Branching-Out

Prayer: Repentance

Posted by RENEW International on Jan 24, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Loving and gentle God,
for the times we have been
insensitive to the needs of others …

For the times we have not resisted evil
but have given in to it instead …

For the times we have failed to offer hope and support …

For the times we have shut ourselves off
from comfort, hope, and support …

For the times we have allowed cynicism to reign …

Lord, we repent and believe in the Good News.

Loving God, we turn to you in love and trust.
Allow your reign to grow continually in our hearts,
now and always. Amen.

Adapted from PrayerTime, Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, Cycle B,
© RENEW International

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Topics: catholic RENEW program, Good News, Gospel of Mark, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International, repent and believe in the gospel

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

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: The Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Day

Posted by Bill Ayres on Dec 25, 2020 12:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah
(Chapter 52:7-10)

Isaiah talks about someone coming who “brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news.” The Church chooses this reading for Christmas day because we believe that the birth of Jesus fulfills this promise.

We do not live in a peaceful world, and each day brings headlines with bad news, sometimes terrifying news. How can that be? Is that really true, or is bad news merely what sells? Of course, there is plenty of bad news to go around, but there is also so much good news, so many people doing good for their neighbors, for their country, for their world. There are fewer poor and hungry people in the world than in past eras, even though there are still far too many. There are more peaceful countries in the world in this century, even though there is still horrible violence in the Middle East and elsewhere. There is less crime, violence, poverty, unemployment, and hunger in our own country than there was 10 years ago, even though we still have a long way to go to be the just and peaceful people of our hopes and dreams.

The point is that the promise of Jesus does not work like magic. It is a gift of peace and good news offered to each of us that we can accept or reject. On the birthday of our Savior, let us accept this amazing gift on a deeper level than ever before. Let us remember that the power of his love that lives in our hearts is a more powerful force than all the negative forces that exist. We can live in his love despite all the unloving that we experience in our world, all this from a little baby whose birth we celebrate today.

Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6)

“All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.” Many have seen, but not all have believed. Let us pray that today more hearts will be opened to the transforming power of God.

A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
(Chapter 1:1-6)

The author writes, “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son.”

Throughout history, God has spoken to his people in many ways: through nature, through various religious traditions, and especially through the Jewish people and their prophets. God continues to speak through all those means today, but the fullness of God’s message and presence is in Jesus.

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Topics: peace, catholic renew progam, Good News, Jesus Christ, Nativity of the Lord, RENEW International, wedding garment, Christmas Day, birth of our Savior

Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Nov 9, 2018 6:00:33 AM

A reading from the first Book of Kings
(Chapter 17:10-16)
 
The scene here is very stark. There is a drought in the region. The prophet Elijah comes into the city and he is hungry and thirsty. He asks a poor widow who is at the point of starvation herself for water and some bread. She has no bread but only a small amount of flour and oil. Yet, she has faith, and she feeds him; there is just enough left for her and her son. Then Elijah tells her, “For the Lord, the God of Israel says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” The widow is a woman of faith, and God is with her.
 
Today, drought threatens the lives of countless millions in dozens of countries all over the world—especially in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. It causes mass migrations, malnutrition, and endless political strife and violence. Let us pray for today’s widows and poor families who suffer from hunger and poverty caused by droughts and floods and crop erosion, and let us use our own water resources wisely.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10)
 
“Praise the Lord, my soul.” We often pray to God and ask for help and forgiveness. Wonderful! Perhaps, sometimes we can simply offer a prayer of praise to God. It is not that God needs it but rather that we need it in order to enrich our souls.
 
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
(Chapter 9:24-28)
 
The author makes an important connection between the death of Jesus and our own deaths. “But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice. Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgement, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.”
 
The death and resurrection of Jesus radically changes our own deaths. It was not the end for him, and it will not be the end for us but rather a new beginning, a new life. Jesus the man died. Jesus the Son of God lives forever, and so will we. Have you ever thought much about this amazing gift? Please let the power of this gift enliven you every day, especially in times when you are troubled or feel alone.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
(Chapter 12:28b-34)
 
Here, Jesus is not gentle. He is challenging: “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.”
 
Throughout the history of Israel, widows and orphans had a special place in society, because they were economically dependent on the community. The scribes were supposed to take care of them but did not always do their duty. One of the reasons that the scribes were so against Jesus was that he called them out, and they did not like it.
 
Later in this reading, Jesus talks about people contributing to the Temple: “Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributions to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.’” This woman’s gift has become famous throughout history as the “widow’s mite.” Sometimes, those who are the poorest are the most generous, not only in financial contributions but in the gift of their time and compassion. No matter how little we have, we can contribute in many other ways.
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: disciples, Elijah, Letter to the Hebrews, widows and orphans, widow's mite, Word of God, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Book of Kings, Catholic, catholic RENEW program, Good News, Gospel According to Mark, Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres, Jesus Christ, Psalm 146, RENEW International, Scripture, Sunday Gospel

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