Branching-Out

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

Peace Be With You

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

Wishing anyone peace nowadays can be a tough challenge. We only have to listen to or read the news about all the troubles in the world to know that peace is hard to achieve. So many people, so many agendas, so many virus variants, so many conflicts all make peace seem out of reach.

 Wordsmith that I am, I got thinking about the word, “peace,” and the real meaning of that word. Consider this: “peace” is a lot like the actual condition of peace. It is a simple, one-syllable word that slides through our lips in a very easy, uncomplicated way. It has only five letters, but those five letters can help us figure out what is helpful to establish peace. I will elaborate. 

P — Patience: We need patience with ourselves and others in order to work toward peace. Our world today does not promote patience in much of anything. It is a discipline, and practicing discipline is not easy.

E Energy: Sometimes all of us get a bit lazy and let other people get involved while we sit out the problem. It is easier that way, and we can save our energy for complaining about the end results. We need to devote our energy and faculties purposely to work toward peaceful resolutions of difficulties.

A — Awareness: In order to promote peace, nonchalance is unacceptable. It is necessary to be aware of as many contingencies and factors as possible in any situation. Paying attention to detail with an openness to differences is important.

C — Christ: Of course, Christ, the Prince of Peace, has to be in our prayers and strivings. We can be quite vocal about our reliance on Jesus as we encourage others to trust in Christ’s love and assistance.

E — Empathy: Empathy requires a certain amount of humility and understanding of others. We all have weaknesses and limits. That is one reason why we hear that popular statement: “We are all in this together.” We read in Colossians 3:13:

Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

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Topics: peace, peace be with you, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Road Repairs

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 9, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When springtime arrives here in New England, driver complaints about all the potholes in the paved roads are rampant. The bouts of freezing and thawing of the asphalt over the winter cause cracks and crumbles that often lead to some very large car-threatening holes. If the potholes don’t slow us down, the prospect of wending around the road-repair crew trucks will certainly challenge us.

Have we ever thought about the potholes in our spiritual lives? Sometimes we fluctuate in the warmth of our prayer life and religious fervor. Sometimes we yield to temptations for immediate, selfish gratification. The season of Lent has been a good time to evaluate and atone for those ruts and bumps in our road to holiness; and now that Easter has come, we can rejoice in the perfect Savior solution to our challenges.

Jesus has risen! His tomb is empty, and we are full of joy and hope! We can rise, tooabove all the sickness, anxiety, and world-threatening problems that menace us with doubt and despair. Jesus’ terrible suffering and death give us powerful examples of how to follow God’s will. God the Father raised his Son to new life and showed us that, thanks to Jesus, our road to new life in heaven is open. It may not always be a smooth road, but we know how much God loves us and offers us help to avoid the ruts.

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Topics: Easter Season, Jesus Christ, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Easter Basket Prayers

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

Come Easter morning when I was a little child, there would usually be a good-sized, fancy-wrapped Easter basket waiting for me on the dining room table. Through the colorful cellophane wrap I would see a rainbow of yummy jellybeans half-circling marshmallow yellow chicks, small chocolate eggs, and a fair-sized hollow chocolate bunny decorated with little candy flowers. I think it is a safe guess that many of my readers share a similar memory. A perennial question is, what part of the chocolate bunny you eat first? All these thoughts about the Easter basket and its contents have inspired an Easter basket prayer.

The Easter basket, possibly made of woven wicker, is the container that holds the colored plastic grass; it is the foundation or base holding all the good stuff! I think of the foundation of my spiritual life: the religious instruction I have had, the materials I have read, the teachers I have had, and the spiritual experiences I have had in my decades of life. What holds my spirituality together? What keeps me together and supports me?

Risen Savior, I acknowledge and appreciate how You lift me up and lovingly keep me from losing my way to You. Sometimes I feel like I cannot “keep it all together,” but You are always with me, and ready to help me through my tough times.

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Topics: Easter, Jesus Christ, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Paying Attention

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

One day my husband and I were taking a leisurely walk around our neighborhood when we saw two policemen standing on a corner. A couple of blocks away was a police car, just sitting there as if waiting for someone or something. We concluded that the first two policemen were spotters watching passing motorists to see if they were talking on their cell phones or texting while driving. The officer in the nearby police car would get the message from the spotters and pursue any perpetrators. Citations, anyone?

That observation brings to mind the importance of paying attention to what we are doing and thereby avoiding distractions that could lead to trouble. Paying attention usually allows us to perform our activity well, because our minds are focused on the task at hand. However, since we are creatures that can usually think of more than one thing at a time, we have to strive to keep our priorities in order and our distractions under control.

Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 14) reports that when Jesus was told about the death of John the Baptist, he went off by himself to a deserted place, probably to grieve as well as pray. He could not pay attention to his grief and prayer for long, however, because a large crowd followed him and wanted him to continue his healing ministry. Jesus was always taking notice of the needs of the crowds and so, in his great compassion, he found a way to heal their hunger for food as well and proceeded to feed five thousand of them.

