Reflections on the Readings for Sunday, May 17, 2015

Readings for May 17

In the first reading we see that Matthias is chosen to take the place of Judas, the apostle who hanged himself after betraying Jesus.  Not a whole lot is known about this (sometimes forgotten) apostle.  Here’s what we do know:

UnknownMatthias was born in Bethlehem and was a descendant of the tribe of Judah.  He was taught by Simeon, the one who received the child Jesus in the temple. He was a follower of Jesus from the very beginning His public ministry.  Matthias was originally Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus was the short man who climbed the sycamore tree in order to see Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). He repented of his former life after Jesus went to visit with him in his home.

Here’s some lagnaippe, as we like to say in Louisiana – a little extra – a song to help you remember the original 12 apostles.  It’s to the tune of the “Happy Birthday” song we all sing at birthday parties.

Andrew, Simon, John, Jude

Philip, Peter, Matthew,

Judas, James Lesser and Greater

Thomas, Bartholomew!

In the gospel, we see Jesus and His apostles in the upper room.  He is praying for His apostles with His eyes lifted toward heaven.  He knows what is about to happen – His immense suffering and death, and yet, He is praying for His friends.  How He loved them and cared for them!  How He loves us- Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.  (John 20:29)  In the prayer, He mentions how we do not belong in this world anymore that He did.  We would do well to remember that – especially when times are tough or when this world disappoints us.  How many times do we expect the world’s recognition, admiration, and approval?  How many times do we expect happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction from the people, events and institutions of this world?  This is not where we belong.  We are not home yet.

Another thing I noticed about Jesus’ prayer was that He mentioned the word “Truth” a few times.  So many people in our world today believe that truth is relative – that what is true for you may not be what is true for me.  Relativism is poison!  It has completely corrupted the morals in our society.  Truth is not up for debate.  Truth is not individual.  Truth is not whatever floats your boat.  Truth has a name.  His name is Jesus Christ.

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I love the little 3 minute videos over at Young Catholic Minute.  Here is one entitled, “Isn’t Truth Relative.”  I hope you will watch!

I’m also attaching a link to a song by Building 429, Where I Belong.  I have it on my playlist…

“All I know is I’m not home yet.  This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus…”

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Teaching Advice

imagesMy niece will graduate this weekend with a degree in elementary education.  I am so proud of her, and happy to have another teacher in the family.  I have been so blessed to truly love what I do for a living.   I hope that my niece will feel the same about her teaching career, when she looks back one day.

I gave her some (unsolicited) advice based on my 26 years in the classroom:

1.  Don’t be afraid to PUT DOWN THE TEXTBOOK.  It is a tool.  Your whole class should not revolve around it.  They can pull in anyone off of the street to read a text to children and have them answer the chapter questions.  You have been trained to do more than that, so do it:)

2.  Try hard to learn the kids names before they come to you – even if you have to borrow a yearbook and study names and faces – this gives you an instant edge and connection.

3.  Be firm and consistent, yet don’t be afraid to have fun with them.  Learning should be fun!  It should inspire!

4.  On as many days as possible, greet each and every one of your students at the door.

5.  If you work in a Christian school, allow the kids to do intentions for prayers often, as it helps you to get to know what their concerns are.

6.  Try to write a “happy note” to each of them during the first nine weeks.  Accentuate the positive, and show them that you’ve noticed something good about them/their behavior.  That can go a long way!

7.  With regard to parent conferences, be patient with parents.  I told her that to a parent, their child is their whole world.  Try to put yourself in their shoes.

8. With regard to people passing judgement on inexperience –    It is not a “sin” to be young – or to not have your own children yet.  (I remember being upset when I was 23 and in my first year of teaching to have parents tell me that I couldn’t understand because I did not have children of my own.  I thought that was absurd – I had been trained, and had graduated with honors after all!   Of course, having my own children didn’t teach me how to teach, but it gave me a whole new perspective that certainly helped me to be a better teacher.)   It all comes with time:)

9.  Don’t give homework just to give homework.  Did you like doing hours upon hours of homework as a kid?  Of course not!  Try to remember what it was like to be a student, and don’t torture unnecessarily!

10.  Treat the kids with respect, and 9 times out of 10, they will treat you with respect.  Don’t yell.  Then, if you ever do have to raise your voice, they will really pay attention!

