Reflection on the Readings for Sunday, August 2, 2015

Readings for Sunday, August 2

5-1_mannaIf the first reading does not reveal God’s great patience and mercy with us ungrateful humans, then I don’t know what does!  The memories of the Israelites were so short and their feelings so fickle!  It is easy to come to that conclusion  – as an outsider looking in on the scene in the desert there.  It is easy to point the finger.  If we think about our response to God’s love and God’s providence in our lives, we are often like the Israelites – as painful as that may be to admit.  We lack trust when things get tough.  We panic when we should persevere.  Our gratitude is often short-lived.  We don’t like to look at this part of ourselves very closely – Ah, but identifying the problem is the first step in change!

In the second reading, Paul calls us to change – conversion. He reminds us that with Christ as King of our Hearts, we are changed individuals.  We must act like changed people – putting our energies – physical, emotional and spiritual – into things that last.   Our time here on earth is but a second when we look at it with eternal perspective.  Shouldn’t we invest in our eternal future, instead of spending all of our efforts in things that will not accompany us into the afterlife?  Makes sense!

Lastly, in the gospel, I just loved the exchange between Jesus and those who were searching for Him!  They had seen Him perform a miracle and wanted to see more.  We humans can’t seem to get enough signs!  Jesus is patient yet direct with them.  He reveals to them that He is the real deal – the bread from heaven that will satisfy and sanctify. 

We are so blessed in the Catholic Church to have the Body of Christ – the Eucharist – in our tabernacles.  By receiving the Eucharist at mass, Jesus enters our mortal bodies to prepare us for the immortal life we hope to share with Him for all eternity!  Think about that!  There are no words to adequately express the generosity and love of our King!  How Great is our God!!images

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Reflections on the Readings for Sunday, July 19th, 2015

Readings for Sunday, July 19

The very first line of the first reading really grabbed my attention:

“Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,” says the Lord.  I wondered if Jeremiah – being a prophet and all – was prophesying about the year 2015!  Are we not having this problem in our Church today?   The Church is undergoing such tremendous persecution and division.  Sometimes, it leads me (momentarily) to internal panic.  Someone very wise recently reminded me that the Church has gone through plenty of really turbulent times in the past – AND that it has come out stronger each time.  Oh, I do hope that this is the case this go round!

Regarding the second reading and the gospel, I was reminded of a conversation I recently had with a young man trying to juggle all of the parts of his busy life and new career.  He told me that He knows that Jesus is our Peace, and that he wants a relationship with Christ, but that he doesn’t have the time.  Oh my goodness, this was so sad to me!   I tried hard not to lecture, as I knew that he would instantly be turned off by that.  I simply asked him if he had been to the adoration chapel or said his rosary lately.  He didn’t really give me a straight answer, but quickly changed the subject.

Last week, I ran into this fellow again – on a Monday.  He was smiling, whistling and had a spring in his step, even though he had a rough day at work.  I commented on his apparent lightheartedness. He proudly told me that he had gone to the adoration chapel for some “One on one time” with Jesus instead of going to the gym after work that day.  I said, “You seeeee!”  He gave me a hug, then we went on to speak of other things.jesus-resting

In the gospel today, Jesus tells the apostles who were exhausted from traveling, preaching and teaching to come away with him to a deserted place and rest awhile.  Jesus was telling them that it is o.k. to take a break – to take care of themselves, however, He also invited them to do so with Him.  As St. Paul tells the Ephesians, Christ is our peace.  If we will only set aside a bit of time to rest awhile with Him.  We do have the time!  We can’t afford not to have the time!

For further reflection on resting with Jesus, read my post entitled, “Jesus Took Vacation Too!”  Thanks and God Bless!

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Jesus Took Vacation Too!

images-2 I really enjoy social media during the summer months – seeing friends post pictures of their travels and adventures.   In the 21st century, planes, trains and automobiles have made it so easy for us to explore all of the wonderful, varied places in our country and abroad.   In some ways, it seems as though many Americans (myself included) feel somewhat deprived if they are unable to take a summer vacation. Perhaps it’s because our lives are so stressful and busy that we long for time away from our hectic schedules.

 

In scripture, Jesus teaches us that taking time to rest, to pray and to recharge is not optional but essential. In the gospels, there are several references to Jesus going off alone. Here are a couple of them: “When Jesus heard of it, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.” (Matthew 14: 13) Then he made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd and when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray.” (Mark 6: 45-46) If Jesus is God and He needed “down-time,” how much more do we need it? You know the old saying, “You cannot give what you don’t have?” In order to be Christ’s light to the world, we have to be filled. Vacation can do this for us if approached from this perspective.

When planning a vacation, make sure that it begins with prayer. Have you ever thought about praying about where God might like you to go- what he might like to show you? Do you include him in the planning? Do you pray for safe travels before putting the car in reverse, or before your flight takes off? Do you research churches/shrines that are near your destination, and plan to visit them? Do you build in plenty of time to simply bask in the beauty of God’s creation – to soak it all in?

