Branching-Out

Chore Prayers

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 23, 2023 6:00:00 AM

There are many simple, mundane little jobs we do every day. Why not make those jobs more than chores? I say we should add a little prayerfulness and stir well. Here are some examples, but we all can add or subtract ideas.

 LAUNDRY. As I sort these clothes, O Lord, help me to learn to discern better what things in my life need to be sorted through carefully and, maybe, made better. I am grateful for those favorite clothing items that I enjoy wearing, but as I spray and treat small stains on my clothing, may I resolve to work to remove any habits that sully my relationship with you, my Lord. When I fold and put the clean clothes away, may the Holy Spirit help me to order my life and feel a sense of peace.

 DISHES. Lord, I am thankful for the food that has been on these dishes and in these cups. You have been so generous, Lord, and I don’t always remember to say grace before or after meals.

I think of the cup of wine at the Last Supper that you passed to your apostles after you changed the wine into your blood. You are such a generous Lord, sharing and giving your Body and Blood to us as divine nourishment. May I hold you close and let your love spill out to others.

 COOKING. Lord, I remember your feeding so many followers with just five loaves of bread and a couple of fish. I remember the account of your having breakfast waiting for your apostles when they had finished fishing. Preparing meals is not just about food. Help me to remember that love, care, and camaraderie can be there as well. Bon appetit!

 SWEEPING. Not only am I cleaning and clearing the way for my family and friends, but I am clearing the way for you to work in my life today, Lord. With your help, I will avoid those pesky little temptations that get in my way, and I will use my precious time to spread happiness and love—even in simple, little ways. I will endeavor not to sweep difficult decisions under the rug, but rather to ask the Holy Spirit for inspiration and wisdom.

MAKING THE BED. Good day, Lord! Thank you for comfortable sleep which gives me time to rest and reset. I remember that your infant bed was a manger, and I assume that as you walked various places in your public ministry, you did not have a soft, well-made bed on which to sleep. Help me never to take my comfort for granted. Enlighten me that I may use my well-rested self to bring comfort and consolation to your other children.

  

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Topics: forgiveness, gratitude, Sharon Krause, daily prayer

Leftovers

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 16, 2023 6:00:00 AM

There are so many kinds of leftovers, some good, and some not so good. With big and busy holidays, for example, there are often various amounts of leftover foods from the specially planned feasts. How long do the turkey remnants last in your refrigerator? Are there crumbly samples of many different cookies left over from the workplace cookie exchange? Was that big casserole too overwhelming to finish at one sitting?

For the most part, I like leftovers when it comes to food. Leftovers can mean I don’t have to plan a meal or bake something new. Often leftovers even taste better the next day. Sure, many meals of “repeats” can get to be too much, but from my experience, that does not happen very often.

Let’s get out of the realm of leftover foods. How about leftover laughter? What fun it is to recall a humorous incident or a funny joke and chuckle again to yourself. How about meeting a friend with whom you had shared a silly experience, and when your eyes meet, burst into laughter again?

There are treasured memories—-leftover thoughts—that linger with us for years. We joyfully recall life experiences with family members and friends who have moved away or passed away. We might remember and savor first-time happenings or last-time moments. We may love to rehash happy occasions or holy spiritual highs. Not long ago, we read in Sacred Scripture that after the shepherds visited the newborn Jesus,

Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

Of course, certain memories may be sad or punctuated with grief but remain part of our “leftovers repertoire.” Perhaps some thoughts that pop into our minds can involve resentment. I have heard of families that deal with leftover resentment or grudges for years. Nothing good comes from unforgiveness. Grudges should be discarded as if they were moldy aged food leftovers. The time with which each of us has been blessed should be used for producing and fostering positive, loving, and fruitful relationships and memories. We should pay attention to what St. Paul advises in Philippians 4:8:

    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,

   whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any

   excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 I encourage all of us to be very careful which leftovers of any sort we carry with us this year. Making a resolution to invite the Holy Spirit into each day of our lives—and keeping that resolution—is a good ingredient for future promising leftovers!

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Topics: forgiveness, reconciliation, Scripture, Sharon Krause, holding grudges

Putting the Crèche Away

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 11, 2023 6:00:00 AM

With the Christmas season winding down, I decided to pack away the nativity scene with its porcelain figurines that had stood on my living room end table. Then my mind took a trip down memory lane. While I did not want to undermine in any way the wonderful significance of the crèche, I could picture the figures looking like my family members and other people from my past life.

I started my piece-by-piece packing with the manger and the Christ Child. I remembered my childhood in the 1950s. My loving parents wanted to be sure the little apple of their eye was warm enough during the winter months in our coal-furnace-heated house, so the second bedroom was closed off, and I shared the warmth of the master bedroom with them. I am sure Mary and Joseph were very mindful of their Infant Jesus’ comfort.

