Archive for the ‘the Gospels’ Category

Meeting my longtime email friend who shared great lessons

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Last night was a long time coming! For approximately 8 years, Lisa Hendey, webmaster of the phenomenal website, host and producer of the podcast, Catholic Moments (carried on SQPN), and author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms and I have been emailing and occasionally talking on the phone. I had long hoped we could meet but despaired of it because I’m on the east coast while she is on the west coast.

Nothing is impossible for God, however and last night He granted our wish, and at the parish where I first met my husband and sang with the folk group back in the 1970s, St. Paul’s Parish in Wellesley, MA. Lisa was hosted by WINGS, a group dedicated to cultivating spirituality in women. Lisa gave a talk based on her wonderful book, and I was pleased and proud to provide some music for the occasion. Lisa was kind enough to snap a picture of me, and I took some of her while she gave her presentation. Pat Gohn from the Among Women podcast was with us also, making for a wonderful night of fellowship with friends.

Lisa is a warm and engaging speaker, sharing experiences from her own life which are practical, and doable, by anyone. I particularly loved how she engaged the women in conversation, using half of her speaking time conducting a group discussion. Your parish or event would be well served by having Lisa come and speak.

She shared one tip that I really took to heart – how she prepares for Sunday mass by reading and praying on the gospel reading each day of the week prior to Sunday. Lisa shared of how her hunger for hearing the Word at mass was tremendously enhanced by that time spent each day reflecting on the gospel reading. And she ended her Sunday by reflecting for few moments on that reading and what transpired at mass before going to bed. This is something any of us can do, no matter how busy we may be. The gospel reading is easily found online at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website, where you can read and even listen to it.

You may not experience results from this exercise right away but if you stick with it, the blessings will just keep coming and coming. I know that ever since I started making a habit of praying the Divine Office through listening to it on the website, it seems that I am much more alert and awake to the promptings of the Spirit.

Keeping faithful to the little things does indeed make a big difference. Just refer to St. Therese, the Little Flower. Her whole life was made up of little things. Blessed Mother Teresa understood it well too, remarking how we must “do small things with great love.”

Lisa Hendey understands that. Her faithfulness to God’s call over the years has yielded tremendous fruits. Be sure and visit her website and see for yourself.

What healing requires (Luke 17:11-19)

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Yesterday’s Gospel reading told the story of ten lepers who called upon Jesus for a healing. All were healed, but only one realized he was truly healed and returned to give thanks to God. While the other nine were healed in body, the tenth was healed also in heart, mind and soul.

Leprosy was a terrible scourge, the AIDS of its time. Besides the physical toll it took, it also ravaged the inner life  like no other. Illnesses create emotional wounds because of the isolation and fear they cause. Despite the love and sympathy of family and friends, you still ultimately have to bear your illness alone. But an illness that is not ‘acceptable’ creates deeper wounds because of the shunning one receives as a result. Lepers were banished from all contact with family, friends and society. Because of the ease in which the disease was transmitted, and the physical ugliness that it created, people ran in horror from you if you were a leper. Who can forget those haunting scenes from the movie “Ben Hur,” where we find Ben Hur’s mother and sister in the leper colony, stripped of all hope. AIDS victims today often face the same treatment.

So for Jesus to even acknowledge lepers was radical. In many cases, He even touched them.

In the case of the ten, He surely meant to heal each totally of his wounds: heart, mind, body and soul. The body obviously was the easiest part to heal. The healing of the inner self requires a much deeper faith.

Perhaps this is why the tenth leper was able to come back and thank Jesus when the other nine could not. His faith was deep enough to accept a total healing.

That kind of faith requires an openness found in a childlike heart that has not been hardened by bitterness and pain, the kind of heart Jesus says we must have to find life in Him. When one has a heart like that, one sees plainly the blessings, and the healing, that come from the Lord.

I find that the more I am clinging to Jesus, moment to moment, as a child would cling to a parent, the more I can see Him, even down to the smallest blessing or the smallest sin that I commit. This is what it takes to ‘see’ a healing. It’s all too easy to forget about Jesus as He is not physically in plain view. But I have His Word to read, His Spirit living within me and His people around me, especially in His Church, and it’s up to me to claim these things each and every day.

Appreciating the true beauty – reflections on readings for Sept. 16

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Here are today’s readings
1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,28; Luke 7:36-50

I was touched by the beauty of today’s Gospel reading about the sinful woman washing the feet of Jesus, and the purity of her love despite her sins. In The Word Among Us, the writer speaks of this love as being the vehicle by which Jesus offers His forgiveness. Her love was so pure that she wasn’t put off by dirty feet! She gave totally of herself, asking nothing in return. Here was  a true repentant heart!

What also struck me was how the Pharisee, Simon (who was hosting Jesus) missed the entire point of the exchange. He was so busy judging the woman and sticking to a legalistic observance of his faith, that he was blind to what was really going on. He couldn’t appreciate the beauty of the woman’s love, or of Jesus’ tender recognition of that love simply by accepting what she gave.

