Branching Out Blog

How to be Blessed

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jun 12, 2023 6:00:00 AM

The liturgy readings for today (Corinthians 1:1-7 and Matthew 5:1-12) tell us about opportunities to encourage those who suffer afflictions and what attitudes to have and actions to take to be rewarded with blessing. There is such richness in these readings, we could really meditate with them for a long time.

A while ago, I was inspired to write some we-attitudes for friends and families. Today I am sharing them with you.

Blessed are we who are comforters, for we shall ease each other’s pain.

Blessed are we who forgive each other, for we all shall know peace.

Blessed are we who are sympathetic listeners, for we shall better understand ourselves and each other.

Blessed are we who remind others of happy memories, for we all shall grow in joy.

Blessed are we who pay attention to good details, for we shall have fuller relationships.

Blessed are we who are gentle sharers, for we shall be surprised by many kinds of wealth.

Blessed are we who don’t sweat the small stuff, for we shall know freedom from grudges.

Blessed are we who readily adapt to changes, for we shall realize our own versatility.

Friends or family might choose to pray together this little prayer of gratitude.

                                   Act of Acclamation

O my God, I am extremely grateful for having been blessed by you.  

And I appreciate all my gifts because they come from you, my God,

Who art all loving and deserving of all my love.

I promise to strive, with the help of your example,

to be more generous to those in any kind of need,

and to take nothing you give me for granted. Amen.

                            

Read More

Topics: Gratitude to God, prayer of gratitude, Sharon Krause

Fire

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jun 5, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Years ago, my husband bought me an opal pendant. I really like the opal because it has lots of “fire” in it—-meaning there are a lot of color spots that are pleasant to look at as I turn the opal this way and that. It has occurred to me that we are like opals in some ways.

 According to books I have consulted, the opal is one of the most interesting and colorful gemstones. No other precious gem produces the array of beautiful colors that the opal does. The opal is a silicate which contains some water in its composition. The pin-fire opal I have is a type in which the main body of the stone is usually white and shows a myriad of small pinpoint colors all through the surface. The flashes of color occur when a ray of light meets a very thin film of the opal which has a different optical density from that of the light. Precious opal contains a great number of these thin films which are layers of submicroscopic spheres. The flashes of color vary as the stone is turned. Some opals are considered florescent minerals.

How can we compare ourselves to opals? First, an opal with lots of fire in it is attractive and very precious. When we have the fire of the Holy Spirit in us, we can attract others by our Christian attitude and behavior. We can draw more people to us and, hopefully, to Jesus. Every opal is different; each one of us is unique and precious in God’s eyes. Each of us has different color spots—-if you see the analogy—different ways of reflecting the Light, that is Jesus, to those around us. When we turn the opal, we see different colors; when we openly turn to the Lord and to our brothers and sisters, our different talents and gifts are released, and we can find more ways to be of service.

 Color, or fire, in opals is caused by the collision with light; our fire is caused by our collision or meeting with the Holy Spirit who can fill us with zeal and power. Fire is refining and purifying in its power. Not long ago, we celebrated Pentecost. The Holy Spirit brought power to the disciples as tongues of fire rested upon their heads. After that, the disciples were filled with zeal and the fire of God’s message of love.

 The ancient superstition about opals restoring keenness of vision brings to mind that with the light of Jesus Christ, our vision of his kingdom can be brought to greater clarity. We see things of this world differently when we look through Spirit-filled eyes of faith and joy.

 How can we keep our fire burning? In order to keep any fire burning, three things are needed: something combustible, a source of heat, and oxygen. To keep our fires burning, we need to be ready and willing to surrender to the Lord who is our source of heat and light, and who gives us the breath of life. We must fan our fires, stay very close to our Source through prayer and sacraments, and humbly strive to adore him who colors our humble lives!

 P.S. Potch is opal that does not show the play of color, or, as miners say, is not alive. Let’s be sure we treasure and nurture our fire, so no one can say we are potch!

Read More

Topics: Sharon Krause, The Holy Spirit accompanies us, open to the Holy Spirit

Invitations

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 29, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Recently my daughter received an invitation to the wedding of her friend. It seemed strange to me that she got the written invitation now, because the wedding is not until December 31, and it will take place at the bride’s home and not a public venue that would have had to be reserved far in advance. I don’t know the details, but it did get me thinking about invitations.

