Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Beware of Complacency

When I sat down to read today’s Gospel, I thought, “This sounds familiar”; then I remembered that it had been read at the beginning of Wednesday’s RCIA session! I kind of felt like I had a jump on things. I had a hard time with reflecting on the Readings this morning, but when the priest gave his Homily, one thing made my heart hurt: 
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
                                                       Luke 16:21

That poor man! That part of the verse really stuck with me and made me realize just how low Lazarus really was. For the rich man to see him every day and not do anything (not even have his servants shoo him away) is such a disgrace. But, that got me thinking: What would I do? What do I do when I see someone who is dirty? Do I look the other way? Do I offer him/her something? Or do I do nothing and just look the other way? ePriest calls this a "Sin of Omission". 
Great. I not only I have to watch what I say/do, but I also need to be mindful of what I don't say or do. This is tough. There are times when we're busy, we have things to do, places to go; we don't have time to stop and make sure the man/woman on the corner has something to eat/drink. It's easier to just look the other way. What if that person robs us? What if he/she physically hurts us? I definitely think about the safety issues. This world seems to have gotten wilder, crazier when it comes to meeting random people.
Taking it back to the Gospel: I got the impression that Lazarus being outside the man's house was a daily occurrence. Surely, if I saw a person lying at my door day after day, I would (after a couple of days anyway) try to help. I would like to think I would do what I could. We don't know how we would react until we're put in that situation. 
This Gospel made me think of St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. Damien. Neither of these saints feared disease and saw Jesus in those they to which they were ministering. Could I do the same?
During the Homily, the first thing Father said was that the common thread between all 3 of today's Readings is "Beware of Complacency". Don't become so complacent with what we have that we think we're "in" automatically. ePriest said, "Being nice isn't enough"; that won't save our souls. If we have any kind of wealth, we are to use it properly. God allowed us the means to achieve that wealth; He also gave us free will. We have free will to do the right thing, or to become complacent and do whatever we want. 
I'm very blessed to live in a country that enjoys wealth; however, there are many in our own country who go hungry. Working in the public schools, I see that a lot. Kids that come to school dirty, who won't have anything to eat once they get home. Their parents may or may not be around; I knew of 1 child who got himself up in the morning, got his sibling up and to the bus stop for school. And he was 9 years old. Many schools (including the system where I work) have backpack programs: the students take home a backpack with food in it so  they'll have something to eat on the weekends. This is reality for a lot of kids. Sure, some parents are "deadbeat", but there are some out there who are really trying & just not making it. Many people are turning a blind eye to the situations we have in our own backyard. We've become complacent. 
This week, I resolve to open my eyes to who is around me and take a minute out of my time to relieve some discomfort for that person. It doesn't even have to be someone on the street; it may be a child at school, or even a parent. It may even be someone in the store who needs help. It's not about being nice, it's about being aware. And being a Christian.

{SQT} The Trinity & Aging Parents

Things have been pretty busy around here for the past couple of weeks. I don't like the feeling of being pulled in about 20 different ways! Luckily, things should start slowing a month!

What a difference a week makes! Last week I went to Adoration full of resentment and anger. This week I was totally at peace. Last Sunday's Mass Reading was just what I needed to hear: 
In every place the men should pray;
lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.
                  1 Timothy 2:8
It came at a time when I needed the Lord to speak to me...and speak to me, He did!

Sister asked me to be on the RCIA Team this year, so I accepted. This week, our topic was The Trinity. During the presentation, the presenter spoke about who she prays to more: Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. Sister said that, while on a retreat, she had to write an autobiography using the Trinity. She reflected on her life and saw each part of the Trinity being stronger in different parts of her life. 
Yesterday, as I went through my day saying little prayers, I paid attention to which part of the Trinity I was naturally praying. Try it; it not only gets you to pay attention to which part  you're praying, but it will also help focus you on your prayer.

During the RCIA session on the Trinity, I mentioned that the Holy Spirit is so hard for me to grasp. The Father and the Son are personified, so they're a lot easier; but the Holy Spirit??? Definitely tougher.
As I drove home Wednesday night, I had on Busted Halo from the Catholic Channel, and Father Dave talked about the Holy Spirit. Then, when I opened my emails Thursday morning, there was a message from Heart of Mary Women Fellowship with the subject Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Counsel.

