Branching-Out

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

The Memorare

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

For many years, when I have a real prayer emergency, I pray “Memorare.” It is my 9-1-1 prayer!

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

The Virgin, pure Mary, is truly gracious; she is full of grace, full of God’s life, uncorrupted by original sin. She is always ready to help me and keep me safe. She is ready to hear my cries for her powerful assistance and to ask her son to consider my petitions according to the will of the Father.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee; O Virgin of virgins, my mother;

It is very consoling to know that Mary is there for me. I fly to her; with my prayer, I lift myself higher above my physical world so that I can talk with the holiest of virgins who is also my mother, because Jesus gave her to me and the Church as he hung dying on the cross. Being a mother, I know how strong and compelling a mother’s love can be. There is a unique intimacy between a mother and each of her children.

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Topics: Marian devotion, Blessed Virgin Mary, prayer life, RENEW International, The Memorare

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

The Right Way

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

I have heard that when Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address and ended with the part about ”government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” he stressed the word people in each phrase, not the prepositions of, by, and for. I think about that sometimes when, at Mass, we pray:

Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever. Amen.

I like the idea of stressing, in my speech and in my prayer, the word him, and not just the prepositions, through, with, and in. It may seem like a small thing, but it emphasizes just whose invitation for help and guidance we are accepting. We can depend on Jesus. We read in John 14:13-14:

 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

And in John 15:16:

 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.

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Topics: gratitude, Gratitude to God, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Moonstruck

Posted by Charles Paolino on Feb 17, 2021 6:00:00 AM

So, like a lot of other people, we have to watch Moonstruck every six months or so.

Someone asked me, how can you watch the same movie over and over again? I said, because every time I watch it, I notice things that I didn’t see before. This time, for instance, I noticed that, in that movie, there are several messages for Ash Wednesday and Lent.

One of those messages is in a remark that Rose Castorini makes to her husband:

“Cosmo … I just want you to know that, no matter what you do, you’re going to die, just like everybody else.”

To which he replies, “Thank you, Rose.”

And, of course, that’s what the ashes remind us of today. The liturgy provides two formulas for the minister to use when applying the ashes. The one used most often these days is, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” but the old classic that is still used in some places confirms Rose Castorini’s statement: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” — you’re going to die, just like everybody else.

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Topics: Ash Wednesday, Lent, God's love, prayer life, RENEW International, repentance, spirituality

Lenten Snowman

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

I have seen plenty of snow over the years here in Connecticut, including the past couple of weeks. After the recent accumulations, several snowmen have appeared, and they got me to thinking about what a Lenten snowman might be like.

The bottom section of such a snowman would have to be a good foundation so that it could hold up the rest of the body. During Lent, we are reminded in the readings at liturgies of many of the truths that are the foundation of our gift of faith concerning the Kingdom of God. For example, in St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians (6:2) we read about what God has said:

“‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’  See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!”

 So God’s gift of salvation through Jesus is our firm foundation. We will also be reading about Christ proclaiming Peter as the rock, the foundation, on which Jesus is building his Church (Matthew 16). And in Chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel, we receive a wonderful foundational prayer—Lord’s Prayer.

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Topics: Lent, God's love, gratitude, prayer life, RENEW International, repentance, spirituality

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

A Matter of Time

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 12, 2021 12:00:00 PM

So much has been written and sung about time. We spend time, check time, do time, make use of time, run out of time, take meds a number of times a day, and are at the mercy of time. But I have a few suggestions about another timeprayer time.

We have a charismatic prayer group at my parish. I suggested one week that we break down into teams of four or five and become “Take 10 Teams.” Each team would pick one of the prayer intentions from a list I would provide, and each member would take 10 minutes a day to pray for that specific intention during the upcoming week. Instead of just praying for world peace, for example, a Take Ten Team would pray for the people of North Korea—for their freedom and human rights. Another team might pray for peace for the people of Iran. And another team might pray a for poor children in the United States.

With Lent approaching, might make decisions about how we spend our time. Let’s say we are up and about for 12 hours a day. We might have a job outside the home. We might be working from home. We might have children at home. I suggest that prayer can be worked into those 12 hours in creative ways.

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Topics: prayer life, priorities, RENEW International, spontaneous prayer, Sharon Krause, daily prayer

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