What touched me also was how Jesus dealt with Simon. Rather than call him out for being judgmental, he used a parable to gently but firmly teach him about what he was missing. Jesus had such finesse!

What it says to me is twofold:

1. Don’t let preconceived notions and assumptions blind to you to what is really going on.
2. Pray for wisdom whenever you to confront or correct someone – the direct approach is not always the best way!

There is so much to be learned from the Word of God!

“Lord, I am not worthy . . .” Reflection on readings for Sept. 13

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Readings for Today
1 Corinthians 11:17-26,33; Psalm 40:7-10,17; Luke 7:1-10

At the beginning of Advent, 2011, the Catholic Church will formally introduce the new translation to the mass, known as the Roman Missal. Experts poured over the text, trying to make it more faithful to the original Latin, to unearth spiritual richness.

You recall what we say just before receiving communion: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.” This is being changed to: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Why would this statement be rephrased in this fashion? What sense does it make to say “under my roof?”

Today’s Gospel reading from St. Luke answers that question with the story of the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant, but did not feel worthy to have Jesus enter his house, to come “under his roof.” It’s a beautiful story of humility, faith and trust in our Lord. The Word Among Us has a wonderful meditation about this reading that you can read here.

Take a moment today to meditate on this story and then say the words, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Perhaps now it makes sense to rephrase it in that way. It becomes pregnant with meaning.

This is just one small example of the treasures that can be unearthed in this new translation for the mass. Rather than complain about having to learn prayers over again, perhaps take a moment to see “the rest of the story,” as the late Paul Harvey would say.

God’s love never quits, even if we do

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Today I attended Divine Liturgy at my husband Rich’s church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Worcester, MA, where he is known as Deacon Elias. The Gospel was taken from John 3:13-17 which you can read here. The Melkite Church, which is Eastern Catholic, follows a different lectionary.

Just a quick thought today on the homily which Father Paul presented regarding this famous gospel reading. One of the things he pointed out was that God never stops trying to get our attention, even if we are determined to go our own way. It made me stop and think about  how I pray for loved ones who indeed stubbornly go their own way, totally ignoring our Lord. The prayers are often centered around asking the Lord to act. Today made me realize that God never stops acting. I should have realized that just as father in the story of the Prodigal  son (Luke 15:1-32, coincidentally the Gospel reading in the Roman lectionary today!)  never stopped looking for opportunities to bring his son home, so God in his eternal love, never stops trying to lead us home. But He will never force the issue, just like the father didn’t force the son to come home. He waited patiently and when he saw the slightest action from the son, indicating that he was open, he acted, pouring out his love, concern and gratitude upon the son.

It means I need to be even more alert and awake to God’s actions. Perhaps the unexpected blessing to a loved one whom I’ve been praying for was a way of God trying to get that person’s attention. Maybe I then need to gently remind that person to give thanks for that blessing, to help that person make the connection.

I don’t need to ask God to act. I need to ask that my loved ones’ eyes be opened to all of God’s actions around them. God never stops acting.

Junk Food vs. Good Food – Reflections on prayers and readings for Sept. 11

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Here are today’s readings
1 Corinthians 10:14-22; Psalm 116:12-13,17-18; Luke 6:43-49
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart[a] brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
(Luke 6:45, New King James version)

There are so many things I can fill up my life with: books to read, TV shows to watch, places to go. Our world offers so many choices that it’s easy to become full and cluttered. There’s a lot of “junk food” out there to feast upon.

We all know the temptations of junk food – it tastes so good! It satisfies. It brings me comfort when I feel blue or stressed. But we also know the consequences (especially if we’re older!) – indigestion, weight gain, health issues. Junk food can tempt me to eat too much, and thus suffer the consequences. Junk food does not bring forth good things that last.

The “junk food” of the world can do the same, cluttering my mind with thoughts and feelings that can ultimately harm my soul.  And being full of such junk food, it will inevitably pour out of me and perhaps, harm someone else.

In today’s Divine Office, morning prayer, I read about Wisdom:

Now with you is Wisdom who knows your works
and was present when you made the world;
who understands what is pleasing in your eyes
and what is conformable with your commands.

Send her forth from your holy heavens
and from your glorious throne dispatch her
that she may be with me and work with me,
that I may know what is your pleasure.

For she knows and understands all things,
and will guide me discreetly in my affairs
and safeguard me by her glory.
Wisdom 9:9-11

Today (and every day) I need to seek out the wisdom of God in helping me to decide whether the things I take part in constitute junk food that would bring forth bad fruit that could harm,  or good food, that will bring forth good fruit, fulfilling the Will of God. For surely good fruit serves others in love and leads them closer to Him. Filling my head and heart full of that wisdom will lead me there through such activities as praying the rosary, reading scripture, or simply taking a walk with Jesus as my companion.

Staying away from junk food takes real willpower, but once I am immersed in God’s grace, it gets a lot easier!

Family History is Important

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Today’s readings
Micah 5:1-4; Psalm 13:6; Matthew 1:1-16,18-23

Last night when I posted about Mary, I had no idea today was her birthday! Everything I read today, from the morning prayers of the Divine Office to today’s readings, reinforced everything I had heard the night before from John Michael Talbot’s song.

