Branching-Out

Big Fish Lessons

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 20, 2021 6:00:00 AM

For some reason, the story of Jonah and his three days and three nights inside a great big fish inspired some comparisons with life circumstances today. Hmm! Does that sound odd? Let’s think about it.

My husband and I have been somewhat quarantined in our house since last March. Yes, we go out for a few errands now and then, but most of our time is spent inside the belly of our house. So far, we have been safe from the COVID virus waves. Praise God, who has blessed us with resources, retirement, health, and stability.

I went to the Bible and reread the Book of Jonah and found a great deal to consider. Whether we believe that this account is just a teaching story or a description of a truly interesting miracle, the reread was worth the time. Allow me to share.

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Topics: divine mercy, catholic program renew, God's forgiveness, God's love, Good News, his people on earth, prayer, RENEW International, repentance, Jonah

Thoughts about Walking

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 18, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Over the past ten months, I have limited my going to stores, churches, and entertainment venues. Consequently, I have had a lot more free time around my house. When I need a change of environment, depending on the weather, I take a walk around my neighborhood. I have revisited my conclusion that I take so many things for granted and that I need to be mindful of all the things I can do, even though there is a pandemic virus threatening. So a walk around a few blocks helps me to clear my head and focus on positivity; and my doctor encourages me to exercise often for my physical health.

Have we ever considered other opportunities a stroll can provide? If I am walking alone, I have the chance to pray the rosary or some other personal prayers. I find prayers of gratitude pop into my head as I observe beautiful clouds or hear sweet birds’ songs. I am reminded of how grateful I am to have the strength, balance, and flexibility to be able to walk; yet, I see happy people gliding along very successfully in wheelchairs and enjoying what outdoors has to offer them.

And I never know whom I might meet as I amble around the familiar streets. At times, God gives me chances to smile and greet others, and maybe even share brief conversations that could brighten others’ days or help solve little problems.

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Topics: catholic program renew, God's love, Good News, prayer, RENEW International, The Gospel

Prayer: 'What are you looking for?'

Posted by RENEW International on Jan 17, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Gentle God, loving Father, source of all goodness,
you bless us with many gifts,
most especially the gift
of your Son.
Jesus invites us
into loving relationship,
as he is in loving relationship with you and the Spirit.
Grant us the power of the Spirit to discern
the best way to respond to Jesus’ invitation.
Give us the determination to respond
continually and fully to that call.
We ask this in and through the Christ
who calls us and the Spirit who guides us.
All praise to you Lord, now and forever. Amen.

 Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, Cycle B.

© RENEW International

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Topics: disciples of Jesus, called to follow, catholic RENEW program, invitation, Jesus Christ, power of the Spirit, prayer, RENEW International, respond to the call

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jan 16, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the First Book of Samuel

(Chapter 3:3b-10, 19)

“Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was. The Lord called to Samuel , who answered ‘Here I am, you called me.’ ‘I did not call you,’ Eli said. ‘Go back to sleep.’ So, he went back to sleep.”

This happened again and then again, but eventually Eli understood what was happening, that it was God calling Samuel. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”

Samuel went to sleep again and “the Lord came and revealed his presence.” “Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.” Indeed, he was one of the most important leaders in the history of ancient Israel.

Each of us must make decisions in lifesome minor, some life-changing such as choosing a new school and a direction in life or deciding to marry and have children. How do you approach your callings and opportunities? Do you pray? And, most of all, do you listen to the Spirit who lives within you?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10)

“Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.” Sometimes, it is certain what your path should be, but often, it is not clear. Is the voice of God coming directly to you in consciousness or dreams? How or through whom does the voice of God come to you? Can you say as Samuel said, “Speak, your servant is listening”?

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Topics: apostle Peter, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, catholic renew progam, First Book of Samuel, God's call, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Ordinary Time, Apostle Andrew

Re-ing in the New Year

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 15, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I enjoy working and playing words, sometimes to the exasperation of the “autocorrect” on my iPad. So, I decided to consider words that start with “re” in relation to the year 2021 and how they might relate to bolstering spirituality. Are you ready?

I am not too good with New Year’s resolutions, but here goes.

It is a good idea to recommit to your regular prayer time every day. Maintaining a relationship with the Lord certainly has its rewards.

Realize that God is always with us, listening to our prayers and loving us with a merciful love.

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Topics: evangelization, catholic program renew, God's love, Good News, prayer, RENEW International, The Gospel

Neighborhoods

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 13, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Just for a little change of scenery, my husband and I will sometimes take a car ride. We go past neighborhoods that I visited years ago when I pursued customers for my direct- sales decorating business. Other times, I think about neighborhoods where we or our friends or relatives have lived. It is interesting what memories pop up as certain houses or businesses come into view.

Each neighborhood can have a kind of personality. When I was a little child, my neighborhood was very friendly, with many senior citizens. I could safely and freely visit Mrs. Cudney on her porch or expect an enthusiastic return good-morning wave from Mr. Nelson. When Mr. Buckley’s wife died, neighbors took up a collection for flowers and brought him dishes of food.

