Branching-Out

Praying with a Psalm

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

There are 22 verses in Psalm 34, six of which are prayed during the liturgy today. If you have ever prayed with Psalm 34, you probably realize how uplifting and reassuring it is. Instead of breezing through only the six verses, it is good to read and pray with the whole psalm, especially in this transitional time as the pandemic seems to be abating somewhat.

This psalm is a call to prayer and praise. We read the words “praise,” “be glad,” “magnify,” and “exalt.” These are not words we commonly use in our mundane conversation. When we use them as we talk about our relationship with God, we should feel joyful and positive. There is a call for praying and praising with others:

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. (verse 3)

In the next few verses, we read that we are “answered,” “delivered from fears,” “heard” and “saved” by the Lord. If we need a dose of optimism, here we are! We are encouraged and advised,

   ...happy are those who take refuge in him. (verse 8b)

   ...those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (verse 10b)

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Topics: Psalm 34, psalms, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, psalm 131, praying with a psalm

Growing Up

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jun 14, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Recently my friends were telling me about going to their granddaughters’ dance recitals. I also heard about a couple of graduations they were attending. I was happy for them and have fond memories myself of recitals and graduations of my own grandchildren. I also have fun memories of reading stories to my grandkids when they were little and laughing over craft projects and outdoor sidewalk games. Somehow, a measure of sadness crept in because those fun days are gone, all but the memories. How I would love to sit under what we called the “story blanket” and read, for the hundredth time, the same silly stories my grandchildren enjoyed.

My three grandkids are young adults now. I don’t see them as often as I once did. The youngest grandchild, Josh, is finishing his second year of college. However, he was with me last week, and we got into a discussion about current news-making events. I heard myself talking to Josh as an adult, and I knew he was comprehending and formulating his responses. The same fellow that drew wonderful drawings as he sat at my kitchen table was now drawing mature discussion conclusions at that same table. He is growing up to be a thoughtful and wise young man.

Nostalgia can be a kind of growing pain, and yet, it is a pain that can be managed. It certainly can be pleasant to review various life events. However, it is important to immerse oneself in the present and be open to the growth that is happening. In our spiritual life, we can approach growth confidently thanks to the inspirations from the Holy Spirit, the nourishment from Jesus, our Living Bread, and the perfect will of our Loving Father, God.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, growing in faith, maturing in faith

Collections

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

A few years ago in my parish, a visiting priest began a homily by asking us how many things, beyond necessities, we had accumulated. There was silence as we thought about the extra clothes and accessories in our closets, drawers, and cabinets. Over the years, it is very easy to collect articles we don’t really need or need to keep. I am very guilty! Many of the objects were attractive or good at the time I acquired them, but they can certainly pile up over time.

How about books? As I scan the reading materials in my four bookcases, I see books I have said I may read some day, books that I have read once, reference books and prayer books and booklets I have kept with my most pious intentions proclaimed.

I probably should mention all the figurines that proudly collect little dust coatings as they smile atop my flat-topped wooden furniture pieces. Those decorative accessories complement the pictures on the walls and give me “aha” moments when I shop at yard sales.

Now, I am not saying that all collections are bad or sinful or should be disbanded. After having spent more at-home time over the past 15 months, however, I do notice that collections can easily grow and that material things can gain somewhat of a grip on space and attention. Some repurposing might be wise. Is it time to think about priorities and actual needs? Could others with fewer clothes and less income somehow benefit from my downsizing?

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, counting our blessings

Right Order

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jun 7, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Every time I hear the priest during the consecration at Mass echo Jesus’ words “Do this in memory of me,” I think that this is something Jesus wants us to doalmost like a commandbut it is the best direction or responsibility he could have given his followers: Receive the true Body and Blood of our saving Lord! That is better than winning any lottery or taking any life-saving, tried-and-true medication!

To receive the actual Body of the Lord into your own body, to be that intimate with Christ, who died on the cross and rose from the dead, and who is the Second Person of the Trinity is such a tremendous gift to each of us! What an awesome invitation he gives us at every celebration of the Eucharist! I am so blessed to comply!

