On A Lighter Note:)

IMG_7393 IMG_7402 IMG_7398 IMG_7395 IMG_7394Today, I got a sudden burst of energy and decided to cook for the week ahead.

Here’s Moroccan Chicken stew in the Crock Pot.

 

 

 

Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce for dessert

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Grape Leaves, vegetable beef soup

 

 

 

and finally, stuffed Bell Pepper.

I’ve been coming home from work  exhausted, so I thought that this might ensure that we eat healthy this week (except for the bread pudding of course!)

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Reflection on Today’s Gospel, Sunday, October 26, 2014

Readings for Sunday, October 26, 2014

Those doggone Pharisees were testing Jesus again.  As always, Jesus had the perfect answer to put them in their place. I realize that this may not be a really popular view with many in the world today, but I believe that the order in which Jesus gave the two “greatest commandments” is significant – something that many working for  “social justice” these days sometimes forget.  Our good works must flow from a deep and sincere love of God FIRST.  If not, our charitable acts are impotent – hollow – devoid of real love.

I think that the Catholic Church in America has gotten these two commandments reversed.  At times, we seem to be more concerned with social justice than with worship of the Lord.  Caring for the homeless, the less fortunate, the sick, the dying, the unemployed… is critical.  We are called to do so through the corporal acts of mercy. We DO show love of God by caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ in our community, in our country and around the world.

Our priorities have to be carefully ordered, however.  Sadly, worship of God seems to be on the back burner, as though we can put it off to some more convenient time.  Our lives are busier than ever.  When we meet St. Peter at the pearly gates,  I don’t think that our schedules being “quite hectic” will be a sufficient excuse.

Many new churches are being built to look like giant barns.  In the old days, people weren’t more wealthy.  They were willing to give until it hurt – to sacrifice to build a beautiful church out of love for the Lord.  I heard a story about one of the founding members of St. Henry Church in New Orleans – of a couple giving their wedding bands to be melted down in order to make a gold chalice – a suitable vessel for Christ’s blood.  Would anyone be willing to do that anymore?

The songs we sing at mass are often about “we, we, we and us, us, us” instead of being hymns of adoration and praise of God.  We’ve got the focus reversed.  Instead of kneeling before our King when we go to receive Him at the altar, we nod our heads and take Him into our hands. We come to mass dressed in football jerseys so that we can go straight to the festivities after mass – and God help the priest if he runs over time!  People start to leave so that they don’t miss kick off.  The altar where the unbloody sacrifice occurs – where we are made present at the foot of Christ’s cross – used to be so sacred that it was partitioned off from the rest of the church.  Now people parade up and down it like it’s no big deal.  We say that we love God, but are we showing deep reverence and adoration by doing all of these things?

We say that we love God, but are we willing to carve out time each and every day to be with Him?  Do we read scripture other than at mass on Sundays?  The Word of God is His love letter to us.  If we love Him, we will want to know Him better.  We get to know Him better by reading His Word.  Do we pray as a family?  Have we truly made God the King and Lord of our homes, or is He only a guest from time to time?  Do we consult Him in every decision we make, or do we just run to Him after we try to do things our way, and it all falls apart?

These are things that I feel very strongly about.  Am I guilty of not putting God first at all times? – Most certainly.  Often, it is my fatigue that is my weakness.  I think that it is important to keep striving to do better though.  God knows our hearts.  I want Him to like what He sees when He looks inside mine.

We must care for our brothers and sister needs – both physical and spiritual – but we must put God first.  In putting Him first, we allow His grace to fill us.  When we then go forth to help those in need, His grace will flow through us to others.  In this way, not only will we be addressing their temporal needs, but we will be bringing Christ to them as well.

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Lessons from the Joyful Mysteries

IMG_7229Last Monday morning, after braving the Causeway traffic in both directions, I spent over 45 minutes on the phone with tech support regarding a computer problem. After nearly an hour with no satisfaction, I was beside myself. Looking out the kitchen window through the blinds I saw the wind blowing leaves from a maple tree into the pond. The dark clouds heralding the second wondrous cool front rolled in above the pine tops. Then I spotted it – my little statue of Mother Mary holding the baby Jesus in the back yard.

