Branching-Out

When the parade passes by

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 23, 2020 6:00:00 AM

As we get close to Thanksgiving, we hear on the media about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, which will be a very different even this year because of the COVID pandemic. 

That parade, as well as preparations for Christmas, can bring to mind pleasant holiday memories. To sit back and relax as the memory pictures cavort in procession before our mind’s eye can make us very sentimental and grateful. Of course, we can become nostalgic and even sad if we consider our losses and some of the virus-triggered changes in our more recent history. 

So what can we do to keep ourselves peaceful and open to holiday joy? I think it requires a conscious effort to remain positive as so much negativity parades around us. I like to think of other parades in my life. 

When I was a little girl, my mother used to take me to see the local Independence Day parade. My uncle was a member of the fire police, so I would watch for him to march past where I was standing. When I saw him coming and heard the band playing, I would start mischievously dancing around—-just off the curb and into the street—only to be quickly pulled back by my mother. It was a happy dance and is a happy recollection. 

When I was in fifth grade, I was marching with my class in a procession honoring our Blessed Mother. I liked being first in line, and so I was that day. However, I got distracted and did not notice that Mother Mary Edith, our teacher and procession leader, had stopped for some reason. Well, I just kept walking and walked right into her. No big deal, but I was a very embarrassed 10-year-old. Now it makes me smile.

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Topics: Christmas, catholic renew progam, communion of saints, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International, pandemic, COVID, virus, when the saints go marching in, Thanksgiving parade

Prayer: When Did We See You?

Posted by RENEW on Nov 22, 2020 6:00:00 AM

God of abundance
you challenge us to give food to those who hunger:
Help me to feed those
who go without food and drink.

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Topics: clothe the naked, whatever you did for the least of brothers of mine, catholic RENEW program, feed the hungry, prayer, RENEW prayers, welcome the stranger, least of them, comfort the sick

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe

Posted by Bill Ayres on Nov 20, 2020 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel
(Chapter 34: 11-12,15-17)

Here we are at the end of another liturgical year. Next week, Advent begins.

Ancient Israel was a very pastoral country with numerous herds of sheep and many shepherds to protect them from predators and bad weather. David, who became Israel’s greatest king, was a shepherd who took good care of his people. Every king was required to, in a sense, be a good shepherd, but not all did. In this passage, Ezekiel has God saying that he will take care of the people in every way. In one of the truly moving passages in the scriptures, God says he will rescue them, give them land and rest, seek out the strays, and bring them back, bind up the injured, and heal the sick.

That and more is what our God does for us every day. God lives within us and all around us. That is true even when God seems far away, and we may feel unworthy or lost in depression, addiction, loss of a loved one, or some combination of painful situations. As we seek God, God is already there. We need only to be open and not think of God’s love as having magical powers. We ask for something, and there it is. No! What we have with God is never magic but rather mystery in the best and deepest sensethe mystery of unconditional love, a true ongoing relationship beyond our deepest longings.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 23:2-3, 3-4, 5-6)

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” We truly want for nothing, at least not what we truly need, because Jesus, our shepherd, is always there for us. We have only to ask and wait patiently, something that is most difficult for us to do.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

(Chapter 15:20-26, 28)

A paradox is not the same as a contradiction. Our faith is full of paradoxes that are not contradictions. Saint Paul is talking about the paradox of the Resurrection. Through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we share in new life. It is happening now, but the paradox is that it is not yet complete. As we have mentioned several times in these commentaries, Paul and most of the early Christians thought that the completion, the Second Coming of Christ, was coming in their lifetime. That did not happen, and so, over the centuries, we have learned to live in the paradoxthe life of the resurrection has already begun but is not complete. Let us focus on what already is and rejoice in it.

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Topics: end of liturgical year, a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, catholic program renew, Gospel According to Matthew, Jesus Christ, Psalm 23, renew catholic program, RENEW International, social justice, Matthew 25 Christians, Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, first letter of saint paul to the corinthians

Up For the Counting

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 18, 2020 6:00:00 AM

So many of us are counting things every day. We may have been cautioned to count to 10 before losing our temper. We have fitness trackers so we can count our steps; some of us count our daily food calorie intake; lately, we have been counting ballots in important elections. We can get caught up in all the bad news about the economy or the pandemic and have to remind ourselves to count our blessings at the end of each day.

