Branching-Out

Closed for Renovations

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 7, 2022 6:00:00 AM

With the arrival of the Lenten season, it might be time to consider what about ourselves we can renew, remodel, or somehow improve upon in our preparation for Easter. The first requirement for such a task is honesty. Just as Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:31-46 that the Son of Man will separate the sheep from the goatsthose who follow the way of love versus those who do notwe need to take an honest look at what in our lives needs to be discarded.

Rationalization and bouts of laziness can cause us to be content with easy selfish responses to the gospel challenge to love God and one another. “Let someone else, with more time and resources, take care of the needy.” “Why should I forgive him; he will just do it again?” “He should get a job and not be so dependent.” “I’m too sleepy tonight to say any prayers; I will say extra ones tomorrow.” Really?

Spring is a good time for renovations. A reasonable amount of detachment from worldly cares can help us focus on our quest of a holier spiritual life. We can carefully select which doors that lead to distractions we can close, or at least shut partially. It is true that we live in a material world, with responsibilities and expectations. It is also true that the Lord guides us. The psalm verses in today’s liturgy tell us,

   (T)he precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

   the commandment of the Lord is clear,

   enlightening the eyes;

   the fear of the Lord is pure,

   enduring forever;

   the ordinances of the Lord are true

   and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:8-9)

 

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Topics: Lent, Lenten season, Sharon Krause

Thinking about Threes

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 19, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Have you ever thought about how many things are in groups of three? In children’s stories, for example, there are three bears, three little mittenless kittens, three blind mice, and “sugar and spice and everything nice” which are three ingredients of little girls. We also have expressions that focus on triplets, as in the Declaration of Independence: “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” We might “eat, drink, and be merry” or fall for something “hook, line, and sinker,” “morning, noon and night.” Three seems to be satisfying, almost rhythmical in nature.

If we think about the Blessed Trinity, we know there are three Persons. There are also the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. That reminds me that I have a little book of everyday prayers that contains Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love. Hmm! Maybe I should look them up and use those prayers at the start of each day during Lent? How about you?

And how about instances of threes in the gospel stories? In Chapter 2 of Matthew’s Gospel, we read of the visit of the magi who brought the infant Jesus three gifts. In Chapter 4 of the same Gospel, we read of the devil tempting Jesus three times in the wilderness. In Chapter 22, we read about the greatest commandment that tells us to love God above all, and then our neighbor as ourselves: God, our neighbor, and ourselves.

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Topics: Lent, Lenten season, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Slow to Fast

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

With Lent starting in the middle of February, my thoughts turn to memories of other Lenten seasons. I recall when, as a middle-schooler, I gave up, or fasted from, candy and other sweets. However, although I refrained from eating candy, I did buy some sugary cough drops to snack oneven though I did not have a cough or sore throat. Substitution was the name of that game! It was another example of the letter versus the spirit of the prohibition. I would proudly proclaim that I gave up candy for Lent.

Fasting can include abstaining from an activity as well as from a food group. There are spiritual benefits to derive from depriving oneself of certain pleasures. It is supposed to turn our minds away from worldly pleasures or freedoms so as to focus on the greater, spiritual concerns and endeavors.

 This past year, the pandemic has forced me to stop doing many activities I enjoy. It has been almost as if I were fasting from shopping, eating out, and getting together socially with friends and relatives. I certainly did not choose to fast from these activities as a spiritual practice. At first, I did not see a benefitother than health safetyfrom staying home so much. If nothing else, I have learned that there is a big difference between what I perceive as burden and as opportunity,

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Topics: Lent, Lenten season, fasting, prayer life, priorities, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

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