Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007 ~ Fourth Sunday of Advent

Matthew 1: 18-24

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife,


Oh, St. Joseph, most chaste spouse, pray for our husbands! May they be as obedient to God's will as yours. When is the last time I earnestly prayed for my husband? Do I nag him about the things I want him to change or do I take them to prayer? Do I realize that my husband is human and will not be perfect until he enters Heaven? Do I forgive him his faults, both large and small?

Do I lead my husband to Heaven? Do I nudge (not nag) him to participate in the life of the Church and our domestic church? Do I complement him for participating, even if he is not fully into the cutesy symbolic stuff we concoct for our kids? Do we pray together as a family? Do we pray together as a couple?

Do I charitably correct my husband as needed? I had the opportunity yesterday to swallow my anger and pray upon the most loving response to redirect a moment of selfishness in my husband. Thank you Holy Spirit for sending the right words, so he received them well! Do I ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in my marriage? Do I pause and reflect when conflict develops between us or do I act impulsively?

Not too long ago I read Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. It is an excellent perspective on how, as women, we have a great responsibility in the success of our marriage and must not resign ourselves to victim status but embrace three concrete goals to satisfy our husbands. Her basic point is that men are simple and need to be fed in three key areas: stomach (food), ego, and sex. Men who feel satisfied in these appetites will walk over hot coals and through raging snowstorms to do anything their wives need. Try it. Work on those three areas and see if your husband doesn't become the man of your dreams (or even more so if he already is). It's worked for me!

Lord, like St. Joseph, we hope our husbands will be strong protectors of our families. Please guide them, inspire them, and help us, their wives, to treat them with the dignity, respect, and care they need and deserve from a loving spouse. Especially this Christmas, help us to turn to St. Joseph and ask him to lead our husbands to holiness.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007 ~ Third Sunday of Advent

Matthew 11: 2-11

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me." As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses. Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, `Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.' Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.


The Lord gives us the example of St. John the Baptist today to fortify our belief in the prophecy of Himself in the Old Testament. Even he, however, asked the disciples to question if Jesus is the true Savior; perhaps in prison, his faith is challenged. Jesus challenges the crowds to examine their motives in seeking out John. He wants them to know that their faith cannot be dependent on the standards of this world, but only on the kingdom of Heaven.

How is the Lord challenging my faith this Advent season? Can I identify with St. John the Baptist as one who was so sure but now amidst suffering is doubting? Do I identify with the crowds who sought out St. John as a man who could produce miracles or a man with visible worth and royalty? What are my motives for the various aspects of my spiritual life? Do I seek miracles? Do I despair in the simplicity of doing dishes and changing diapers, or do I offer each such moment of drudgery to the Lord, seeking union with Him?

I am currently being blessed by the most recent book of Mother Teresa of Calcutta's writings. If you have not picked it up, get it and be prepared to be challenged. The union with God she describes is not that of ecstasy or even of tranquility but of great passion and suffering. Her life was spent yearning for Christ, never satisfied, always thirsting for Him as He thirsts for each one of us. Yet, we all saw the outward simple beauty of her love and joy for Jesus.

The Gospel stories are full of instances, such as this, where Jesus points out that holiness is not what we would expect. How do I envision holiness? Are there those after whom I try to model my spiritual life? What do I really know of their interior lives? Is my picture of holiness the perfect image of some saint or relative? Do I have a grasp of the suffering that holiness entails?

Being a Christian is always a paradox. It is always remembering that the last shall be first. Explaining that to my five-year-old is not easy, but it reminds me that I do not understand it well enough myself. As we prepare this last week before Christmas, let us take at least one hour of prayer to ask the Lord to show us the reality of holiness. It isn't always pretty or what we would expect, but it is always perfect.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007 ~ Second Sunday of Advent

Matthew 3: 1-12

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sad'ducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."


St. John the Baptist gets a bit fiery here with the Pharisees and Sad'ducees, doesn't he? He calmly and peacefully baptizes all those who come to him, but when the "brood of vipers" approaches, he tells it like it is! These men are known to be hypocrites, and St. John will not have it. He will not allow them to claim baptism in the Spirit unless they also show change their lives.

Am I a hypocrite? Do I pledge to change but truly fall short in vital areas? We are all sinners in need of repentance, but some offer only a lukewarm response to God's mercy, neglecting to "bear good fruit." St. John knew that Jesus would not tolerate such as these. In his humility, he tried to warn them of what was to come. Most didn't listen.

Do I heed the warning that Christ is coming? Do I live my days as if each day was my last opportunity to show God my love and devotion? How can I ensure that each day is spent producing fruit that the Lord would value? Does my Baptism inspire me daily to actively pursue holiness? Or do I shrug my shoulders and merely "try"?

Mary's yes at the Annunciation was not lukewarm. She did not shrug her shoulders and say, "Whatever you want; you're God." How often do I have this reaction to challenging events in my life? Her acceptance of the will of God was difficult, and she confidently responded, "Let it be done unto me..." She essentially told God to "bring it on!" Her response was strong, not weak. What is my usual response to God?

St. John the Baptist warns the Pharisees, but he also warns us. Am I ready to face Christ's winnowing fork? Do my actions clearly communicate my faith in God? This Advent season, how can I better embrace my Baptismal calling to live no longer but let Christ live in me?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007 ~ First Sunday of Advent

Matthew 24: 37-44

As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.


We have NO idea! The day of the coming of the Lord is close at hand, yet we carry on with our lives. Especially during this holiday season, we are so busy that we can easily forget that Advent is not just about preparing for Christmas. It is also about preparing for the Second Coming. This Gospel leaves no doubt that we must prepare.

Am I ready? Let's go through the metaphorical rooms of our heart and see if things are as they should be. I hope you can follow my line of thinking, as I parallel our houses with our souls!

Is the entryway warm and inviting? If Christ enters today, will He trip over boots and backpacks? Will He find a tidy hall or perhaps a stone wall, keeping Him out? Maybe there is even a half-wall there, so you can see Him but He can't quite reach you.

Is my living space comfortable? Would Jesus feel at ease in my living room or family room, because He has visited there often? Are there images and sacramentals that ensure He has a place where the family gathers? Do my children know how to sit at His feet and hold two-way conversations with the Lord? Do I?

For all of us Marthas out there, do we have a stocked kitchen, ready for unexpected guests? Do we have warm drinks and sweet treats for our friends? Or are we panicking that we cannot offer them anything? Or worse, do we feel they would not want the humble snack we can offer? When is the last time I put my arm around a hurting friend, giving them warmth and comfort? Would I be able to offer the Lord something simple, yet elegant that showed Him I care?