I could imagine a figurine of my mother as I gently wrapped Mary’s little statue in some soft tissue. My mother was a sweet, caring woman who was very protective of her only child. With her ready smile, she could come up with some extremely interesting, imaginative, and amusing stories right off the top of her beautiful head to keep me entertained. She would chuckle as she told them to me as I sat in her warm lap. I wonder if Mary told Jesus little stories. I bet she did!

Jesus had Joseph for protection, so I protected that little father statue very methodically. So many times I have wished that my Dad had not died of a heart attack when I was only 11 years old. I remember most about him his great sense of humor and his handsome smile. Often, I would follow him to the neighborhood corner store as he took a leisurely walk to get the local newspaper. A faithful husband, he was active in town government and a fraternal organization. A very responsible man, as was craftsman Joseph!

I grabbed a shepherd figurine to put into the storage box. I got thinking about the good shepherds in my life. I had some superb teachers who guided me in safe and productive ways through my school years, and even through fun extracurricular activities. I think many of us should take time to be thankful for those nurturing, generous shepherds in our lives! And I remember that the Lord is my shepherd every day!

The three wise men, before they found their nesting place in the box, reminded me of some of the wise people in my life who have gifted me with their advice, intelligence, and encouragement. Coming from many different backgrounds and locations, they inspired me to use my God-given talents. It is good to thank God for those wise people!

Last, but not least, I carefully placed the animals from the stable into the storage box. I thought about the pets whose company I had enjoyed throughout my life. Those cats and my dog, Candy, had comforted me, made me laugh, and taught me about loving. I am reminded how easy it is to take our pets for granted.

So, while the crèche has brought to mind the true joy of Christmas, it has triggered treasured memories of personal past experiences. May we never pack away our gratitude to our Loving God for all the blessings in our lives!

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Topics: crèche, gratitude, Sharon Krause

An Epiphany Conversation

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 8, 2023 6:00:00 AM

         An Epiphany Conversation

 

I imagine, as I clasp my hands to pray,

two bigger hands enfolding mine gently.

“I am here with you in truth and Spirit:

leading, healing, savingwhen you let me.

Together, you and I can do great things;

for, remember, I have never left you.

With your heart, and attention to my Word,

your willingness, energy and virtue,

we can teach others about my Father.

Step up, feel my closeness, be not fearful.”

 

In the quiet of the morning, I smile;

my joy, overwhelming, makes me tearful.

Here, in his presence, nothing else matters.

I am fully drenched in his love outpoured.

Feeling strength and Jesus’ patience with me,

I am renewed again: “Thank you, Lord!”

!

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Topics: epiphany, God who loves you, God's love, Sharon Krause

Love You

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 21, 2022 6:00:00 AM

When they were teenagers, Tim and Jill fell in love. They would phone each other often and have long conversations. At the end of any conversation, when it was time to hang up, they would each take a turn declaring, “Love you.”

Tim worked part time at a home-improvement store when he was not taking college courses. One busy day, his boss, Frank, phoned him to discuss a question about work. As the conversation was ending, distracted Tim said to his boss. “Love you,” to which his boss replied, “Don’t go there!”

It was a silly mistake, resulting from habit and fatigue; every time I remember the incident, I have to chuckle. However, I did start thinking about how habit can somewhat detract from the meaning or essence of a reality. For example, at Mass, the celebrant says several times, “The Lord be with you,” and we respond, “And with your spirit.” Do we ever think about of what that means? The priest could be reminding us of the Lord’s presence, or he could be prompting us to intentionally invite the Lord into our celebration.

“Ah..ah..ah choo!”

Someone often responds to that with, “God bless you!” Is that a real mini-prayer for blessing or is it just a habitual response to a slightly disrupting sound?

As we come to the close of the season of Advent, let’s take a few moments to think about our prayers of love to the Lord. We tell the Lord we love Him, but are we really paying attention to what that means? That word, love, is tossed around a lot: we love that food, we love to go surfing, we love that story. We read that God so loved the world.

I suggest that as Christmas draws near we pray some love prayers that are very persona:

I love you, Jesus, and thank you especially today for….

I love you, Savior, and today I will make a special effort to be tolerant and forgiving of……..

I love you, God, who came to set us free, and I will work, in your precious name, to free someone of a challenge or problem.

I love you, Lamb of God, and I will gently share your message of salvation to another person today.

I love you, babe who slept in a manger, and I will spend a few minutes in attentive silence today and allow you to speak to me.

Redeemer of mankind, Love you!

!

