Branching-Out

Best Coach Ever

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jun 1, 2021 6:00:00 AM

With the easing of pandemic restrictions and the beginning of many summer sports seasons, I have been hearing about coachesfor instance, who coaches which team and whose contract has been renewed. Out of curiosity, I checked online to see what are considered necessary attributes of a good coach. I found that, in general, coaches have to be enthusiastic, positive, good teachers, supportive, focused, goal-oriented, knowledgeable, patient, clear communicators, prepared, inspirational, and good leaders. Whew! That’s a lot of qualifications!

Towards the end of last month, we celebrated the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came to the disciples as tongues of fire, instilling in them the ability to tell people of many different languages about the wonderful acts of God. I started to think how the Holy Spirit is probably a kind of divine coach who has all the attributes of the best coach ever.

As we pray in the Nicene Creed, the Holy Spirit is the Lord and giver of life, who spoke through the prophets. In John’s Gospel (14:26), Jesus tells us,

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of all that I have said to you.

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Topics: wisdom, Holy Spirit, insight, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Prayer: Hail Full of Grace!

Posted by Sr. Donna Ciangio, OP on Dec 20, 2020 6:00:00 AM

All-powerful God,
Your eternal Word took flesh
when the Virgin Mary placed her life
at your service.
Lift our minds and hearts
in watchful hope
to hear the voice which announces
the coming of Jesus in glory.
May we be open to the Holy Spirit
as Mary was,
that we too may make Christ present
to our hurting world.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. 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: 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

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

Posted by Bill Ayres on Dec 4, 2020 8:32:11 AM

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 
(Chapter 40:1-5, 9-11)

Historical records show that the Babylonian Exile, which was a defining event in the relationship between God and Israel, ended around 538 B.C. This reading comes from just before that time and is truly prophetic. It looks to a time when God will make things right for Israel. The prophet sees the exile as a punishment for Israel’s sins, and now “her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.” God is giving comfort to his people.

God offers comfort to us today even—no, especially—amid the COVID pandemic. Now is the time when we need to pray and remember the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. When we are dealing with addictions, family squabbles, betrayals and conflicts at work, or loss of work, God is there, helping us to deal with our responsibilities in these difficult times and forgiving others for their short tempers and fears.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14)

“Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.”

How do you experience the kindness of God, especially in such troubled times? Perhaps it is reaching out to your neighbors, friends, and relatives that you miss but can’t be with physically, especially those who are struggling to make ends meet or are trapped in depression or constant anxiety. 

A reading from the Letter of Saint Peter

(Chapter 3:8-14)

The author and date of this letter are matters of debate among scholars. The earliest Christians, including Peter and Paul, believed that the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world would occur in their lifetimes. This letter, perhaps written around 85 AD, reminds the faithful that “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years” and warns them that “all should come to repentance.” In other words, don’t worry about when the Lord will come again, be prepared all the time.

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Topics: Babylonian Exile, a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, catholic program renew, First Sunday of Advent, Gospel According to Mark, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, prepare the way of the Lord, Psalm 85, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Second Letter of St. Peter

Prayer: For the Good of All

Posted by RENEW on Nov 15, 2020 6:00:00 AM

God our Father,
you have given us everything
that we have,
you have made us who we are.
Thank you for the many talents
you have given to each one of us.
Guide us to understand your message,
and help us to be open to the Holy Spirit
and to others.
In your name we pray.

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Topics: using your talents to serve god, catholic RENEW program, God's gifts, Holy Spirit, prayer, RENEW prayers, RENEW International, openness

Insomnia Challenge

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 9, 2020 6:00:00 AM

His name is Buddy. He is my cat. 

We keep Buddy indoors at night because of the threat posed by a fisher cat in the neighborhood. Buddy is cooperative most of the time, but he has a propensity for exploration in the wee hours of the night. My brother-in-law used to say cats are nocturnal; I think Buddy occasionally has insomnia. Whatever the reason, once in a while I will be awakened by the sound of Buddy trying to push open the metal bathtub shower door—-although I know he is not interested in taking a shower. However, Buddy’s true passion seems to be getting into the hall closet. 