We read in the gospel passage in today’s liturgy that, at Jesus’ dying request, John, Jesus’ beloved disciple, cared for Jesus’ mother, Mary, in his own home. Yesterday, the feast of Pentecost, we invited the Holy Spirit to come to us as we read the sequence, Veni, Sancte Spiritus. We invite the Holy Spirit to shine within us, give us rest in our labor, console us in sad times, fill our inmost being, heal our wounds, free us from guilt, help us to overcome stubbornness, and bring us the Spirit’s sevenfold gifts. We invite the Spirit to set us on fire with love.

So, what if the Holy Spirit comes with all that we invite the Spirit to bring and we are not really there or prepared? If someone comes to us with relief and numerous gifts, shouldn’t we receive everything with open minds and hearts? Invitations imply readiness and preparation. The gifts that are brought in love should be, in turn, used.

 Our God is a generous and forgiving God. Knowing that, we can repent of our sins and resolve to clear the way for the Spirit’s gifts. Being open to the Holy Spirit makes us ready to speak in the language of love to those around us. Even a daily short prayer to the Spirit can put us into the right frame of mind.

 Psalm 51:12-14 is a good example:

    A clean heart create for me, O God,

       and a steadfast spirit renew within me.

   Cast me not out from your presence,

       and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

   Give me back the joy of your salvation,

       and a willing spirit sustain in me.

 

One of the best gifts the Holy Spirit offers us is hope. If we try to pass on that hope, we are really inviting more peace and joy into our busy, troubled world. May we try to look for the Holy Spirit each day and be grateful for all the Spirit’s gifts. We might even be vocal about what we see so that others’ awareness grows.

    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may

   abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit. (Romans 15;13.)

Read More

Topics: Sharon Krause, The Holy Spirit accompanies us, open to the Holy Spirit

Airing Ideas

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 22, 2023 6:00:00 AM
Read More

Topics: everyday prayer, Sharon Krause, The Holy Spirit accompanies us

A Lesson in Christian Magic

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 15, 2023 6:00:00 AM
Read More

Topics: love one another, greatest commandment, Sharon Krause

Signs of the Times

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

There is a house in our neighborhood whose owner put a sign in his yard that reads, “Just Be Kind.” That prompted thoughts of other yard signs that are seen occasionally: “Vote for So-and-So,” “Keep Off the Grass,” and “Slow Down. Kids at Play.” There was a sign posted at a chiropractor’s office that might be unintentionally humorous: “Parking Around Back.”

“Just Be Kind’ is a good idea if we could really live up to it every day. In this Easter season, we have heard some words that also could be very sign-worthy. For example, the Risen Jesus, when He came to his apostles in the upper room, said more than once, “Peace be with you.” In the Gospel of John we recently read, “Love one another.” We were reminded that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, so a good sign would read, “The Lord is My Shepherd.”

What is the value of signs? Signs draw your attention. They are usually brief, eye-catching, and to the point. They are easy to read and prominently displayed. While we all might not choose to erect religious signs in our front yards, we may want to integrate those short suggestions and reminders into our daily lives.

How can we do that? Many people spend a lot of time looking at cell phones or computers. Why not interject a little typed suggestion or adage that could pop up on the screen now and then? Maybe a little phrase on a desk calendar would be a good idea. Perhaps a small, colorful desk or countertop sign would work. Sometimes a few words trigger more words; for example, “The Lord is my Shepherd” might inspire, “I shall not want.” We might even look up the whole passage and pray with it.

We need positivity in our lives. Bad news makes the headlines a lot faster than good news, for some reason. We can exemplify and spread the good news of Jesus. We can also get lazy and take the easy way out: “Let someone else help.” “I’m too busy.” “It’s not my turn.”

Wherever we get our positive motivation or good news to live by, it is helpful to remember the words of St. Paul in Romans 12:2:

   Do not conform yourself 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.

 That would be a very good sign for our desks or computers:

Good, Pleasing,
and Perfect!

Read More

Topics: Sharon Krause

Hail, Holy Queen!

