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No one has ever complimented me on having a green thumb. I am not really a plant person, although I do love looking at flowers and plants of many kinds. It was not a surprise that last spring I noticed a small clump of pretty yellow flowers on one side of my front porch. They were impatiens, and the name was not lost on me; I quickly found the wordplay and realized that it would not hurt to continue to try to work on my problem with impatience—especially during these months of limited socializing and freedom to just go out and about.
 
Patience can be a virtue in short supply when we are confined or forced to change our daily way of life. It is hard to be patient, for example, waiting for a Corona vaccine to be tried and tested properly. It can be trying to wear a face mask, to be constantly worrying about contagion and hygiene, to wait farther back on a line of people because of social distancing.
 
A saint who is a powerful example of a person with patience is St. Jane Frances de Chantal whose memorial is celebrated today. Born in France in 1572, she wisely learned to order and manage a feudal household with her husband and their four children. Any parent knows how much patience is needed to raise children.
 
Jane was widowed at a young age, and even though she had to live with her father-in-law and a testy servant, she maintained a faithful way of life and was even known for her great sanctity. With the help of St. Francis de Sales, she founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary which accepted older and infirm women. Despite family troubles and her own spiritual challenges, Jane was patiently generous to the poor that repeatedly came to her door. She lived a virtuous and austere life as she tried to guide those she loved. She even forgave the man who had accidentally killed her husband. Personally, I think it would have been difficult living in St. Jane Frances’ shoes.
 
Those clumps of impatience that we all experience, that are hard to overcome, can be gradually weeded out with prayer as we gratefully remember God’s patience with us! St. Paul tells us that “Love is patient” (1 Cor 13:4a); and that we should “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience” (Col 3:12).
 
We can be encouraged to be patient. The psalmist says in Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” Proverbs 14:29 says, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but one who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” And Proverbs 15:18 says, “Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife, but those who are slow to anger calm contention.”
 
It seems logical to conclude that when we are patient, we have God waiting with us; we might gain greater understanding, and we can help to establish a certain calmness to a situation. Whether we are impatient with ourselves, others, or a circumstance, we should remind ourselves that God’s timing is not our timing. We are always in control. Patience comes as fruit of the Holy Spirit, so I try to remember to ask the Spirit for help.
 
Thank you for your patience, readers. I end with some encouragement from the Letter of James (1:2-4): “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
 
Resources: Catholic Online; Catholic Encyclopedia.
 
Scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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Good ol’ tropical storm Isaias paid a nasty visit to my neighborhood and left part of the street on which I reside with no power for almost five days. That may not sound like a lot of time until you are the family without electricity to power an air-conditioner in very hot August weather or even a fan to help keep the air moving.
 
The situation would have been worse for my husband and me had it not been for a neighbor who lives on a street perpendicular to mine. His street did not lose power. He rapped at our door the morning after the transformer on our utility pole blew out with a loud bang and asked if we would like to string an electrical cord from one of his home outlets so that we could at least plug in our refrigerator. After that, for about four days, a bright orange, fifty-foot-long extension cord could be seen stretching from my neighbor’s cellar hatchway to our slightly open kitchen window. That one skinny power line meant cold water, cold milk for cereal in the morning, and all those other convenient foods that taste much better unspoiled!
 
One line—not a whole bunch of lines, just one—made such a difference. I got to thinking about simple things and how they can bring about change. I remember how, when I was in parochial school, my sixth-grade teacher used to have us students recite a simple prayer when we were changing from one subject of study to another:

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

 
That little prayer brought our attention to Mary and how she helps us with her prayers; it was a sort of holy way to transition from one task to another. It was a good little habit of prayer to adopt at our early age.
 
Short prayers like that are useful ways to go about a busy day; I like to call them spiritual segues. In today’s world, with so many distractions away from spiritual thoughts, a short, even one-line prayer, sometimes called an aspiration or ejaculatory prayer, can serve useful purposes. One little line can be a prayer-starter, a re-focuser, maybe even a beginning of a mantra.

Father, Creator, thank you for blessing me with the sight of such a
beautiful sunrise!

 
The aspiration can be a power line to prayer. While there is certainly no substitute for spending blocks of time in prayer conversation with our Lord each day, we can ask for special help with a certain task at hand or put a loved one into his loving hands as we get word of an unexpected problem:

Jesus, our Loving Savior, be with (name) and give her strength.

 
There are litany prayers, lists of petitions we often use for novenas or public prayer gatherings. We can certainly borrow from those lists for our little prayer shortcuts. We can borrow a line from the prayer at mass, the Gloria;

We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we give you thanks for your
great glory….