And, is He staying for dinner? Is the dining room table always set with an extra spot? Do I have clean linens on the table or are they stained and tattered? Would I invite Him to eat with the family, regardless of how poor the children's manners? Would I remember that He loves them anyway? Or would I be embarrassed, beating myself up for not being Emily Post? Are there meat and potatoes ready to go, or can I only offer a few crusts of bread?

In what ways do I need to better prepare for Christ's coming at Christmas and beyond (assuming the Second Coming is not in the next three weeks!)? How can I take some time out from my hectic and busy December to clean things up inside, to make a place ready for Him?

A priest this weekend explained that BUSY is Being Under Satan's Yoke. Am I too busy? How can I best prioritize my lists to keep Satan at bay? What is Christ asking me to sacrifice this Advent to make ready for His coming?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sunday, November 23, 2007 ~ Solemnity of Christ the King

Luke 23: 35-43

And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews." One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."


We imagine kings to be all-powerful rulers. We imagine them to be both wise and amiable in protecting their people and their kingdoms. We imagine they live in grand palaces or castles and receive the "royal treatment" from countless servants and aides. Christ the King, in the Gospel reading today, seems so different that the stereotypical king. But, is He really that different?

He is all-powerful. He is wise and amiable in His Divine Mercy. His only goal is to save us all from eternal damnation. His home is Heaven where angels and saints worship him day and night. The difference is that this King was also humble - humble enough to walk out of his castle and into the streets - humble enough to suffer severely to save His people and build His kingdom.

The kings we imagine, the existing leaders of our lands, are they humble enough to do what it takes? Do we imagine the ideal king to be both powerful AND humble? Are we grateful when they take sacrifices and risks to save and protect their people, even at the expense of their own reputations (and even when we disagree with their actions)?

Do I view Christ as my King? Do I realize that there is no disconnect between His Kingship and His Passion? They are integrated and necessary. How can I alter my view of Christ to worship Him as my King? Do I fall down at His feet and observe ceremonial rules in greeting Him? Do I serve and praise Him as my King? Is He the only King of my heart?

This is the last Sunday of our liturgical year. With Advent only one week away, the Church in her wisdom, urges us to look upon our Savior as royalty. She knows we will soon reflect on His birth, another instance of Christ the King's humility; therefore, we need to be reminded of His supremacy. For even in the form of a tiny babe, even bleeding and beaten to near death on the cross, Christ is the King. Christ is my King. Is He yours?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007 ~ Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:5-19

And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, "As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." And they asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?" And he said, "Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!' and, `The time is at hand!' Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.


Does Christ here speak of the end of the world or of the reality of the world? It seems both, in my eyes. Especially with all the talk about rapture and the misunderstanding surrounding the last days, perhaps we have become oblivious to the message here. First, there is no way we will understand the things that will happen, so it is vanity to try. Second, we are to endure the trials listed in this Gospel passage today, tomorrow, and every day...until the end of the world.

Jesus explains that the beauty of the temples will be destroyed in the end. But before then, there will be false prophets and anti-Christs. There will be wars, natural disasters, illness, and famine. There will be signs from Heaven. We will be persecuted, even by our own family members, and perhaps killed for our faith in God. We will be hated.

Regardless of whether the Final Judgment is tomorrow or in 1000 years, we ARE living in the end times of which Christ speaks, and He instructs us to endure. He reminds us that the Spirit will give us the wisdom and words to bear our trials, and that He personally will protect every hair on our head.

How often do I consider that tomorrow could be the end of the world? Do I live as if each day was my last? Do I despair in the chaos around us or worry needlessly about world events? Are the struggles I face on par with what Jesus describes?

Am I hopeful and trusting of God's protection of my life? Do I act as if everything depended on me? How strong is my confidence that the Spirit will guide me? What can I do about these challenging times? Do I surrender to the Lord's goodness?

Especially as we approach Thanksgiving this week, let us find strength in giving thanks to God for His protection, guidance, and goodness amidst the turmoil.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sunday, November 11 ~ Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 20: 27-38

There came to him some Sadducees, those who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and died without children; and the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife." And Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him."

Personal Reflection

Aren't the Sadducees so silly?! They seem to have totally missed the point in this reading. The Resurrection doesn't follow the rules. It is a miraculous mystery that we will never fully understand. Yet, admirably, in their attempt to understand it, they inquire about the "law" of Heaven. How can there be eternal life if it is not logical?, they ask. It takes enormous faith to be at peace with a lack of understanding, and they do not yet "get it."

How often do we do the same? Do I get so caught up in the rules of Catholicism or what I am supposed to do every day that I forget about faith? Do I want Jesus to lay it all out for me and give me a specific formula to follow to get to Heaven? Do I rely so much on the rigors (or lament over the lack of consistency) of my prayer life that I forget to truly love God with my whole heart, mind, and soul?

I find myself doing this often. I would like to put my faith on my calendar, schedule it into my routine, and adhere to certain obscure guidelines. If I say these prayers or do these works, I will attain holiness. My problem is that I focus so much on the fact that I can never live up to my own expectations that I forget to simply adore Christ in the process.

Do you think He cares that we spend one minute or one hour in prayer every day? Yes! But, He cares more that we turn our hearts to Him regularly in complete abandon. He does not give us a law to follow. In fact, Jesus abolished the Law of the Old Testament to recenter our hearts on Him. People, like the Sadducees, had become so caught up in the details of the Old Law that they forgot the intent of it.

Heaven is of a different sort than our present life. It is something we cannot understand. We will not be married in Heaven, although, hopefully, our spouse will be there with us. Instead, we will be focused completely on the Lord, basking in His love and loving Him eternally. There will be no need for marriage, as Jesus tries to assure these men.

How do I feel about the mysteries of our faith that we can never understand? Do they frustrate me or do I find peace in my faith? Do I fully believe in the Resurrection, that my body and soul will be united eternally? Can I trust God with the details, or do I get caught up in the rules? Am I constantly seeking for a set of rules to guide my spiritual life? Do I do the best I can to simply increase my faith today, trusting God to work out the details?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sunday, November 4 ~ Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

sorry this didn't get posted in time...

Luke 19:1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchae'us; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchae'us, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." And Zacchae'us stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."

