Branching-Out

Inside and Out

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 7, 2021 6:00:00 AM

While I have been distancing myself from family and friends in my quest to stay healthy, my husband has gotten to know me even better than he did before the pandemic. We have not been going out to eat or visiting others’ homes for any extended socialization. He has learned to ignore my little quirks and to be patient with my imperfections. So far, so good. I am probably aiding his path toward sainthood.

No matter how well my husband knows me, he will never know me the way God does. As the new year begins, it is reassuring to me to pray with Psalm 139. I think it’s my favorite psalm of all the 150.

Each verse of the psalm delightfully stresses how thoroughly God knows me. He knows my physical activities, my thoughts, my habits, even what I am about to sayor type right now! I know many people would say it is a coincidence, but when I decided to write a blog post about Psalm 139, I sat at my kitchen table and opened up my Bible; and without any bookmark or my consulting the table of contents, I opened up to the exact page containing that psalm. Some folks might call that confirmation.

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Topics: catholic program renew, God's love, prayer, Psalm 139, renew catholic program, RENEW International, pandemic, covid-19

Keeping it Handy

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 5, 2021 6:00:00 AM

It is almost time for me to put away at least some of my Christmas decorations. I am a figurine collector. All year round, most of the flat surfaces of my living space display some sort of decorative accessory amid framed family photos. Christmastime is special, with a number of angel figurines, three figures of singing children figures, and two Nativity scenes. There is also a Christmas village with small figures engaged in seasonal activities. So it is a job to put all these decorations back into their storage boxes.

I noticed this morning something that should have been obvious. The traditional décor is sharing the space with additional occupants: small bottles of disinfectants and sanitizers. I had left them out so as to be handy and to remind my husband and me of the importance of trying to avoid contracting any viruses lurking beyond our domicile.

I have a bowl of peppermint candies handy near my front door; I often grab one on my way out the door just to make sure my breath is not offensive to anyone I might encounter.

I got to thinking about the idea of keeping important things handy. I possess a large number of small prayer pamphlets and holy cards I have gotten from many different sources. They are stuffed in among books on my three bookcases, but they are not really handy or obvious reminders like the sanitizers on my tabletops.

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Topics: Bible, Christmas, catholic program renew, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, rosary, pandemic, covid-19, decorations, Nativity scene, handy, accessible

The Word Became Flesh

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 23, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Even as a child, I was drawn to what was called at Mass “the Last Gospel”the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verses 1-14, that that the celebrant recited before the final blessing and dismissal. As I wrote in an earlier post, I miss hearing that passage at Mass and wish it had not been taken out. It is not just the cadence of the reading, although I do like that; I think it’s the progression, the build up to the magnificent climaxthat the Word became flesh.

This is a wonderful gospel passage with which to pray during this season of Advent.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was
God. He was in the beginning with God.

I love to listen to words. They are informative, soothing, inspirational, and thought-provoking. So is the Word of God! Jesus was there, in the beginning, right from the start of creation.

All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into
being.
What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of all
people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

Life and light! Topics of discussion especially during this pandemic year! People are taking great measures to be safe from infection and protect their precious gift of life. So many families are putting up their Christmas lights earlier than usual to brighten their spirits. If we turn to Jesus in prayer, he is the best Light of all. He shows us how to look at life. He is our loving Light-giver! If we feel overwhelmed by the darkness of fear or doubt, Jesus is right there to give us hope. He is more powerful!

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Topics: Christmas, Emmanuel, catholic program renew, Gospel according to John, Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, pandemic, God with us, The Word became flesh, In the beginning was the Word

Opting for Silence

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 7, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Years ago, when our daughter and her family lived in the duplex apartment next door to us, my three grandkids would pop in to visit unannounced. One day, the 10-year old made an entrance and found me sitting on my couch in silence. I was not reading or working on a craft or watching television or even listening to a radio. Mandy was concerned. Was everything all right? Little Miss Busy Person could not figure out how I could be sitting there in silence. Of course, I reassured her that I was fine and just collecting my thoughts and enjoying the quiet.

At least once a year, I try to attend a silent weekend retreat at a retreat house in Massachusetts. There are inspirational sessions each day led by the retreat presenters, but for the rest of the time the retreatants do not intermingle or socialize. We pray and talk to God, read, and take peaceful walks around the lovely grounds. We take time to rest and refresh.

