Branching-Out

Glory

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 22, 2021 6:00:00 AM

We hear the Christmas song, “Angels We Have Heard on High,” this time of year. It is one of my favorite songs. The chorus starts with the word, gloria.

And there is that little prayer we say when we say the rosary, and other times:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

And the Gloria prayer at Mass starts, “Glory to God in the highest.” With all this glory going on, I got thinking about just how can we give God glory? I looked up the word, and saw that glory means praise or giving great honor.

God does not need my praise or honor, but I need to praise and honor him; I need to acknowledge his greatness and majesty. How can I do that?

I suggest that giving God the glory that is due him involves singleness of purpose. I praise him with all my attention to what I am saying or singing. I think about God’s joy of transcendence: He does not have to make himself available to me, but he does. He wants a relationship with me! I am truly in awe of His generosity!

 

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Topics: glory, prayer life, Sharon Krause, give glory

An Advent Prayer

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 26, 2021 6:00:00 AM

As I seek a new approach to welcoming Advent this year, Psalm 51, especially verses 10-17, has inspired a personal prayer that I am moved to share.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me, (v. 10)

Lord, I know you are very patient with me. You did not create only in the Garden of Eden. Your power to create, correct, and enhance creation will encourage me as I proceed through the days of Advent. Help me to focus on your Son and what a gift he is to me. Assist me as I endeavor to rid myself of trivial concerns and to pay closer attention to my spiritual priorities. Take away any tendency to give in to discouragement or testy moodiness brought on by fatigue,

Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. (vv. 11-12)

The Holy Spirit offers amazing inspiration when I am open and paying attention. Lord, send me that Spirit and help me recognize the Spirit’s promptings. How awesome is the joy of salvation that I enjoy thanks to Jesus’ selfless gift of himself. I can know sweet joy every day of this Advent season: J-esus O-nly Y-ou!

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. (v. 13)

 

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Topics: personal reflection, Advent prayer, prayer life, Sharon Krause

Just for a Day

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 22, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I enjoy religious days of reflection and retreat weekends, but due to the pandemic and perhaps to my being overly cautious, I have not indulged in such a program since February 2020. Any of us, however, can choose a day and make it retreat-like. It would have to be a work-free day, maybe on a weekend, on which we could somewhat separate ourselves from family and friends to create a private holy space in which to think, read, and pray.

Starting the retreat day with a Mass is a good idea. Invite the Body of Christ to walk with you. It would not be necessary to lock yourself in your bedroom. Retreat houses have various rooms and comfortable furniture. Many of them also have lovely grounds on which to take meditative, prayerful walks. On this self-retreat day, a walk or two in your own yard or around your neighborhood is a possible activity, weather permitting. Praying with nature often prompts reflection on the beauty and grandeur surrounding us: the vastness and bounty of our Creator. We may have to direct our eyes upward with more attention on small wonders or simple miracles of creation. Look again, and again.

Prayer books or spiritual reading material can provide food for reflection. I have books I keep promising myself I am going to read and never quite get to them. On this proposed “day away,” allowing time to relax with good spiritual reading material can allow the Holy Spirit to teach and inspire you.

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Topics: personal reflection, prayer life, spend time with God, Sharon Krause

Call Out the Team

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 17, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When you listen to the news, there is a good chance you will hear that retailers are urging consumers to start their Christmas shopping now because of expected shortages of products due to backups at shipping docks and the shortage of truck drivers. Couple with all of that our gradual and anxious recovery from the virus pandemic, and we are faced with a good amount of pressure, uncertainty, and stress.

I have noticed stores rushing to display Christmas merchandise and decorations even before Halloween. Right there among the skeletons and bats it was possible to see displays featuring Santa and his sleigh waiting to be purchased by COVID-weary customers.

Clement Moore’s “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” gives Santa’s reindeer names: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. To keep our focus on good spirituality while making necessary Christmas preparations for the next five and a half weeks or so, perhaps it may be a good idea to summon our own personal teams of spiritual reindeer to pull us along. Allow me to introduce you to my team.

The lead deer are called Grace and Joy. Grace reminds me gently that the Lord shares his life with me. God is generous and loving as he gives me strength every day. He is a personal, ever-present God. Joy pushes through any dark or challenging times as she tells me repeatedly that eternal joy is offered to me, that Jesus willingly paid the price for me.

 

The next two deer are named Sanctus and Serenity. Sanctus helps me to separate myself somewhat from worldly concerns so that I take time to strive to be holy as God is holy. As the holiday season ramps up, it is easy to get immersed in material concerns. Serenity encourages me to be sure I get enough peaceful rest so I can cope with the momentum of everyday challenges.

 

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Topics: patience, prayer life, Sharon Krause, prepare for Christmas

Praying with Psalm 145

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 18, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I doubt that I am alone in feeling the need for some good news or some reminders of positive, hopeful aspects of life in this world. It is time to pay attention to Psalm 145, part of which is the responsorial psalm used at Mass today. Instead of just breezing through it, let us take a thoughtful look at what the psalm tells us about the Lord and what that means for us.