Personal Reflection

How amazing was Zacchaeus' faith! He longed so much to see Jesus without even knowing who He truly was! A sinner was forgiven, because he went the extra mile to find the Lord. Do I put myself out there in potentially embarrassing situations to declare my faith? Do I take risks to find the Lord in new places? Do I even bother to look for Him when I know it will be difficult to see him (in another person, in a struggle, etc...)? Do I know that Christ can save me regardless of my sins?

Zacchaeus had an immediate conversion. By having the Lord in his home for one meal, he changed his life and made reparation for all of his sins. How frequently do I have a conversion of heart? Am I in need of one today? If I had Jesus in my home tonight, what would I cook? (just kidding!) What would I do differently tomorrow? How would my life HAVE to change?

"The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Who do I know who is lost? Have I surrendered them to God? Do I pray continually for their conversion and put their faith journey in God's hands? It only takes one moment for a life to change; how fervently do I pray for those moments in the lives of those I love?

Sunday, October 28 ~ Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

sorry this didn't get posted on time...

Luke 18: 9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Personal Reflection

How often do we, as women, compare ourselves to others? We strive for an unseen goal, to be just like her, even though we don't really know what that entails. While appearances may heighten our desires to imitate another person, we must remember that God calls each of us to We are not called to be someone else.

Therefore, there are two lessons, I think to learn from this parable.

First, don't judge a book by its cover. We've always heard this. We know this cliche, but how do we apply it? I know I usually think it to mean: Don't assume someone isn't "all that" just by their atrocious appearances. But, can we also take it the other way? Just because someone looks like they have it all, that doesn't mean they do. And, in my opinion, this reality is far more common in our society than the former.

The Pharisee looked holy, but he really wasn't. How many women hide behind facades of holiness? I am not saying we should assume that all those women we admire for their sanctity aren't "all that." But, I am saying we should be more careful when longing to imitate another woman. It is my nature to be drawn to women whom I want to emulate, but I have to humble myself to instead ask for their bits of wisdom and guidance instead of just settling for copying their outward appearances.

That said, I hide behind my own facade. It drives me nuts how many people compliment me on my faith, when they have no idea of some of the inner turmoil I experience, the doubt, the despair. You don't really know, and therefore, you should be cautious in your assessment of others.

The other lesson to learn, simply put, is to be humble. Never trust that you are holy enough. Always seek more. I truly believe that if we could convert our material desires into a desire for holiness, we could redeem our fallen world. If women longed more for union with God than with academic or career achievements, wouldn't we live in a different culture?

How often do I put on a pedestal other women about whom I know little? Do I focus on where God is calling me to grow in holiness, or do I simply try to imitate others' exterior actions? Do I beat my breast and beg God's mercy on me daily? Do I embrace my crosses and my unique circumstances as paths toward greater sanctity?

Do I assume too much about others' personal faith journeys merely by their outward appearances? How do I cultivate my character, so that others may see there is more to me than what meets the eye? Am I open with others about my faith triumphs and struggles? Am I humble? Do I give God the glory for everything in my life? Or do I seek control and try to "manage" God?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sunday, October 21 ~ Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.' For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'" The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Personal Reflection

I am generally a persistent person, but I am also pretty good at the whole Catholic guilt thing. So, while in worldly things, I can be persistent to a fault, I always feel guilty asking God for things, especially repeatedly. In fact, I have gone through periods in my spiritual life where I think, Why bother to ask for anything specific at all? God knows what is best for me, and I want His will. How can I presume to know for what to ask?

My beloved pastor, who by the way is undergoing treatment for some unidentified mass on his lung - please say a prayer for him, spoke to our Mom's Group last spring, however, about this very dilemma. He said that St. Thomas Aquinas said that there are three types of prayer requests. There are those God will grant whether we ask for them or not. There are those God will only grant if we ask Him. And, there are those God will not grant us, because he has something better in store.

So, like the persistent widow in the Gospel story, we must ask God for what we want. He wants us to trust our desires to Him. That act, in itself, is such an act of faith and hope, that He will often pour out graces upon us from His heart of compassion. He thirsts to hear the cries of our souls, because those prayers prove an undying devotion to His will.

Do I ask God for specific things I want? Do I ask for the healing of family members or friends? Do I ask for a parking spot not too far away? Do I ask for the conversion of people I know? Do I ask for enough money to last the month? Do I ask for a move or job opportunity? Do I ask to find a lost book? Do I ask for only the big things, or do I entrust the details to God, as well?

Do I repeatedly ask God for the same things, or do I give up after only a few tries? Do I pour out my whole soul and heart in supplication for my simplest desires? Do I kiss the feet of Jesus, submitting to His perfect will? Do I feel guilty asking God for things? If so, do I consider how that makes God feel?

Today, make a list of some things you want, some desires of your heart, some big, some little, and put it away for a few months. Then, take it out again and see what God has done for you!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sunday, October 14 ~ Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Sama'ria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." When he saw them he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" And he said to him, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."

Personal Reflection

I am an ungrateful child most of the time. At least, I imagine that is how God must look upon me when I fuss and lament over what I want and what I need. It seems to be a natural result of concupiscence, though, because without express instruction on how to be grateful, my daughter falls into the same tendencies, no real surprise there. So, how do we teach our children to be grateful? The answer is we must be grateful first.

Jesus is not concerned with how we do this. He just wants us to thank Him and praise Him. That's all. We must make a conscious decision each day to thank Him and praise Him for even the mundane...even the suffering we endure. The leper in this Gospel has to take a moment to leave the crowds of amazed people around the temple, leave his friends and their rejoicing, leave the self-gratifying joy and find true joy in thanksgiving by going to Jesus first.

This isn't easy. We overlook so much in our daily lives, and the majority of us, are quite spoiled with good things and great people. Most of us, hopefully, return to God when the big blessings come, but how often do we stop and turn to Him for the little blessings? For example...

Lord, I thank you for the computer on which I type. If not for this outlet, I would feel isolated and much of the ministry I hope to accomplish would be impossible. Even when it bogs down or sends me incomprehensible error messages, Lord, I know that it is a gift not all have.

The ability to email my friends and family who are thousands of miles away, the beauty of sharing conversations about faith with strangers, the opportunity to use the information available on the Internet to deepen my spiritual life and help me be a better wife and mother are all invaluable to me. A large part of my life would be lost without it. Often I think life would be much simpler; it would be forced to be so, but still I am grateful for this gift as long as it lasts.

Now, you try. What is something for which I don't ordinarily thank God? Peaceful moments while ironing? My children's need for guidance and discipline, resulting in my own personal growth? The noise than signals to all visitors (and sometimes neighbors) that joyful children live in my home? The joy they take in smearing jelly or glue or whatever all over the table, floor, walls, themselves, and yelling, "Look, Mom!"? The friend who, it seems, is in constant need of my love and attention? The condition that requires continuing medical attention and reminds me of my own mortality?