 
If we can punctuate our day with these one-line holies but goodies, these small prayers of praise, thanksgiving, or supplication, we might be holier and happier or, at least, more in touch with our main source of power.
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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Sometimes I think about the different neighborhoods I have lived in over my lifetime. When I was a child, the people that lived in the nearby houses were, for the most part, familiar and friendly with me and each other. The first neighborhood I encountered after I got married was quite different. The houses were farther apart, in a more out-of-town setting; there were no sidewalks and a state road passed by my dwelling. I really did not get to know many neighbors.
 
Then we lived for a few years in a four-family apartment house in a town’s historic district before moving just down the same street to a duplex that we purchased. This neighborhood has lent itself to more interaction and familiarity. Over the many years, children played together. Porch and backyard conversations were not uncommon. We knew a lot about each other’s lives.
 
Now, in a broader sense, I suggest that we each live in a spiritual neighborhood of sorts. We may feel close to various saints in our lives, for example. My middle name is Anne, after St. Anne, our Blessed Mother’s mother. I was made aware of that as a youngster and have prayed for her intercession over the years. She is one of my spiritual neighbors.
 
I chose Mary as my confirmation name, so Jesus’s mother is one of my close companions. I guess many of us have St. Anthony as one of our helpful neighbors whom we have asked to pray and intercede to help us find something we had lost. My family and friends, whose souls I pray for and who pray for mine, are spiritual neighbors as well. I think we all have favorite saints whose help we often seek, and whose virtues we try to make our own. I know many of my relatives and friends who have died pray for me, too, so my neighborhood is happily well-populated. The more the holier!
 
It is not only at Pentecost that I personally recite the sequence prayer (from which I partially quote) and invite the Holy Spirit to come in my spiritual neighborhood:
 

Come, Holy Spirit, come.
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine.
…..
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
…..
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
…..
In your sevenfold gift descend….

 
The saint whose memorial we celebrate today, St. Clare of Assisi (1194-1253), is a spiritual neighbor to emulate because of her humility and piety. Greatly influenced by St. Francis of Assisi, she founded the order of the Poor Clares. Through her prayers, her sisters’ prayers, and her arranging to have the Blessed Sacrament visible to enemies who were going to attack Assisi, she saw the enemies change their plans and flee. Numerous other miracles were credited to St. Clare. In 1958, she was declared the patron saint of television; when she was too ill to leave her room, she was able to see and hear Mass on a wall in her room.
 
I remember the children’s television show, Sesame Street, featured a song that still rings in my ears: Who are the people in your neighborhood? Now, you might want to consider: who are the people in your spiritual neighborhood?
 
The passage from the Pentecost sequence is from the Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing; 3rd Chapel ed. edition (October 25, 2011).
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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When we talk about creating community online, I have to admit that the tagline to an ad from an internet financial services and information company comes to mind: “Turn to the Nerds.”
 
Now, I have many friends who would proudly declare themselves nerds of one form or another, so I am familiar with the idea of online community. They meet people in online games or in Facebook communities. They talk to their online team as they play a game, or comment about a topic that interests them which leads to a deeper discussion. Friendships form between people who have never met in person.
 
That can seem strange to those who are used to relationships formed in person. However, to those in these communities, these relationships are real and strong, and we can learn from them.
 
During the past several months, I participated in an online faith-sharing group that we hosted here at RENEW. Aside from Sister Terry, president of RENEW, there were two people in the group whom I knew in person. Yet, after our weeks of sharing, I feel connected to the other members of the group.
 
Each week we would log in a bit early and chat beforehand. I learned that one member’s wife and I went to the same college and, in fact, knew several people in common. We discovered common interests, learned about each other’s families, and, most importantly, grew in faith together.
 
The very definition of the word internet is: “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks.” It is all about connections. Using this medium to help our parishioners form connections with each other and with our Church is a natural progression. While the message of the Church is eternal, the way we communicate that message must evolve as our communication forms evolve.
 
While creating community through online forums may be new to many of us, it is old hat to many and if we take our cue from them, we can continue to strengthen the bonds of community in our parishes, even in this time of social distancing.
 
Jennifer Bober is manager of marketing at RENEW International.

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Loving God,
open our mind’s eye
to understand more fully
what having faith in you
leads us to do.
Guide our faltering faith,
and increase our trust
so that, like you,
we may offer to others
the security, love,
and wonder of life in you.
Amen.

 
Image courtesy of www.LumoProject.com and is found at www.freebibleimages.org.
 
Adapted from PrayerTime, Cycle A: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels © RENEW International.

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