Perhaps, you may not be able to take a trip this year. You can still vacation, by taking some time in your own hometown to do all of those things I just mentioned! New Orleans is an amazing city with lots to enjoy – and plenty of beautiful Catholic churches to visit. No matter what you do this summer, be sure you take Jesus up on his invitation: “Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) Allow Jesus, King of the Universe, to be your tour guide!

 

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Highlights from Our Smoky Mountain Vacation

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Rock City – a tradition

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Fat Man’s Squeeze

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Say Cheese!

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Exploring the lush landscape

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Scenic Steep Drive up to our Cabin

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“True Grit” – the cabin where 18 extended family members enjoyed lots of togetherness and made lasting memories.

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Queen Anne’s Lace grows wild along the mountain roads.

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Another beautiful wildflower on the winding road to our cabin

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We enjoyed picking blackberries to put on our breakfast cereal!

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We enjoyed family fun at Dollywood…

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Oooh!  I’m afraid of heights, and she knows it!

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The kids enjoyed trying new things – first time on a ski lift.  ( I did not ride!!!)

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Fireworks

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Cades Cove Historic Church

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Driving with the windows down and the wind in our hair!!

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wildlife

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Playing in the cool waters of the Little Pigeon River

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Roaring Fork Auto Tour

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Getting to see a bear (at a safe distance!)

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Gatlinburg  all lit up at night

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butterflies

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and more butterflies – all in little groups

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Stopping to rest on a hike to Laurel Falls

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Made it!!

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Discovering a new waterfall (for us)  – Noccalula Falls.

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the sunset over Mississippi as we were making our way home to Louisianal

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My Reflection on the Readings for Sunday, July 5, 2015

Readings for Sunday, July 5, 2015

As I read all of the readings today, I was struck by one idea.  So often, I think that we expect to be welcomed and accepted by the world.  We think that if we just treat people with kindness and respect that we will get kindness and respect in return.  At the very least, we hope to be accepted and to “blend in.”

If Jesus who was sin free, healed people and worked miracles was questioned, humiliated and ultimately killed, how can we expect that the world will treat Christ’s followers any better?

Being a Christian means being counter-cultural.  We are not meant to “blend in.”  We should pray for the courage to witness our faith, to stand up for Jesus and to be a light to this broken world even – and especially when we are ignored, treated rudely or are out-and-out rejected.    Many suffer from “hardness of heart.”  We, however, have the gift of the Holy Spirit who “sets us on our feet” and helps us to keep pushing forward despite the obstacles.

In the second reading, St. Paul asked that God relieve Him of the pain he was suffering.  God did not give Paul what He wanted.  Instead He said, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Clearly God was using Paul’s suffering to shape Paul’s character and virtue.  He may have also been using it for the conversion of souls. God promises us too that He will not test us beyond our strength – that He will provide the grace needed to get through whatever He sends or allows to happen to us.  Sometimes, when things get really tough we question this!   The deal is that grace is not stored up.  You can’t pray ahead of time for grace for what may or may not happen in the future.  This is when we must trust and have faith- God keeps His promises!

 

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Favorite Pics of the Week

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Candle Lantern at Sunset – do you see the image it is projecting on the side of the glass?

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Opportunism

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The Beauty of Wood

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I don’t know why I like this one so much.  The man is kind of curled up.  He is made of letters and a big chunk of him is missing.  For some reason, it speaks to me:)

 

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Oak Roots at City Park

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I Will Be Giving “My Testimony.”

Please check out this link and share with anyone you think might enjoy or benefit.  I will be giving my testimony at the West St. Tammany’s Chapter of Magnificat – Benedict’s Plantation on August 13, 2015.  I know that my teacher friends will be back at school and will be quite busy!  If you are not working and can come, please do – and bring a friend!  If you can’t come, please pray that the Holy Spirit will guide my words and be with all present in a most powerful way.  Thank you!

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I Cheated

Readings for Sunday, June 28, 2015

Unknown-1I cheated.  This week I had a conversation with a wonderful priest who gave me his insightful observations regarding this Sunday’s gospel from Mark.  I will try to share those with you, though I’m certain that I won’t be able to do so as eloquently.  Here goes:

First of all, the priest asked me if I noticed how the gospel was kind of segmented – It begins with Jarius, cuts to the bleeding woman, then goes back to Jarius.  I told him that I did find that odd – like the bleeding woman was almost an after thought in Mark’s retelling of these miracles.  Father said that he thought that the events occurred (and were retold) in this order for a reason.

We are like Jarius.  We want (at one time or another) help from Jesus – a miracle!  Jesus doesn’t cure Jarius’ daughter right away, though He certainly could have.  He invites Jarius to JOURNEY with Him – to walk the walk.  While on the journey, they come upon the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years.