Am I the one leper who returns to Jesus after his healing and praises Him? When good things happen, do I rejoice with God or just with my family and friends? Do I acknowledge the Lord's hand in my life, in my existence? Do I note that if He chose, I could simply stop being?

We are in God's hands, whether we acknowledge it or not. He gives us countless opportunities on a daily basis to grow closer to Him. Do we take those moments to praise Him, to return to Him after every moment of healing or blessing?

Today, I will praise God for the unexpected, the character-building, and the silly, childlike moments in my day!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sunday, October 7 ~ Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 17: 5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" And the Lord said, "If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, `Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. "Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, `Come at once and sit down at table'? Will he not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"

Personal Reflection

We all wish to hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." We are called to be saints, but do we really believe that? Sometimes saints seem so holy that the status is unattainable, but we are each truly called to sainthood. How does one become a saint? We do what is expected of us. Like the servant in the Gospel above, we do what is expected, and we are not expected to perform miracles.

True, the Church has chosen to recognize those saints whose holiness has been exceptional in some way in the canonization process, but all that means is that the Church is certain the person is in Heaven. Holy Mother Church blesses us by choosing verifiable saints to set as examples for our lives today. Some are exceptional, but those are the ones we remember the most. If you really look closely, most are pretty normal, like us. If we get to Heaven, we will be saints, regardless of whether or not the Church canonizes us.

So, let us go back to the Gospel. How do we please God? We do our duty. What is my duty? Do I embrace my daily tasks as conduits of holiness? Or do I wish my life was different in some way, so I could be holier? How do I fulfill my obligations in a way that glorifies God? Do I need to reevaluate my attitude towards my call to holiness? Do I view sainthood as unattainable? Can I imagine growing holier as my life continues? How?

Is my faith at least as large as a mustard seed? Do I berate myself when my faith is not stronger? How can I trust simply in the Lord and be satisfied with my faithfulness? Do I truly believe I can "move mountains" with my meager faith? Or am I stuck in our culture's obsession that it might not be quite good enough? When will it ever be enough? How can I recognize my faith for the simple gift from God that it is and be content to merely uproot sycamine trees and replant them in the ocean?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007 ~ Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 16: 19-31

"There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz'arus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz'arus in his bosom. And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz'arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz'arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"

Personal Reflection

The part about this Gospel that amazes me the most is Abraham's insistence that miracles are not necessary for people to believe. Often I find myself begging God for some sign or obvious guidance to confirm or refute a decision I have made or must make. My husband and I have joked, on occasion, that we need God to hit us over the head with a 2x4 for us to know what to do. It is said in good humor, but there is a lot of truth to the point that it is difficult for me to discern God's will in my life when choosing between two or more good things.

I wish for a sign, but what I should do instead is hope to hear the Lord's voice more clearly. When big decisions are looming in my future, I feel as if I am stabbing in the dark at an answer. The real answer is to work on my relationship with Christ, so I can discern His voice. Since He is my shepherd, I should be able to distinguish His voice amidst the chaos of indecision, just as a flock of sheep follow the voice of their protector and no other.

How much do I hope for signs of God's love? existence? mercy? etc? Do I know people who receive such signs? Instead, how can I learn to better recognize the loving voice of my Creator? Do I depend on Christ's guidance? Do I hear His voice clearly? When in my life have I heard His voice most clearly? What was my spiritual life like to enable such intimacy? How can I gain that intimacy today?

Are there people in my life, family or friends, who are not believers? Would a miraculous sign really change their mind? What can I do to help them hear the voice of God without such a sign? What is my obligation in bringing Christ to others and leading them towards Heaven and away from eternal torments?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007 ~ Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 16:1-13

He also said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. And he called him and said to him, `What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.' And the steward said to himself, `What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, `How much do you owe my master?' He said, `A hundred measures of oil.' And he said to him, `Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' Then he said to another, `And how much do you owe?' He said, `A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, `Take your bill, and write eighty.' The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations. "He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

Personal Reflection

Who would have come up with such a story? More proof, to me, that the Gospels are Truth. For Jesus does not teach the easy way. He implores us to do the right thing, to be faithful in the little things. What little things require my faithfulness? How am I doing on a daily basis with these little things?

Am I faithful to the commandments? To the precepts of the Church? Do I obey my superiors? Do I obey the laws of the land? Am I compliant with God's will or do I fuss about the inconveniences to serving God alone?

For, as Christ insists, we cannot serve both God and mammon. This world will pass, but the Kingdom of God is eternal. What do I serve? Myself? My family? God first? I find sometimes that my service of my family can overtake my service of God. Do you? It's not my actions in this regard that are in error but my intentions. I limit my service as to my family and don't offer it as service to God. Thus, it seems empty and often pointless.

God has blessed us. Even many saints throughout history with lives full of challenges and horrors we could never dream of have been able to see the goodness of God in their lives. Do I see the generosity of God? Am I a good steward?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sunday, September 16 ~ Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 15: 1-32

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." So he told them this parable: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents." And he said, "There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, `How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."' And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry. "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.

Personal Reflection

Today, this Gospel reading reminds me of my sin and my children, interesting combination! I am so relieved when I read this passage and remember God's joy in the repentance of one sinner. How many times do I find myself sinning and beg God for forgiveness? I wish I were more like the saints who (in my imagination, at least) rarely sin, but then, I suppose, in some odd way, I would not give God as much joy. I know with confidence that my regret over my sin and my attempts at reform are God's way of molding me, leading me toward Him.

How often do I reflect on God's mercy? Do I lament over repeated sins or do I find ways to embrace the personal change the Lord demands of me? Am I doubtful of approaching Him for forgiveness, or can I visualize His open arms waiting for my return?

My children can be challenging each in their own ways, as all children can, but I have a spirited (a.k.a. strong-willed) child who challenges me in unique ways. Recently, there are moments where she does something that amazes me or says something that leaves me speechless. As a mother, those moments are so powerful and so long-lasting that the challenges are bearable overall! What a gift God has given me to see through His eyes with my child's disobedience or disrespect. These "sins" (depending on the child's age) fade away with the joy of a special success or the sound of laughter; a celebration of goodness overrides any faults.

Am I forgiving with my children as God forgives me? Are my arms outstretched, no matter what they have done, to welcome them back again? Or do I tend to hold a grudge, even if for an afternoon or a day? Am I teaching my children the art of apology and praying for their sincerity? Do I seek them out constantly when they stray from the fold, trying to bring them back?