Last Thursday, I hand-wrote a whole blog post about seeing your parent(s) age and having to depend on their children. I never got around to posting it, which is probably a good thing seeing how I was full of anger and resentment. I have 9 siblings; 3 of whom don't live in the immediate area. For the past couple of weeks, my 91 year old dad has needed help, and during the week, for various reasons, it's been down to just 3 of us helping out. That dwindled down to 2 when 1 of my siblings had to go out of town (couldn't be helped), and then down to just myself a couple of days due to some dental procedures. 
I lived away from my hometown for 20 years, then decided it was time to come home. One of the reasons I wanted to move back was because my parents were aging, and I wanted to be close so I could help out when/if needed. I had to remind myself of that over the past couple of weeks when I felt I was being pulled between daddy, my husband, and work.

I just mentioned that I moved home after 20 years of living in 2 different states. We ended up buying a house that is just up the street from my childhood home, the home where my father still lives. Yes, I knew what I was doing! I wanted to be there for my parents should they need me. For the most part, they haven't needed anything. My mom (rest her soul) would call every now and then and need help with trying to figure out why the volume on her cell phone ringer was down (it was always because she had accidentally turned it down/off while holding it!), but for the most part, they didn't need me. I think it gives daddy some comfort knowing that I'm just up the street and can be there in 2 minutes or less if he needs me.

So, yeah. Seeing your parents age is very difficult. My big, strong daddy is now having to ask for some help until he recovers from what was going on with him. He's getting there; it's not as fast as he would like for it to be, but he's getting there. And I'm glad I can be there for him.

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Soften your Hardened Heart

I chose to read the shortened version of today’s Gospel…to take the easy way out. (See the name of this blog!) By doing that, I completely missed out on the story of the prodigal son. Almost every reflection I read referred back to the part of the Gospel I missed because I decided to take a short cut.
Then I started wondering: How much do we miss when we take short cuts? What do we miss God telling us because we're too lazy to "do it right"? Even though there were 2 options for the Gospel, my choice was the shorter one. 
The longer one included the story of the Prodigal Son. We had this in the Gospel Reading last Lent (March 6th, to be exact). I went back and re-read what I had written 6 months ago. It's amazing how different the message is now, and what's going on in my life. 6 months ago, we were going through some things with 1 of our adult sons. In just 6 short months, the message that I got from the story is completely different.
The Blessed is She devotion brought this question: Can't we all identify with every single person in the story of the Prodigal Son? There are times when we are the prodigal son: we want things now; we don't want to wait, and we don't think about or really care about how it may affect other people. There are times we are the brother: angry at the injustice of doing the right thing, only to have someone who has hurt others be put on a pedestal. Then, there are times when we are the father, anxiously waiting for someone to come back into the fold of the family; willing to forgive all that was done in the past to hurt us.
God is the father waiting for us to return to the fold; waiting for those who have left the Church to come back. I have family members who may never come back, but that doesn't keep me from praying every day for that to happen. There are times when I pray that God will welcome me back...even though I physically haven't left. We all need healing; even St. Teresa of Calcutta had dry spells, and I just bet she prayed for God to take her back during those times.
Last night at Mass, the priest said that the primary objective of the Prodigal Son is to "soften harden hearts". He mentioned that we need to learn how to share mercy; we have to learn to give mercy before we can receive it. It's not an entitlement, rather it's a necessity. The father in the story was able to show God's mercy by being a doting parent. Isn't that what God is? Doesn't He dote on us? 
Are we no better than tax collectors, taking what we want without consideration of others' feelings? (ePriest) Yet Jesus invites us to His table to share His precious meal every Sunday...every day if we're able. I am so not worthy of this, yet God has given us Jesus by keeping His covenant (Dr. Scott Hahn). I wonder if giving us Jesus isn't God's last ditch effort for us to follow Him. Like the father in today's Gospel, He waits for us to return to Him. In today's crazy world, I know He is waiting more than ever. 

