Branching-Out

Unwrapping Now

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 14, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Recently, a friend of mine gleefully shared that her Christmas shopping was done already, and she has even wrapped all the gifts. Have you ever thought about why we wrap all those presents? Wouldn’t it still be a surprise if we just said, “Here, I bought this for you because I care?” There is something to be said for the experience of wrapping, I guess; we humans seem to enjoy the anticipation, and the fancier the better. Besides, retailers make more money by selling us the fancy wrapping paper. 

One year, I decided to decorate the outside of my wrapped packages with designs made with ribbonthat is, spelling out the recipient’s name with ribbon, making the bows the flower-blossom tops of ribbon stems on the package front. It was fun for me, but quite time-consuming, and all to be ripped apart in the speedy opening of the gifts. 

I suggest to you today that we each have certain personal gifts we should unwrap during this Advent season. Let’s talk about a few of them. We are blessed to have the gift of faith in God; that we all know and are very thankful. How about the gift of gab? Some of us are easy conversationalists. It might be a good idea to strike up a cheerful conversation with a person doing a repetitive, mundane job during this busy season, just to put a smile on his or her face. It could even be a two-word opener, like: “Nice tie!” or “Lovely blouse!” I saw a store clerk the other day and remarked, “Pretty eyelashes!” She was pleasantly surprised that I had noticed. 

We could phone someone who is stuck at home during this pandemic and just share some kind thoughts or listen to that person’ s news. We might unwrap our gift of a sense of humor and share a few corny jokes or humorous anecdotes.

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Topics: Christmas, Christmas shopping, Advent, catholic program renew, God's gifts, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, scripture readings, gift wrapping

Prayer: The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me!

Posted by Sr. Donna Ciangio, OP on Dec 13, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
ever faithful to your promises
and ever close to your Church:
The earth rejoices in hope
of the Savior’s coming
and looks forward with longing
to his return at the end of time.
Prepare our hearts and
remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling
the joy and the hope
that Christ’s presence will bring.
For he is Lord forever and ever. Amen.

Adapted from Waiting With Joy, Year B: Weekly Reflections on the Sunday Readingsone of RENEW International's Advent resources for small group, individual or family prayer and reflection.

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Topics: time of anticipation, welcome, Advent, catholic RENEW program, faithful, Holy Spirit, hope, Jesus Christ, joy, prayer, RENEW International, spirit of the lord, Advent journey, season of preparation

Prayer: Prepare the Way of the Lord!

Posted by Sr. Donna Ciangio, OP on Dec 6, 2020 6:00:00 AM

God of power and mercy,
Open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us from
receiving Christ with joy
so that we may share his wisdom and
become one with him in glory
for he lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit,
now and forever. Amen.

 

 

Adapted from Waiting With Joy, Year B: Weekly Reflections on the Sunday Readingsone of RENEW International's Advent resources for small group, individual or family prayer and reflection.

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Topics: time of anticipation, welcome, Advent, catholic RENEW program, Holy Spirit, joy, prayer, RENEW International, Advent journey, season of preparation

Prayer: Be Watchful! Be Alert

Posted by Sr. Donna Ciangio, OP on Nov 29, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Loving God,
You desire that we grow ever more deeply
in our relationship with you.
As we begin our Advent journey
waiting eagerly
for the coming of your Son, Jesus,
bless our prayer, our contemplation,
our sharing,
and our service to others. Amen.

 

 

Adapted from Waiting With Joy, Year B: Weekly Reflections on the Sunday Readingsone of RENEW International's Advent resources for small group, individual or family prayer and reflection.

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Topics: time of anticipation, Advent, catholic RENEW program, prayer, RENEW International, Advent journey, season of preparation

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

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