Here are some of my favorite quotes about teaching:

“IT IS THE SUPREME ART OF THE TEACHER TO AWAKEN JOY IN CREATIVE EXPRESSION AND KNOWLEDGE.”
— ALBERT EINSTEIN

“THE MEDIOCRE TEACHER TELLS. THE GOOD TEACHER EXPLAINS. THE SUPERIOR TEACHER DEMONSTRATES. THE GREAT TEACHER INSPIRES.”
— WILLIAM A. WARD

EDUCATION IS NOT THE FILLING OF A PAIL, BUT THE LIGHTING OF A FIRE.  – WILLIAM BLAKE

 

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Please Share

Are you tired of chaos in your home? Are you fretful over your children’s choices, their friendships, their relationships? Have you lost your motivation? Do your children treat each other disrespectfully or hurtfully? Do you wonder how you will pay this month’s bills? Do you feel angry or agitated toward your spouse? Do you feel depressed or despairing?  Is your family struggling to live out its Catholic faith?  If you have reached your limit, and you’re thinking to yourself, “That’s it! I’m done,” I ask you to give the Sacred Heart of Jesus a try. What do you have to lose? Your sadness? Your anger? Your frustration?

I cannot promise you that making Jesus King of Your Heart and Home will take away all of your troubles. Jesus’ life was marked with trials, struggles and suffering. When we follow Him, we take up our own personal crosses. The great news, however, is that you are not alone. Jesus wants to help you – to shoulder your burdens and lighten the load. He is true to His promise from the gospel of John, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  This peace is life changing, and pervades all aspects of home and family. He alone can transform your family’s brokenness into wholeness, doubt into faith, anxiety into calm, sadness into joy, suffering into healing – darkness into light.   Sound hopeful?

Maybe things aren’t so bad in your house, but could surely be better.  Perhaps, you know a Catholic family who is really struggling.  Please share this information with them. Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has really been a life changer for me.  I want everyone I know to know about it and benefit from it.  Click on the link to this website for more information.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

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“Couples and Families, “Behold Your Mother.”

Please take a moment to read a great MAY post on Mary Our Mother by Jason Angelette at NOLA CATHOLIC EXPERIENCE! 

Thanks!

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The Irony & the Sandwich

I finally know who I am.  I know where I belong – and where I don’t belong.  I’m comfortable in my own skin – even with its imperfections.  I’m secure in knowing what I’m good at, and what my limitations are.  In many ways, this is the best time in my life.

Ironically, just as I’ve become comfortable and secure in who I am, it all starts to fall apart – or at least fall – if you know what I mean!!  My hubby recently purchased a “Speed Abs” roller for the two of us to use.  The first time I (attempted) to use it was absolutely hilarious!  I needed a spotter to hold me by the waistband and help pull me up when I would roll too far down and couldn’t get back up – even with the special coil assist!  A couple of time, I literally landed flat on my face.  I’ve been at it for about three weeks now, and I’m up to about 15 repetitions – without assistance – but with a lot of groaning.  My children laugh at me and imitate the sounds I make!  Nice!

images-1It’s ironic that at the very time that we become comfortable with ourselves as adults and feel confident in who we are and what we can handle, life gets complicated again.  In our 40’s and 50’s, we become the “sandwich generation.”  Many of us who had children in our 30’s are still in the trenches with them – trying to help them through school and carpooling them all over the place.  It’s usually in our 40’s and 50’s that many of us have teenagers in the house.  That’s quite a stressful period for the whole family.  Thankfully with improved medical care and prevention, many of our parents are living longer.  They too begin to need help with day-to-day living.  What happens to the sandwich?  It gets smooshed in the bottom of a book bag, if we are not careful!

I really do think that things would be less stressful and far less complicated if we could go back to one spouse working and generations living together in the same home.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that it is likely that will happen anytime soon.  It’s the way that the world and the economy operate now – God’s plan for families a distant memory

So what does Dana do?  (I surely don’t have all of the answers!)  Thankfully, my parents are still pretty independent.  I know that a time is coming when they will need me, and I pray that I can really be there for them.  With regard to my own children, I have had to limit their involvement in outside activities.  I’ve never had much stamina/energy, and I must work a full-time job.   I also wanted my kids to have some time each day just to hang out and relax – just to be.  I made up my mind early on that each child could only do one outside activity ( or none) at a time.  This helps things from becoming too hectic, and surprisingly they haven’t been scarred or deprived!

