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