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Her faith was so great that she KNEW that if only she could touch the hem of Jesus’ tunic she would be healed – and she was healed immediately.  The purpose of this (perhaps) was to show Jarius (and us) what is possible through faith and through total trust and reliance upon Jesus.  Jarius (likely) was awed by the scene, and this filled him with hope for what Jesus could do for his own daughter.

THEN the synagogue official  (or in our lives – the devil) swoops in to annihilate all hope – to tempt us to despair.  This happens in life, doesn’t it? – a lot!!  The official tells Jarius “not to trouble the teacher any longer.”  The devil tells US not to persevere in prayer – to give up.   Jesus says, “DO NOT BE AFRAID! Just have faith!” He travels to Jarius’ house.  He puts out all of the nay sayers.  Then Jesus takes the little girl by the hand and tells her to arise. Unknown-2

I find it interesting that the woman bled for 12 years and that the little girl was 12 years old.  Do you know that the #12 is used at least 187 times in the bible?  Theologians believe that the use of the #12 in the bible meant completeness, authority or perfection.  I’m not really sure how this applies here???

Fast forward to 2015:

All one has to do is turn on the television to see example after example of tremendous violence in our world today…  There are many opportunities for temptations to “go with the crowd” and to live life “the easy way…”  Our Church is divided…  Our world is divided with nay sayers shouting opposition to our Christian beliefs.  All of this can become quite overwhelming and gravely discouraging sometimes.  We must put ourselves in the place of the 12-year-old girl in Mark’s gospel and allow Jesus to take us by the hand.  Hear Him say to you, “Do not be afraid.  Just have faith!”  Remember that this is not our permanent home.  Everything is passing.  Everything and everyone.  Just lift your eyes toward heaven and MARCH ON!

This reminds me of a song my momma used to play when I was a little girl –  WALK ON by Tammy Wynette.  I knew Tammy had to be singing about Jesus when she said, “Walk on with hope in your heart …and you’ll never walk alone.”

Here’s another beautiful version of “Walk On” by Susan Boyle.

 

 

 

 

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Our Favorites from NOMA’s Sculpture Garden

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Reflections on the Readings for Sunday, June 21, 2015

Readings for Sunday, June 21

He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

As a parent, this passage reminds me of how my life changed wonderfully and profoundly when I became a momma.  I thought I knew what love was – After all, only a couple of years before, I had pledged my love and my entire life to my husband in marriage.  When I had a child, I learned a very important dimension to true love – and that is the self gift.  A good parent says, “No” to selfishness, and puts the needs of his/her child before his own.  We work, we sacrifice for the sake of our children.  Are we willing to do work and to sacrifice for Christ – or do we put limits on our love?

St. Paul reminds us today that Jesus died for all.  It is His will that ALL be saved because of His great sacrifice on the cross.  True love is not manipulative or controlling, however.  With true love, there must always be free will.  God loves us enough to allow us to choose to  live our lives for the sake of the one who died for us, or to refuse His gift.  How do we as Christians live our lives – not for ourselves – but for the sake of the one who came to save us from sin and death?

When we look at the world around us, we are bombarded with messages of “Look out for #1, Whatever makes you feel good; Put yourself first – no one else will;  You must have a perfect, youthful body and a fancy car, etc.”  As followers of Christ, we should be living counter-culturally!  If we were to be on the outside looking in at our families, what would we see?  Are we truly offering all that we have and all that we are to God to be used however He sees fit to further His kingdom?

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In the gospel, Jesus is asleep in the boat when a violent storm crops up.  The apostles panic and ask Him, “Do you not care that we are perishing?”  I think that this is hilarious!  It is so human.  Only a chapter or two before, Jesus had healed a paralytic, a leper and a man with a withered hand.  Had they forgotten about these miracles and the power of Jesus already?  Had they not just witnessed these things?

As human beings, we are slow learners who need lots of reassurance!  I know in my own life, there have been many times when God has miraculously provided for me and for my family, yet, I still struggle with doubt or look for another sign.   There have been times when I have tried to persevere in prayer, when in my heart I was thinking,      ” Do you not care, Lord?  Why won’t you answer me?”

I don’t know about you, but I find a lot of comfort in knowing that my God – the God of the Universe – can still the sea with just a word or a blink or a thought.  This tells me that if the waves are crashing in around my boat that He must want them to do so for some higher benefit.  Maybe He wants to test my faith.  Maybe He wants to teach me patience and persistence.  Maybe He wants to give me an experience that will help me to be more empathetic with others in a similar boat.  Maybe He is strengthening me for a job He has for me to do.  I can rest assured that the moment that the storm is no longer beneficial to my soul, the Lord will take it away.  That’s all I need to know.  That’s all any of us need to know!  Trust in Him – Just in Him!

theanswer4families.com

 

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