We eat dinner as a family nearly every day of the week – even if I have to use the Crock Pot or pick up a rotisserie chicken from the market.  This helps to keep us connected and grounded, and allows each member of the family to be heard.    We often pray as a family.   My personal “salvation and sanity” is spending time in the adoration chapel nearly every weekday.  There, Jesus truly restores my sense of peace and gives me the strength to keep going.  I also garden almost everyday, even if that’s just watering, pulling a couple of weeds or taking a walk outside to see what is ready to be harvested.  There’s something very therapeutic about it!

Shout out to everyone who is in the sandwich generation!  Hey!  We are in the same boat!  Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone!  imagesI can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

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Easy Eggplant Parmesan

My husband and I have been on a diet, so to speak. We’ve cut out most of the carbs from our diet on the advice of his doctor.  It has been a challenge to prepare enough food for the five members of our family without the use of fillers like rice, pasta, potatoes and bread.  When I grocery shopped this past week, I traveled just the perimeter of the store – meats, dairy, and produce – no cans or pre-packaged stuff.  Wow!  I thought I was doing well this past year with avoiding the GMO’s, bovine growth hormone, “steroid enhanced” chicken, high fructose corn syrup, and buying mostly organic fruits and veggies.  This meats, fresh fruits and veggies thing brings it to a whole new level!

Anyway, I purchased two eggplants.  I am known for making an awesome eggplant Parmesan – complete with Italian breadcrumb fried medallions – high fat, high calorie!  Tonight, I had to make a side to go with our pork roast, mustard greens and avocado salad.  I decided to try to microwave an eggplant to soften it quickly.  I washed it, poked holes in it with a fork and microwaved it on high for 5 minutes.  Then I split it in half and placed it on a baking sheet.  I sprinkled it with some no salt Italian seasoning, spooned some marinara sauce over that, then topped it with Mozzarella, Parmesan and some sliced chives.  I ran it in the oven for 6 minutes at 400 degrees just to melt the cheese.  It was delicious – and a great “filler” food.  I will be making this one again!

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To Mantilla or Not to Mantilla? That is the Question – Part 2

imagesOver the weekend, I received a special gift.  I was given a chapel veil that belonged to a very dear member of our family who passed away ten years ago.  She was chosen to be my daughter’s Godmother because she was such a great spiritual role model.  I looked up to her and miss her much.

Today, I “tried it out,” so to speak.  I made a little visit to the adoration chapel, and put on the veil before entering.  To my surprise, the monstrance that held Jesus had been covered, because (apparently) the last adorer had to leave before the next one arrived.  Jesus and I were alone!  I knelt down before Him in a rush of awe that I was in the presence of my King – Just us two!  Then I gently lifted the satin veil covering my Lord.  Again I knelt before Him.   I did feel more humbled in His presence with my head covered.  It felt appropriate and strangely natural.  Maybe there is something to this old time practice!  I’ve been doing some internet research on the theology behind this tradition.

In doing so, I stumbled upon a great video on the topic of wearing a chapel veil in the presence of the Holy Eucharist – beautiful testimonials by a few women – great food for thought!

The Veil

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Lessons I Learned from My Momma

Unknown-1* Bow your head and close your eyes when you pray. (It’s reverent, and it helps keep distractions to a minimum.)

*Read your bible daily.  If we say that we love God, we will hunger for His Word – to truly get to know Him personally.

*Always put your children first.  (There were times growing up when my mom had literally 7 outfits which she rotated.   Her personal closet was pretty empty compared to ours – Why?  Because she always put us first – bought our spring and fall clothing even when that meant she would get nothing new for herself.)

*We cannot “earn” our salvation, by being “good enough” as we are all unworthy.  Being a follower of Christ, however, means that we must serve as He served.  This is not an option.  Momma is always visiting a sick friend, bringing a dinner to a grieving family, listening to a friend’s woes and giving them encouragement, taking care of her grandkids and kids, buying food for the food pantry at church, washing an elderly person’s clothes – you name it!  She is truly Christ’s love in action!

* Always try to look and act your best, as you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.

* Christians of all denominations have more in common than we have differences.  We have the big thing in common – that is OUR LOVE FOR JESUS.  That’s huge!

*The rough times in life can make us bitter, or they can make us better.  Perseverence is one of the virtues that a Christian must have. If we nourish the gift of faith always with scripture and prayer, our faith will help us to weather the bad times and bring us closer to Christ.

I love you with all my heart, Momma!  Happy Mother’s Day!

