Branching-Out

Control

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 25, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When I was in grammar school, much of my free time was spent with my girlfriend Betty Jane. She and I would divide up my small wooden blocks, my black-and-white dominoes, and my plastic dollhouse furniture and dolls so that we could creatively design houses for the doll families. After the houses were carefully built, we would make up adventures for the doll families, with Betty and I providing the doll voices and commentary. You could say we strayed from the ordinary dollhouse play because we put our sometimes silly and always enjoyable spins on the exercise. Betty and I had complete control of the outcomes for the doll families. Other than the occasional mishap with domino walls toppling, we orchestrated every aspect of our play-date episodes.

In real life, control is always an issue. Especially today, we hear controversies spurred by such words as “mandates,” “restrictions,” “requirements,” “regulations,” and “orders.” There are controls on things we eat, use, view, and administer. Certainly in any society, rules and laws are necessary to protect everyone’s health and safety. Invariably, certain people will challenge these controls either for self-interest or, perhaps, out of well-meant concerns.

In our personal lives, health issues can limit our control. For example, we may not feel so free if diabetes treatment affects our diet. My arthritic knees challenge my control of certain exercises and other physical activities.

And let’s not forget who wants control of our spiritual lives. Satan is very sneaky and tries to disturb our peace and obstruct our journey to holiness. It is not unheard of for us to become a bit content and lackadaisical when life goes on routinely. We can get a bit “spoiled” when things are going our way. We might become complacent and overly lenient with ourselves.

Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)

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Topics: Sharon Krause, say yes to God's will, self control

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Oct 23, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Jeremiah

(Chapter 31:7-9)

“The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng.”

Jeremiah is talking about the return of the Israelites from exile. But how are we to think of exiles returning today? There are almost 20 million exiles in our world now and the number is growing each year. Most are from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Niger, the Central African Republic, and several countries in Central and South America. Many of them are women and children fleeing violence, hunger and abject poverty. Some western countries have opened their doors to the refugees others have not. It is a very complex issue, but we need to hold these people in our hearts and do what we can to change hostility toward refugees, knowing that most of us have ancestors who were also refugees.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 126)

“The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.” What great things has the Lord done for you? Have you been thankful? Has it brought you joy? How do you express your joy and thanksgiving?

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, servant leadership, suffering servant

Praying with Psalm 145

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

I doubt that I am alone in feeling the need for some good news or some reminders of positive, hopeful aspects of life in this world. It is time to pay attention to Psalm 145, part of which is the responsorial psalm used at Mass today. Instead of just breezing through it, let us take a thoughtful look at what the psalm tells us about the Lord and what that means for us.

One of the purposes of prayer is to adore God. Psalm 145 gives us words we don’t use in ordinary conversation to help us praise the Lordextol, declare, proclaim, bless, laud. It is almost as if we enter into a different mindset that is holy and prayerful.

We address God as “King” and “Lord.” We say we will bless and praise his name forevernot just today or when we are in church. He is in our lives, present to us, available to us always. There is no way we can fully comprehend the Lord’s greatness, but that is not discouraging; it is comforting, because we all know we have only human abilities. God knows our limitations and loves us as he created us.

The psalm tells us that we have good news of a wonderful God to pass on to other generations. And we have this news on which to meditate and about which we can burst into song. So we should not keep all this happiness a secret; we need to share it often and willingly! The generations of believers shall

celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,

and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. (verse 7)

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Topics: give thanks to God, Good News, prayer, prayer life, prayer of thanksgiving, Sharon Krause

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

A reading from the prophecy of Isaiah

(Chapter 53:10-11)

This is the last of Isaiah’s “suffering servant” poems. Can one person take on the sufferings of a whole people, a whole nation? The Israelites thought that was possible, and we believe that Jesus is the ultimate suffering servant. He suffered and died for all of us.

What does that say about our own sufferings? To seek out suffering is, of course, not healthy. We do not need to look for suffering. It will find us. So, how should we deal with it? There are times of extreme and extended suffering. It may be very intense, and it does not seem to go away. The key is to reach out rather than turn within. A burden shared is always lighter even though it does not take away the suffering immediately. Knowing that you are heard and embraced on some level is healing. During times of deep suffering we need to find sources of life that will give us at least a little joy. And we need to know that Jesus, “the Suffering Servant,” is always with us. It is possible that our suffering, like his, may become “redemptive suffering.” Have you experienced this redemptive suffering? Has something good come out of something that was so hard? Maybe it has and maybe it will again if you go deep with the Spirit of Jesus in your suffering. It may become a source of life for you as hard as that can seem when you are in the midst of the pain.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 33)

“Lord, may your mercy be on us as we place our trust in you.” God’s mercy comes with our trust in him. He tells us repeatedly, “Do not be afraid.” Trust him.

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Topics: trust in God, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, servant leadership, suffering servant, trust in God's mercy

God's Help

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

I was in the cafeteria; I was studying for my last exam of my last year at Mt. St. Mary College in Newburgh, New York. A dorm friend walked in with a former neighbor and friend who had given her a ride from home to the college on his way back to his apartment and work in Connecticut. He had been visiting his folks in the Pennsylvania-New York area. My friend and the young man sat down at my table to have some coffee and a snack. We chatted for a while.

A couple of weeks after I graduated from college, I received a phone call from that same young man. To my surprise, he had stopped by the college and found out my address. Ultimately, we dated and, after a year, got married!

Fifty years later, I have to say God must have had a hand in our meeting. The chance of meeting Duane after I graduated was practically non-existent. My home was in New York state, and he lived and worked in Connecticut. Our paths would never have crossed! I was meant to meet him that day. I say it was a divine set-up.