And how about that prayer we say at Mass, theGloria”? We say, “We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory.” What we are doing is really helping us! We are giving the attention, praise, gratitude, and honor to God, and taking the focus off ourselves! God won’t be less of who he is if we don’t do this, but we gain by reinforcing our understanding, as we prioritize and emphasize who deserves our love and attention. We are creatures with emotions and intelligence; we are reminded that we should use our power and creativity to give proper time and attention to acknowledge who God is and that he is always with us.

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Topics: glory to god, praise God, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Good Gardening

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

My recent walks in my neighborhood have revealed some beautiful flowers that have bloomed in various yards. The yellows, the whites, the purples and lavenders are so eye-captivating. It appears that some of my neighbors are very careful and methodical gardeners. I am confident that as the summer arrives, even more loveliness will grace the nearby flowerbeds. I wonder if the gardeners ever come outside with their scissors and cut off lovely bouquets to bring inside their houses to adorn their tables and please their eyes.

In the gardens of our interior lives, I wonder what has grown and blossomed during the pandemic. As the tenders of our own personal spiritual gardens, let us consider what might be desirable blossoms and what we might have to weed out.

I suggest it was very easy to plant seeds of doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, and worry over these past months. Every day came with news of high numbers of cases of the virus, suggestions of how and what to sanitize, and reports of measures we might take to fend off the nasty virus that even has nastier variants. We could easily feed our interior gardens with sprinkles of doubt, impatience, anger, and resentment.

Now it appears that, because of the vaccine distribution, the virus’s hold on us may be waning. Let’s inspect our gardens and see what we can weed out and what blossoms we can gather and perhaps bring closer to us to savor and enjoy.

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Topics: RENEW International, pandemic, COVID, Sharon Krause, pandemic lessons

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

Mother Mary

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

There was a news story not too long ago about a Malian woman who gave birth to nine babies. Nine! They all survived, and it may be a world record. I cannot imagine caring for nine newborns; I would need lots of helpers! Today we celebrate Mary as the Mother of the Churchall those people that are the Church! Being the Mother of God, Mary is certainly qualified for the task!

I remember teaching Sunday school years ago and explaining to my second graders that we Christians are one big family called “the Church.” I told them that when we speak of “the Church” of Christ, we are not talking about a building, but about the people who love Jesus and sometimes go into buildings to worship. We are the Mystical Body of Christ. Seven and eight-year-olds may not have understood what that all means, and sometimes we adults don’t quite get it either. However, I think most of us have a good idea of what a blessing it is to have a loving, protective mother watching over our big family.

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Topics: Mary mother of God, Mary's intercession, Meet Mary in Prayer, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Special Rosaries

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 21, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Since May is dedicated to our heavenly Mother, Mary, I’ve been recalling that I was one of the students in our parochial school who would walk across the driveway to the church and begin each school day afternoon in May by praying the rosary. I remember saying the Mission Rosary sometimes; the beads in each decade are a different color, symbolic of praying for a different part of the world. We prayed for Africa (green), the Americas (red), Europe (white), the Pacific Islands (blue), and Asia and the Middle East (yellow).

 

In this second year of the Coronavirus pandemic, I thought we might ask Mary’s help as we pray the “Recovery Rosary.” For each of the five decades, no matter which traditional mysteries we use for the day, we could have a special preface prayer and special intention related to healtha topic of concern every day.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, The Rosary, Special Rosaries, Marian Prayer

Hey! Wait a Minute!

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

It was five o’clock in the morning and I was half asleep and half awake. All of a sudden, the hymn “Shall We Gather at the River” by Robert Lowry came to my mind along with a humorous memory. It was announced one Sunday at my church that the congregation would sing that hymn as a recessional. I had recently heard the hymn sung in an old western movie shown on television. For some reason, I half expected some cowboys to come riding in to help us sing that song. Hey! Wait a minute! Why am I thinking about all this today at 5 a.m.? Perhaps I should write a blog post.

Well, it got me thinking about other Hey! Wait a minute! happenings that we read about in the gospels. Allow me to elaborate.

Hey! Wait a minute! In Matthew, Chapter 5:38-42, Jesus tells us to offer our other cheek if someone strikes us on our right cheek! And if anyone takes our coat, offer him our cloak as well! We are supposed to go two miles if we are asked to go one mile? What? How selfless should we be?

Hey! Wait a minute! In Matthew 18, we are told to forgive another who has sinned against us not only seven times, but seventy-seven times! Just how generous are we supposed to be?

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, gospel challenges

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