Branching-Out

Sharon Krause

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Signs of Love

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 10, 2021 6:00:00 AM

As my husband and I drive around our town running errands and shopping, we pass many residences that have signs either on their doors or windows or on posts in their front yards. The signs often consist of drawings or cutouts of hearts, and usually words of thanks to healthcare workers. The signs are not elaborate, but they are wonderful examples of recognition and appreciation for the sacrifices and hard work of those on the front line of providing medical care, especially to pandemic patients.

St. Damien de Veuster, whose memorial is celebrated today, would certainly have merited such signs if they had been in vogue in the Kalaupapa Peninsula leper colony in the mid 1800’s. As a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Damien was sent to Hawaii in 1866 and to the leper colony at Kalaupapa in 1873. For 16 years he worked to get houses, schools and even a church constructed; he also ministered to the spiritual and medical needs of the lepers, until leprosy claimed his own life.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, St. Damien, Acts of love

Come, Have Breakfast

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 3, 2021 6:00:00 AM

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 21, we read of Jesus’ third appearance to his disciples after his resurrection. I enjoy how this account is written; there is a brief conversation between Peter and six other disciples that puts the reader into the scene. We can see them getting into their boat and earnestly fishing in the Sea of Tiberias. They caught nothing except discouragement until Jesus appeared and told them to cast the fishing net to the right side of the boat. After they obeyed Jesus, the net was loaded down with 153 fish! What a difference! I don’t know how big the fish were, but the disciples had to drag the net full of fish a hundred yards, and the implication is that there was some worry that the net might tear, but it did not.

Then Jesus invited them: “Come and have breakfast.” What an invitation! Jesus, the Risen Jesus, not only took the time to give them fishing advice but had prepared a charcoal fire with fish on it and told the men to add some of the fish they had just caught. Then Jesus even served them bread and fish for a surprise daybreak meal!

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Topics: encounter Jesus, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, The risen Jesus

Windows

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 30, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When our television is on‒which is often because we are home so much‒I hear so many commercials for new and replacement windows for your home. These windows could be carefully installed and, because of the expert installers, fit right in, even if you have special trim or casings. I started thinking that perhaps some of us may need new windows in our spiritual lives‒that is, new ways of looking out at our troubled and chaotic world, and new ways of letting the Light, the Risen Christ, shine into our hearts.

We are still in the joyful season of Easter, a time to eagerly count our blessings, especially the blessing of our redemption through Jesus’ death and resurrection. So, we rejoice and look out on our world with renewed hope. This hope is not a gift to be hoarded; it is a breath of fresh air and has to be circulated.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, new perspectives

Good Reminders

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 26, 2021 9:15:00 AM

I was riding through a residential area that I don’t have occasion to visit often when I noticed a small cross on the side of a house. I thought to myself, what a nice idea! Of course, I don’t know the reason for its being there, but it could be a pleasant little reminder to say a prayer before you go out in the car on an errand, or to pray in thanksgiving at your safe return.

In these days of carefulness about sanitizing, I often go to my kitchen sink as soon as I return from an outing and wash my hands. I grab the plastic bottle of dish detergent, give it a squeeze, and wash for the recommended 20 seconds. Lots of times I will notice some tiny bubbles that come out of the bottle along with the liquid soap; they float in the air all around me for a second or two. Each bubble, self-contained, silently reflecting the sunlight, gently glides through the air. They remind me of the numerous little blessings I take for granted each day of my life. My hands function, I have clean running water, I can smell the lemony fragrance, I can sanitize even though I have happily received my two doses of virus vaccine. Sure, those are small things, but they should not be overlooked.

People are easily reminded of bad events in their livesa scar on their skin reminds them of an accident; a dent in the car brings to mind the time someone backed into them; a doctor’s bill evokes a recent illness that was not completely covered by insurance. We all encounter such reminders, but we have to try to keep a balance by also noticing the good reminders in our everyday life.

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Topics: gratitude, Gratitude to God, RENEW International, share your faith, Sharon Krause

Treasures

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 23, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I assume most of us hav­e little treasures or keepsakes that we hold dear. A few years ago, I decided to share my little collection of music boxes with my two teenaged granddaughters. I set the music boxes out on a table and told the girls they each could choose one. I expected that each of them would happily pick one and cherish it forever because, if for no other reason, it was their grandma’s. To my dismay, neither of them really wanted a music box and politely declined. So much for sentimentality!

I figured out that those music boxes were not things that these modern young teens had personal experience with and, while the girls love me, they could not relate to my keepsakes. Maybe those music boxes are for older people.

I remember some discussions around that time in which the implication was that religious practices, too, were more for older people. Perhaps in my granddaughters’ immaturity, they preferred experiences that were more tangibly interactive on their level. With cell phones, computers, and so many sights and sounds at their fingertips, it seemed that taking time to savor or treasure something didn’t have the appeal it had for me who had not had all the hi-tech devices in my youth.

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Topics: RENEW International, share your faith, Sharon Krause, treasure the faith

Our Loving Father

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 16, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Our Easter season is 50 days long. No need to put all the plastic eggs and bunny decorations away in a hurry. On a spiritual level, this is our period to extend our rejoicing, to bask with gratitude in the light of our Risen Lord.

