Branching-Out

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Third Sunday of Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Mar 19, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Exodus

(These readings from Cycle A may be used on this Sunday)

(Chapter 17:3-7)

When the Israelites escaped from Egypt, they entered a desert land that was hardly habitable. There was little food, so God provided manna and quail for the people to eat. In this passage, they are angry because there is no water, a complaint that seems reasonable in a climate that is 100 degrees with the sun beating down. Would you complain? I would.

So, the people test God (that is what Massah means) and quarrel with God (that is what Meriba means) and God comes through. Moses strikes a rock and water pours forth. Remember, this is a story filled with symbolism, so the staff with which Moses strikes the rock is the same staff that he used to part the water so the Israelites could cross the sea dry-shod and escape Pharoah’s army and slavery in Egypt. The question that the people were asking“Is the Lord in our midst?”—was answered with a powerful “Yes!”

Sometimes, in our darkest, most challenging moments we may ask the same question. Where are you, God, to help me out in this tragedy, depression, betrayal, loss, illness, or worse? The answer is always the same. It is the promise that appears most often in the Hebrew scriptures and in the words and actions of Jesus, “I am with you.”

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 95)

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” This is not about hearing voices in your head. How do we really hear God’s voice? It is in prayer, listening to and reading the scriptures, and in our relationships with the people in our lives. We never know when God will speak to us through events and people. The key is listening with the heart as well as the ears.

Read More

Topics: woman at the well, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, Third Sunday of Lent, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

The Wisdom of St. Patrick--Gratitude

Posted by Gregory Tobin on Mar 16, 2022 4:54:24 PM

The following is excerpted from The Wisdom of St. Patrick by RENEW President and Publisher Greg Tobin.

Read More

Topics: attitude of gratitude, St. patrick

A Chance to Dance

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 14, 2022 6:00:00 AM

While some people may be thinking of Irish jigs at this time of year, a figurine that has been hanging in my house for years has offered me a bit of blog inspiration about another kind of dancing. I purchased the figurine at a Home Goods store. The card that came with it informed me that the ornament, named Possible Dreams, was inspired by the painting, Dance at Bougival, painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1883. As the couple dances above my head in my bedroom, I think about the dance of life and the various possibilities dancing affords.

I think you would agree that dancing offers a wonderfully different dimension to what we do every daystepping. People usually dance to music, so there is a rhythm established and a pace set. The whole person is involved, and if you have a partner, coordination and interaction make for a smooth flow of movement, whether it is a fast or slow dance. If we are solo dancing, we still keep moving as we integrate various dance patterns. Dancing can be refreshing, exhilarating, and just plain freeing.

We are not all limber enough to dance all day long. Not every day do we feel happy enough to dance our troubles away. However, if we ask Jesuseven figurativelyto dance with us, we will find a partner that is faithful and loving, and who will keep us moving in the right direction as we enjoy a holy rhythm.

 

Read More

Topics: Sharon Krause, hope in the Lord, persist in prayer

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Second Sunday of Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Mar 12, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Genesis

(Chapter 15:5-12, 17-18)

This passage describes is a strange ceremony that is very foreign to us today: a series of animals, split in two, offered to God as a sacrifice. It is a sign of a covenant, a promise God made to Abraham. God is giving Abraham and his people a vast land to be their own and Abraham is to be their leader and father figure. Abraham had faith in God and moved forward in his old age as a partner with God.

Each of us is a partner with God. Have you ever thought about your relationship with God in that way, as a partner? What is God’s role in your partnership? What is yours?

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 27)

“The Lord is my light and salvation.” Where is there darkness in your life? Is it in your family, your work, or in some dark corner of your life that keeps you from happiness? Ask the Lord for light to come into that darkness.

Read More

Topics: transfiguration of the Lord, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, Second Sunday of Lent

Miracle Mysteries

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 10, 2022 6:00:00 AM

In this world full of turmoil, we can turn to our Blessed Mother for help in praying to Jesus. The Rosary is a very useful tool, and the Mysteries of the Rosary are wonderful reminders of the great events in the lives of Jesus and Mary.