God reveals Himself in many ways to us as mothers. Ask Him to reveal His mercy for you and in you, so your family might grow in holiness, one forgiven sin at a time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sunday, September 9 ~ Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 14:25-33

Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, `This man began to build, and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Personal Reflection

I believe I started my faith journey without truly counting the cost. Part of me feels this was designed naivete by God, for if I knew what I had to give up, maybe I wouldn't have fallen for Him so hard. But, here, Jesus says we should be prepared for anything. Rather, we should be ready to lose everything for Him.

As I ride the roller coaster of hope and despair in my faith life, I know God is next to me, strapped in the seat with me. Intellectually, I have confidence the Lord is suffering with me, as I face life's trials with my children, my husband, my parents, my siblings, my friends, and random strangers. In my heart, though, I wonder. I doubt. Do I really have to sacrifice so much to be holy? Can't I just be a "good person?"

Jesus says no. He tells us to leave everything behind, and we just heard this message several weeks ago, as well. He comes to bring division. We must say goodbye to our families. We must give up our riches. What must I let go of to deepen my relationship with Christ? What are the things I am gripping tightly in my fists, not allowing the Lord to take and make holy, regardless of the cost?

Do I worry about the results of following God's commands? Am I anxious about sacrificing "too much?" Do I feel there is a wall I must cross before truly embracing a path of holiness? How thick is that wall? How can I find the courage to scale it? Must I have ultimate control over certain people? relationships? personal goals?

Long ago, when my faith journey was just beginning, I knew sacrifice was necessary. I knew I had to lay things at the foot of the cross and release the control I hold so dear. I can't remember whether this idea was from a person or the Holy Spirit, but when I am holding on too tightly, I remember every detail.


Find quiet. Close your eyes. Imagine the altar that is most meaningful to you. Picture every detail. Now, although this all happens in your mind, imagine it as a physical activity. Pull off of your shoulders each of your individual burdens, one at a time, and lay them on that altar. Picture some object or person as you do this: your strong-willed child, your checkbook, your planner, your husband, your file on that church group you lead. Do it gently, deliberately, with care. Leave it there and pause to feel the weight removed before pulling off another. Once all the burdens from your shoulders are on the altar before you, begin to pull out of your mind all of the fears and doubts: your inadequacy, the future, God's love, God's judgment, being alone. Then, pull out of your heart all of the hurt and despair: a family fight, lack of hope, loss of a loved one. Grab each sin from your soul and set it there, not to desecrate the holy altar but to make holy the sin, to find its opposite virtue: pride turns to humility, anger turns to forgiveness, greed turns to charity. One at a time, place each "thing" on that sacrificial altar and let go of it. Give it to the Lord. After your entire sacrifice is done, when you have emptied your entire self, picture yourself walking away and leaving those things there on that altar. When you leave that church in your mind's eye, imagine those things still sitting there. You cannot take them with you. Walking away might be a challenge, a bit painful. Then, open your eyes; praise God for taking those burdens; and be at peace.

Whenever you find yourself holding on to one of those things again, find quiet, close your eyes, and imagine the altar... Now, I will speculate on one final sacrifice. Once you have done this exercise and can truly walk away empty handed, it's time to sacrifice your very self. Go back in and put on that altar each part of who you are - physically, emotionally, spiritually. Show the Lord that you heard His Gospel today, and you ARE counting the cost of faith. Tell Him you do want to be truly holy, no matter what it takes. Demonstrate you are walking the path to holiness, not just a journey of faith. Someday, soon I hope, maybe I can do the same.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sunday, September 2 ~ Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 14: 1, 7-14

One sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him. ... Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, "When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, `Give place to this man,' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, `Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

Personal Reflection

My five-year-old daughter regularly tries to attract the attention of grocery store clerks and random strangers. She puts on her best display of silliness and tries to take center stage. When I try to explain that God does not like show-offs, she gives me a confused look. I can hear in her mind, 'But, Jesus wants us to be joyful and bring joy to others.' The lesson her young mind cannot quite grasp is that of this week's Sunday Gospel. We are supposed to demonstrate the source of our joy is Jesus Christ.

Humility does not come naturally to me. We live in a culture saturated with "look at me" phenomenons, including my daughter. It is more natural to want to draw attention to oneself to feel smarter, prettier, sexier, kinder, etc... But, the Lord demands that we take the last seat at the table. How can we do this in our self-centered world?

Do I unnecessarily draw attention to my abilities and accomplishments? Do I brag about myself or my children? When I do draw attention to myself, do I quickly redirect the glory to God? How can I do this better? The Lord wants us to share our joy, yes, but He wants us to do it with humility, remembering He is the source of all.

On the other hand, do I never remark about my family's blessings to avoid drawing attention to myself? Am I "humble" so that people will leave me alone? This is a false humility needing reform. Do I take advantage of opportunities to show how God has worked in my life? These moments can be evangelistic if we let them. How can I declare God's glory without bragging or belittling others?

Do I serve others? As mothers, this answer is inevitably yes, but do I do it with a spirit of humility? Do I change the diapers as part of my day or because it is lowering myself for the sake of my child(ren)? Do I scrub the floors because it is my job or because the Lord, too, washed the feet of his apostles? How can I grow in true humility through my daily duties?

Sunday, August 26, 2007 ~ Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 13: 22-30

He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some one said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!' There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."

Personal Reflection

We don't talk about Hell much anymore, but I believe it is a real place. My pastor on Sunday commented on how we usually say, when people die, that they are in a better place. We don't know that. Many of the saints assure us that the vast majority of us are going to Purgatory, because of God's endless mercy; but, in reality, it's not a nice place.

When my grandmother passed away in the spring, we told my daughter she was "on her way to see Jesus, and we don't know when she'll get there." My grandmother was a devout, holy woman in my opinion, but I don't know the depths of her soul. So, I felt confident saying she was "on her way to Heaven" although that allows for a stop in Purgatory of any length to cleanse her impurities before meeting the Lord face to face.

Do I live my life like it is very possible I could be going to Hell? This Gospel speaks of the narrow door of Heaven. Do I have a realistic view of the afterlife, or do I see it all through rose-colored glasses? How often do I reflect on Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory? Do I think I have a basic understanding of each one? Do I pray for the grace of a happy death and a journey towards Heaven?