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 1, 2023 6:00:00 AM

We all know how it feels to be in awe of a person or an experience. My husband remembers the feeling as a child when he sat in a truck with his dad and watched as Sputnik, the first artificial earth satellite, sped by in the dark sky. Many years later, when he and I saw our newborn daughter for the first time, we were filled with joy and wonder. When I woke up feeling surprisingly fine after a serious operation and saw my solicitous smiling family members by my bedside, I knew an awesome feeling of relief and love.

The scripture readings in this Easter season include some intense descriptions of how the disciples felt as the result of Jesus’ resurrection and of their new communal life.

   Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the

   apostles. (Acts 2:43)

 

   …you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your

   faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8c-9)

 

   Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he

   spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us.” (Luke 24:32)

 Awe, indescribable and glorious joy, hearts burning are all very powerful sensations! Those sensations are available to us today in the spiritual realm. Do we pay attention? Are we open? Do we take too much for granted?

Let’s consider the Holy Eucharist. We should be in awe every time we receive this wonderful sacrament. Sure, the host is small and not flavorful, but it is truly Jesus’ Body that is risen after dying a terrible death on the cross for us! Our feast of salvation! We cannot get much closer to him while we are in this world. We consume him, and his love consumes us! After so many Masses and so many times receiving Holy Communion, do we remember whom we are receiving? Only a few minutes go by after we receive Communion until the priest or deacon dismisses us. Why not continue our offering of thanksgiving past the church doors? I am sure we will check our phones right away. Do we rejoice with indescribable and glorious joy? Do our hearts burn? Are we in a rush to go get a meal or a cup of coffee?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if awe would come upon everyone? A good way to nurture that awe is through faith-sharing. It gets easier and easier to talk about our faith when we do it frequently with other Christians. We don’t need halos to do this. It is helpful to find or even start a faith-sharing group. Perhaps groups are available at your parish church, but if not, even gathering with a few close friends and using small-group materials that are available from, for example, RENEW International can help us bask in that precious awe of the Lord. Let’s keep our hearts burning within ustoday!

Read More

Topics: Marian devotion, Hail Holy Queen, Sharon Krause

Intensity

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 24, 2023 6:00:00 AM

We all know how it feels to be in awe of a person or an experience. My husband remembers the feeling as a child when he sat in a truck with his dad and watched as Sputnik, the first artificial earth satellite, sped by in the dark sky. Many years later, when he and I saw our newborn daughter for the first time, we were filled with joy and wonder. When I woke up feeling surprisingly fine after a serious operation and saw my solicitous smiling family members by my bedside, I knew an awesome feeling of relief and love.

The scripture readings in this Easter season include some intense descriptions of how the disciples felt as the result of Jesus’ resurrection and of their new communal life.

   Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the

   apostles. (Acts 2:43)

 

   …you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your

   faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8c-9)

 

   Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he

   spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us.” (Luke 24:32)

 Awe, indescribable and glorious joy, hearts burning are all very powerful sensations! Those sensations are available to us today in the spiritual realm. Do we pay attention? Are we open? Do we take too much for granted?

Let’s consider the Holy Eucharist. We should be in awe every time we receive this wonderful sacrament. Sure, the host is small and not flavorful, but it is truly Jesus’ Body that is risen after dying a terrible death on the cross for us! Our feast of salvation! We cannot get much closer to him while we are in this world. We consume him, and his love consumes us! After so many Masses and so many times receiving Holy Communion, do we remember whom we are receiving? Only a few minutes go by after we receive Communion until the priest or deacon dismisses us. Why not continue our offering of thanksgiving past the church doors? I am sure we will check our phones right away. Do we rejoice with indescribable and glorious joy? Do our hearts burn? Are we in a rush to go get a meal or a cup of coffee?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if awe would come upon everyone? A good way to nurture that awe is through faith-sharing. It gets easier and easier to talk about our faith when we do it frequently with other Christians. We don’t need halos to do this. It is helpful to find or even start a faith-sharing group. Perhaps groups are available at your parish church, but if not, even gathering with a few close friends and using small-group materials that are available from, for example, RENEW International can help us bask in that precious awe of the Lord. Let’s keep our hearts burning within ustoday!

Read More

Topics: joy and wonder of the resurrection, Sharon Krause

Pockets

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 17, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Pockets in clothing are very handy. Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo on the popular children’s television show from 1955 to 1984, got his name because of the big pockets on his jacket. Pockets are useful for magicians who are concealing playing cards or other props for illusions. Pockets are convenient, leaving hands free from carrying handbags or other burdens.