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Reflection on the Readings for Sunday, May 10, 2015

Readings for Sunday, May 10

imagesI’ve been blessed to always know deep in my heart that God is real, and that Jesus was a personal friend of mine.  He was my best friend as a child when I had no earthly friends.  He is my best friend now.  Oh, how I wish everyone could feel God’s love and friendship.  The world wouldn’t be such a mess if they could!

I do remember, however, a very special moment in time when God’s love became especially real to me.  I’ve not been the same since.  I want to share that story:

My family attended St. Patrick’s Church on Camp Street weekly during the 1990’s. At that time, the pastor was Monsignor John Reynolds. I loved Father John, as he was unafraid to speak the truth, and made no apologies for it! He would always say, “If you don’t like what I’m saying, don’t tell me. Tell God. This is what God said, not me.”               After taking on the restoration of the historic church, Fr. John showed signs of slowing down. At one point, he suffered excruciating pain in his back and could not climb up the steps to the ambo anymore to preach his homilies. He also began forgetting things. On this one particular Sunday, he stood before the congregation, a hunched over shadow of the man that he once was. Stretching out his arms and placing them upon the altar, he braced himself.   In the middle of his homily, his brain, (perhaps clouded by the pain) could not retrieve the words that he had prepared and rehearsed. Awkwardly, he tried to regroup his thoughts, but to no avail. Finally, after a few seconds of silence (that seemed like hours) a tear rolled down this seventy- something year old’s face, and he said passionately, “GOD LOVES YOU.” A bit louder and with a broken voice, he repeated, “I want you to know that God loves you…SO MUCH. That’s all.” End of homily. We all sat in awe of what had just happened – stunned, saddened and overjoyed all at the same time. I left church that Sunday knowing with all my heart something that I had often doubted. God does love me immeasurably, and He loves you, too. St. Augustine once said, “God loves each of us as if there was only one of us.” Think about that.   Let the Truth of that statement settle into your bones.         (Taken from The Answer for Families)

In today’s gospel,  Jesus says,   “I have called you FRIENDS,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain…”

We are chosen by Christ to be His friends!  How amazing is that!  Being His friend means uniting our suffering in this life to His suffering.  It means being different from most.  It means being rejected sometimes.  It means crucifying our self-will.  On the flip side of that, we have assurance of His love, His mercy, His guidance, His strength..I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!  (Philippians 4:13)  We can go out into the world with such confidence with Jesus as our strength.  We must not draw back from our appointment by Christ – to “go and bear fruit that will remain.”  This world is so thirsty for Him right now, and the world doesn’t even know it.  It is so hungry, yet nothing it eats satisfies.  We need to be bold witnesses of our Faith – of the Love of Christ that lives in our hearts!  We also need to offer every suffering, every prayer for the conversion of souls!  Let not one be lost, Dear Lord!

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Words of Wisdom

Unknown-1I’ve been reading a book called Jesus, King of Love by Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey.  You know, I never really enjoyed reading as a kid.  The only books I remember reading and enjoying were Judy Blume books.  Do you remember those?  Well, I think I didn’t enjoy reading, because I never found a genre I liked.  Finally, I have.  I like biography, Catholic nonfiction, and real life inspirational stories.  I underline the words that “speak to me” so that I can go back and re-read those parts.  Still, sad to say, I rarely finish a book.  I’m a hopeless case:)

Anyway, this book I’m reading is filled with wisdom from Fr. Mateo:Unknown

“Sanctity is Jesus assimilated.”

“We are greatly mistaken if we think the value of an act depends on the act itself.  It is worth only the love we put into it.”

“There are three loves which really constitute but one, namely:  Love of the Eucharist, Love of the Cross and Love of Souls.  You cannot separate them, nor can you have one to the exclusion of the others.”

“Opposition has always been and ever will be the divine seal upon all works…Such storms have never ruined a work dear to God, when the thoughts of the apostle were inspired by the great spirit of faith.”

In speaking of many Christians attitude toward Jesus and faith:  “Remain in Your Tabernacle, O Lord, that we may live our family life as we wish, without Your intruding too intimately upon it.”

“Love is not loved.  We do not sufficiently preach the love of Jesus Christ, and yet this love is not weak sentimentality.  It is a love full of fire and life!”

“Call to the Master, hearken to Him and you will witness resurrections even more marvelous than that of Lazarus and conversions as wonderful and touching as that of Magdalen.”

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