A long time ago, I went on a six-day silent retreat. That was really a shock to my active life. I had to get used to not seeking eye contact or exchanging friendly greetings with other retreatants I would pass in the hallways or at meals. However, I visited the reservation chapels many times, I read my Bible, I prayed, I journaled, I felt the closeness of the Lord in a very comforting way. He spoke to me in marriage images. He put happiness in my heart. He filled my silence. 

So today I am touting the praises of occasional times of silence. Silence is almost counter-cultural during these days of hi-tech electronics and constant media bombardment. We are a very audibly-informed society. We might need to enforce radio silence—-like a submarine—and take a dive into quiet for a little while.

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Topics: catholic renew progam, Jesus Christ, Martha and Mary, prayer, RENEW International, silence, pandemic, COVID, virus, retreat, Be still

Wreath Reflections

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 2, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Like just about everything this year, the season of Advent will be different in a number of ways. I am considering four important words we will see in sacred scripture, reflection pieces, and other spiritual offerings: awake, prepare, rejoice, and behold. Often the first word in one of the Sunday readings during Advent, each one may grab our attention as if in boldface typeand that is a good thing! 

Awake. Pay attention! We have had to be so alert and careful about avoiding the COVID virus contagion that we are weary. However, this Awake we are seeing is a more positive encouragement. Wake up and hear the wonderful news: the best is yet to come! Sure, we have to watch out to avoid anything that will make us too content in our earthly comfort zones. Jesus came to save us and will come again at the end of time. Be ready! Be joyful! It’s really good news!

Lord, send me gentle reminders to be vigilant,
to grasp more fully my responsibility
to focus
on opportunities for goodness and positivity.
Teach me to celebrate that I
am graced
with your message of salvation and am waiting
to see your awesome
face in our kingdom of everlasting love. Amen.

Prepare. John the Baptist was very good at his job of preparing the way of the Lord. He did his work, and we can do ours. Regardless of the world situation, we can all be creative as we give witness, example, and encouragement to othersin mundane issues but, more importantly, in spiritual things. So many people are preparing their houses for Christmas with bright fancy decorations, but how much more important is the preparation we do to repent of our sins, to open the windows of our hearts to let the Holy Spirit decorate our lives with hope. 

I ask you, John the Baptist, to intercede for me
that I may shake off the shackles of
complacency and habit
so as to make straight my path to the Lord and his to me.
Help me to convey the message of the truth of Christmas
in pure and simple ways.
 Amen.

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Topics: Advent Wreath, catholic renew progam, hope, Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, prayer, rejoice, RENEW International, pandemic, COVID, virus, Prepare, Awake, Behold

Temptations

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

With so much instability in the world today, we have had to adjust to cope with the disruption of routines and ways of thinking. Unfortunately, we might be faced with adapting to compromises and battling temptations. I have heard that the devil is in the details, but it is just as true that the devil is in the derailsthose times we get off track for one reason or another.

 As I thought about the possible temptations to sin, my categorizing brain reminded me that in the 1960s and 1970s there was a very popular singing group called the Temptations. They were not something to be avoided; their music and the way they did their choreography were very entertaining. Next, I looked at some of the names of this quintet’s famous recordings. So, without going into the lyrics specifically, there are song titles that seem fitting with today’s not-so-desirable temptations.

 One song was called Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today). I certainly see how that designation could apply to our poor world today. I told my husband I never thought before that I might envy the four astronauts that recently left the earth for six months away at the space station. Of course I was joking, but with so many openings and closings of schools, stores, and restaurants, it is easy to become a little cranky or short with people around us. We might be tempted to lose our patience and our temper. We might say things that are not so loving. We might indulge in a bit of self-pity. A good antidote is a few thoughts of gratitude, taken with a tall glass of water or a walk around the block.

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Topics: catholic renew progam, hope, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International, temptation, pandemic, COVID, virus, despair

All the Trimmings

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 25, 2020 6:00:00 AM

According to reports in the media, people have begun decorating for the approaching holidays already. One woman who was interviewed said that it makes her kids feel better to see all the bright lights inside and outside her house. Some families have put up their Christmas trees even before Thanksgiving. A business advertised on television that it employs workers who will decorate your whole front yard with tons of lights and electronic trimmings. Granted, it has been a dark year of pandemic and controversy, so we do need to lighten up.

