Cry out, full-throated – A guest post

(What a privilege it is to welcome today’s guest blogger Margaret Felice,
with a reflection on today’s readings
.)

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Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.

Yikes. Do you ever hear a reading that shakes you up, that has you hesitant when it is time to respond “Thanks be to God”? That’s how I often feel when I hear readings that dwell on the wickedness of humanity.

That’s not to say that I don’t think such wickedness exists. I see it ever day, in large and small ways. I recognize it in my own heart, and try to respond with charity when I recognize it in the hearts of others. I just feel more comfortable attempting to draw out the positive rather than squashing the negative.

But this is our scripture. As with all the correction that comes to us from God, it’s not Continue reading

The road ahead

View_of_Judean_Desert_from_mount._Yair,_Israel

The Judean desert. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)

 

(Today’s post is a little bit of #tbt, also known as Throwback Thursday, or a day of looking back at something from the past. I have posted it before, although so long ago I forget when! It is a good reminder on our second day of Lent. May we all pray for one another.)

We all know where the pathways of our desert journey are leading, and annually many of us set out again, in search of change and transformation. The road ahead is difficult, but we press on, over and over again, following Jesus. Stepping into the wilderness, we proceed into a place that appears barren and lacking hope. Each day carries us into the wilds, the challenges, the struggles. Tempted again and again, we make our way to the Cross. There can be no resurrection without a crucifixion. And what sense would a crucifixion make if there were no resurrection? These questions stay with us, but for now, early in the pilgrimage, we place one foot before the other, praying for our souls and our very being to be at last made more whole in Christ.

This is the road ahead. Let us go forth, praying for one another.

Ash Wednesday

Ash_WednesdayToday is Ash Wednesday, Lent begins. Our readings are once again, very clear; this is not the first or the last time we will hear these words in our lives.

Maybe we can walk together this Lent, and help each other to stay on the path? Let’s explore that through one point from each element of today’s Scriptures.

From the Book of Joel:

“Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.”

Return. Whole heart. Heart, not garments. Can we, a people who live in a culture focused so intensely on the exterior, truly do the interior work of God? We are faced with a challenge because we receive many mixed messages, influencing the kind of lives we choose to live. Even if we are focused on God, many of us avoid fasting, weeping, and mourning. Maybe we can ask ourselves these questions to guide our Lenten journey, as we choose to live differently – even if only for these 40 days.

  1. What does fasting mean to us? Do we get caught up in fasting from food or Facebook, but forget to fast from inner elements of life, such as busyness, desire for productivity, a drive for success? Or from simply trying to be “more holy.” (Whatever that means!)
  2. How do we “rend our hearts?” Are we willing to tear open our hearts in order that we might truly change? Or better yet, allowing God into our open hearts so that God may change us?

From Psalm 51:

“A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me

Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me”

  1. Here we are with hearts again. What does it mean to have a clean heart? Where does our own willingness emerge? Or lack of it?
  2. What would it mean to have the Holy Spirit taken away?

From 2 Corinthians:

“Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.”

  1. Can we experience God’s invitation in every moment?
  2. How can we enter into the present moment as the acceptable time? Which means every moment!
  3. Are we afraid of the door closing, or an offer with an “expiration date?”

From the Gospel of Matthew:

“And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

  1. With this sentiment appearing three times in the Gospel, how do we understand our relationship with God?
  2. Are we fearful or hopeful of how we will be repaid? Do we think of it at all?

 

These are just a few questions that I will be praying with as we begin Lent. It is easy to get caught up in our own perceptions, but perhaps we can pray for one another to live these and other questions, and to trust God to lead us on this Lenten journey. And maybe that is the key to moving ahead – consider this a journey. There are “luggage limits” if we pay attention, there is wisdom to not making emotional pack mules of ourselves. Oh how easy to say, how hard to do. I can’t do this alone, I need God and I need you.

Shall we go? Shall we go together with Jesus? The desert beckons, let us set forth!

The steadfast shepherd of Santiago Atitlán

 

-1The path to sainthood consists of many steps. One of those steps to make sure that the person’s life story and cause is well known. Up until now, you may have never heard of Father Stanley Rother, but based on the wonderful new book, The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run, Father Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma, I hope and pray that will change!