When I was first married, I lived in an apartment on a very busy state road, and houses were a bit far apart, so I did not get to meet many of my neighbors. Our next neighborhood was in the historic part of a town, with old apartment houses that used to accommodate silk mill workers. That neighborhood had a mix of old and young friendly families. It was close to a grammar school, a bus route, a bank branch, a pharmacy, a grocery store, a restaurant, and even a postal substation. It lent itself to both business errands and pleasant strolls. It was great for a young family.

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Topics: evangelization, catholic program renew, God's love, Good News, prayer, RENEW International, The Boy Jesus, The Gospel

Beginning With the Ordinary

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 11, 2021 6:00:00 AM

One day I was having an ordinary conversation with my teen-aged grandson, Joshua. I was telling him that when I was a teen, I used to play a few tunes on an acoustic guitar and that my plan was that, after I retired, I might dig it out of the attic and try learning to play it again. My comments sparked his interest, and before I knew it, we were trudging up my old attic ladder entrance to resurrect my instrument.

I showed Josh a few of the things I remembered about the guitar. His birthday was approaching soon, so you can probably guess what Josh’s maternal grandparents’ gift to him wasan ordinary, but brand new, acoustic guitar!

It has been about three years since our trip to the attic, and now Joshua is a very good guitar-player. A family friend, Kevin, gave Josh a few lessons; then Josh bought a better guitar. Next, he took some lessons from a music teacher at the college he now attends. His father helped him to build a guitar storage stand. Josh occasionally comes to my house and serenades me. When his paternal grandfather was dying in a convalescent home, Josh went to see him and played his guitar and sang to him. While that grandpa was rather senile, he could still remember to ask for the “guitar man.” An ordinary conversation led to buying an ordinary guitar which led to Josh becoming an extraordinary guitarist. 

This week, liturgically speaking, we are beginning “Ordinary Time.” We may understand that to mean that we are not in a special season of Christmastime or Eastertide, or the preparation times of Advent or Lent. However the word “ordinary” could connote something without potential or just plain and uneventful. That certainly is not the case with any of our liturgies. Anytime we celebrate the Eucharist it is extraordinary! Ordinary Time liturgies are full of inspiring scripture readings.

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Topics: disciples, catholic program renew, Gospel According to Mark, Jesus Christ, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Ordinary Time

Prayer: Mission of Service

Posted by RENEW International on Jan 10, 2021 6:00:00 AM

God of love, you revealed Jesus
as your beloved Son
in the Jordan River.
We praise you for the gift of Christ,
our salvation and our peace.
You anointed Jesus
for the service of the world.
Strengthen the Church’s witness
to this mission in our world today.
You brought us to new life
and made us members of Christ’s Body in baptism.
May the gift of your Holy Spirit keep us
ready to meet the demands of our baptism. Amen.

 Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, Cycle B.

© RENEW International

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Topics: baptism, Baptism of Our Lord, mission, catholic RENEW program, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International, service

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: The Baptism of the Lord

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jan 9, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

(Chapter 55:1-15)

This reading begins, “Thus says the Lord: all who are thirsty, come to the water.” The Middle East was and is a thirsty place, a desert area. We tend to take water for granted today, but for the Jews it was life itself. Isaiah portrays a loving, bountiful God who promises to give plentiful water and food to the people and offers to “renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.”

Throughout the Hebrew scriptures, God seeks out the people even after they have betrayed him and suffered because of their sins. Our God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is never far from us and actively seeks us out. Isn’t that amazing, God pursuing us? Sometimes the Jewish people felt that God had abandoned them. That was never the case and is not now with us. God pursues us in so many ways that we are not even aware of. Do you think that God is pursuing you now in your life? How? What is God calling you to do? The Holy Spirit who lives within you will guide you discern how God is calling you.

Responsorial Psalm from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

(Chapter 12:2-3,4, 5-6)

“You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.” This is not just any water; it is from the spring of salvation. Throughout history, people have sought a fountain of youth and even risked their lives for it. There is no fountain of youth, but there are the “springs of salvation.” They will renew us if we will drink from this never-ending spring.

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Topics: catholic renew progam, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, receive the Holy Spirit, RENEW International, savior, Sunday readings

Inside and Out

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 7, 2021 6:00:00 AM

While I have been distancing myself from family and friends in my quest to stay healthy, my husband has gotten to know me even better than he did before the pandemic. We have not been going out to eat or visiting others’ homes for any extended socialization. He has learned to ignore my little quirks and to be patient with my imperfections. So far, so good. I am probably aiding his path toward sainthood.

No matter how well my husband knows me, he will never know me the way God does. As the new year begins, it is reassuring to me to pray with Psalm 139. I think it’s my favorite psalm of all the 150.

Each verse of the psalm delightfully stresses how thoroughly God knows me. He knows my physical activities, my thoughts, my habits, even what I am about to sayor type right now! I know many people would say it is a coincidence, but when I decided to write a blog post about Psalm 139, I sat at my kitchen table and opened up my Bible; and without any bookmark or my consulting the table of contents, I opened up to the exact page containing that psalm. Some folks might call that confirmation.

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Topics: catholic program renew, God's love, prayer, Psalm 139, renew catholic program, RENEW International, pandemic, covid-19

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