With the war waging in the Ukraine, I suggest praying with what I call five Miracle Mysteries of the Rosary. We recall just a few of the numerous miracles Jesus worked. A short meditation or prayer is added after each mystery. Of course, you can add your own thoughts and prayers.

Jesus heals the paralyzed man lowered through the roof. (Mark 2:1-12)

Mother Mary, pray for all those victims who are paralyzed with fear as they flee the ravages of war or shelter in place in their homeland. Ask your son to give them strength and courage to get through the challenges of uncertainty and danger.

Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus. (Mark 10:46-52)

Holy Mary, help us to see the needs of our brothers and sisters. Ask your son to open our eyes to ways in which we can assist people experiencing trauma and abandonment. Show us ways of feeding all who hunger and thirst for food and for freedom.

Jesus heals the woman who suffered with hemorrhages for 12 years. (Mark 5:25-34)

Gentle Mother, pray for us as we strive to assist those who are injured or sick in war-torn countries. Pray with us that Jesus will be especially merciful to those women and mothers who are engaged in the struggle or who are fending for themselves, their children, and elderly relatives as others defend their homeland.

Jesus heals 10 lepers and only one, a Samaritan, thanks him. (Luke 17:11-19)

Queen of Heaven, help us to be grateful for all our earthly blessings and for the best blessing of all, our Savior, your son. Jesus loves and heals people of all races and nationalities, and we pray for that same attitude of inclusivity. Mary, pray for open minds and open, softened hearts so that hostilities can end rapidly.

Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb after four days. (John 11:1-14)

Blessed Mother, your son died so that the doors of heaven would be open to us for all eternity. May those who have died in the invasion of Ukraine find eternal life with Jesus. Please ask your all-powerful son to help those who suffer to rise up with hope and trust in God..

†††

Read More

Topics: pray for peace, Sharon Krause, The Rosary, hope in the Lord, War in Ukraine

Closed for Renovations

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 7, 2022 6:00:00 AM

With the arrival of the Lenten season, it might be time to consider what about ourselves we can renew, remodel, or somehow improve upon in our preparation for Easter. The first requirement for such a task is honesty. Just as Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:31-46 that the Son of Man will separate the sheep from the goatsthose who follow the way of love versus those who do notwe need to take an honest look at what in our lives needs to be discarded.

Rationalization and bouts of laziness can cause us to be content with easy selfish responses to the gospel challenge to love God and one another. “Let someone else, with more time and resources, take care of the needy.” “Why should I forgive him; he will just do it again?” “He should get a job and not be so dependent.” “I’m too sleepy tonight to say any prayers; I will say extra ones tomorrow.” Really?

Spring is a good time for renovations. A reasonable amount of detachment from worldly cares can help us focus on our quest of a holier spiritual life. We can carefully select which doors that lead to distractions we can close, or at least shut partially. It is true that we live in a material world, with responsibilities and expectations. It is also true that the Lord guides us. The psalm verses in today’s liturgy tell us,

   (T)he precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

   the commandment of the Lord is clear,

   enlightening the eyes;

   the fear of the Lord is pure,

   enduring forever;

   the ordinances of the Lord are true

   and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:8-9)

 

Read More

Topics: Lent, Lenten season, Sharon Krause

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: First Sunday of Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Mar 5, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Deuteronomy

(Chapter 26:4-10)

This reading celebrates the deliverance of Israel from the slavery of Egypt and the 40 years wandering in the desert. Moses reminds the people that it was God who brought them out of Egypt “with his strong hand and outstretched arm” and gave them “this land flowing with milk and honey.” Moses tells them that their ancestral father, Abraham, “was a wandering Aramean” but now the people will have to wander no longer, all because God is with them. So worshipers, in thanksgiving, are to bring to the altar, as sacrifice, “the first fruits of the products of the soil.”