 

I put my rosary in my pocket, grabbed my comfy lawn chair and headed out the back door.   I positioned my chair a few feet in front of the concrete image. Plopping myself down, I began to tell Mother Mary and Jesus my troubles. I spilled all of my concerns about my children. I told them about all of the things I had no idea how to handle. Still, the negative tapes continued to play in my head. Then, I pulled my rosary out of my pocket and began to pray.   At first, I had trouble keeping my mind focused. Every time it would wander, I would open my eyes, look at the statue and center myself again. Once back on track, I would close my eyes and continue. By the time I had finished, I felt such incredible peace. My frustration was replaced by sweet serenity.

 

Since it was Monday, I meditated upon the Joyful Mysteries. As I thought about each one, I asked, “Mother Mary, what do you want to teach me through your life?”

 

As I pondered the Annunciation, I thought of the bold, courageous, faith-filled “Yes” she spoke to the Angel Gabriel – to God. She trusted God’s plan for her and for her child. She gave of her self completely without reserve – to be used by God for His Designs. Mary teaches us to trust the Father with His plan for our lives without hesitation. He made us. He loves us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Who better to entrust the story of our lives to?

 

In the Visitation, Mary demonstrates love – a complete pouring out of self.   Before Jesus was even born, Mary was putting others’ welfare before her own. Pregnant, and probably uncomfortable herself, she traveled a great distance to visit and to assist Elizabeth who was certainly having a difficult pregnancy with her advanced age. Through her example, Mary teaches us to prioritize our lives – God first, others second, then ourselves. Mothers instinctively do this. In fact, sometimes, we must be reminded to take care of ourselves so that we can continue to care for others!

 

Next, I meditated upon the Nativity. In my mind’s eye, I could see Mary swaddling her Baby in the recesses of the stable to keep Him warm. I could see her nursing Him, rocking Him and singing to Him – Mother Mary, attentive and gentle. She is not worried about what she doesn’t have in their most humble surroundings. The love she has for the sweet baby Jesus transcends their uncomfortable abode. We can put ourselves in this scene. Ask Mary to allow you to hold Jesus. Tend to Him; talk to Him; rock Him. Let Him know how much you love Him. Let His love envelop and transform you.

 

In the Presentation of the Baby Jesus in the Temple, Mary and Joseph teach us obedience. According to the prescription of the Jewish law, they go to the temple to offer a sacrifice in thanksgiving to the Lord. They consecrate their child to God the Father. As parents, if we want our children to grow to be obedient and respectful of God the Father, we must model this from their earliest of days, just as Mary and Joseph did. We want to be grateful to God and generous with Him in return for His great generosity to us!

 

This last joyful mystery always plucks personally at my heartstrings. Once, when my oldest was eight, our family was in Disney World among the thick crowds lining up for the nighttime parade. My son was holding one of those light up spinning toys. Entranced by the toy, he followed another woman wearing a green backpack like myself deep into the moving crowd. It didn’t take long for us to experience complete panic. Our child was missing! Our party split up to look for him, and I was told to stay put in case he came back to the spot looking for me. He was gone for all of five minutes, but it seemed like eternity. Luckily a park employee helped him to locate us. I personally know Mary’s utter grief in discovering that Jesus was missing from their caravan. She suffered for three days not knowing where He was. Then, persisting in her search and in prayer, she and Joseph located Him in the Temple teaching the adults!

 

Where do we find Jesus? Do we recall that He is with us even when we are not in church? We can ask Mother Mary to bring us closer to Her son. She can help us “locate” him in the midst of our hectic modern lives. She will not fail to bring us into the safety of His Sacred Heart.

 

During October, this month of the rosary, I pray that you will rediscover the beauty of this meditative form of prayer. The Holy Family has so much that they want to teach us through the mysteries. May praying the mysteries of the rosary bring you God’s great peace!

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Reflection on Today’s Gospel, Sunday, October 19, 2014

Readings for Today

UnknownToday’s gospel is a bit tricky.  The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus as they often did.  He was in one of those “darned if He does and darned if He doesn’t” situations.  Jesus tells them to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

At church this morning, our deacon spoke about social justice and the importance of sharing our treasure.  Surely that is a good and noble thing, but I don’t believe that this is the point that Jesus was trying to hit home.

I believe that Jesus is making a distinction between the secular and the sacred.

Secular denotes attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis.  Sacred would be the opposite – attitudes, activities or things that are holy.  When we speak of the secular, it is often to describe the attitudes/things of the world today.  In doing so, secular can get a bad connotation.  Secular is not (necessarily) synonymous with evil.  It ‘s how we use the secular that can move it (and us) into the category of either sacred or evil.