Whether we are planning a big family meal on Thanksgiving or a small gathering, most likely the turkey will be trimmed with savory basting and spices. We may even dress to decorate ourselves a little fancier during holiday celebrations or at least wear a special gaudy Christmas sweater in December.

 As we enhance the walls of our homes and our shrubbery, our luscious turkeys and desserts, and our own physical bodies, we could lose touch with the fact that we have to have positive foundations under the trimmings. If our fuses blow, our bushes collapse, our fowl is really foul-tasting, or our appearance is disheveled, our original intentions may not realize the desired results.

 We should try to remember, for example, that while lights brighten up the early darkness outside and the pine trees in our living rooms, the true Light in our world all year long is Jesus, who shows us the way out of the darkness of sin and evil. In the incident described in John 8:12, the Pharisees were with Jesus:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows
me will never walk in darkness
but will have the light of life.”
   

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Topics: Christmas, Christmas season, catholic renew progam, holiday, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International, pandemic, COVID, virus, trimmings, decorations, I am the light of the world

When the parade passes by

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 23, 2020 6:00:00 AM

As we get close to Thanksgiving, we hear on the media about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, which will be a very different even this year because of the COVID pandemic. 

That parade, as well as preparations for Christmas, can bring to mind pleasant holiday memories. To sit back and relax as the memory pictures cavort in procession before our mind’s eye can make us very sentimental and grateful. Of course, we can become nostalgic and even sad if we consider our losses and some of the virus-triggered changes in our more recent history. 

So what can we do to keep ourselves peaceful and open to holiday joy? I think it requires a conscious effort to remain positive as so much negativity parades around us. I like to think of other parades in my life. 

When I was a little girl, my mother used to take me to see the local Independence Day parade. My uncle was a member of the fire police, so I would watch for him to march past where I was standing. When I saw him coming and heard the band playing, I would start mischievously dancing around—-just off the curb and into the street—only to be quickly pulled back by my mother. It was a happy dance and is a happy recollection. 

When I was in fifth grade, I was marching with my class in a procession honoring our Blessed Mother. I liked being first in line, and so I was that day. However, I got distracted and did not notice that Mother Mary Edith, our teacher and procession leader, had stopped for some reason. Well, I just kept walking and walked right into her. No big deal, but I was a very embarrassed 10-year-old. Now it makes me smile.

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Topics: Christmas, catholic renew progam, communion of saints, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International, pandemic, COVID, virus, when the saints go marching in, Thanksgiving parade

In the Clouds

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 11, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Recently I was awakened in the middle of the night by a noise in the house. My first thought was that Buddy, my cat, might have gotten into some mischief. Not finding anything amiss, I headed back to bed and happened to glance out the window to see that a fog had settled all around my neighborhood.

 As I lay back down in my bed, I remembered another fog which enveloped me when I was on vacation in Camden, Maine one summer. My husband and I had gone up to visit Mount Battie, a popular attraction. On the mountain, as we were taking photos and looking out over Megunticook Lake, I caught sight to my left of what looked like a huge bale of cotton gracefully rolling toward us. The experience was truly ethereal. At first, the white foggy mass was thin and almost tantalizing. As the fog quickly thickened, it rolled around us and eventually blocked our view of the lake below. The experience was exhilarating. For a short while, I felt as if I were in a different world.

While the cloud at Mt. Battie temporarilyand almost amusinglyblocked my view, the Lord, in a pillar of cloud by day, led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. The chosen people had the guidance of their faithful God every day.

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Topics: election, catholic renew progam, creation, fog, Jesus, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International, pandemic, the elect, pillar of cloud, campaign

Prayer in a Pandemic

Posted by Jessica Guerriero on Oct 15, 2020 6:00:00 AM

The start of this month made me realize that we have been living in a pandemic life for half a year. What started as a whisper, a rumor, has taken over our everyday lives, and the effects are limitless. The struggles and losses have been tremendous and heartbreaking.

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Topics: bible study, adoration, catholic RENEW program, prayer, RENEW International, Sunday Mass, pandemic, COVID, social distancing, Zoom

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