Branching-Out

Lamb of God

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 31, 2021 6:00:00 AM

When I hear and pray the Agnus Dei prayer at Mass, the words, “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world” really affect me. When I think of my own sins, I know there have been many over my lifetime; but Jesus takes away the sins of the world! We have all been fallen children of God, and Jesus died to save all of us! How phenomenal is that?

I think about that nasty crown of thorns they jammed onto Jesus’ precious head. Droplets of blood and sweat must have dripped into his eyeseyes that had seen the crowds of people who listened to his teachings and tried to understand, eyes that hd beheld the hungry multitude he fed with bread and fish, eyes that had cried at the news of his friend’s death.

Perhaps the blood droplets fell into Jesus’ earsears that had heard the conversations of his apostles, the cries of the widow of Naim, the complaints of Martha that she was doing all the housework, and the crack of the whips at his scourging.

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Topics: lamb of God, Passion of Our Lord, crucifixion, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Zeke's Story

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 29, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Here’s a little fantasy about Easter. Reading it to youngsters might help them share in the joy of the holy day:

Zeke, the donkey, was looking rather sad. His little son, Jojo, was concerned and said to him,”Papa, why are you so sad?”

Zeke replied, “I just heard that a very gentle and kind man they called Jesus was scourged and crucified a couple of days ago.”

Jojo responded, “But why does that make you so sad?”

“Well, it is sort of a family story. It was not that long ago that your cousin, Bleat, was called upon to carry on his back that man, Jesus, into Jerusalem to fulfill what the prophet had said:

   ‘Tell the daughter of Zion,

   Look, your king is coming to you,

   humble, and mounted on a donkey,

   and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ (Matt 21:5 NRSV)

Zeke went on, “And a large crowd had assembled and even put their many cloaks and tree branches on the road to smooth the way for Jesus. They all shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ They were all excited and jubilant about the arrival of this prophet who was there, coming in the name of the Lord! And he was riding on your little cousin’s back! What an honor for Bleat! It made the whole stable family so proud!”

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Topics: Easter, RENEW International, resurrection, Sharon Krause, Children's Easter story

Paying Attention

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 26, 2021 6:00:00 AM

One day my husband and I were taking a leisurely walk around our neighborhood when we saw two policemen standing on a corner. A couple of blocks away was a police car, just sitting there as if waiting for someone or something. We concluded that the first two policemen were spotters watching passing motorists to see if they were talking on their cell phones or texting while driving. The officer in the nearby police car would get the message from the spotters and pursue any perpetrators. Citations, anyone?

That observation brings to mind the importance of paying attention to what we are doing and thereby avoiding distractions that could lead to trouble. Paying attention usually allows us to perform our activity well, because our minds are focused on the task at hand. However, since we are creatures that can usually think of more than one thing at a time, we have to strive to keep our priorities in order and our distractions under control.

Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 14) reports that when Jesus was told about the death of John the Baptist, he went off by himself to a deserted place, probably to grieve as well as pray. He could not pay attention to his grief and prayer for long, however, because a large crowd followed him and wanted him to continue his healing ministry. Jesus was always taking notice of the needs of the crowds and so, in his great compassion, he found a way to heal their hunger for food as well and proceeded to feed five thousand of them.

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Topics: Lent, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Lenten Rosary Mysteries

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 22, 2021 2:00:00 AM
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Topics: Lent, prayer life, RENEW International, rosary, Sharon Krause

Being Prepared

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 19, 2021 6:00:00 AM

It was a very cold winter morning. My husband, our baby daughter, and I were in the car on our way from Pennsylvania relatives to home in Connecticut. We did not get very far on the highway when the fan belt on the car broke. This was before the days of cellphones. My husband pulled over and walked down a nearby exit ramp to find a place to phone his father to come and help us. It worked out fine, but the incident taught my husband a big lesson. From then on, he carried an extra fan belt, a box of many tools, and extra oil in the trunk of our car whenever we took a trip.

“Be prepared” is the motto of the Boy Scouts, and being prepared is a good idea for all of us, even though technology can bring help for any problem quite quickly nowadays.

It seems as if, in everyday life, we are always preparing for something. Most of the time we have advance notice of an exam we will be taking, a dinner we will be serving, an appointment we have made. We can plan our preparation. Sometimes, unexpected things happen; that’s when we need to have our “tools” in our trunks.