One of the purposes of prayer is to adore God. Psalm 145 gives us words we don’t use in ordinary conversation to help us praise the Lordextol, declare, proclaim, bless, laud. It is almost as if we enter into a different mindset that is holy and prayerful.

We address God as “King” and “Lord.” We say we will bless and praise his name forevernot just today or when we are in church. He is in our lives, present to us, available to us always. There is no way we can fully comprehend the Lord’s greatness, but that is not discouraging; it is comforting, because we all know we have only human abilities. God knows our limitations and loves us as he created us.

The psalm tells us that we have good news of a wonderful God to pass on to other generations. And we have this news on which to meditate and about which we can burst into song. So we should not keep all this happiness a secret; we need to share it often and willingly! The generations of believers shall

celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,

and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. (verse 7)

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Topics: give thanks to God, Good News, prayer, prayer life, prayer of thanksgiving, Sharon Krause

Timely Thoughts

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 11, 2021 6:00:00 AM

As soon as I learned how to tell time, I became an ardent clock-watcher. I still always seem to know what time it is—unless, of course, there is a power outage, and no battery clocks are close by. Consequently, I am rarely late for an appointment and have little patience with people who tend to be tardy.

I have some ideas about using time in our quest for holiness. Priests and religious pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day. Consisting of psalms, hymns, sacred scripture readings and other prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours is regularly prayed at various times of the day and night. More information about this type of prayer can be easily found on the internet.

I got thinking about a “Liturgy of the Ours” in which we could pray, at set times of the day, for things that are ours, i.e., our families, our friends, our healings, and our blessings.

It is up to each of us to take the time to communicate with our loving God, to build on the relationship we are so privileged to have.

Yes, we are busy, but, in many cases, we can make time for activities that we deem important. I am not suggesting that we spend endless hours in prayer, but I know from personal experience how easy it is to get caught up in worldly activities, get tired, and skip over prayer time on a given day. 

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Topics: prayer, prayer life, prayer of thanksgiving, spend time with God, Sharon Krause

Climb It!

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jul 12, 2021 6:00:00 AM

My retired husband has our television turned on a good part of any day he is not busy with an around-the-house project, so I hear a lot of commentary about the news. Climate change is often in the headlines. That got me thinking about instances in the Bible when someone comes to a high place and decides to climb it.

Bear with me. I have read that Jesus would go to a secluded place, away from the crowds, and pray to his Father. For example, check with Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, and Luke 6:12. Jesus wanted alone time, chose a mountainprobably not really a big oneand decided to climb it. Jesus knew what was important, his communion with God the Father, and rose to an occasion to pray in solitude.

Remember the story of vertically challenged Zacchaeus? He sought out a tree to give him some height and climbed it so he could see Jesus. His assent in the encounter that followed was life-changing and life-saving! (Luke 19:1-10).

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Topics: personal reflection, prayer life, reflection, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

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

Sea-Shalls

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 28, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Have you noticed that we can look at something and not really see it? Either our attention isn’t well focused, or we are distracted by preconceived ideas or hesitations. The Holy Spirit can help us see better in many circumstances. I suggest that we visit my word-beach and collect some “see-shalls”.

Those who see beyond themselves and their own agendas and spend their time and creativity loving others shall be surprisingly rewarded.

Those who honestly see the error in some of their thoughts, words, or deeds, and work to correct their bad choices shall find renewal and refreshment with the Holy Spirit’s help.

Those who, with clear eyesight, see the equality of all God’s childrenour brothers and sistersand treat everyone fairly shall share the joy of new friendships and freedoms.

Those who see the importance of not dwelling in the past but making the most of the present shall experience new confidence and a stronger trust in our loving Father, God.

Those who humbly see their brothers’ and sisters’ need for forgiveness and willingly offer it shall receive forgiveness themselves and peacefully enjoy reconciliation with the Lord.

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Topics: forgiveness, generosity, insight, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, introspection, the examined life

Our Loving Father

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 16, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Our Easter season is 50 days long. No need to put all the plastic eggs and bunny decorations away in a hurry. On a spiritual level, this is our period to extend our rejoicing, to bask with gratitude in the light of our Risen Lord.

We have probably said The Lord’s Prayer thousands of times, but I think we can pray it with a few different meditations during this time of the church year.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

We have a Father who, while being fair and just, loves us very much. Sometimes, I think, he seems a big distance awayup there in heavenbut he is not far away at all. Heaven is where he is, and he is everywhere, all of the time. We can never honor and praise enough his name and who he is, but it is our challenge and privilege to try. If we God-watch, we can appreciate just how much he fathers each one of us every day. He expects us to behave like brothers and sisters in his family and share the love we know. We spring into loving action as we blend into springtime!

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Topics: Easter Season, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, The Lord's Prayer

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