Now, thousands of years later, our Jewish brethren celebrate the feast of Sukkot (pronounced sue-coat), the Feast of the Harvest or the Feast of Booths, to recall the tents the people lived in while in the dessert.

Today, let us pray for our sisters and brothers in Ukraine that the Lord may deliver them from their oppressors.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 91)

“Be with me O Lord, when I am in trouble.” God is always with us, but too often we are not aware of his presence, except when we are in trouble.

Read More

Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, first sunday of Lent, RENEW International, Temptation of Christ

Brainstorming

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 28, 2022 6:00:00 AM

When I was in high school, a favorite teacher of mine, Sister Mary Mark, taught me how to brainstorm. It was a very helpful organizational tool when I was presented with a problem to solve or a challenge such as a school essay. Brainstorming can be used in many life situations, not just in school.

As with most things, there can be a dark side. If you, like me, have a vivid, creative, problem-solving imagination, it is easy to brainstorm undesirable scenarios as I do when I fall into my worry mode. Worry is a habit that is difficult to break. Despite all my efforts to live my faith in a loving God, I often fall prey to worrying. Intellectually, I know worrying is a waste of time. Problem-solving and preventative preparation for the future do not have to be overshadowed by dismal fears. I have practice good and holy and positive brainstorming.

How about brainstorming when I pray? A prayer that most of us know is “The Divine Praises.” This prayer, which concludes Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, is like brainstorming truths we know about the Trinity, Mary, and St. Joseph. As is often the case, when we get to know a prayer very well through repetition, we can overlook many of its implications or details.

Let us look at “The Divine Praises” a little closer.

Blessed be God.

Blessed be His Holy Name.

How many times do we hear God’s name used in a very unholy way? The expression OMG, oh my God, shows up in everyday conversation as an outburst of surprise or excitement, but is it really meant as a prayer, or is it just pronounced to add a sense of importance to the situation? Are we really calling on God for his attention? Certainly, God is with us in our daily struggles, and he is only a genuine prayer away.

 

Read More

Topics: Sharon Krause

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

Posted by Bill Ayres on Feb 26, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Sirach

(Chapter 27:4-7)

This is one of the “wisdom books” in the Hebrew scriptures. Here we have observations that were true thousands of years ago and are true today.

“In tribulation is the test of the just.” Yes! The hard times often test us and reveal who we really are.

“The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had…. So too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind…. Praise no one before he speaks, for it is then that people are trusted.”

It is true. Our words say a great deal about who we really are, even though we also believe that “Actions speak louder than words.”

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 92)

“Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.” How often do you give thanks to the Lord? Sometimes? Often? Every day? How about right now?

Read More

Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Potholes

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 21, 2022 6:00:00 AM

It is not necessary to wait until March for a little Irish humor!

A leprechaun here on vacation
was suddenly filled with elation

for the potholes he spied were so deep and wide

he could hide from the whole population.

The other day, as my husband was carefully maneuvering our car around the numerous New England potholes, he reminded me of that limerick I had written years ago. Especially this time of year, those road-surface erosions can challenge even the best drivers.

All of us can also experience potholes in our spiritual lives, too. What had seemed like smooth routines in our prayer life and holy habits can sink into occasional ruts, holes, and even roadblocks. What causes these interruptions? Seasonal distractions, illness or threats of illness, weariness, disappointments, and the evil one seizing opportunities can all be to blame.

So, what can we do to get back to some semblance of control? We might try something new. Find some new prayers online or try using different prayer books or novenas. Ask some friends in faith for resource ideas. Maybe a priest, deacon, or religious sister would have a recommendation.

Try establishing a new routine. Pray at a different time of day if you can. While having a familiar time and place to pray can make prayer comfortable and easy, sometimes a new experience gives fresh life and perspective to what we want to achieve.

Read More

Topics: prayer, prayer life, Sharon Krause

Subscribe Here!

Recent Posts

Posts by Tag

See all