 In a broader sense, pockets are small areas that make up bigger areas. I suggest we consider the little pockets in our daily lives that deserve some examination during this Easter season.

One such life pocket could hold some small prejudices. Just as God raised Jesus from death and opened the tomb, so we can open our hearts to new life and leave prejudices and rash judgments behind. Certainly, we need to avoid near occasions of sin, but sometimes a lack of self-confidence or memories of past failures or shortcomings can blind us to new possibilities for graces and blessings. Perhaps circumstances have changed and a grudge we hold or a lesson we had learned long ago needs to be reassessed. We might have to move things to a few different pockets, maybe ones that are bigger or have different openings.

Another life pocket could be the place we store our evangelistic witness stories. We might not pay attention to how many stories are really in that pocket, especially if we don’t pull some out now and then to share with someone else or to refer to in one of our prayers of gratitude.

Still another life pocket could involve our creativity and talents or gifts. False humility or lack of self-confidence might just keep that pocket flap buttoned up. In yesterday’s gospel reading, addressing the disciples,

 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I

   send you. (John 20:21)

 We are challenged in this Easter season to humbly spread the good news of the gospel to others with our gift of speech and by example. We are sent by our risen Lord. Through our baptism, we are born of water and the Spirit. Our gift pockets are overflowing with possibilities!

 Pockets are very useful for keeping things close and handy. Some of them might be near our hearts where love resides. Just as the risen Jesus wished peace to his disciples when he appeared to them, may our pockets be brimming with joy and peace to enjoy and offer to the people we encounter. Alleluia! Jesus is risen! May we keep our pockets open for Holy possibilities!

    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may

   abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Read More

Topics: Easter season of rebirth, Sharon Krause, the examined life

Easter Monday!

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 10, 2023 6:00:00 AM

While it was still dark, Mary of Magdala arrived at Jesus’ tomb to find it was empty. What stones in our own lives can we move so that we can consider and receive the wonderful graces of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead?

There are many awesome graces available to us because of Easter. We should endeavor to make ourselves eagerly open to the fullness of redemption Jesus offers. What does Easter bring? Let us open our eyes!

Easter Energy. No longer is the world burdened with sin in control. We have new life and vigor and hope. Death is not the final word. We can and must seize the energy!

Easter Enlightenment. We know that all Jesus said is true! We can use the season’s newness of life to reassess our priorities in the light of Jesus’ truth! We just need to take the time.

Easter Encounters. Mary of Magdala encountered Jesus that Resurrection morning. We can become more aware of Jesus in our encounters with those who live in poverty or are otherwise in need. In joy, we can make the most of these blessed meetings.

We also may come together with a few extra family members and friends. Treasure and be thankful for the experience of the love of God as seen in these people!

Easter Eagerness. Let us not allow our enthusiasm concerning our faith wane. Let us keep up the attention to holiness and our spirituality, even in simple, gradual ways. We read that Simon Peter and John, at Mary of Magdala’s news, ran to the tomb of Jesus. May we run into our loving Savior’s arms as we continue to celebrate his resurrection.

Easter Encouragement. People often color ordinary chicken eggs at Easter to add variety and beauty and to draw attention. How can we draw attention to the good news of Easter—the good news that Jesus is risen? May we urge others to consider the true meaning of the resurrection and rejoice together? We don’t have to be Sunday-school teachers to remind others of the great sacrifice Jesus Christ made to atone for our sins!

Easter Empowerment. Jesus’ death and resurrection have granted us access to eternal life with our loving, forgiving God. We have the power to forgive others’ transgressions against us. We can repent of our own bad choices and strengthen our resolve to try again. We can be strong in that resolve!

Easter Excitement. May we bloom like the many colorful flowers are blooming right now! May we not become passive and take the blessings around us for granted. New life is blooming, and new resurrected excitement can bloom in us at any age or stage of life. Jesus’ resurrection is true and full of promise! We are saved! Alleluia!

Read More

Topics: Easter, Easter season of rebirth, Sharon Krause, Easter joy

Subscribe Here!

Recent Posts

Posts by Tag

See all