Branching Out Blog

Night Sounds

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 10, 2022 6:00:00 AM

Nighttime can be noisy, at least in my house. Our cat, Buddy, likes to sleep with my husband and me every night. Buddy is a good ol’ cat, but he snores. He usually sleeps on the bottom right side of our bed, just below my feet. My six-foot husband, to my left, also snoresnot necessarily in harmony with Buddy. It has been suggested that I join that snore symphony, but I never hear that!

Add to that cacophony the occasional sounds of emergency sirens from the vehicles at the firehouse a couple of streets from our house. And I cannot forget the young gent who lives across the street from us who, for reasons I don’t know, sometimes decides to warm up his large diesel-fueled pickup truck to go out driving at about 12:45 a.m. I think he works for a repair garage, so he may be going out to rescue a driver in need, so I should not really pronounce judgement.

With the various night sounds comes the opportunity for me to be awake in the darkness of the room. Instead of being annoyed, I can decide to add a little prayer time to my tossing and turning. Certainly it is good to have a regular daily prayer routine, but impromptu prayer minutes can be stress-free and thought-provoking.

One such prayer-poem I have written could, perhaps, find a place on someone’s nightstand.

     Sing me a lullaby, Jesus.

     Put a love song in my heart.

     Fondle my fears ‘til they fizzle;

     Give my sleep time a good start.

     Christ, be the Lord of my dreaming;

     Send all my nightmares away.

     Grant me forgiveness and mercy

     For sins I chose yesterday.

     Thank you for all of my blessings.

     I know there are more to come.

     Tuck me into your joy and peace,

     Keep my loved ones safe, every one.

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Topics: everyday prayer, Holy Spirit, spontaneous prayer, Sharon Krause

Grandma's Attic

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 3, 2022 6:00:00 AM

Many years ago, while driving two and a half hours to see our extended family, my husband and I used to play a word game with our little daughter so the ride would not seem so long. It was called “What’s in Grandma’s Attic?” Long before video games and cellphones, this alphabet game would keep our daughter amused, at least for a while. Using the letters of the alphabet, and players taking turns, the answers to the game’s question might be to say that in Grandma’s attic there was an Album, a Ball, a Cane, a Dolly, a toy Elephant, and so on. The game often got us laughing and thinking of silly answers.

Now what would make me think of that game after decades? We are in the process of moving out of the house we have occupied for a very long time. We are busy cleaning out our rather big attic! Let me tell you, there is a lot of stuff in this grandma’s attic! I don’t find the work amusing, but it is interesting so see how, for various reasons, when something is out of sight, it is often out of mind!

I have been finding items that bring back very fond memories. I feel the need to thank God for some wonderful past experiences just in case I forgot to thank him at the time, in all the excitement. I am sure there is no statute of limitations on gratitude to our loving Lord! Blessings come in all different ways and at any time throughout our lives.

I have been finding things upstairs that I have decided not to keep anymore, things that have outlived their usefulness. In my present life, maybe I should pause and think about any thought patterns, habits, or attitudes that have also outlived their role in my life. Maybe it is time to ask Jesus to help me to be honest with myself and weigh what really is important in my quest to love him above anything else.

There may be items in this attic that I could donate to others in need. My “treasures” could be shared if someone else’s need arises. For example, I some perfectly good, original, only-worn-once Halloween costumes that I had designed and made for my three grandchildren. Why not pass on the fun?

And why not pass on “What’s in Grandma’s Attic” with a few changes? How about sharing with children or grandchildren a game about our wonderful Catholic faith? We could call it: “What About our Faith Words?” and use the alphabet to teach or review. We could start with Absolution, Baptism, Confirmation, Deity, Eucharist, Forgiveness, Grace, and so on. We could even consult the Bible for some Old Testament words or names. Time spent with children to learn about the love of God is certainly worth the effort!

There is a commercial on television that asks, “What’s in your wallet?” I am asking you now, What’s in your attic? If you don’t have an attic, you might have a basement or closets that offer the same answers! Go for it!

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Topics: God's blessings, Holy Spirit, teaching children about God, Sharon Krause

Roads We Travel

Posted by Sharon Krause on Sep 26, 2022 6:00:00 AM

I was cruising the television channels recently and landed on a station that was airing an episode of the classic series, M*A*S*H*. I saw the wooden directional road sign that displayed the names of various cities in America as well as Seoul and Tokyo. It got me thinking about the various roads we travel or places we go in our lives and the virtual road signs we could use to help us find our way. Just as in the TV series, road signs can be a way of coping with challenging situations.

Let’s imagine, for example, some hypothetical road signs. So much in our lives is very literal and visual. If we can visualize a sign that reads “Patience,” we might try to follow that road when tempted to lose our temper. The arrow on the sign may point us to Ephesians 4:1-3:

   I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you

   have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one

   another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond

   of peace…

Life can present us with many problems. We can get stuck on the road of “Resentment” toward someone concerning a past conflict. It is best not to go there! Our new road sign could point us to Philippians 3:12-14:

   It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect

   maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have

   indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I for my part do not

   consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies

   behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the

   goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Jesus Christ.

Another sign that can easily pop up on our brain-post is “Anxiety.” What direction can we take to relieve anxiety or that of someone else? Proverbs 12:25 tells us:

   Anxiety in a man’s heart depresses it,

   but a kindly word makes it glad.

And St. Matthew tells us in his Gospel, 6:34:

   Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day

   is its own evil.

And St. Paul reassures us in Romans 8:38-39:

     For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor

     present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other

   creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The post in M*A*S*H* had 11 directional signs displayed in a bit of disarray. Our personal signposts may have more or fewer signs and can change as time passes. Sacred Scripture is full of wonderful hope and direction to point us to the right pathways. I have provided only a few examples. Each of us can find our own help. Even if our signs say things like “Doubt,” “Temptation,” “Fear,” “Confusion,” or “Transition,” the Holy Spirit is a great travel guide through prayer and Sacred Scripture. Blessed travels to all of us!

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Topics: applying Scripture to your life, Holy Spirit, Sharon Krause, choices

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

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