 In the Bible, there are so many examples of tabulating countable things such as peoples, tribes, nations, and blessings. In Genesis 15:5-6, for example, God talks with Abram about counting:

He brought him outside and said,
“Look toward heaven and count the stars,
if
you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “
So shall your descendants be.”

Jesus certainly knew about counting. Take, for example, the conversation he had with Peter in Matthew 18:21-22:

Then Peter came and said to him,
“Lord, if another member of the church sins
against me,
how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?
Jesus said
 to him, “Not seven times,
but I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

We are made aware in Mark’s Gospel (6:30-44) about Jesus’ feeding five thousand followers using only five loaves of bread and two fish.

And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. (Vs 42-43)

So obviously, someone was counting people, loaves, fish, and baskets.

As a little child going to confession, I was taught to tally up my sins and report my list of infractions to the priest. How many timescount ’emdid I tell a lie? How many times did I disobey my mother? It was possible to picture God sitting up above with a big ledger, keeping a running list of my sins. As I grew up, I learned that image of God was incorrect. Fortunately, we can find forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation after confessing more of our sinful tendencies or habits, and not itemized, numbered lists. How blessed we are, as we are reminded in the Lamb of God prayerthe Agnus Deiwe say at every Mass, that Jesus takes away the sins of the world. When I look around, it is overwhelming to try to imagine how to count how many sins there are and have been, over the centuries, in the world! Thank you, Jesus! And thank you, forgiving, merciful Father!

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Topics: Advent, catholic renew progam, confession, Jesus, Jesus Christ, multiplication of the loaves and fishes, prayer, RENEW International, sacrament of reconciliation, seventy seven times, sins, sins of the world

Messages

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 16, 2020 6:00:00 AM

I was sitting at my kitchen table and I heard a little “beep, beep, beep.” Hmph. It turned out to be a message from my refrigerator that my bottom freezer compartment door was not closed all the way. 

I was tending to a recipe cooking on my stove, and I heard a “bing.” My phone was messaging me from my computer desk that I had just received a text.

A municipal repair truck was down the street repairing an underground road problem, and a truck was backing up: “bleep, bleep, bleep.” Watch out!

My clothes dryer finished its cycle and chimed a little tune to tell me to come get the clothes.

I started my car, and it impatiently signaled me with “ding, ding, ding” that I had not put on my seatbelt yet.

All the attention-getting sounds of our modern noisy world alert us every day that good things and bad things are out there vying for our focus.

What did folks do in Old Testament times, without the benefit of electronics? If we go to Numbers, chapter 10, we read about the two silver trumpets that, with their quivering sounds, were blown to summon the congregation, sometimes to assemble and sometimes to prepare for war. Messages communicate good news, caution, or bad news.

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Topics: disciples, messages, catholic renew progam, creation, Gospel according to John, pray, prayer, RENEW International, spiritual life, St. Gertrude, Benedictine nun, messengers of God's love

Prayer: For the Good of All

Posted by RENEW on Nov 15, 2020 6:00:00 AM

God our Father,
you have given us everything
that we have,
you have made us who we are.
Thank you for the many talents
you have given to each one of us.
Guide us to understand your message,
and help us to be open to the Holy Spirit
and to others.
In your name we pray.

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Topics: using your talents to serve god, catholic RENEW program, God's gifts, Holy Spirit, prayer, RENEW prayers, RENEW International, openness

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Nov 13, 2020 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Proverbs
(Chapter 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 )

“When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil all the days of her life.”

This was written thousands of years ago when women were usually seen as subordinate and undervalued. So, the author calls her a “prize” which we would see as an inappropriate term at best. Yet, he also says that her husband is “entrusting his heart to her.” That is amazing, to entrust your heart to your wife or husband. If you are married, reflect on that most powerful bond that you have with another person, the one to whom you have entrusted your heart. It is not always smooth sailing, but you have found the person who is sharing your lifelong journey. Rejoice!