I was once taught that the most terrible punishment of Hell is to be separated from God, that the weeping and gnashing of teeth will just be our natural reaction to knowing we have cut ourselves completely from Him. While Scripture says there will be other consequences, as well, I think there is some truth to what I was taught. How do I feel about being separated from God? When we sin, we separate ourselves from Him. Do I weep and gnash my teeth (and head to Confession) or do I shrug off my sin without a second thought?

And, how do I describe the dead? It would be nice to imagine them all in Heaven, but in case they're not there yet, they need our prayers. Do I pray for the deceased in my family and the Holy Souls in Purgatory? Does my family pray for the dearly departed? How can I add this to our day if it is not already a part of it (many families add this prayer to their dinner grace or use it after their meals)?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007 ~ Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 12: 49-53

"I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

Personal Reflection

Following Christ is not easy. It is not supposed to be easy. If it were easy, we would not grow, and Christ desires nothing more than for us to grow in holiness. And, that kind of growth often hurts.

But, we are promised eternal rewards for the quest. So, the peace we must seek is not external; it is an internal peace, filled with the hope of Heaven.

What struggles am I facing today? in my family? in my home? Do I call on the Holy Spirit to fill me with hope? Do I have faith-filled women in my life who I can call on when I need to see past the struggle? When I go to bed each night, do I rest in the Lord?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007 ~ Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 12:32-48

"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour." Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?" And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.

Personal Reflection

The Lord has harsh words for us. It is all too often that we become lazy in our spiritual lives. We have faith and are "good people," but we lose the passion for living every day in and for Christ. Am I lukewarm in the practice of my faith? If so, how can I become more fervent? If not, how can I keep fanning the flame and remain alive in Christ?

I believe we are experiencing the new springtime in the world that our beloved John Paul II prophesied. There are so many good things happening in corners of the world that we must focus on building His kingdom here on It can be to easy to become discouraged in our culture of death, but there is reason to hope. God is present. What am I doing to participate in the new springtime? How do I keep my focus on hope and not fall into despair?

I think it was Dante who said that the hottest places of hell are reserved for those in the face of a crucible do nothing. Am I actively seeking God's will in my life? Do I embrace the challenging expectations He has of me? Much is demanded of us. How do I persevere and not whine about my sufferings?

We must be ready. For every day, we should live as if God might judge us that night. I know this is not on my mind as often as it should be. Is it on yours? Do I consistently examine my conscience every day and make resolutions for the following day? Do I make excuses for my shortcomings or do I ask the Lord for His divine assistance in healing my broken soul? What am I doing on a daily basis to grow closer to God, closer to my Heavenly reward?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Sunday, August 5 ~ Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 12: 13-21

One of the multitude said to him, "Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?" And he said to them, "Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, `What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, `Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

Personal Reflection

The sins of our culture are many, but one of the biggest and probably the easiest to penetrate even the holiest of households is materialism. Coveting our neighbors goods is a sin. Our appearance-driven society leads us into daily temptation. How do I hold up? Do I look through my Pottery Barn catalog with an eye to serve God? Do I watch HDTV to be a good steward of my daily bread? Or, are these instances of temptation for me?

Much has been written throughout Church history on how to simplify our lives. Jesus reminds us "the abundance of [our] possessions" will not make us happy. All of us know someone who is unhappy and tries to fill his/her life with material goods or earthly successes. Most of the saints, however, practice poverty, austerity, some even drastically cutting themselves off from material things in order to avoid such temptations. What makes me happy?

Occasionally, I have the morbid thought that it would be nice if my house and all of my possessions were destroyed and insurance would cover their value. Then, if I had the chance to completely start over, would I have the strength to live as simply as my inner heart desires? I enjoy moving to a new home, because it is an opportunity to get rid of stuff. What things do I have that are unnecessary? What things do I have that are a result of giving into the temptation of trying to keep up with the Joneses? Can I part with them?

God reminds us that we know not the hour when our soul will stand before Him. Most of us do put a focus on those treasures that God values - our families, our faith, our virtues. But, all of us have room to grow. How can I be "[richer] toward God?" Can I reduce my material possessions to benefit others and grow closer to the Lord? Do I have a right attitude toward the material possessions I have and want, regardless of their quantity? It is not necessarily wrong to have; attitude counts.

We all know this life is passing. How often do I think of that fact on a daily basis? When is the last time I purged my closets? the kids' toys? my clothes? my shoes? etc? Is it time for me to let go of any items which I keep with unhealthy adoration? What objects would I be hesitant to give up? Are those with good reason?

I was brainwashed as a child by our culture to want more...more...more. I struggle with this on a daily basis, as we struggle to pay our bills. How can I break free of this constant tendency for covetousness? How can I break the cycle for my children and teach them to be grateful for what they have?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sunday, July 29 ~ Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 11: 1-13

He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation." And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, `Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything'? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Personal Reflection

These words speak volumes to me. Who better to teach us to pray than the Son Himself? When I say the Our Father, do I truly reflect on the words? Do I embrace their meaning? Do I truly want God's kingdom here on earth and believe it will come to pass? Do I trust He will provide for my needs today, even if I don't see from where tomorrow's bread will come? Do I examine myself daily and repent of my sins? The closer I am to God, the better I will know our sins. How close am I?

And, personally, I struggle with the story of the woman seeking bread. How about you? I find myself thinking, How can I, a miserable sinner, influence God? Well, my pastor explained it well to me not too long ago. I believe this is from St. Thomas Aquinas. There are blessings God will grant us whether we ask Him for them or not. There are blessings we will never receive whether we ask for them or not. Then, there are those blessings that God will bestow upon us ONLY if we ask Him for them, thus demonstrating our faith that they will come to pass. How do I see each of these qualifiers in my life?

Finally, I am always touched by this story about the fish and the snake. It is a reminder to me that our God is not a vengeful God. He is merciful and loves us. A dear friend just reminded me that the Church is a hospital for sinners not a haven for the holy. Again, the closer we get to God, the clearer we can see our sins, and the more culpable we are for them. Do I really believe God is my loving Father? Do I ask Him as a child would ask his/her Daddy?

How do I pray? The act of praying alone will bring us closer to God, whether the prayer is answered our way or not. Isn't that amazing? It means that no matter what gibberish we spout in prayer (excepting blasphemy, perhaps), it will have positive results for our soul. Is my prayer life where it should be? How can I dedicate myself anew to prayer and pour my heart into the time I set aside for it on a daily basis?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday, July 22 ~ Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 10:38-42

Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."

Personal Reflection

I am SO Martha!!! Making me sit down to pray for even five minutes can sometimes be like pulling teeth. I have TOO many things to do. As a wife and mother, there is always something else I can be doing besides stop and pray, but intellectually, I know it is like starving myself. If I don't stop and sit, the whole household suffers.

