Branching-Out

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

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

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

Close Encounters

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 2, 2020 6:00:00 AM

I believe most of us have experienced a close encounter with the Lord every once in a while, perhaps while we are praying or attending a religious function. I will never forget the wonderful closeness I felt with God as I attended the Mass being celebrated for my graduating class of the Catholic Biblical School in Newington, Connecticut. The celebrant was reading from Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John, as Jesus prays for his disciples, which I quote in part:

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who
will believe in me
  through their word, that they may all be one.
As you, Father, are in me and I am in
you, may they also be in us,
so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
The glory that you have given me I have given them,
so that they may be one, as
we are one, I in them and you in me,
that they may become completely one, so
that the world may know
that you have sent me and have loved them
even as you
 have loved me.” (Vs 20-23) 

It seemed as if the reading was meant for me, that Jesus was praying for me very personally. There was a peace that lingered, a graduation gift I still hold dear.

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Topics: catholic renew progam, Good Shepherd, Gospel according to John, prayer, Psalm 23, RENEW International, sins, spiritual life, centering prayer, close encounter

Back Up and Switch Gears

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 28, 2020 6:00:00 AM

When I taught second graders in Sunday school, I tried to explain why we sometimes choose to sin. I would slowly walk backwards as I talked about what I called “back-up thinking” and explained to the children that we make choices that we initially see as good. For example, I see Susie’s unattended candy bar on her desk. I like the taste of candy; it is good; she is not at her desk, so I can safely take the candy and eat it. My thinking stops there, and I take the candy bar. However, if I back up farther, I might say, “But God says stealing is a sin, and I am not being the best person I can be in this situation if I choose to sin.”

Thinking things through is important, but it may take a little extra reverse-thinking time. In this speedy 21st century, we are used to thinking and doing things in a forward hurry, sometimes without thorough consideration. We also get into habits that are really thought shortcuts. Sometimes with habits comes less sense of value or appreciation. We might take some things for granted or get a bit lax.

Have you ever thought of backing up in some block of your routine and perhaps switching into slower first gear just to get a new perspective? I read an article years ago about changing the usual way you do something just to keep your brain active and flexible. For example, how about sitting on a different chair at your kitchen table? How about holding your toothbrush in your non-dominant hand as you brush your teeth?

In a more spiritual vein, I got to thinking about backing up and saying grace in-between courses of a special meal instead of before and after the meal. It may cause some interesting family conversation at the dinner tablefor example, thanking God for our tastebuds, being grateful for Grandma and her recipe for baked potatoes, praying a prayer for the truckers who deliver the foods to the stores.

So often I hear about praying one “Our Father,” one “Hail Mary,” and one “Glory Be” part of a series. How about mindfully praying them in the opposite order? Granted, routines are useful for efficiency and comfort, but especially now, during this pandemic, when our routines are somewhat disrupted anyway, it may be a good time to back up and start over in some areas of our lives. Take a new detour. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be creative.

We might start some new spiritual habits, such as praying daily an abbreviated version of the Divine Office or praying a decade of the rosary in breaks throughout the day. Meditate on just a few verses of a book of the New Testament. We might back up and look again at little near occasions of sin to avoid—-maybe certain words we shouldn’t use or thought patterns we should avoid—-one patient backup step at a time.

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Topics: Divine Office, catholic renew progam, prayer, RENEW International, rosary, sinfulness, sins, spiritual life, slow down, saying grace

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