Branching-Out

Moonstruck

Posted by Charles Paolino on Feb 17, 2021 6:00:00 AM

So, like a lot of other people, we have to watch Moonstruck every six months or so.

Someone asked me, how can you watch the same movie over and over again? I said, because every time I watch it, I notice things that I didn’t see before. This time, for instance, I noticed that, in that movie, there are several messages for Ash Wednesday and Lent.

One of those messages is in a remark that Rose Castorini makes to her husband:

“Cosmo … I just want you to know that, no matter what you do, you’re going to die, just like everybody else.”

To which he replies, “Thank you, Rose.”

And, of course, that’s what the ashes remind us of today. The liturgy provides two formulas for the minister to use when applying the ashes. The one used most often these days is, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” but the old classic that is still used in some places confirms Rose Castorini’s statement: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” — you’re going to die, just like everybody else.

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Topics: Ash Wednesday, Lent, God's love, prayer life, RENEW International, repentance, spirituality

Lenten Snowman

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 16, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I have seen plenty of snow over the years here in Connecticut, including the past couple of weeks. After the recent accumulations, several snowmen have appeared, and they got me to thinking about what a Lenten snowman might be like.

The bottom section of such a snowman would have to be a good foundation so that it could hold up the rest of the body. During Lent, we are reminded in the readings at liturgies of many of the truths that are the foundation of our gift of faith concerning the Kingdom of God. For example, in St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians (6:2) we read about what God has said:

“‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’  See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!”

 So God’s gift of salvation through Jesus is our firm foundation. We will also be reading about Christ proclaiming Peter as the rock, the foundation, on which Jesus is building his Church (Matthew 16). And in Chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel, we receive a wonderful foundational prayer—Lord’s Prayer.

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Topics: Lent, God's love, gratitude, prayer life, RENEW International, repentance, spirituality

Questions and Answers

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 8, 2021 6:00:00 PM

There I sat on the stage. I was dressed in my green uniform jumper and white blouse, clip bow tie on my blouse collar, and green knee socks. I was chosen from my fifth-grade class to be in a religion bee. I had committed to memory the answers from my Baltimore Catechism so that I could fare well in competition with students from other nearby Catholic schools. I was ready.

Upon reading about St. Jerome Emiliani (1481-1537), whose memorial is celebrated in the liturgy today, I learned that he is credited with developing the “question-and-answer catechism technique” to teach children religion. A great protector of orphans, St. Jerome apparently never fell short in taking care of the needs of the poor and needy.

Thanks to St. Jerome, I did pretty well in the spelling bee, but I honestly don’t recall who wonprobably not me. What I do remember is that I grew up knowing there were many laws and commandments I had to obey. I did go through a period of scrupulosity as a young teen. I got lost in the mountain of laws and prescriptions and, being a very conscientious and detail-oriented person, I found it difficult to be grateful for the underlying truth and love taught by the laws.

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Topics: beatitudes, Catechism, God's love, RENEW International, Saint Jerome Emiliani, rote learning

Thoughts on the Memorial of St. Blaise

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 3, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Dane was a big girl. She sat behind me on the school bus that transported us to a private high school in a nearby town. My cousin, Donna, was sitting next to me. I don’t recall what I said to Dane or what exactly provoked her, but, to my surprise, she grabbed the two ends of my winter scarf that was draped around my neck and proceeded to pull. I don’t think she was trying to end my life or even injure me, but she certainly scared me.

Dane was twice my size and probably did not realize her own strength. I poked Donna and she reached over and freed me from my predicament. I suffered no ill after-effects from the incident, but when my mother saw the remaining irritation mark on my neck when I got home from school, she had quite a phone conversation with Dane’s mother. Needless to say, I did not sit in front of Dane on the bus after that.

What brought that incident to my mind? Well, February 3, the memorial of St. Blaise, is the day we Catholics have our throats blessed in church. St. Blaise, a doctor and bishop of Sebastea, in what is now Turkey, is credited with having saved a child who was choking on a fishbone. Saints & Angels Catholic Online tells us that St. Blaise was a “physician of souls” and a “beast tamer” as well.

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Topics: God's love, praise God, prayer life, RENEW International, Saint Blaise, blessing of throats

Tobit's Journeys

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

The Old Testament book of Tobit is interesting. As I see it, Tobit, progressed through about six life journeys before dying at a very old age. He certainly had a prayerful relationship with God; in the short book, we read his heartfelt prayers in chapters 3, 11, and 13.

Before Tobit was taken into captivity, with other Israelites, from Thisbe to Nineveh, he lived a life full of virtue and works of charity. He followed the law of Moses and was very generous with any money he could amass.