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 138: 1-2,3, 4-5)

“Blessed are those who fear the Lord.” This is one of the most misunderstood lines in all of the scriptures. Over the centuries, people in power have used this expression, “fear of the Lord,” to bully and control and even enslave people. The Psalmist uses the word to mean reverencing and honoring the Lord. If we do that, it frees us to have a healthy and loving relationship with the Lord.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians

(Chapter 5:1-6)

“For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night…. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.”

Paul wants the Thessalonians to know that the false security that the Roman Empire offers to its neighbors will not save them. It is darkness, but Jesus brings light.

We also need to beware of so many modern kinds of darkness: materialism, greed, disrespect for life, racism, economic injustice, and a false sense of security that can come from our own power, prestige, and possessions. Instead, we need to live in the light of the Holy Spirit who lives within each of us and among us.

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Topics: a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Book of Proverbs, catholic program renew, Gospel According to Matthew, Jesus Christ, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, Psalm 138, parable of the talents, worthy wife, like a thief at night

In the Clouds

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 11, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Recently I was awakened in the middle of the night by a noise in the house. My first thought was that Buddy, my cat, might have gotten into some mischief. Not finding anything amiss, I headed back to bed and happened to glance out the window to see that a fog had settled all around my neighborhood.

 As I lay back down in my bed, I remembered another fog which enveloped me when I was on vacation in Camden, Maine one summer. My husband and I had gone up to visit Mount Battie, a popular attraction. On the mountain, as we were taking photos and looking out over Megunticook Lake, I caught sight to my left of what looked like a huge bale of cotton gracefully rolling toward us. The experience was truly ethereal. At first, the white foggy mass was thin and almost tantalizing. As the fog quickly thickened, it rolled around us and eventually blocked our view of the lake below. The experience was exhilarating. For a short while, I felt as if I were in a different world.

While the cloud at Mt. Battie temporarilyand almost amusinglyblocked my view, the Lord, in a pillar of cloud by day, led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. The chosen people had the guidance of their faithful God every day.

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Topics: election, catholic renew progam, creation, fog, Jesus, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International, pandemic, the elect, pillar of cloud, campaign

Insomnia Challenge

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 9, 2020 6:00:00 AM

His name is Buddy. He is my cat. 

We keep Buddy indoors at night because of the threat posed by a fisher cat in the neighborhood. Buddy is cooperative most of the time, but he has a propensity for exploration in the wee hours of the night. My brother-in-law used to say cats are nocturnal; I think Buddy occasionally has insomnia. Whatever the reason, once in a while I will be awakened by the sound of Buddy trying to push open the metal bathtub shower door—-although I know he is not interested in taking a shower. However, Buddy’s true passion seems to be getting into the hall closet. 

Let me tell you about that hall closet. It is about the size of a phone booth. My house is over 100 years old and has few and very small closets. I have lived in this house for more than 40 years and have done what I can to use closet space efficiently. That closet is packed with numerous hanging garments, extra throw pillows, a bag of seasonal gift wrap, two empty suitcases, hats, and craft supplies. There is hardly room for dust, never mind a 10-pound nosey cat! When I hear Buddy scratching at the door and can tell he has Houdinied himself from the hall into the closet, I get up, turn on the light, open the closet door all the way, and Buddy—who really could never find a comfortable flat space amid the contentscomes scrambling out to innocently find a chair or bed to catch some early-morning z’s. By the time the nonsense is over, I might be fully awake. 

There are other times, even without Buddy’s assistance, when I experience overnight periods of wakefulness. I have noticed that my mind may head to what I call my “worry closet,” although I don’t know why. 

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Topics: catholic renew progam, creation, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, pray, prayer, RENEW International, spiritual life, insomnia, anxiety, worry closet, lullaby

Prayer: To Serve You Always

Posted by RENEW on Nov 8, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Lord,
strengthen within us the desire
to prepare ourselves for your coming—
so that we may long to welcome you
into our hearts …

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Topics: catholic RENEW program, God's call, prayer, RENEW prayers, RENEW International, respond "yes" to God's call, to serve God

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