We have probably said The Lord’s Prayer thousands of times, but I think we can pray it with a few different meditations during this time of the church year.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

We have a Father who, while being fair and just, loves us very much. Sometimes, I think, he seems a big distance awayup there in heavenbut he is not far away at all. Heaven is where he is, and he is everywhere, all of the time. We can never honor and praise enough his name and who he is, but it is our challenge and privilege to try. If we God-watch, we can appreciate just how much he fathers each one of us every day. He expects us to behave like brothers and sisters in his family and share the love we know. We spring into loving action as we blend into springtime!

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Topics: Easter Season, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, The Lord's Prayer

Peace Be With You

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 12, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Wishing anyone peace nowadays can be a tough challenge. We only have to listen to or read the news about all the troubles in the world to know that peace is hard to achieve. So many people, so many agendas, so many virus variants, so many conflicts all make peace seem out of reach.

 Wordsmith that I am, I got thinking about the word, “peace,” and the real meaning of that word. Consider this: “peace” is a lot like the actual condition of peace. It is a simple, one-syllable word that slides through our lips in a very easy, uncomplicated way. It has only five letters, but those five letters can help us figure out what is helpful to establish peace. I will elaborate. 

P — Patience: We need patience with ourselves and others in order to work toward peace. Our world today does not promote patience in much of anything. It is a discipline, and practicing discipline is not easy.

E Energy: Sometimes all of us get a bit lazy and let other people get involved while we sit out the problem. It is easier that way, and we can save our energy for complaining about the end results. We need to devote our energy and faculties purposely to work toward peaceful resolutions of difficulties.

A — Awareness: In order to promote peace, nonchalance is unacceptable. It is necessary to be aware of as many contingencies and factors as possible in any situation. Paying attention to detail with an openness to differences is important.

C — Christ: Of course, Christ, the Prince of Peace, has to be in our prayers and strivings. We can be quite vocal about our reliance on Jesus as we encourage others to trust in Christ’s love and assistance.

E — Empathy: Empathy requires a certain amount of humility and understanding of others. We all have weaknesses and limits. That is one reason why we hear that popular statement: “We are all in this together.” We read in Colossians 3:13:

Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

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Topics: peace, peace be with you, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Road Repairs

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 9, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When springtime arrives here in New England, driver complaints about all the potholes in the paved roads are rampant. The bouts of freezing and thawing of the asphalt over the winter cause cracks and crumbles that often lead to some very large car-threatening holes. If the potholes don’t slow us down, the prospect of wending around the road-repair crew trucks will certainly challenge us.

Have we ever thought about the potholes in our spiritual lives? Sometimes we fluctuate in the warmth of our prayer life and religious fervor. Sometimes we yield to temptations for immediate, selfish gratification. The season of Lent has been a good time to evaluate and atone for those ruts and bumps in our road to holiness; and now that Easter has come, we can rejoice in the perfect Savior solution to our challenges.

Jesus has risen! His tomb is empty, and we are full of joy and hope! We can rise, tooabove all the sickness, anxiety, and world-threatening problems that menace us with doubt and despair. Jesus’ terrible suffering and death give us powerful examples of how to follow God’s will. God the Father raised his Son to new life and showed us that, thanks to Jesus, our road to new life in heaven is open. It may not always be a smooth road, but we know how much God loves us and offers us help to avoid the ruts.

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Topics: Easter Season, Jesus Christ, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Easter Basket Prayers

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 5, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Come Easter morning when I was a little child, there would usually be a good-sized, fancy-wrapped Easter basket waiting for me on the dining room table. Through the colorful cellophane wrap I would see a rainbow of yummy jellybeans half-circling marshmallow yellow chicks, small chocolate eggs, and a fair-sized hollow chocolate bunny decorated with little candy flowers. I think it is a safe guess that many of my readers share a similar memory. A perennial question is, what part of the chocolate bunny you eat first? All these thoughts about the Easter basket and its contents have inspired an Easter basket prayer.

The Easter basket, possibly made of woven wicker, is the container that holds the colored plastic grass; it is the foundation or base holding all the good stuff! I think of the foundation of my spiritual life: the religious instruction I have had, the materials I have read, the teachers I have had, and the spiritual experiences I have had in my decades of life. What holds my spirituality together? What keeps me together and supports me?

Risen Savior, I acknowledge and appreciate how You lift me up and lovingly keep me from losing my way to You. Sometimes I feel like I cannot “keep it all together,” but You are always with me, and ready to help me through my tough times.

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Topics: Easter, Jesus Christ, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Lamb of God

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 31, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When I hear and pray the Agnus Dei prayer at Mass, the words, “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world” really affect me. When I think of my own sins, I know there have been many over my lifetime; but Jesus takes away the sins of the world! We have all been fallen children of God, and Jesus died to save all of us! How phenomenal is that?

I think about that nasty crown of thorns they jammed onto Jesus’ precious head. Droplets of blood and sweat must have dripped into his eyeseyes that had seen the crowds of people who listened to his teachings and tried to understand, eyes that hd beheld the hungry multitude he fed with bread and fish, eyes that had cried at the news of his friend’s death.

Perhaps the blood droplets fell into Jesus’ earsears that had heard the conversations of his apostles, the cries of the widow of Naim, the complaints of Martha that she was doing all the housework, and the crack of the whips at his scourging.

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Topics: lamb of God, Passion of Our Lord, crucifixion, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

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