Branching-Out

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

Prayer: When Did We See You?

Posted by RENEW on Nov 22, 2020 6:00:00 AM

God of abundance
you challenge us to give food to those who hunger:
Help me to feed those
who go without food and drink.

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Topics: clothe the naked, whatever you did for the least of brothers of mine, catholic RENEW program, feed the hungry, prayer, RENEW prayers, welcome the stranger, least of them, comfort the sick

Up For the Counting

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 18, 2020 6:00:00 AM

So many of us are counting things every day. We may have been cautioned to count to 10 before losing our temper. We have fitness trackers so we can count our steps; some of us count our daily food calorie intake; lately, we have been counting ballots in important elections. We can get caught up in all the bad news about the economy or the pandemic and have to remind ourselves to count our blessings at the end of each day.

 In the Bible, there are so many examples of tabulating countable things such as peoples, tribes, nations, and blessings. In Genesis 15:5-6, for example, God talks with Abram about counting:

He brought him outside and said,
“Look toward heaven and count the stars,
if
you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “
So shall your descendants be.”

Jesus certainly knew about counting. Take, for example, the conversation he had with Peter in Matthew 18:21-22:

Then Peter came and said to him,
“Lord, if another member of the church sins
against me,
how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?
Jesus said
 to him, “Not seven times,
but I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

We are made aware in Mark’s Gospel (6:30-44) about Jesus’ feeding five thousand followers using only five loaves of bread and two fish.

And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. (Vs 42-43)

So obviously, someone was counting people, loaves, fish, and baskets.

As a little child going to confession, I was taught to tally up my sins and report my list of infractions to the priest. How many timescount ’emdid I tell a lie? How many times did I disobey my mother? It was possible to picture God sitting up above with a big ledger, keeping a running list of my sins. As I grew up, I learned that image of God was incorrect. Fortunately, we can find forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation after confessing more of our sinful tendencies or habits, and not itemized, numbered lists. How blessed we are, as we are reminded in the Lamb of God prayerthe Agnus Deiwe say at every Mass, that Jesus takes away the sins of the world. When I look around, it is overwhelming to try to imagine how to count how many sins there are and have been, over the centuries, in the world! Thank you, Jesus! And thank you, forgiving, merciful Father!

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Topics: Advent, catholic renew progam, confession, Jesus, Jesus Christ, multiplication of the loaves and fishes, prayer, RENEW International, sacrament of reconciliation, seventy seven times, sins, sins of the world

Messages

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 16, 2020 6:00:00 AM

I was sitting at my kitchen table and I heard a little “beep, beep, beep.” Hmph. It turned out to be a message from my refrigerator that my bottom freezer compartment door was not closed all the way. 

I was tending to a recipe cooking on my stove, and I heard a “bing.” My phone was messaging me from my computer desk that I had just received a text.

A municipal repair truck was down the street repairing an underground road problem, and a truck was backing up: “bleep, bleep, bleep.” Watch out!

My clothes dryer finished its cycle and chimed a little tune to tell me to come get the clothes.

I started my car, and it impatiently signaled me with “ding, ding, ding” that I had not put on my seatbelt yet.

All the attention-getting sounds of our modern noisy world alert us every day that good things and bad things are out there vying for our focus.

What did folks do in Old Testament times, without the benefit of electronics? If we go to Numbers, chapter 10, we read about the two silver trumpets that, with their quivering sounds, were blown to summon the congregation, sometimes to assemble and sometimes to prepare for war. Messages communicate good news, caution, or bad news.

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Topics: disciples, messages, catholic renew progam, creation, Gospel according to John, pray, prayer, RENEW International, spiritual life, St. Gertrude, Benedictine nun, messengers of God's love

Prayer: For the Good of All

Posted by RENEW on Nov 15, 2020 6:00:00 AM

God our Father,
you have given us everything
that we have,
you have made us who we are.
Thank you for the many talents
you have given to each one of us.
Guide us to understand your message,
and help us to be open to the Holy Spirit
and to others.
In your name we pray.