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

Lenten Rosary Mysteries

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 22, 2021 2:00:00 AM
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Topics: Lent, prayer life, RENEW International, rosary, Sharon Krause

Being Prepared

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

It was a very cold winter morning. My husband, our baby daughter, and I were in the car on our way from Pennsylvania relatives to home in Connecticut. We did not get very far on the highway when the fan belt on the car broke. This was before the days of cellphones. My husband pulled over and walked down a nearby exit ramp to find a place to phone his father to come and help us. It worked out fine, but the incident taught my husband a big lesson. From then on, he carried an extra fan belt, a box of many tools, and extra oil in the trunk of our car whenever we took a trip.

“Be prepared” is the motto of the Boy Scouts, and being prepared is a good idea for all of us, even though technology can bring help for any problem quite quickly nowadays.

It seems as if, in everyday life, we are always preparing for something. Most of the time we have advance notice of an exam we will be taking, a dinner we will be serving, an appointment we have made. We can plan our preparation. Sometimes, unexpected things happen; that’s when we need to have our “tools” in our trunks.

Right now, we are preparing to celebrate something wonderful: Easter and the Easter season. Lenten liturgy readings recount miracles Jesus performed, his teachings about love and the laws, the mission and identity of Jesus, and the plots to kill Jesus. We get ready for the miracle of Easter by appreciating all Jesus’ did in preparation for his crucifixion and death that redeemed us.

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Topics: Lent, Jesus Christ, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, prepare for Easter

Desert Decisions

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 4, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Early in Lent, we recall how the Spirit led Jesus into the desert for 40 days, during which time he was tempted by the devil. Jesus won those battles with Satan, and angels ministered to Jesus.

Last night, I woke up from a sound sleep, and I could not seem to get back to sleep. I lay there in the dark and the quiet. My husband and Buddy, our cat, were sleeping on either side of me. There was nothing wrong, but my mind started wandering. I got thinking that wakefulness could be like a desert experience in which a person might be tempted to lapse into despair or let their worries overtake them. With a lack of positive or worthwhile stimuli, it is possibleespecially if someone is tired or illthat faith in God’s love and forgiveness could be questioned there in the darkness. Creative minds can function in good and not-so-good ways to conjure up different potential outcomes to life’s challenges. The darkness can seem long and lonely. The Psalms are helpful as we pray. Why not try praying with Psalm 16, or Psalm 28, or Psalm 30, just to suggest three?

Seven years ago, I was recovering from surgery and was off my regular sleep routine. I would wake up in the middle of the night and learned to try some ways of calming anxiety. God gave us 10 fingers, so we can easily pray even just a decade of the rosary without beads, but rosary beads could conveniently be on the nightstand next to the bed. Our mother, Mary, is always ready to hear our prayers and pray for our needs.

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Topics: Lent, Jesus Christ, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Toss or Reuse

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 1, 2021 6:00:00 AM

In my neighborhood, we put out at the curb two large bins every other Friday morning: one for refuse to be scrapped and one containing recyclables. During this season of Lent, in our efforts to come closer to the Lord and to appreciate the miracle of Easter even more than we did in the past, maybe we should consider what about our lives we can totally discard, and what we can—-in a manner of speaking—-recycle.

St Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians (4:22-24),

You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

We all have sinful ways that we know we have to try to discard. We go to confession and start over, but sometimes those sinful habits find their way back through our circumstances of life no matter how sincere our resolve. We try again. Our God is an understanding Father who forgives and, when we ask him, helps us as we try again and again. We follow what we read in the Acts of the Apostles (4:19-20):

Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus…

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Topics: Lent, Jesus Christ, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Surprise Encounter

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 24, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I have heard that when

Before we begin, understand that the events in the story below did not happen. I am not having visions of visitations. However, Jesus is with each of us and loves and saves us every day. This comforting reality should keep us going even in the bleakest of times!

Before the pandemic slammed all of us, I often went to the Saturday evening vigil Mass in my parish. I would usually arrive a bit early, because I am not the best car-parker in the parish, and I have my favorite spot. As is true of many parishioners, I would also sit in a favorite pewto the left facing the sanctuary. From there, I would have a view of other folks entering the church through the door closest to the parking lot.

Well, one evening, I looked over as the door creaked open and, to my surprise, Jesus walked in. Nobody else seemed to notice him, even though he was dressed in the garb imagined in Bible stories. Was I the only one who saw him? Did others think he was a guest priest wearing an alb?

He walked right over to my pew and sat down next to me. He did not say a word to me, but started to pray silently with his folded, scarred hands gently clasped together. I wanted to yell: “Hey, everyone! Look who is here!” But I could not speak. I just sat, rapt in wonder! I stared at him in awe for what seemed like forever. Should I try to copy his fervent prayer? Should I interrupt him to ask him a question? Should I tell him I was sorry for my sins that contributed to his suffering so long ago?

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Topics: Jesus Christ, prayer life, real presence of Christ, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

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