My own involvement with this project began some time ago. Catholic journalist and author María Ruiz Scaperlanda told me that she was writing a book about Father Rother. This caught my attention because a priest that I know went to seminary with Fr. Rother, so I was familiar with him. One thing led to another and this provided me with the opportunity for me to connect Maria to Father Tom Connery to further her research.

So who was Stanley Rother? This book will sweep you away as Continue reading

Lent Resource Reviews

7056_ImportantUpdateIMPORTANT UPDATE… please take note!
It has come to my attention that even though Amazon is offering Not By Bread Alone. The page for the book says that it is out of stock, will ship later – but they are NOT selling the book. Please go to the Liturgical Press website to order!

That got me thinking, what if that is also the case for Sacred Space for Lent? It also shows as out of stock. Anyway, that can be ordered via the Loyola Press website.

If you visit the Ave Maria Press website you will find Sacred Reading for Lent and the Living Gospel.

And how could I have forgotten two important resources? I did! One is absolutely free – go to the USCCB Daily Readings page to sign up for an email of each day’s Scriptures. Video reflections are also offered and can be found here.

Last but not least, I highly recommend a subscription to Give Us This Day. Yes I have a bias, I do write for them, but before that day ever dawned, I was a charter subscriber. Go have a look at their subscription page, you can even request a free sample.

 

Lent-631x295While it was my hope to have had this post out earlier, here it is at last! Lent begins on February 10, a little more than two weeks away. As has been my custom, I would like to offer up some ideas for your Lenten prayers and reflection.

Sometimes we feel too busy for Lent, but most of these resources are small enough to put in a pocket or purse, and are short enough for brief periods of prayer. The idea is not to add stress, but to create spaces, however “small” they may seem, to invite the peace of God into our lives. At Lent we truly are on a “journey” through the desert, as we make our way towards Easter. It is good to have one or more resources to accompany us – maybe think of these books as road maps pointing us toward the Triduum.

In no particular order, I present to you:

While it was my hope to have had this post out earlier, here it is at last! Lent begins on February 10, a little more than two weeks away. As has been my custom, I would like to offer up some ideas for your Lenten prayers and reflection.

Sometimes we feel too busy for Lent, but most of these resources are small enough to put in a pocket or purse, and are short enough for brief periods of prayer. The idea is not to add stress, but to create spaces, however “small” they may seem, to invite the peace of God into our lives. At Lent we truly are on a “journey” through the desert, as we make our way towards Easter. It is good to have one or more resources to accompany us – maybe think of these books as road maps pointing us toward the Triduum.

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In no particular order, I present to you: Continue reading

Unlikely, unimaginable, unexpected

© Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

© Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Today is Epiphany. Yes, this feast of the church was celebrated on Sunday, but today is the traditional date, 12 days after Christmas. The name of this feast comes from the Greek, Ἐπιφάνεια – Epiphania, also also referred to by some as theophany. Ultimately all these words mean revelation, vision, manifestaion or vision of God.

God is everywhere of course, waiting to be discovered, seen, noticed, and embraced. We tend to avoid eye contact, averting our glance as we cloak our hearts, as if to put a medical mask upon them. After all, we might “catch” something. *sigh*

Today, may we all pay attention and look around. May God be made manifest in all of the most unlikely places,  unimaginable forms, and unexpected people today and always. Consider where will you discover Christ this day.

Blessings of the Feast of the Epiphany! Here is a short (5ish minutes) video clip from the 2006 movie The Nativity Story. I really loved the representation of the Magi in this film.

What should we do?

He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” -Mark 6:37

Why doesn’t God take care of…. go ahead, fill in the blank – there are many questions. We all have them – at least if we’re honest we acknowledge that we do. Maybe we pretend we don’t wonder why God is not taking care of something that seems obvious to us. Already the flaws in THAT kind of interpretation are very clear. Even those who were closest to Jesus had questions. In today’s Gospel from Mark  Jesus clearly Continue reading