I understand two kinds of prayer that the Lord calls us to enjoy as mothers. The hardest one for me is "still" prayer. Scripture says, "Be still and know that I am God." If we don't take time out of our day to stop everything and focus on the Lord, we will lose Him. There must be time in our day where we stop everything and focus only on God. Our children can be taught to respect that time, especially when we keep a regular routine about it. In fact, if we neglect our "still" prayer, we can't enjoy "moving" prayer.

To me, "moving" prayer are the events of our day spent with Jesus. He is beside us as we care for our children and wash our dishes. Hopefully, He is here as I move my fingers to type these words for you. It is noble to offer our work for the Lord, so that in all things He is present. Martha was not wrong by doing her work; she was wrong by being distracted and choosing to work without first being still! Our focus, whether we are still or moving should be God.

Mary's better part is that when the Lord needed her undivided attention, she was still and listened to Him. We know the Lord didn't need a grand meal prepared for Him; He made a banquet out of five loaves and three fish. Martha was just trying to be hospitable, to show her love through acts of service, a valid course. Martha's busy work, however, was not directed as prayer. It was neither "still" prayer nor "moving" prayer, and at that moment, Jesus needed her to be "still" and listen to Him first, before being able to turn her work into a prayer.

So, am I Martha, or have I learned Mary's way? Do I put my "still" prayer time first in my day? If it is not practical to do first in the morning, is it at least first in priority? Is the rest of my day spent in "moving" prayer, or do I neglect the opportunity to spend my time of work with God? If Jesus walked into my home today, would He chastise me as He did Martha? What about yesterday?

As women, many times this passage is read, and we become defensive like Martha. "If I sit with Jesus all day, nothing will get done!" True, but I don't believe Jesus asks us to sit with Him all day. I think He asks us to work with Him all day and sit when He is trying to tell us something. It is a rare occasion, but it does happen, where prayer consumes a person so much, that he or she neglects his or her duties in life. Maybe you are one of these people and need to scale back your "still" prayer to serve your family with "moving" prayer. Reflect on these things, but refrain from becoming defensive. Jesus Christ is the best teacher there ever was or ever will be; hear Him.

Lord, please help me to be still, sit at your feet, and listen attentively to your every word, so that I may keep you near to me throughout my day as I offer my work as a moving prayer through service to my family and neighbor.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sunday, July 15 ~ Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 10:25-37

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live." But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Personal Reflection

We often focus on this Gospel as the story of the Good Samaritan. It is indeed a wise lesson, but today, for me, I must focus on the command Jesus gives the lawyer: "Do this, and you will live." He is referring, of course, to "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." How well do I keep this command?

Do I love God with all of my heart? Are there other people or things which take priority over God? Do I have a deeper affection for God than for my husband? my children? Do I love God with a happy heart only, or when also it is dreary and sad? A challenge - read The Song of Solomon (only 7 chapters) and remember how God's heart is on fire with passionate love for you.

Do I love God with all of my soul? Are there corners of it that are dusty and dreary? Does sin hide in the shadows of my soul and need to be removed? What are my temptations and how can I rid my soul of them, so there is more room for loving God? As said in my Baptism, is my soul unstained or do I need to head to Confession? Do I recognize that I am not only flesh and blood but also soul - the breath of God? Do I preserve my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and give my body AND soul to the Lord?

Do I love God with all of my strength? When it feels like there is nothing left in me, do I give it to God anyway? When I am beat at the end (or beginning) of a long day, do I still take those moments of prayer to love Him or do I flop on the couch? Do I have confidence God gives me the strength to get through each day, no matter how many challenges I may face? Or do I sometimes despair, wondering how I can make it through another moment? We are soldiers in the cavalry of love, and God is our armor to protect us from our enemies. It is not our choice whether or not to march onward; it is our obligation, our life, our vocation. God will give us strength; He will protect us.

Do I love God with all of my mind? What things are in my mind that take away from my relationship with God? Do my thoughts always praise Him and lead me to Him? Or do I harbor ill thoughts of others or circumstances in my life? Do I fill my mind with good things, maintaining custody of my eyes and ears, not viewing or listening to problematic material? Do I spend time in spiritual reading? Do I learn about my faith? Do I read the Scriptures? If I work, do I offer to God the knowledge that is crucial to my field?

Do I love my neighbor as myself? Forgive me, but occasionally, this command gets a snide remark from me... I'm pretty bad at loving myself, and that is how I love my neighbor. So, check that one off as done! :-) LOL! Seriously, there are two sides to this. We are all guilty of pride and selfishness. Do I love others as much as I love my own thoughts, ideas, desires, accomplishments? Do I put others before myself?

On the other hand, do I show my neighbor the honor, respect, and love that I expect and wish others to show me? (I'm pretty sure this is what Jesus' primary point was.) If I expect my children to obey, do I obey authority? If I wish my husband would bring me flowers, do I buy him his favorite beer on occasion? When was the last time I offered help to a friend or stranger without expecting anything in return? When was the last time I looked the other way when a friend or stranger could have used my help?

The bottom line: our whole selves must belong to God in praise of Him and service to others. Today, my pastor said to me, "Life is hard." I responded, "If it was easy, we wouldn't need God." I pray you will renew your commitment to give everything to Christ every day...even when life is hard.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Sunday, July 8 ~ Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, `Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom than for that town. The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Personal Reflection

And, so it is today. Jesus sends us out into the world to prepare His earthly Kingdom for the day He returns in glory. Whenever I think of evangelizing, I get nervous. I am wary of speaking to others of Christ unless I already know they are believers. Why is that? How does evangelizing make you feel? Is it natural for you to bring up God in casual conversation? Have you ever done any "formal" evangelizing?

Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs to preach the Gospel. So, this gives me a bit of comfort. I might not be called to go on some huge evangelization quest to strangers by myself. If I am called to such a role, God will send me. I know of many wonderful programs within our Church where believers go out, two by two, to share Christ's love and mercy with others either full time or once in a while. I do not feel called to this type of service at this time in my life, and if you are a mom, you might not either.

I do, however, feel called to speak more about Christ on a daily basis. I want Him to be more prominent in my daily discussions. Our lives must be the Gospel for others. So, I think I can take Jesus' advice in this Gospel reading on how to go about that, with friends, family, strangers, and especially my own children. Consider the directions Christ gives his disciples.