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Topics: Advent, Advent prayer, God full of love, God who loves you, God's love, You shall love the Lord your God, Sharon Krause

Moving Fast

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 13, 2022 6:15:00 AM

Here we are, moving fast and counting down the days until Christmas! It is truly a challenge not to get caught up in all the hype and lose sight of the hope of which the season of Advent is supposed to remind us. The hope is all about Jesus rescuing humanity from the throes of sinfulness, selfishness, and misplaced adoration. It is a very joyful hope.

In our haste, how easy it is to think about sales instead of souls! Black Friday sales started even before the day after Thanksgiving this year. Retailers were eager to rid themselves of inventory accumulated during COVID shutdowns. How about spiritual shutdowns? Maybe we should take stock of our immortal soul and those of our beloved family and friends. We all are not preachers and ministers, but we can certainly exemplify simple ways to point to the true spiritual joy of the Christmas preparation time. Advent calendars don’t have to involve only a piece of candy or a little toy each day of the countdown. What if even a small child were blessed with hearing a small prayer or truth about Jesus each day?

Decorations for Christmas have been out in the retail stores and in people’s yards since October! We compete to save money and show our decorating skills. More importantly, wonderful declarations about the promised Savior stand out in numerous verses in the Bible all year long, and especially in this Advent season. The entrance antiphon on the second Sunday of Advent declared:

   O people of Zion, behold, the Lord will come to save the nations, and the Lord

   will make the glory of his voice heard in the joy of your heart. (Isaiah 30:19, 30)

We are exhorted to rejoice because the Lord is near (Philippians 4:4-5). The gospels of Matthew for the Sunday liturgies have John the Baptist telling people to prepare for the One to come, and later we are reminded of how Mary conceived Jesus (Matt.1:18-24). We are urged by John the Baptist to repent, not to be rushing to store for rebates or refunds.

Hurry up! Get to the Christmas party at work! Or at the sports club! Be careful about priorities though! Parties are fun breaks from work and chances to reconnect socially with friends, family and co-workers. Why not take some important spiritual breaks and attend a few extra masses or some brief prayerful visits before the Blessed Sacrament?

 We hear Santa’s laugh often during this holiday season: “Ho! Ho! Ho!” May we try to help ourselves and others to be holy, holy, holy as we await the celebration of our Savior’s coming!

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Topics: everyday prayer, Advent, Advent prayer, Sharon Krause

Open Flight

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 6, 2022 6:00:00 AM

There I sat, in the passenger’s side of our pickup truck, for hours and hours as my husband drove us from Connecticut to our new residence in Royal Palm Beach Florida. Being of short stature, I had the pleasure of the sun in my face when the visors were not long enough; but I also had wonderful views of large birds gliding among the clouds high in the sky above us. I noticed how gracefully they flew, how unencumbered their flights were in contrast to the sometimes jerky, crowded, stop-and-go vehicle traffic below them. I also became aware of how wide open and full the wingspreads of the birds were. Those natural aviators were fully open to the power and directions of the wind currents. While I could not ask the birds their opinions, their travels looked very peaceful and delightful.

So I propose the question to all of us: do we open our wings fully to the power and direction of the Lord? Apart from all the confusion and distractions of our daily lives, are we able to open ourselves up to the love and inspirations from the Holy Spirit? Not one of those birds had its wings open only halfway or one-sided. There was a complete openness to that which would offer efficient and safe propulsion. With the resources of prayer and sacraments, we can get through our busy traffic, and now, the holiday traffic…with a cushion of faith and confidence.

At the same time, we have the joy of the season of Advent when we can try to spread our wings fully, to open up and prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s nativity. It is so easy to get “jammed up” with lists, shopping, decorating, rearranging, parties and party-planning, wrapping, and errands that can really cramp our style. Circumstances can ruffle our feathers! At the end of a busy day, who feels like praying? And yet, what and who should be our real priorities?

I suggest we wrap up a little prayer-time gift for Jesus every day. If we spread ourselves out and lift up our thoughts and imaginations with gratitude and trust in our loving Savior, we can be pleasantly surprised at the gifts we receive, even before Christmas Day! Open up to the Lord!

We might choose to look to St. Paul for some scripture verses to form the bases of our prayer-time gifts:

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Or we might look to Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

    on your own intelligence do not rely;

In all your ways be mindful of him,

    and he will make straight your paths.

Let’s take flight this Advent!

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Topics: everyday prayer, Advent, Advent prayer, Sharon Krause

The Insignificant

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 7, 2022 6:00:00 AM

                                                      The Insignificat

 

                             My soul proclaims the insignificance of me,

                 and my spirit rejoices in God my very significant Savior;

                       because in my humble unimportance and smallness,

                         the Lord has done great things for and through me,

                                                    and holy is his name.

 

                             He who made the galaxies with countless stars,

                               and the trees in all their autumnal splendor,

                                     has graced me with existence;

                                and even though I am but a lowly speck

                                         In this vast expanse of creation,

                                 God finds me lovable, calls me his child,

                         and sent his only begotten Son to die to save me.