Right now, we are preparing to celebrate something wonderful: Easter and the Easter season. Lenten liturgy readings recount miracles Jesus performed, his teachings about love and the laws, the mission and identity of Jesus, and the plots to kill Jesus. We get ready for the miracle of Easter by appreciating all Jesus’ did in preparation for his crucifixion and death that redeemed us.

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Topics: Lent, Jesus Christ, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, prepare for Easter

Medi-stations on Jesus' Forgiveness

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 15, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Lent is an ideal time to remember how Jesus forgives sinners. Below are six “medi-stations” based on gospel accounts wherein Jesus forgave sinners publicly.

1. Jesus forgives a paralytic. In Mark’s Gospel (2:1-12), we read of a paralytic who was brought to Jesus for physical healing. After four companions lowered the man from an opening in the roof. Jesus first said, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (v. 5). Jesus teaches about priorities. Certainly, it is important to be able to walk; but having one’s sins forgiven is even more important. How are my priorities this Lent? Should I walk on over to the Sacrament of Reconciliation? The all-powerful, all-loving Jesus will give us a clean bill of spiritual health if we ask for it in faithful prayer.

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.    Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)

2. Jesus forgives a woman caught in adultery. In John’s Gospel (7:53-8:1-11), Jesus says he will not condemn an adulteress and cautions her not to sin again. Jesus had just told the people watching, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7). Am I quick to judge other people? Have I ever considered sharing with others little strategies I have used to help me refrain from some sinful behavior? Helping can be better than criticizing.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:5)

3. Jesus says salvation has come to the house of Zacchaeus. Jesus says salvation has come to the house of Zacchaeus. In Luke’s Gospel (19:1-10), Jesus tells Zacchaeus that salvation has come to his house and that the lost has been saved. Zacchaeus was inspired by Jesus to atone and make reparations for all his sins as the chief tax collector in Jericho. He did not just climb a tree but also climbed out of his sinful ways of extortion. At times, I might feel that my sinful habits are too hard to overcome; but if I invite Jesus to stay at my house and help me to be persistent in prayer, I can be hopeful and willingly keep trying.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:10-12)

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Topics: penance, forgiveness, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, God forgives, Jesus forgives

Expectations

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 10, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Over the past year, I have been at home, staying away from places where people congregate. I have been watching more television shows, both series and news programs. I conclude that audiences seem to expect and consume more drama, intensity, “breaking news,” danger, and the outrageous. Presentations that get the ol’ adrenaline pumping, or super sales offers that get encourage folks to use their credit cards to order more “stuff” are what prevail. Shows that investigate crimes and analyze in great detail the how-tos of perpetrating those crimes are portrayed as “entertaining.”

Because of modern technology, people expect to be quickly entertained. It can be easy to swallow spoonsful of self-indulgence when they are so readily available. If there is good news or incidents that are not so violent, we often see and hear about them only in the last few minutes at the ends of broadcasts.

I also hear about people of all ages being more stressed out and depressed. The virus pandemic has been blamed for this, but I suggest that the intensity of media presentations might be a contributing factorsort of a CTSD, Current Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

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Topics: patience, Jesus Christ, prayer, RENEW International, talents, Sharon Krause

Stories to Live By

Posted by Sharon Krause on Mar 8, 2021 6:00:00 AM

The charismatic prayer group that I attended before the pandemic would occasionally run an eight-week Life in the Spirit seminar for the parish at large. Most of the meetings’ weekly format consisted of music and singing, silent prayer, a teaching, and a personal witness talk. I always especially enjoyed the witness talksbut then, who does not enjoy a personal story to which we might be able to relate or with which we can empathize?

When my daughter was little, I would read storybooks to her almost every night. She would bring me one book after another after another until I would almost lose my voice. Most of those short stories would teach a lesson about friendship or coping or solving problems.

It is no wonder that Jesus would use parables to teach his followers. He used everyday circumstances, familiar situations, and common objects in brief stories to convey important truths. Although some disciples may have found it challenging or impossible to understand the meanings behind the narratives, those who were open and willing were gifted with ways of understanding how God thinks. Thank you, Jesus! We know we have so very much to learn and absorb about God’s ways; for we read in the prophecy of Isaiah (55:8-9),

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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Topics: Lent, parables, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

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

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