{SQT} Adoration

Adoration. It's just an hour out of your life each week; an hour to really unwind and just be.
My old parish in SC started Perpetual Adoration just after we moved there. The idea is that you sign up for 1 hour/week, and (hopefully) there will be someone spending an hour with Jesus 24/7 until the 2nd coming. There were times when there would be 5 or more people in the chapel with me, and other times when I would be completely alone. If someone can't make it for their hour, there was an extensive sub list. Adoration was taken very seriously...they were all in. Jesus couldn't be left alone, so you stayed until the next person showed up. Before we moved away from SC, they made the concession to drape a cloth (I have no idea what it's called) over the tabernacle if you had to leave and the next person didn't show up. 
My current parish has Perpetual Adoration, but they don't seem to be "all in", which is really very sad. As disappointing as it is to walk into the chapel and see the doors of the tabernacle closed, it's very disheartening to have to close the doors because the person behind you doesn't show up and didn't get a sub. 
In SC, my Adoration time was right after work. There was one cold, damp day I went in, knelt down, and immediately could feel a sensation like a warm blanket being put over my shoulders. It was incredible.
Then there was the time when I went in and fell asleep. Okay, that happened more than once! The first time it happened I felt soooo bad. I mentioned it to my mom and told her I just kept thinking "Can you not even watch 1 hour with me", and she said that God knew I needed that time to rest, so not to feel bad. (My 3 boys were very young at that point and I worked full time, which means that, yes, I was very tired!) Another time when I feel asleep, I had my head on the back of my hand and ended up with a big red spot on my forehead. I can't imagine what the man who came in after me thought when he saw it!
There have been times when I could feel angels kneeling with me in prayer. Seriously. If you've ever had that feeling, you know what I'm talking about. What a comfort!
There's a book on Adoration (I wish I could remember the name of it because it is an amazing book!); it mentions that there have been no recorded instances of anything bad happening to anyone on the way to or from Adoration. That, to me, is just incredible. Out of all the people who take part in Adoration, there hasn't been 1 wreck, 1 mugging, NOTHING BAD has happened.
I was in Adoration last night, and, big surprise, I started to nod off. I swear someone nudged me to keep me awake. It felt like someone nudged my elbow and moved my hand so I wouldn't fall asleep. I have no doubt it was my Guardian Angel. 

Does your Parish have Adoration? If so, do you participate? If not, what's keeping you from committing? 

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time: He's #1

How fitting is the 1st Reading for today, St. Teresa of Calcutta's Canonization? I remember telling my mother that there are times when I can't wait to get to heaven, because I want answers to some questions...questions that we all have, but it's not for us to know until we join Jesus in heaven. As it says in Wisdom 9:13, how can we even "conceive what the LORD intends"? It boils down to trust. Trust in God's plans for you, for He knows what is best for us. 
In the Second Reading, Paul speaks of another prisoner who, I'm guessing, is quite a bit younger. He wants this man to be a follower of Jesus, but, it would appear, hasn't been chosen by Jesus just yet. I took this passage to mean that Jesus calls us to be followers...when we're ready. Onesimus wasn't at that point yet. I saw myself in this Reading: falling away from the Church (more than once), but having God patiently waiting for me work it out and come back to Him.
The first look at the Gospel seemed a little strong: Are we really supposed to "hate" our family members before we can be true followers of God? The Gospel continues by emphasizing that we have to have a firm foundation before we can follow Christ. That comes not only through praying and reading the Bible, but from living our life as followers. We all have crosses to bear, but we should give all the bearings to God. Does God really want me to "renounce all my possessions"? While I think some are truly called to do that, it's important for us to not treat our possessions as gods. Turn off the tv (which I need to do more of), get off the internet (which I need to do more of), and limit social media (which I really need to do more of!) and turn to Jesus.
During the homily, Father talked about priorities.  It's important for us prioritize our lives. Jesus knew that all of the excitement about Him was going to die down. (Think about the big headlines in the eventually dies down and the media picks up another headline. What seemed so important 1 week is forgotten.) We are called to "focus on the reality of the end". Our possessions are to be used on our journey, not to be the journey. We are to set aside everything and make Him our #1 priority. When it seems tough, trust that He is walking with us.
The reflections that I read went along with what Father said. USCCB's main point is to make the demands of the Kingdom your #1 priority. ePriest suggested that the word "renounce" is a better interpretation than "hate" (Luke 14:26). "Only God should be the absolute center of my life."
I read an article yesterday about St. Mother Teresa going through "dry spells" with her faith. Since I'm going through a bit of one myself, I was intrigued that saints go through them, too. She trudged through those periods by praying and continuing her work...not giving into satan's pull. That's really what I believe it is: satan is trying to pull us away from our faith. My priest told me once that feeling a pull means you're getting closer to God, because the devil wouldn't come around if you weren't getting closer. Show me 1 person who has never been through a dry spell, and I'll show you Jesus.
With the beginning of the college football season this weekend, we (who follow college football) can be all caught up in the rankings. At the end of our lives, does it really matter where your team was ranked? Isn't it more important to make God #1 in your life?  My goal this week is to make God #1 in my life. All I do is for the greater honor & glory of God!