Branching-Out

Collections

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

A few years ago in my parish, a visiting priest began a homily by asking us how many things, beyond necessities, we had accumulated. There was silence as we thought about the extra clothes and accessories in our closets, drawers, and cabinets. Over the years, it is very easy to collect articles we don’t really need or need to keep. I am very guilty! Many of the objects were attractive or good at the time I acquired them, but they can certainly pile up over time.

How about books? As I scan the reading materials in my four bookcases, I see books I have said I may read some day, books that I have read once, reference books and prayer books and booklets I have kept with my most pious intentions proclaimed.

I probably should mention all the figurines that proudly collect little dust coatings as they smile atop my flat-topped wooden furniture pieces. Those decorative accessories complement the pictures on the walls and give me “aha” moments when I shop at yard sales.

Now, I am not saying that all collections are bad or sinful or should be disbanded. After having spent more at-home time over the past 15 months, however, I do notice that collections can easily grow and that material things can gain somewhat of a grip on space and attention. Some repurposing might be wise. Is it time to think about priorities and actual needs? Could others with fewer clothes and less income somehow benefit from my downsizing?

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, counting our blessings

Right Order

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

Every time I hear the priest during the consecration at Mass echo Jesus’ words “Do this in memory of me,” I think that this is something Jesus wants us to doalmost like a commandbut it is the best direction or responsibility he could have given his followers: Receive the true Body and Blood of our saving Lord! That is better than winning any lottery or taking any life-saving, tried-and-true medication!

To receive the actual Body of the Lord into your own body, to be that intimate with Christ, who died on the cross and rose from the dead, and who is the Second Person of the Trinity is such a tremendous gift to each of us! What an awesome invitation he gives us at every celebration of the Eucharist! I am so blessed to comply!

And how about that prayer we say at Mass, theGloria”? We say, “We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory.” What we are doing is really helping us! We are giving the attention, praise, gratitude, and honor to God, and taking the focus off ourselves! God won’t be less of who he is if we don’t do this, but we gain by reinforcing our understanding, as we prioritize and emphasize who deserves our love and attention. We are creatures with emotions and intelligence; we are reminded that we should use our power and creativity to give proper time and attention to acknowledge who God is and that he is always with us.

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Topics: glory to god, praise God, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: The Body and Blood of Christ

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jun 5, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the book of Exodus 

(Chapter 24:3-8)

“When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the Lord, they all answered with one voice, ‘We will do everything that the Lord has told us.’ Moses then wrote down all the words of the Lord, and rising early the next day, he erected at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Animal sacrifice was common among ancient religions, including Judaism. As strange as it seems to us, it was a major step away from human sacrifice which some of Israel’s neighbors practiced. The sprinkling of the blood of animals was a sign of Israel’s fidelity to the Covenant and so was called the “blood of the covenant.” It was also seen as a cleansing and an act of forgiveness from God to his people.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 116)

“I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.” We certainly call upon the name of the Lord, usually in time of need, but how about in thanksgiving for all God gives us?

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Topics: Eucharist, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, body and blood of Christ, Holy Eucharist, RENEW International, solemnity of the most holy body and blood of chris, New Covenant

Good Gardening

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jun 4, 2021 6:00:00 AM

My recent walks in my neighborhood have revealed some beautiful flowers that have bloomed in various yards. The yellows, the whites, the purples and lavenders are so eye-captivating. It appears that some of my neighbors are very careful and methodical gardeners. I am confident that as the summer arrives, even more loveliness will grace the nearby flowerbeds. I wonder if the gardeners ever come outside with their scissors and cut off lovely bouquets to bring inside their houses to adorn their tables and please their eyes.

In the gardens of our interior lives, I wonder what has grown and blossomed during the pandemic. As the tenders of our own personal spiritual gardens, let us consider what might be desirable blossoms and what we might have to weed out.

I suggest it was very easy to plant seeds of doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, and worry over these past months. Every day came with news of high numbers of cases of the virus, suggestions of how and what to sanitize, and reports of measures we might take to fend off the nasty virus that even has nastier variants. We could easily feed our interior gardens with sprinkles of doubt, impatience, anger, and resentment.

Now it appears that, because of the vaccine distribution, the virus’s hold on us may be waning. Let’s inspect our gardens and see what we can weed out and what blossoms we can gather and perhaps bring closer to us to savor and enjoy.

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Topics: RENEW International, pandemic, COVID, Sharon Krause, pandemic lessons

Best Coach Ever

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

With the easing of pandemic restrictions and the beginning of many summer sports seasons, I have been hearing about coachesfor instance, who coaches which team and whose contract has been renewed. Out of curiosity, I checked online to see what are considered necessary attributes of a good coach. I found that, in general, coaches have to be enthusiastic, positive, good teachers, supportive, focused, goal-oriented, knowledgeable, patient, clear communicators, prepared, inspirational, and good leaders. Whew! That’s a lot of qualifications!

Towards the end of last month, we celebrated the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came to the disciples as tongues of fire, instilling in them the ability to tell people of many different languages about the wonderful acts of God. I started to think how the Holy Spirit is probably a kind of divine coach who has all the attributes of the best coach ever.