For example, money in and of itself is not evil.  It is a tool.  It is God provided.  It is what we do with money that can either help us and others to become more holy, or cause us to succumb to its power to corrupt.

 

 

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The Grand Tour

 

Welcome to our home!IMG_7342 IMG_7341  IMG_7359 IMG_7351 IMG_7328  IMG_7361 IMG_7363 IMG_7331 IMG_7353 IMG_7367 IMG_7329 IMG_7356 IMG_7355 IMG_7340  IMG_7332 IMG_7365 IMG_7354  IMG_7326 IMG_7338 IMG_7336 IMG_7373IMG_7337 IMG_7347 IMG_7346       My daughter calls my sense of decor “Beachy Jesus” – (no disrespect intended.)  The beach has always been “my safe place” where I feel relaxed and at peace.  Jesus is my best friend as well as the King of our home, so “Beachy Jesus” fits our dwelling just perfectly!

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Tallow Creek Fall Color

More pictures from my stroll around the pond:

IMG_7244 IMG_7247 IMG_7258 IMG_7276 IMG_7261 IMG_7295 IMG_7293  IMG_7239 IMG_7288 IMG_7268“Whose woods these are, I think I know.  His house is in the village though…”

(Frost)

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The Eagle

Fond memories of teaching 4th grade Language Arts were brought to mind as I took a stroll around the pond:

The Eagle

by Tennyson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

IMG_7280This barren branch reminded me of Tennyson’s “The Eagle.”  I love words!!

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Reflections on Today’s Readings, Sunday, October 12, 2014

Readings for Sunday, October, 12, 2014

It’s funny that I’ve been repeating St. Paul’s word to the Philippians to myself all week.  “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.”  I’ve also been reminded of words from John’s gospel,   ” I am the vine.  You are the branches.  Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”  I am living those words moment to moment, day to day.  I rely on His strength completely.  I do miss my frequent visits to the chapel with my new busier schedule.  As I walk past, onto my next class, I remind myself that Christ lives within me, and that He is with me all of the time, even when I cannot seat myself in His holy presence.

I thought of all of my students during the Psalm at mass today, as we recently committed Psalm 23 to memory.  I wanted them to know these words and to be able to cling to them when times get rough.  There is the most adorable video on GodTube that I will post.  It inspired us to memorize the Psalm.  If three year old twins can do it, so can we!  ( I love their accents!)

British Twins Recite Psalm 23

The gospel today speaks of a great wedding feast.  The great wedding feast refers to the time when Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead – when a new heavens and new earth will be created – When we will be invited to live in heavenly communion with the Lord for all eternity.  We are all invited!  God loves all of His children.  In the parable, the man was told to go out into the streets and invite everyone – poor, rich, homeless, sinner, etc.  He showed no prejudice.

I was disappointed that when the gospel was proclaimed where I went to church this morning, the shortened reading was read, and the very important ending was excluded.  In the end, the gospel tells us that there is a man who shows up without a proper wedding garment.  On the surface, it seems to be about clothing, and seemed rather severe as such.  I had a discussion with someone this morning who was convinced that the Lord was speaking to those who come to church on a regular basis in shorts and flip flops!  While I agreed with him that this was not generally appropriate for church (unless shorts and flip flops are truly the best clothes one owns), I thought that the meaning was much deeper.  This “ill-dressed” man represents those called who want the benefits of the banquet, but have no intention of conversion/repentance. 

The Lord calls everyone to come to Him, to be with Him for all eternity.  He sent His Son to pave the way – to Redeem us.  We must repent of our sins, however, and be willing to change our ways in order to be admitted to the “Great Heavenly Feast.”  I’m not sure that the world today understands or accepts that.  Let us all pray and offer sacrifices for massive conversions all over the planet!

 

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Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere we are at a pumpkin patch in Laplace, Louisiana about 5 years ago.  Fast forward to this year’s adventure…  We went to Steele’s Pumpkin Patch in Angie, Louisiana.  Our eldest joined us this time, and we had some good old fashioned country fun enjoying the first cool front of the season!

IMG_7052 IMG_7122 IMG_7119 IMG_7013 IMG_7063 IMG_7004 IMG_7099                                                                   Happy Fall Ya’ll!!

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Mass of the Roses in Honor of St. Therese’

Carmelite Convent, Covington, LA   October 5, 2014

IMG_7150 IMG_7141 IMG_7142 IMG_7138 IMG_7148 IMG_7146 IMG_7157

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