email, text or prayer?
FRIDAY – The Angel. As we complete our tree decorating, we can place an Angel on the top that could represent our hope and desire to be God’s Angel of mercy, compassion, hope, love, joy and peace to those we are privileged to encounter. As the Angel announced the plan of God to Mary, she said Yes. As the Angel announced God’ plan of protection and trust to Joseph, He said yes. As an Angel announced the miracle of birth to a barren Elizabeth, she said yes. We are reminded that we too can and do announce God’s message of love, peace, miracle, hope, trust to others and as we place the Angel on top of our tree. We often are God’s Angels in disguise where we choose to be His messengers without the ego, or need to be the center of attention, or be recognized, but rather in a spirit of love and humility. We are saying yes to God’s message spoken to our heart and seek to be reminded of our call to be God’s messenger.
Who is or has been an Angel that has revealed God’s message to you? Who have you been an Angel to? As you awake to a new day and new year, what message do you want to proclaim and what do you need to hear? Is it a message of hope or healing trust and strength? Ask the Angels to help you be more like them in that you will proclaim God’s message as it is revealed to you.
SATURDAY – The Star. The beams of the star represent how we are a part of the light that shines forth and are called to be that light that lead others to Christ. We are the beams that lead others to the Christ child and the miracle of His great love for each of us. The star guides us and others to the real presence of Christ. As we place the star on top of the tree,
we can be reminded of the many people that have been the beams of light that have called us to a greater and deeper relationship with Christ. They have been the spark through the stubble and the clouds.
Who is or are your shining stars? Is it your children, your spouse, your mentor, your friends, your church community, your neighbors, or your coworkers? Do you recognize the presence of Christ in their light and how they have made your light shine and brought you closer to Christ?
Other decorations or items that support our Christmas tree and all of its beauty.
The hooks that secure the decorations on the branches of the tree
The hooks on a tree are a necessity if you do not want the decoration to fall off the branches and break or become damaged. The hooks could represent the people in our lives that are hooked on Christ. They are those people who remain in the background and do not seek to be recognized or become the center of attention, but rather they seek only to keep us connected to Christ and each other. They do not seek to be in the forefront or be recognized but rather play a humble role of keeping the ornament or Christmas ball secure to the branch on the tree. The hooks support the fragile in and of our life. Without the hooks we take the risk of breaking that which is precious, beyond price, and unbelievably valuable: heartfelt memories, and treasured relationships.
Who is your hook? Who has kept you connected so that you would not fall and break away, but rather remain strong and steadfast? The hooks in our life are those who are strongly connected to both Christ and us and will not let us fall. Who have you been a hook for?
The trees skirt is laid down to protect the trees water supply and provide a beautiful rest spot so that the manger can be placed on it.
The trees skirt is laid down over the water supply at the base of the tree. It hides and protects the base of the tree where the water is and where the tree was cut. The tree skirt can remind us of the great love Christ had when He laid down His life for us and was crucified. The base of the tree where the water is can remind us of the last words of Christ: I thirst as well as the waters of baptism and how they flow from Christ. The tree needs water to thrive. We thrive only when or thirst is quenched with and through Christ and not with what the world offers. As Jesus suffered and died on the cross, He thirsted. When we choose to hide our only source of life, we thirst, and that thirst cannot be quenched. As we cover the base of the tree with the tree skirt, let us see that act, not of one where we are choosing to hide from Christ, our only source of nourishment, but rather it is Christ protecting us from suffering from spiritual burn out by keeping our water supply, the grace where the waters of baptism flow, safe and unpolluted by the world. It is then that we place the Manger scene on the tree skirt. We lay down that which will accentuate the true reason for the season: Jesus Christ coming as our
Messiah in the form of a baby child so that He can be born in our hearts.
Who have you laid down your life for so that the child Jesus can be born in their hearts? Who has laid down their life or prostrated themself before God so that you would be protected from your self and getting in your own way of spiritual growth and development, healing, and wholeness