Years passed. Our daughter was doing well in high school. My part time job allowed me the time to start attending a few daily Masses in my parish. I started to feel closer to the Lord. I went to Mass more often. After a while, to my surprise, the pastor approached me with an invitation to become a minister of the eucharist. What a blessing! Did God help me to prepare for this? I think so! The privilege to distribute the Holy Eucharist at Masses and bring the precious Body of Christ to shut-ins was a great blessing! With God’s help, I was able to minister for about 13 years! 

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Topics: divine intervention, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, divine help, divine providence

Timely Thoughts

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

As soon as I learned how to tell time, I became an ardent clock-watcher. I still always seem to know what time it is—unless, of course, there is a power outage, and no battery clocks are close by. Consequently, I am rarely late for an appointment and have little patience with people who tend to be tardy.

I have some ideas about using time in our quest for holiness. Priests and religious pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day. Consisting of psalms, hymns, sacred scripture readings and other prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours is regularly prayed at various times of the day and night. More information about this type of prayer can be easily found on the internet.

I got thinking about a “Liturgy of the Ours” in which we could pray, at set times of the day, for things that are ours, i.e., our families, our friends, our healings, and our blessings.

It is up to each of us to take the time to communicate with our loving God, to build on the relationship we are so privileged to have.

Yes, we are busy, but, in many cases, we can make time for activities that we deem important. I am not suggesting that we spend endless hours in prayer, but I know from personal experience how easy it is to get caught up in worldly activities, get tired, and skip over prayer time on a given day. 

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Topics: prayer, prayer life, prayer of thanksgiving, spend time with God, Sharon Krause

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

A reading from the book of Wisdom

(Chapter 7:7-11)

“I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her.” We all pray for many different reasons, but have you ever prayed for wisdom or prudence? Maybe you did when you were taking a test at school, but what about now, when you have a difficult decision to make? It is not as though you are praying into some abyss. Rather, you and I have the very Spirit of God living within us, our partner, our source of wisdom and strength. Certainly, we should ask others that we trust when we are in need of wisdom, but let’s not forget the Holy Spirit, who is never far away, and seek the divine wisdom in prayer.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 90)

“Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy.” God’s love comes to us in many ways and always brings us joy. Reflect for a moment on times recently when love came to you, when someone in some way touched you with love. Did it bring a smile to your face even if you were not exactly singing for joy? That is a good start.

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Topics: Charity, wisdom, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Book of Wisdom, RENEW International, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Perceptions

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 6, 2021 6:00:00 AM

How we see and understand the various aspects of life changes as we mature and as our circumstances change. We are influenced by so many factors, some overt and some very subtle. We all have agendas of one kind or another. Emotions can play a part. Just when we think we have control, someone or something can challenge that perception. We hope our decisions about what is good and what is bad will keep us persevering toward positive outcomes. It is easy to fall into complacency or to just go along with the crowd if we are not careful.

Not many weekends ago, the reading from the ninth chapter of Mark’s Gospel included a teaching by Jesus that was aimed at changing his apostles’ perception about “the greatest.” (Verses 33-35) He told them that the greatest should be the least or servant of all! Whoa! Talk about a reversal!

And how about the parable of the Good Samaritan? (Luke 10:25-37) Does a “neighbor” have to be someone of your social status or someone with whom you have something in common in order to qualify for your love and assistance? Love does not have a nationality or special social order. Again Jesus is teaching about breaking out of stereotypical thinking and putting love first.

Jesus wants us to broaden our parameters for caring about others. We can exceed what we think our so-called limits of tolerance are. In Matthew’s Gospel (18:21-22), Jesus tells Peter that we should be merciful and forgiving when someone sins against us; we should forgive over and over again! What we perceive as unforgivable is worth more consideration.

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Topics: acceptance, inclusion, Sharon Krause

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Oct 2, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the book of Genesis

(Chapter 2:18-24)

“It is not good for man to be alone.” We are created in the image and likeness of God, and God is not a solitary beingthat is, in the sense that God is a community of persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are communal beings, and the most basic community is between a man and a woman in marriage: “The two of them become one flesh.” That is truly amazing, beautiful to hear, challenging to live, but the goal of all marriages.

Still, we who are married need solitude sometimes, which is very different from loneliness. It is a time to reflect, to pray, and to just be, amid our busy lives. It can be a time of renewal of the deepest and best in us. It may not be easy to find this kind of time, but we should respect our own need and our partner’s need for this opportunity for renewal.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 128)

“Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy.” What a good reason to sing! Do you often feel the love of God in your life?

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Topics: divorce, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, marriage, RENEW International, suffering, suffering servant, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Thoughtfulness

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 1, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Our grandson is living with my husband and me during his last year of college. He is a wonderful young man already, but one day I was trying to be extra grandmotherly and to impart a tidbit of wisdom. I mentioned how important it is to be thoughtful of others, even in simple ways, just to make others realize how much they are loved and appreciated.

Subsequently, I got to thinking about thoughtfulness in a more analytical way. First of all, thoughtfulness does take timeperhaps not a lot of time, but enough time to consider what we know about a given person or situation. What would allay a person’s worry? What would make that person crack a little smile or breathe a sigh of relief? Sometimes just being polite is being thoughtful. It may slow us down for a moment or two, but it can be worth it.

Attention to detail can promote thoughtfulness. There is positivity in noticing and commenting on how lovely someone looks in that outfit or how well a person bags your groceries. We focus on people other than ourselves and give them pleasant feedback.

Our own creativity can come into play. Share a simple personal story or provoke a short conversation to engage the other person in a friendly exchange. It may be a welcomed surprise to break the monotony. I am constantly aware of the hustle and bustle in today’s world. We can so easily get caught up in what our own agendas are and forget about bringing gentleness and good will into our interpersonal exchanges.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, thoughtfulness

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