Once Tobit was taken to Nineveh, he courageously expedited the burials any of his people the king had ordered executed. Tobit faithfully performed numerous corporal works of mercy for his tribal brethren. However, one night, after burying one of his own people, his journey into blindness began after he fell asleep by a courtyard wall; his eyes were covered with sparrow droppings that produced white films that obscured his vision.

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Topics: God's love, gratitude, prayer life, RENEW International, Scripture

Bird Watching

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 22, 2021 6:00:00 AM

As my husband and I were out running an errand, we came upon a woman who had stopped her car on the side of a busy road. She was looking up at a nearby tree. There, on a branch, was perched a beautiful bald eagle. He was quite a sight to see.

In the colder New England weather, we often see vultures warming themselves as they sit on chimneys and rooftops near where we live. My husband and I do a vulture count on cold mornings if we happen to be out and about. This morning, the vulture count was very high! They were even populating the trees a couple of blocks from our house.

Vultures, eagles, sparrows, ostriches, and plenty of other birds are mentioned in the Bible; if you were to conduct an online topic search, you might be surprised at how many!

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Topics: God's love, Good News, HolySpirit, RENEW International, Scripture, sense of hope

Big Fish Lessons

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 20, 2021 6:00:00 AM

For some reason, the story of Jonah and his three days and three nights inside a great big fish inspired some comparisons with life circumstances today. Hmm! Does that sound odd? Let’s think about it.

My husband and I have been somewhat quarantined in our house since last March. Yes, we go out for a few errands now and then, but most of our time is spent inside the belly of our house. So far, we have been safe from the COVID virus waves. Praise God, who has blessed us with resources, retirement, health, and stability.

I went to the Bible and reread the Book of Jonah and found a great deal to consider. Whether we believe that this account is just a teaching story or a description of a truly interesting miracle, the reread was worth the time. Allow me to share.

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Topics: divine mercy, catholic program renew, God's forgiveness, God's love, Good News, his people on earth, prayer, RENEW International, repentance, Jonah

Thoughts about Walking

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

Over the past ten months, I have limited my going to stores, churches, and entertainment venues. Consequently, I have had a lot more free time around my house. When I need a change of environment, depending on the weather, I take a walk around my neighborhood. I have revisited my conclusion that I take so many things for granted and that I need to be mindful of all the things I can do, even though there is a pandemic virus threatening. So a walk around a few blocks helps me to clear my head and focus on positivity; and my doctor encourages me to exercise often for my physical health.

Have we ever considered other opportunities a stroll can provide? If I am walking alone, I have the chance to pray the rosary or some other personal prayers. I find prayers of gratitude pop into my head as I observe beautiful clouds or hear sweet birds’ songs. I am reminded of how grateful I am to have the strength, balance, and flexibility to be able to walk; yet, I see happy people gliding along very successfully in wheelchairs and enjoying what outdoors has to offer them.

And I never know whom I might meet as I amble around the familiar streets. At times, God gives me chances to smile and greet others, and maybe even share brief conversations that could brighten others’ days or help solve little problems.

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Topics: catholic program renew, God's love, Good News, prayer, RENEW International, The Gospel

Re-ing in the New Year

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

I enjoy working and playing words, sometimes to the exasperation of the “autocorrect” on my iPad. So, I decided to consider words that start with “re” in relation to the year 2021 and how they might relate to bolstering spirituality. Are you ready?

I am not too good with New Year’s resolutions, but here goes.

It is a good idea to recommit to your regular prayer time every day. Maintaining a relationship with the Lord certainly has its rewards.

Realize that God is always with us, listening to our prayers and loving us with a merciful love.

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Topics: evangelization, catholic program renew, God's love, Good News, prayer, RENEW International, The Gospel

Neighborhoods

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 13, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Just for a little change of scenery, my husband and I will sometimes take a car ride. We go past neighborhoods that I visited years ago when I pursued customers for my direct- sales decorating business. Other times, I think about neighborhoods where we or our friends or relatives have lived. It is interesting what memories pop up as certain houses or businesses come into view.

Each neighborhood can have a kind of personality. When I was a little child, my neighborhood was very friendly, with many senior citizens. I could safely and freely visit Mrs. Cudney on her porch or expect an enthusiastic return good-morning wave from Mr. Nelson. When Mr. Buckley’s wife died, neighbors took up a collection for flowers and brought him dishes of food.

When I was first married, I lived in an apartment on a very busy state road, and houses were a bit far apart, so I did not get to meet many of my neighbors. Our next neighborhood was in the historic part of a town, with old apartment houses that used to accommodate silk mill workers. That neighborhood had a mix of old and young friendly families. It was close to a grammar school, a bus route, a bank branch, a pharmacy, a grocery store, a restaurant, and even a postal substation. It lent itself to both business errands and pleasant strolls. It was great for a young family.

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Topics: evangelization, catholic program renew, God's love, Good News, prayer, RENEW International, The Boy Jesus, The Gospel

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