Branching Out Blog

Timely Sequence Reflections

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 20, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Pentecost Sunday was quite a long time ago, but the Pentecost Sunday Sequence prayer that is included in that liturgy is a favorite prayer of mine, and one that does not have to be stashed way until next year.

 In today’s liturgy, we hear the story from Luke’s Gospel (18:35-43) in which a blind man had his sight restored by Jesus. Maybe, with reviewing the Pentecost prayer, Jesus will give us some new ways to think and pray to the Holy Spirit.

 Come Holy Spirit, come.

And from your celestial home

Shed a ray of light divine.

Come, Father of the poor.

Come, source of all our store.

Come, within our bosoms shine.

 We should openly invite the Holy Spirit into our lives every day. The Spirit, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, does accept our invitation and is very active and helpful, even in small ways. We should pay attention, even if we have been slow to respond in the past.

          You, of comforters the best;

You, the soul’s most welcome guest;

Sweet refreshment here below;

 We all need comforting now and then, but in today’s very troubled world, divine comfort is needed and appreciated more than ever! One look at the news in the media tells us we are lacking in the kind of sweet refreshment only the Spirit can provide.

 

In our labor, rest most sweet;

Grateful coolness in the heat;

Solace in the midst of woe.

 

The Holy Spirit helps us in extreme times and situations. It is a blessing to rest in the Lord, to find a respite when life is demanding, when we are in the heat of anger or temptation, resentment, struggle, or great sadness. Maybe our labor is persistent praying for some urgent need of a loved one. The Spirit is there to help us.

         O most blessed Light divine,

Shine within these hearts of yours,

And our inmost being fill.

 

Where you are not, we have naught,

Nothing good in deed or thought,

Nothing free from taint of ill.

 Again, we do the inviting. By virtue of our baptism, we know the Spirit is ready to assist us right into the center of our hearts. This world is so full of distractions, perversions, temptations, and roads to emptiness. We are human, the Holy Spirit is divine! The Spirit will correct us and fill us!

 Heal our wounds, our strength renew;

On our dryness pour your dew;

Wash the stains of guilt away;

 

Bend the stubborn heart and will;

Melt the frozen, warm the chill;

Guide the steps that go astray.

 The Holy Spirit brings positivity and hope. Healing flows from the Spirit in a way that renews our strength and provides new life that is cleansed and redirected. The Spirit resets us and reboots us, if you want to think in computer-age terms. We can be reprogrammed.

 On the faithful, who adore

And confess you, evermore

In your sevenfold gift descend;

 

Give them virtue’s sure reward;

Give them your salvation, Lord;

Give them joys that never end.

 Amen. Alleluia.

 That sevenfold gift—remember what the “seven” are? The gifts are wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. Wow! What a package of gifts from a very generous Lord! Let us adore and confess the Lord, and be very thankful for his loving generosity, those “joys that never end!”

  

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Topics: Sharon Krause, Gifts of the Holy Spirit, open to the Holy Spirit

Fire

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jun 5, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Years ago, my husband bought me an opal pendant. I really like the opal because it has lots of “fire” in it—-meaning there are a lot of color spots that are pleasant to look at as I turn the opal this way and that. It has occurred to me that we are like opals in some ways.

 According to books I have consulted, the opal is one of the most interesting and colorful gemstones. No other precious gem produces the array of beautiful colors that the opal does. The opal is a silicate which contains some water in its composition. The pin-fire opal I have is a type in which the main body of the stone is usually white and shows a myriad of small pinpoint colors all through the surface. The flashes of color occur when a ray of light meets a very thin film of the opal which has a different optical density from that of the light. Precious opal contains a great number of these thin films which are layers of submicroscopic spheres. The flashes of color vary as the stone is turned. Some opals are considered florescent minerals.

How can we compare ourselves to opals? First, an opal with lots of fire in it is attractive and very precious. When we have the fire of the Holy Spirit in us, we can attract others by our Christian attitude and behavior. We can draw more people to us and, hopefully, to Jesus. Every opal is different; each one of us is unique and precious in God’s eyes. Each of us has different color spots—-if you see the analogy—different ways of reflecting the Light, that is Jesus, to those around us. When we turn the opal, we see different colors; when we openly turn to the Lord and to our brothers and sisters, our different talents and gifts are released, and we can find more ways to be of service.

 Color, or fire, in opals is caused by the collision with light; our fire is caused by our collision or meeting with the Holy Spirit who can fill us with zeal and power. Fire is refining and purifying in its power. Not long ago, we celebrated Pentecost. The Holy Spirit brought power to the disciples as tongues of fire rested upon their heads. After that, the disciples were filled with zeal and the fire of God’s message of love.

 The ancient superstition about opals restoring keenness of vision brings to mind that with the light of Jesus Christ, our vision of his kingdom can be brought to greater clarity. We see things of this world differently when we look through Spirit-filled eyes of faith and joy.

 How can we keep our fire burning? In order to keep any fire burning, three things are needed: something combustible, a source of heat, and oxygen. To keep our fires burning, we need to be ready and willing to surrender to the Lord who is our source of heat and light, and who gives us the breath of life. We must fan our fires, stay very close to our Source through prayer and sacraments, and humbly strive to adore him who colors our humble lives!

 P.S. Potch is opal that does not show the play of color, or, as miners say, is not alive. Let’s be sure we treasure and nurture our fire, so no one can say we are potch!

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Topics: Sharon Krause, The Holy Spirit accompanies us, open to the Holy Spirit

Invitations

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 29, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Recently my daughter received an invitation to the wedding of her friend. It seemed strange to me that she got the written invitation now, because the wedding is not until December 31, and it will take place at the bride’s home and not a public venue that would have had to be reserved far in advance. I don’t know the details, but it did get me thinking about invitations.

We read in the gospel passage in today’s liturgy that, at Jesus’ dying request, John, Jesus’ beloved disciple, cared for Jesus’ mother, Mary, in his own home. Yesterday, the feast of Pentecost, we invited the Holy Spirit to come to us as we read the sequence, Veni, Sancte Spiritus. We invite the Holy Spirit to shine within us, give us rest in our labor, console us in sad times, fill our inmost being, heal our wounds, free us from guilt, help us to overcome stubbornness, and bring us the Spirit’s sevenfold gifts. We invite the Spirit to set us on fire with love.

So, what if the Holy Spirit comes with all that we invite the Spirit to bring and we are not really there or prepared? If someone comes to us with relief and numerous gifts, shouldn’t we receive everything with open minds and hearts? Invitations imply readiness and preparation. The gifts that are brought in love should be, in turn, used.

 Our God is a generous and forgiving God. Knowing that, we can repent of our sins and resolve to clear the way for the Spirit’s gifts. Being open to the Holy Spirit makes us ready to speak in the language of love to those around us. Even a daily short prayer to the Spirit can put us into the right frame of mind.

 Psalm 51:12-14 is a good example:

    A clean heart create for me, O God,

       and a steadfast spirit renew within me.

   Cast me not out from your presence,

       and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

   Give me back the joy of your salvation,

       and a willing spirit sustain in me.

 

One of the best gifts the Holy Spirit offers us is hope. If we try to pass on that hope, we are really inviting more peace and joy into our busy, troubled world. May we try to look for the Holy Spirit each day and be grateful for all the Spirit’s gifts. We might even be vocal about what we see so that others’ awareness grows.

    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may

   abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit. (Romans 15;13.)

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Topics: Sharon Krause, The Holy Spirit accompanies us, open to the Holy Spirit

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