As we pray in the Nicene Creed, the Holy Spirit is the Lord and giver of life, who spoke through the prophets. In John’s Gospel (14:26), Jesus tells us,

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of all that I have said to you.

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Topics: wisdom, Holy Spirit, insight, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, Gifts of the Holy Spirit

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: The Most Holy Trinity

Posted by Bill Ayres on May 29, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the book of Deuteronomy 

(Chapter 4:32-34, 39-40)

At the time of this writing, about 1200 B.C., virtually all the nations and tribes that surrounded the Hebrews believed in more than one god, in some cases many gods. Moses was telling his people once again that there was only one God, and that it was the one God who had given them a new homeland. The Hebrews had been in the desert for 40 years, and now the day had arrived for them to enter the Promised Land. But, there were two conditions. They must worship only the one God, no false gods, and they must keep God’s commandments. Of course, the people said yes, but they were often seduced by false gods that led them to disaster.

We can all think of celebrities and millionaires that have given into money, power, and prestige. But about us? What false gods can take the place of the one God in our lives?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 33)

“Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.” We are that people, and we are blessed.” That is quite a gift and quite a responsibility. It does not call for passivity or false pride but rather for joyful thanks.

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Holy Trinity, RENEW International, Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Abba

Sea-Shalls

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 28, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Have you noticed that we can look at something and not really see it? Either our attention isn’t well focused, or we are distracted by preconceived ideas or hesitations. The Holy Spirit can help us see better in many circumstances. I suggest that we visit my word-beach and collect some “see-shalls”.

Those who see beyond themselves and their own agendas and spend their time and creativity loving others shall be surprisingly rewarded.

Those who honestly see the error in some of their thoughts, words, or deeds, and work to correct their bad choices shall find renewal and refreshment with the Holy Spirit’s help.

Those who, with clear eyesight, see the equality of all God’s childrenour brothers and sistersand treat everyone fairly shall share the joy of new friendships and freedoms.

Those who see the importance of not dwelling in the past but making the most of the present shall experience new confidence and a stronger trust in our loving Father, God.

Those who humbly see their brothers’ and sisters’ need for forgiveness and willingly offer it shall receive forgiveness themselves and peacefully enjoy reconciliation with the Lord.

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Topics: forgiveness, generosity, insight, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, introspection, the examined life

Muslims and the Climate Crisis: Responding to a Higher Call

Posted by Imam Zaid Shakir on May 26, 2021 1:23:11 PM

Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him) is reported to have said, “Wisdom is the lost property of the believer; wherever he finds it, he claims it.” Perhaps this is the reason Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and climate change, Laudato Si’, has been so well received by our community. It is as if his wise leadership on this issue is helping to return a part of our lost heritage to us. As a community, we have long embraced ideas such as sustainability, viewing the earth as our common home, and seeing ourselves vouchsafed to protect, nurture, and beautify it. These are themes mentioned by the pope in his historic encyclical, and these are themes that inform the Islamic Climate Declaration, issued in August 2015.

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Topics: Laudato Si", Creation at the Crossroads

Mother Mary

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 24, 2021 6:00:00 AM

There was a news story not too long ago about a Malian woman who gave birth to nine babies. Nine! They all survived, and it may be a world record. I cannot imagine caring for nine newborns; I would need lots of helpers! Today we celebrate Mary as the Mother of the Churchall those people that are the Church! Being the Mother of God, Mary is certainly qualified for the task!

I remember teaching Sunday school years ago and explaining to my second graders that we Christians are one big family called “the Church.” I told them that when we speak of “the Church” of Christ, we are not talking about a building, but about the people who love Jesus and sometimes go into buildings to worship. We are the Mystical Body of Christ. Seven and eight-year-olds may not have understood what that all means, and sometimes we adults don’t quite get it either. However, I think most of us have a good idea of what a blessing it is to have a loving, protective mother watching over our big family.

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Topics: Mary mother of God, Mary's intercession, Meet Mary in Prayer, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Pentecost

Posted by Bill Ayres on May 22, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 2:1-11)

Among the ancient Jewish people, Pentecost was a harvest festival but was also associated with the occasion when God gave the Law to Moses on Mount Sinaiin a sense, the birth of Judaism.

Pentecost is also considered the birth of the Church, because it was during that feast that the Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles as we read in this passage. Did you ever wonder how the apostles had the courage to preach this new faith when everyone else seemed to be against it, and they were in constant danger of a violent death? The Pentecost event made the difference. The apostles and everyone with them were changed and found a new courage. Something powerful happened that bound them together in a new way in the power of the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit is in each of us personally and with all of us together now.

Imagine that! The very Spirit of God lives within youright now and always. The Holy Spirit of God is your life-long partner, forever. Have you been aware of that? Do you talk to the Holy Spirit in your prayer times? In your times of distress and anxiety? In moments of great joy or accomplishment? The Spirit is always there within you.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 104)

“Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.” This is a continuing process of the power of the Spirit renewing our wonderful planet. Right now, we really need that presence.

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Topics: Pentecost, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, feast of pentecost, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

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