Let me tell you about that hall closet. It is about the size of a phone booth. My house is over 100 years old and has few and very small closets. I have lived in this house for more than 40 years and have done what I can to use closet space efficiently. That closet is packed with numerous hanging garments, extra throw pillows, a bag of seasonal gift wrap, two empty suitcases, hats, and craft supplies. There is hardly room for dust, never mind a 10-pound nosey cat! When I hear Buddy scratching at the door and can tell he has Houdinied himself from the hall into the closet, I get up, turn on the light, open the closet door all the way, and Buddy—who really could never find a comfortable flat space amid the contentscomes scrambling out to innocently find a chair or bed to catch some early-morning z’s. By the time the nonsense is over, I might be fully awake. 

There are other times, even without Buddy’s assistance, when I experience overnight periods of wakefulness. I have noticed that my mind may head to what I call my “worry closet,” although I don’t know why. 

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Topics: catholic renew progam, creation, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, pray, prayer, RENEW International, spiritual life, insomnia, anxiety, worry closet, lullaby

'Medistations' on the Holy Spirit

Posted by Sharon Krause on Sep 30, 2020 6:00:00 AM

 

We are blessed to have guidance, inspiration, and enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. Let us pray with the following little meditations—kind of miniature stations—on the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.

 

#1. The angel, Gabriel, tells Mary she will conceive by the Holy Spirit and bear a son, Jesus.

The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the most High will overshadow you;
therefore the child to be born will be holy;
he will be called Son of God. (Luke 1:35)

 
What a life-changing announcement! Mary’s holiness and favor with God have not been overlooked. As young and naive as she was, she was willing and able to be God’s servant. What excuses do we find for not taking on even small invitations to holiness? The Holy Spirit will give us the wisdom and openness to conceive of little acts of kindness for others and then deliver them.
 
#2. John the Baptist tells the people of a powerful Messiah who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.

John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water;
but one who is more powerful than I is coming;
I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and Fire. (Luke 3:16)

 Most of us were babies when we were baptized. Before we could even understand the gifts of power and strength that were given to us, we were favored by God through the Holy Spirit. So now, let us not waste time before spreading the fire of God’s love to others. Now we know about our potential!
 
#3. Jesus promises the disciples that the Holy Spirit will teach them to defend themselves.

When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities,
do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say;
for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say. (Lk 12:11-12)

Do we shy away from mentioning our faith, what we believe, when we talk to others?
We don’t have to be expert catechists to share our God experiences. Saying “omg” is not enough. We can vocalize our joy and gratitude for our blessings!
 
#4. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will be sent to his disciples.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
(John 14:26)

We can pray to the Holy Spirit and ask for help in understanding when we read the Gospels. We often need to be reminded of what Jesus has said to us. Sometimes we get used to hearing certain truths and need new insights. The Holy Spirit is great at new and practical insights! We just need to take the time to open our minds.
 
#5. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit onto the disciples with the power to forgive sins.
 Jesus said to them again,

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them;
if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23)

So, the sacrament of reconciliation was born. The Holy Spirit helps us with forgiveness—not only receiving it but also giving it. Do we have trouble forgiving certain offenses? Do we hold even simple grudges? God won’t hold a grudge. We can ask the Holy Spirit for help in the forgiveness department. Reconciliation invites us to peace and new beginnings. Check out that sacrament again!
 
#6. Jesus commissions the disciples in the name of the Trinity.
 And Jesus came and said to them,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….(Matt 28:18-19)

 We can make disciples with the Holy Spirit’s help. We know what it is like to share good news with someone. What better news can we possibly share than the good news of Jesus Christ? We don’t have to preach in order to teach. Actions speak quite loudly.
 
#7. The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages,
as the Spirit gave them ability. (Acts 2:4)

 Sometimes we don’t understand others, even when they are speaking our native tongue. People can get wrapped up in emotion, confusion, prejudice, fear, and say things they might not say in other circumstances. Words can take on many different meanings. We can ask the Holy Spirit to temper us in our language, help us think a little longer before we speak. We can pray to the Spirit for a unifying, patient language of love.
 
#8. The Holy Spirit helps us to pray.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit,
because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
(Romans 8:26-27)

 Help is out there! If we feel stale or rusty, or we need new prayer practices, we can ask the Holy Spirit for some help. We can ask help from friends and family, priests and deacons. Many resources are available through RENEW International. Ask the Holy Spirit for direction and motivation. 

Scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

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Topics: catholic renew progam, Holy Spirit, meditation, prayer, RENEW International, stations, Blessed Trinity

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