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Topics: using your talents to serve god, catholic RENEW program, God's gifts, Holy Spirit, prayer, RENEW prayers, RENEW International, openness

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

Insomnia Challenge

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 9, 2020 6:00:00 AM

His name is Buddy. He is my cat. 

We keep Buddy indoors at night because of the threat posed by a fisher cat in the neighborhood. Buddy is cooperative most of the time, but he has a propensity for exploration in the wee hours of the night. My brother-in-law used to say cats are nocturnal; I think Buddy occasionally has insomnia. Whatever the reason, once in a while I will be awakened by the sound of Buddy trying to push open the metal bathtub shower door—-although I know he is not interested in taking a shower. However, Buddy’s true passion seems to be getting into the hall closet. 

Let me tell you about that hall closet. It is about the size of a phone booth. My house is over 100 years old and has few and very small closets. I have lived in this house for more than 40 years and have done what I can to use closet space efficiently. That closet is packed with numerous hanging garments, extra throw pillows, a bag of seasonal gift wrap, two empty suitcases, hats, and craft supplies. There is hardly room for dust, never mind a 10-pound nosey cat! When I hear Buddy scratching at the door and can tell he has Houdinied himself from the hall into the closet, I get up, turn on the light, open the closet door all the way, and Buddy—who really could never find a comfortable flat space amid the contentscomes scrambling out to innocently find a chair or bed to catch some early-morning z’s. By the time the nonsense is over, I might be fully awake. 

There are other times, even without Buddy’s assistance, when I experience overnight periods of wakefulness. I have noticed that my mind may head to what I call my “worry closet,” although I don’t know why. 

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Topics: catholic renew progam, creation, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, pray, prayer, RENEW International, spiritual life, insomnia, anxiety, worry closet, lullaby

Prayer: To Serve You Always

Posted by RENEW on Nov 8, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Lord,
strengthen within us the desire
to prepare ourselves for your coming—
so that we may long to welcome you
into our hearts …

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Topics: catholic RENEW program, God's call, prayer, RENEW prayers, RENEW International, respond "yes" to God's call, to serve God

Thoughts on Genesis

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 4, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Creation seems so long ago, especially if you watch any educational shows about archeology and the dating of certain relics found during digs. However, if we go to the Bible account in Genesis, chapter 1, we can still find some food for thought and meditation today. We read that from formless void and darkness, God brought forth day and night, the sky, the earth, the seas, vegetation, the sun, the moon, animals and, finally, humans made in his own image. He saw that it all was good. That is a lot to create! 

I pray, Lord, help me make of my formless and dark day today something that is good and worthy of me, your child, whom you have made in your image. Push me to brighten someone’s day or assist someone in awakening to and appreciating you. As vegetation grows and nourishes, teach me the best ways to grow and nourish myself so that I can be of better service to my family members and my neighbors. Give me a new understanding of life’s purpose. Share with me a new optimistic beginning today. Thank you for teaching me creativity. Amen. 

We read that on the seventh day, God rested. He also blessed that day. There is a reason for this resting. I think God is instructing us on how to separate ourselves from all the busyness—-although often necessary—and work and struggle. Nowadays, when most stores and many businesses do not close on Sunday, it is so easy to enable others to work while we shop. Understandably, there are those who have to work or shop on Sunday, but I have found it is so easy to recreate on Sunday without much thought about keeping it holy other than attending Mass or watching a Mass that is live-streaming. I am not suggesting that we spend the whole day polishing our halos, but maybe a little more time for spiritual reflection or a few extra prayers would be warranted. Maybe helping with a food kitchen would bless a Sunday as well. 

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Topics: Adam and Eve, catholic renew progam, creation, Genesis, pray, prayer, RENEW International, sabbath, spiritual life, Sunday Mass, temptation, Noah, ark

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