First, he advises them to take nothing, not even sandals for their feet and to eat what is provided them. What faith He asks of them! Do I speak of Christ with confidence that He will provide what is needed for me at that moment? Or do I worry about what to say or even avoid saying anything until I have "looked it up?" It is important to admit our shortcomings and look things up when necessary, but we have all been given grace and can share something! Do I take time to study and learn more about my faith on a regular basis? Do I willingly accept the generosity of others? Or do I shun it, feeling unworthy or not wanting to be an inconvenience? If I turn away help from others, am I turning away Christ?

Christ's most interesting instruction in my opinion is to "be like lambs." We are to be docile and humble and gentle with others. We cannot preach with anger or aggressiveness. He tells us to share His kingdom if the people are willing to listen and if not to leave them behind. I tend to be persistent, perhaps too persistent at times. How gentle are my teachings to others? Are those with whom I speak about Jesus willing to hear me? Are they ready to listen? Or do I choose an inopportune time and cause division? Can I tell when they need me to back off or take a break, especially my children?

Finally, Jesus gives His disciples strength and reminds them of their focus. He claims nothing will hurt them, but that they must be humble and think of Heaven's promises alone. Does my faith sometimes cause me to condescend others? Do I think myself better than anyone? Who? Why? Do I have confidence in God's ability to protect me from evil, or do I worry too much? Do I keep Heaven always in mind as my ultimate goal? Or am I easily distracted by the things of the world? How do these faults interfere with my ability to bring Christ to others? How can I expect to lead others to Heaven if I'm wandering off that path myself?

I do not doubt that Jesus knows what He is saying here. He is God. We cannot have a "take it or leave it" attitude about his advice. It IS the Gospel; I pray for the humility to accept it, embrace it, and stop resisting it. May you be blessed with the same grace.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Back to Weekly Posts Tomorrow!

I apologize for the time away! I have been out of town and incorrectly thought I could keep up with my posts while I was gone. I'm back! Check tomorrow night for this Sunday's reflection. A few days later, I will post next Sunday's reflection to get us all back on track! Thanks for sticking with me. You remain in my prayers.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sunday, June 17 ~ Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 7:36 - 8:3

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house, and took his place at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "What is it, Teacher?" "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Mag'dalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joan'na, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
Questions for Reflection and/or Discussion
Reread this poignant passage and put yourself in the story. Try to picture it all in your mind, using all of your senses to actually be present at that time in history. Put yourself as either one of the characters or an observer. Do this before reading further.
When I was in college, I was instructed by a spiritual director to read various Scripture stories and place myself at the scene. It is often recommended that we meditate in this way with the Passion of Christ, trying to use all of our senses to be present at that time - the smells, the feel of it, the sounds, the sights, etc... If you have never done this, try it.
My meditation on this particular passage, though, has always stuck with me. For when I read it, I was the woman washing Our Lord's feet with my tears and drying them with my hair. It was overwhelming to be (in my mind) physically present before Jesus Christ, and I could not just stand by and watch this woman's gesture. I had to participate.
The Lord so gently and generously embraces this woman's act of kindness. He understands that she is humbling herself before him, in spite of and because of her sins, which are many. How do I humble myself before the Lord? Do I force my will to bow to His Almighty Power? Am I prideful and presumptuous about my salvation?
My sins are many. Am I confident they have been forgiven? Do I love Jesus accordingly? What gestures of love do I need to make to the Lord today? This passage names several women who repented and followed Christ, and it is notable that very few women are named in the Gospels. I imagine these sinners turned disciples as strong women for this humility, not weak. Often our culture suggests that humility is weakness. How have I seen strength in humility? Do I resist being humble because of this misconception? In what ways do I need to humble myself?
On Father's Day, let us also reflect on the roles our men have in our lives and our duty to love them with such humble adoration. Our fathers require our respect. Our husbands require our submission. Our Heavenly Father requires our obedience. How well do I honor these men with my humble love? How can I erase any pride on my part from these relationships?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Sunday, June 10 ~ The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ - Corpus Christi

Luke 9: 11-17

When the crowds learned it, they followed him; and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away; and the twelve came and said to him, "Send the crowd away, to go into the villages and country round about, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a lonely place." But he said to them, "You give them something to eat." They said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish -- unless we are to go and buy food for all these people." For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, "Make them sit down in companies, about fifty each." And they did so, and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were satisfied. And they took up what was left over, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

Questions for Reflection and/or Discussion

Recently my daughter and I discussed this Eucharistic miracle. We cut out two fish and five loaves of bread from construction paper and spread them on the floor. We discussed how even those seven pieces of food would never fill twelve baskets, but yet the scraps from the leftovers of God's generosity did that day fill twelve baskets. God is so incredibly generous with us! How many times are we amazed at the blessings that fall into our lap when we least expect them?!

My husband recently took a long road trip, and along the way, his car broke down. Well, actually, he stopped at the nearest exit when he realized he was not going to reach his destination. The gas station he found was the only one in the small rural town. Across the street was the only mechanic in that small rural town. He discussed his options with that mechanic and by phone with our mechanic back home. We ultimately decided it was best to abandon the car, the repairs needed being more than the worth of the vehicle. And, lo and behold, the only rental car place in a two hour radius was the little garage across the street from the gas station where he was in that small rural town! We could hardly believe it! To top that, once he got the rental car, about twenty miles down the road was a huge accident where they closed the freeway, and he sat or crawled for about an hour to get through it. We imagine that the car would have died in that traffic jam, causing even more trouble.

God-incidences are what my husband calls these moments, and for us they define God's generosity, which is what this Sunday is all about. Jesus almost seems incredulous when he tells the disciples to feed the people instead of going into town for food. They must have been incredulous at his insistence, as well. How many times does God ask something of us that amazes us? How many times does God amaze us if we take that blind leap of faith?

When was the last time I took a leap of faith with true faith? What was the result? If I shy from leaping, do I know friends or family who have stories of leaps of faith? How can I increase my faith?

The Eucharist is plentiful and has ALL the grace we could ever need. Do I look forward to Sunday Mass each week (and/or daily Mass)? Do I thank God for that Eucharistic bounty? They say the love of a mother and a father expand to love each child more and more. Do I remember loving my first child with all of my being? If I have other children, do I love them equally as much? Of course! God is the same! He loves each of us the same, the saints and the sinners! Do I acknowledge God's love and ask him for specific requests in complete faith that He will answer my prayers?

This week share stories with others of God's generosity, not to brag but to glorify Him and remind everyone you meet that ALL of our blessings come from God, the most important being His Body and Blood at the Eucharistic banquet!