Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

Daring to dream – inspired by today’s Office of Readings (Oct. 20)

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

There were so many great lines of scripture today in the Office of Readings that it was hard to choose (Divineoffice.org for Oct. 20). Here’s one from Psalm 18, verses 28 and 29:

You, O Lord, are my lamp,
my God who lightens my darkness.
With you I can break through any barrier,
with my God I can scale any wall.

I don’t have any great barriers that I need broken down at the moment nor do I have a large wall to scale. But, an idea came into my head this morning, an idea that has entered my mind before, and an idea I have resisted.

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a writer. I used to create books to continue the stories of favorite classics (Black Beauty especially) or write about my trolls (remember those? :-)). I would illustrate and bind them, and I was very proud of them (in fact, I still have them!). When I was in middle school, I was discouraged in my writing by my teachers and gave up on the idea.

I then took up songwriting and did that for several years. I enjoyed especially writing the lyrics, as you can imagine, inspired by my heroine in music and lyrics, Joni Mitchell. That lady could sure write a line!

I moved into writing music about my faith and enjoying sharing about it through the lyrics, and praising God through the music.

And when email came along, I would write long, newsy letters that got a good response from friends. And when I ran GrapeVine Magazine for several years (a magazine about Catholic musicians), I wrote articles about artists and many CD reviews. (After ten years, I turned over GrapeVine to a new editor, Jim Logue).

So the writing never really stopped.

Entering the ‘empty nester’ phase of life, I’ve found more time for reading and I’m discovering that for the first time since my childhood, I am really enjoying the escape that is reading. Reading is the one thing I can do where I am not multitasking (which is why I refuse to read anything but an old fashioned printed book!), and that is immensely relaxing.

And now, the idea that was planted in me as a child is coming back, the idea to write a real book. It’s a book that taps into my endless interest in Louisa May Alcott and her writings. It’s come back several times and each time my response is, “What an absurd idea! I’m no writer. I don’t have the discipline. I don’t have the background, the education. I haven’t read nearly enough books, it’s been done before,  I have no idea how to do it!”

But the idea that presented itself today for a possible book spoke back to me: “You are reading now. You are writing two blogs (this one and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion). Your other blog is full of over 100 great, thoughtful comments from learned women who are writers, historians, English teachers and students. You have a whole community there to support you in your effort. A close friend of yours is a published author. Any other excuses?”

And then I listen to the Divine Office this morning and hear these verses:

You, O Lord, are my lamp,
my God who lightens my darkness.
With you I can break through any barrier,
with my God I can scale any wall.

It also says in the scriptures, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

This is what I will need to discern over the next several days in prayer – does God want me to pursue writing? How can I use it  for His glory? Do I dare dream about what could be if I do write a book? I’ve never dared to really dream before.

But maybe it’s time I put myself out there and dare to dream. I only know that the best way to find out if God wants this is to try it and see if the interest lasts and if the doors open. Perhaps I have a gift that God wants me to use that I am not fully using. Stranger things have been known to happen.

God’s wisdom is deemed foolishness in the world. Perhaps my “absurd” idea isn’t so foolish, if it’s inspired by the Lord. Only time will tell.

Rock-solid faith – reflection on daily readings for September 17

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Here are today’s readings
1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Psalm 17:1,6-8,15; Luke 8:1-3

St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians lays out a brilliant and logical argument for the cause of eternal life and Christ rising from the dead. As I read that scripture passage I thought, “No problem here, I know I believe that Christ rose, and I believe in eternal life.”

Then I recalled a visit I had the other day with a dear friend of mine who possesses a lot of spiritual wisdom. We were talking about mutual friends who have lost a grown child to cancer and how their faith had been shaken.

I shared how I felt that God had blessed with me with a rock-solid faith, as I truly believe in eternal life and believe my parents are safe with God. My friend then looked at me intently and shared rather bluntly how her “rock-solid” faith was shaken badly when her husband passed away years ago. She has since regained her foothold but she stated it so strongly; it really caused me to pause and think.

I think the underlying message of her statement was a warning: don’t ever count on your own ability to hold on to your faith. Perhaps she saw me as being a bit naive in stating so blithely that my faith was rock-solid. Perhaps there was a little pride hidden in there: “I know my faith is solid while others may be faltering.”

Job certainly seemed solid in his faith at the beginning of his trials, but as the trials multiplied, he began to falter. Anyone can falter in their faith – after all, we are only human!

I recall a statement made last weekend in the homily at Sunday Mass – we always ask God “why” when trials come up, but do we also ask “why” when things are going smoothly? Actually, I silently answered “yes” because my life has gone so smoothly these last 4 months since my dear mother passed away. Almost too smoothly.

And I find myself wondering: will my faith hold up when a real trial comes along? What if I lost a member of my immediate family, would my faith still be “rock-solid?’

I certainly don’t want to ask for any trials, but I do want to be ready. I pray now as things are going smoothly, that my faith will be just as rock-solid when the rug inevitably is pulled out from under me. It is during our most difficult trials that Christ is closest to us, having endured the ultimate painful trial Himself.

Lord Jesus, be with me always and never let me think that I can believe all on my own. It’s Your Spirit in me that believes.

“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.

Reflections on the Sunday readings, September 5

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

It was almost like God was chattering in my head as I read, so many things came to mind today!

Before my reflections, here are the readings:

Wisdom 9:13-18, Psalm 90:3-6,12-17, Philemon 9-10,12-17, Luke 14:25-33

The reading from Wisdom seemed to fit nicely with the Psalm. Wisdom speaks of how hard it is even to figure out what’s going on here on earth, never mind heaven! It speaks of our souls, burdened by the corruption of our bodies, and our minds are filled with worldly concerns. How can we ever hope to perceive the thoughts of God who is so far above all of this because of His perfection? Are we just to mire in earth’s chaos?

But then the refrain to the psalm brings that hope:  In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

While I am no student of history, I do love it and see more and more how important it is to remember our history so as to give perspective to the present and the future. The world today seems out of control and on the brink of disaster, but this is hardly the only time this has been the case! If we just go back less than 100 years to the Great Depression and then WWII, certainly the chaos in the world was every bit as bad as it is now. But in that age, just as in this age, God is our refuge.

I used to really stress out over money because we always seemed to come up short. I’d wake up in the pre-dawn hours and worry myself sick before getting out of bed, and I faced each day with dread. My husband used to keep reminding me that “God always takes care of us.” I used to sweep that notion away, saying that he was burying his head in the sand, but he was right! When I finally took stock of my life and reviewed my own life history, I saw that yes, in every age of our lives, God had been our refuge.

I could never figure out what to do nor could I easily discern God’s will. But when I finally surrendered my anxieties to Him and let Him be my refuge, then I was healed totally of all my money fears. Praise be to God! He is indeed, our refuge.