Branching Out Blog

Oh, So Blessed

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 31, 2022 6:00:00 AM

With the lingering pandemic, visiting relatives and socializing with friends and family have been limited over the past couple of years. I have not heard of anyone recently staying with a relative for three months as Mary did with her cousin, Elizabeth. I am sure Mary was a very helpful visitor. I can imagine some happy conversations and sincere prayers of gratitude going up to God.

In the gospel reading for today’s Feast of the Visitation, the word “blessed” is found four times. Elizabeth tells Mary that she is blessed and blessed is the baby she is carrying. She tells Mary that she is blessed because Mary believed what the Lord had told her through the angel would come to pass. And then Mary, in her “Magnificat,” says that generations will call her blessed.

How often do we call yourselves blessed? Do we take the time to count our many blessings? Blessed isn’t a word that I hear too frequently. I do hear: “Good luck!” or “I hope things work out for you.” Despite all the evils and dangers in this troubled world, there are so many blessings we do enjoy and often take for granted. When God answers a prayer, do we spend as much time thanking him as we did asking for the blessing? God, the Creator, the Almighty, the Omnipotent, is loving us, even though sometimes we don’t understand his timing or his answers. We are blessed over and over again, in big ways and in small ways!

Did we ever go to visit a friend or relative and casually point out how blessed that person is? It is so easy to find fault and complain. People will eagerly sympathize with you. However, it is better still when we encourage people to offer thanks with us!

Jesus said in the Beatitudes in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12) that those who live in certain ways are blessed. What might seem like big challenges in life can result in future blessings! Being meek, being merciful, being righteous can be hard work, but we will be oh, so blessed for our efforts, according to our Savior.

We are especially blessed to have the true Body of Christ available to us at every Mass. we hear the priest remind us of that:

   Behold the Lamb of God,

   behold him who takes away the sins of the world.

   Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.

Without a doubt, we are blessed—with life, with love, with hope. In our daily prayer time, the Letter to the Ephesians 1:3-6 is a good starting point:

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who had blessed us in

   Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before

   the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he

   destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor

   of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.

 

 

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Topics: Gratitude to God, Sharon Krause, counting our blessings

Sunny Side Up

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 8, 2021 6:00:00 AM

   Grab your coat and get your hat

   Leave your worry on the doorstep

   Just direct your feet

   To the sunny side of the street

These are a few of the lyrics from an uplifting song, “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” that was written in 1930 by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh. The song encourages listeners to look at the bright side of life. The melody is peppy, and many famous singers of the time made the song popular.

Lately I have been thinking about the challenge of being optimistic and positive. Needless to say, there is an abundance of controversy, anxiety, and stress in our world. It is easy to find something or someone to complain about each day. It is so easy to blurt out a casual criticism of something. Smiles and encouragement can be at a premium. Where is that sunny side?

How difficult would it be to intentionally avoid negative comments and thoughts for just one full day? Such an effort could certainly affect not only us but also the people with whom we interact. Starting with morning prayer, we might ask the Holy Spirit to inspire us with simple, holy joy in the Lord. I take some dietary supplements and certain prescription meds in the morning. At the same time, I could keep in mind:

   A cheerful heart is a good medicine,

     but a downcast spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

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Topics: attitude of gratitude, optimism, Gratitude to God, Sharon Krause, counting our blessings

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

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