Family history became important to me after my mother’s passing last April. My sister and I made a trek to the city where my her father came from, as I wanted to see his grave. He died when I was teenager and I wasn’t permitted to go to his funeral since I was so young, but since that time, I had wanted to say goodbye in a proper way. I waited 46 years, but I finally got to say my goodbye at the cemetery, and see 4 generations of his family to boot! You can see pictures of our trek here on Facebook.

Everything is connected and in such intimate ways. The hymn from this morning’s Divine Office said it all for me:

Mary the Dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the Gate, Christ the Heav’nly Way!
Mary the Root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the Grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the Wheat-sheaf, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the Rose-Tree, Christ the Rose Blood-red!
Mary the Font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the Chalice, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the Temple, Christ the Temple’s Lord;
Mary the Shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the Beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the Mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the Mother, Christ the Mother’s Son.
Both ever blest while endless ages run.

Mary the Dawn; Medieval English text; Gregorian Tone 4, setting by Paul Crosssung; performed by Kathleen Lundquiest

You can hear it sung here. Click on the Morning Prayer tab and listen to the beginning of the podcast.

The morning prayers also contained a favorite reading from Isaiah about the Shoot from Jesse; I put that reading to music and thought you’d like to hear it. Again, it speaks of connections.

The more I am connected with the Lord, the more I see how all things are connected to and through Him, and to everyone and everything else. It becomes a joyful adventure, recognizing and making these connections.

So even though today’s Gospel reading is a long, long genealogy, take a moment to read it anyway and marvel in all the connections that made the birth of Christ possible. It will give you a new appreciation of your own family history.

Reflection on the daily scripture readings for Sept. 7

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Jesus departed to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.
When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles . . .

from Luke 6:12-13

Today’s readings

I prayed the morning prayers from the Divine Office this morning and felt like I had hardly prayed them. My mind was totally distracted, thinking about very mundane plans for the day and days to come. I kept trying to come back and focus my mind, but it just wasn’t happening. I felt bad and asked the Lord for forgiveness.

Then I read the gospel for today and the verses on how Jesus spent the whole night in prayer to God. Granted, Jesus IS God but He was human too. How did he maintain focus for the entire night? Did He feel tempted to sleep? Did His mind ever wander, thinking about the task He was to perform in naming the apostles? Did He have to work at staying focused on His heavenly Father?

One thing is for sure – He did not rely on human emotion to stay in prayer to His Father. He may have felt absolutely nothing, just as I did this morning. But He remained faithful in prayer.

Many days, prayer is such a dry experience where I experience no sweet consolation from the Lord. But I have learned over the years that consolation is not the objective.  I must remain faithful to prayer even if my emotions say, “no”.

God is near to me even as I feel far away. My desire to be near Him despite my weakness in focusing on Him, draws Him close.

Reflections on Daily Readings for Sept. 3

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Luke 5:33-39

Here are the readings for today.
1 Corinthians 4:1-5;
Psalm 37:3-6,27-28,39-40,
Luke 5:33-39

There were two things which struck me. In the first reading from 1 Corinthians, Paul is exhorting us not to judge one another. But he also said he didn’t judge himself, that even that should be left to the Lord.

Catholics are often plagued with guilt, and it is not always guilt that is holy. We all know we are unworthy of the Lord but He loves us as we are. Therefore, in real faith, I need to confess my sins, accept forgiveness, and move on. Guilt ends when absolution is received. Otherwise, I really don’t believe that God has forgiven me, do I?

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells the parable of the new wine in the old wine skins. The meditation from the Word Among Us today talks about settling for what is “good enough” rather than aspiring to more. I know sometimes I actually fear receiving grace from the Holy Spirit because it can be overwhelming! It can be too much to hold. It again becomes a matter faith and trust – God will not give us more than we can hold.

New wine is good! I need to step out in faith and try it.

Reflections on readings and prayers for Sept. 2

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

I hope to begin to offer some quick reflections from reading the Daily Readings and praying the Divine Office.

Here are the readings for September 2, 2010

I was struck by both the first reading and the Gospel.  In the first reading, we are admonished not to rely on the wisdom of this world because in God’s eyes, it is folly. And how true that is! The more we immerse ourselves in God’s wisdom, the more foolish the world looks. The reading speaks of the vanity of the world’s wisdom and it’s true. There is no vanity in God’s wisdom, so evident in His Holy Word.

One of my favorite saints is St. Peter. He was so human, very flawed, but his heart was as big as the state of Texas! Today’s reading talks about how he sees himself as as truly is because he has seen God. Jesus asks him and the others to go out again to fish even though they fished all night and caught nothing. When they haul in a big catch, Peter suddenly realizes who he truly is with! Jesus had been teaching from his boat beforehand but perhaps the words didn’t sink in totally (although they did somewhat because he did agree to go out again). But now the reality really hit him – this Jesus was a holy man, perhaps even the Messiah! And he, Peter, who was he in the sight of God?

Peter was filled with the wisdom of God at this moment and was enlightened. I pray I can see that today too, and every day.