 

                             So all generations may call me insignificant,

                                     but they will also call me blessed,

                             because I can know, love and serve the God

                                               who chastises the proud

                                     and teaches the humble His way—-

                                               and his way is LOVE.

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Topics: magnificence of God's love, God's love, Sharon Krause

Peace of Jesus

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 31, 2022 6:00:00 AM

The presiding priest gave the final blessing at the Saturday vigil Mass, and then the deacon said, “Go forth in the peace of Jesus.” I have heard similar dismissals many times, but for some reason, the invitation to peace resounded in my brain.

I was struck by just how dimensional that peace of Jesus really is and was prompted to suggest some of the facets of that peace as I see it.

P - Pastoral. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, offers guidance and direction to all of us. We can easily be lost sheep in this busy environment of ours. If we just keep our eyes on Jesus and humbly acknowledge that our loving Savior hears our prayers and knows what is best for us in his time, we can be peaceful. Joyfully, follow our Leader!

E- Evangelical. When we have Jesus’ peace, we know we cannot keep it to ourselves. We can happily spread it through witness stories that we share with others. Jesus’ peace is far-reaching and meant to be contagious. It helps us to be open and eager to be loving. Pass on the peace to others!

A - All-encompassing. The peace of Jesus affects all areas of our lives: our personal prayer life, our social life, our family life, our moral decisions, our work life. When we are truly open to experience Jesus, we can experience new vigor, strength, and perseverance. We see broader pictures in life. We are more open to forgiveness. Bring it on!

C - Calming. Many movies and television shows nowadays encourage and dramatize rushes of adrenalin in us. Everything has to be exciting and grossly stimulating! With the Lord’s peace, a calmness comes with more patience and ease. Easy does it!

E - Everlasting. So many things come and go quickly. Everything and everyone seem to be in a big hurry. The peace of Jesus is time-tested and guaranteed never to expire so long as we stay close to him through prayer and a humble willingness to follow scripture teaching. Happily ever after!

We read in John’s Gospel (20:19-23) that when Jesus’ first appeared to his apostles after his resurrection, his first words to them were, “Peace be with you.” He then gave them the power to forgive sins: “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (v. 22b-23)

Did you see? The peace came first. Let’s try to put Jesus’ peace first in our daily lives.

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Topics: everyday prayer, go in peace, inner peace, Sharon Krause

The Pumpkin

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 24, 2022 6:30:00 AM

Ah! What a fine specimen! Right there on the table! A big, fat, orange, round pumpkin, waiting for a carved personality!

The young man grabbed his carving knife, cut a circle around the stem, cleaned out the pulp and seeds, and proceeded to create his masterpiece for the Halloween season. Carefully, he carved first the right triangular eye, and then the left.

         Lord, help me to keep my eyes on you.

         Help me to see others as you do,

               with compassion and forgiveness and generous love.

         Give me clear focus on what is truly and purely truth in this world.

         Guide my eyes toward opportunities to share your Good News.

Ah! Next came the nose! With precision, the man carefully cut the big nose triangle from the middle of the evolving Jack-o’-lantern face. Plop! Out popped the chunk! No nostrils needed!

         Jesus! Help me to keep my nose away from others’ business where it doesn’t    

         belong. May I offer good help and Christian advice when it is called for,

         knowing my limitations.

         With every breath I take, may I somehow give glory to my Creator who loves

         me and made me in his image.

And the smiling mouth! The fellow carved a big, happy mouth for Mr. Pumpkin! The momentum was building. His masterpiece was almost finished! Up and down, carefully scraping! There! All complete!

         Lord, help me to be careful what I say to others. May my words be wise and

         effective. May my smiles brighten people’s days and lift their spirits. May I give

         you praise by echoing your message of compassion and understanding. Help

        me to speak up courageously in defense of those who have no means of

         speaking for themselves.

Ah, again! The last creative touch! The lighted candle inside, so that Mr. Pumpkin can shine brightly for all to appreciate! Flickers of autumnal joy! He rests on the porch step, and he beckons those who pass by to enjoy the warmth of his pretty face and spirited grin! Well done, Mr. Pumpkin-Carver!

         Come Holy Spirit! Be my inspirational Light in a world that can easily ramp up

         darkness and despair! Shine forth with goodness and genuine, contagious

         hope! Help me to be a light to others.

         Creator, Carver God! Sculpt me into the creation you want me to be! May I

         sit still long enough to glow with your saving light and be attentive to your many

         graces.

         Thank you for your multitude of daily blessings that I often take for granted!

                                                                                                                      Amen.

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Topics: everyday prayer, Creator God, spontaneous prayer, Sharon Krause

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