A life's story. Times gone by. The past. Memories.
Amazing where the time went. Wondering how much time is left.
Remembering what you used to be able to do. Realizing what you can no longer do.
It's nice to remember; it makes you smile. Yet it's sad to think about what's already past.
Going through storage areas and cleaning out closets is a daunting and exhilarating task. But it is good to de-clutter and simplify.
Perhaps we now have a little less of "life" and a little more of Hope.
"Also, every grain offering that is baked in an oven or made in a pan or on a griddle shall belong to the priest who offers it" - Leviticus 7:9
A traditional dessert from the northern Italian region of Piedmont, "panna cotta," which is Italian for "cooked cream," is molded sweetened cream thickened with gelatin.
This one is topped with chocolate drizzle and a candle sparkler.
Without a thickener and a mold, it would just be a liquid sauce in a dish. The candle would not be able to stand.
Thankfully, we are like panna cotta. We are thickened by life's events, sweetened by Love, and molded by the Spirit within us that makes our light sparkle for others to see.
Panna cotta is good. God is greater. Thanks be to God.
TAGS: Reflection, Story
Enjoy this poignant poem entitled "Christmas" by Sir John Betjeman, an English poet who studied under T. S. Eliot and C. S. Lewis. This poem is considered one of the greatest Christmas poems ever written.
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.
The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.
Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.
And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.
And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.
And is it true? And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?
And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,
No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could get a fresh new layer? A new start? A re-coating of yourself? To be able to strip off the old, scratch up the bad, and patch the holes definitely sounds enticing.
Sure, there could be some initial setbacks. You may "stink" for awhile. You may notice a few "tire tracks." You may even have "sticky shoes" for a bit. But it would be worth it.
Afterwards, you would look clean, you would last longer, and you would repel better. Your relationship with "traffic" would be smoother, safer and more congenial.
Maybe it's time for a change. Look at yourself, and then ask for God's grace to make you more fit for the road ahead.
Holy God, tear off my tattered ways, make all my rough edges smooth, and cover me with your protective coating. May Your grace regenerate, purify, arouse and strengthen me. Amen.
TAGS: Prayer, Reflection
The feast that we know of today as “All Saints Day” originated on 13 May in 609 AD, when Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III changed the date to November 1 when he dedicated a chapel at the Vatican in honor of all the saints, and Pope Gregory IV later extended this celebration of all saints, and their relics, to the universal church.
All Saints' Day is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church celebrated annually on November 1. The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. It should not be confused with All Souls' Day, which is observed on November 2, and is dedicated to those who have died and not yet reached heaven. Although millions, or even billions of people may already be saints, All Saints' Day observances tend to focus on known saints --that is those recognized in the canon of the saints by the Catholic Church.
We are surrounded by saints – a beautiful reminder they accompany us on our journey of faith. When we pray the Apostles’ Creed, we say, “I believe in…the communion of saints.” The communion of saints is made up of men and women who have placed their hope in Jesus Christ and through Baptism, are his adopted sons and daughters. Before his death, Saint Dominic said, “Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death, and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life.”
In a very special way, on the Solemnity of All Saints, not only can we pray to our favorite saints, but we can also call upon our departed brothers and sisters whom we believe are already with God.
Dear God, thank you for the example of the Saints. I desire to join in their company, worshiping you forever in Heaven. Please help me follow their footsteps. Amen.
TAGS: Prayer, Reflection
"But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." - Galatians 6:14
Set between a border of stones and green bushes, with a clump of wayward grass growing around it, there stands a single cross in the homeowner's front yard. Probably not meant to be decorative, there is most likely a meaning to its presence: at this time, in this location, for this homeowner. It could merely be a visible sign of a person's faith, a continual reminder of a life lost, a sign of hope, or some other significant meaning in the homeowner's mind and soul.
But with little reservation, there is most likely a meaning to its presence. Casual passersby can only surmise what the meaning could be, whereas the homeowner is fully aware of the reason for the placement of the single cross in their yard.
When Catholics see a cross, we overwhelmingly think about the abundant love of God who chose His Son to suffer and die for our salvation. While this single cross could have one meaning to one person and a different meaning to another person, we have to agree that it is not often that we find a single cross in a person's front yard.
Let us reflect on this single cross, found in an unobtrusive and unlikely location, and the meaning evoked within us when viewing it.
Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us the inconspicuous around us, and giving meaning to our visual enjoyment. Amen.
TAGS: Prayer, Reflection
As we approach the Feast Day of St. Padre Pio on September 23, we share an excerpt from a letter from Padre Pio to Maria Gargani* on December 10, 1917.
"My most beloved daughter, try to keep peace in your heart through a balance of moods…. Guard against finding a reason to upset yourself; in order to be able to submit your various moods when you are being tried. Do you know what religion is? It is the academy of perfection in which each soul must learn to allow itself to be handled, planed, and smoothed by the divine Spirit, when He also acts as a doctor of our souls so that, having been well planed and smoothed, they can be united and joined to the Will of God.
"The evident sign of perfection is that of being submissive to the Divine Will in the trials of the spirit. Religion is a hospital for the spiritually ill who wish to be cured, and in order to achieve this, they must submit themselves to bleeding, the lancet, the razor, some probing, surgical instruments, fire, and all the pains of medicine.
"O my daughter, do not give too much importance to what the enemy and your imagination suggest to you regarding your interior suffering and spiritual aridity, being sure that this is best for you. Lovingly, sweetly, and tenderly, make this resolution: either to die or be cured. And as you don’t want to die spiritually, try to be healed perfectly. And in order to be healed, desire to bear the treatment and correction of the Divine Doctor, and beseech Him not to spare you in anything in order to save you."
* Maria Gargani was an elementary school teacher, and an active member of Catholic Action and Third Order of St. Francis. With Padre Pio's approval, she founded the Sisters Apostles of the Sacred Heart. Padre Pio provided spiritual direction through the 67 letters he wrote to her between August 26, 1916 and May 16, 1923. Her process of canonization is currently underway.
The title above is a slogan often used in the recycling industry. Seems like it could be used in our everyday spiritual life as well.
For those times when you don't know which road to take, way to think, words to say, or thing to do, remember: "when in doubt, throw it out."
You have two choices. Would my thought, word, or deed fit more into the world's "bin," or in God's "bin"? God's "bin" is always the better choice when confronted with a perplexing situation. It is better to be safe than to cause adverse effects by following what others deem to be right.
Just like that plastic bag or plastic cup, without absolute knowledge of right versus wrong, simply make the inconclusive, but seemingly better, decision to follow the path of God and place the situation in His "bin".
God of unfathomable knowledge, lead me to always choose You. Amen.
TAGS: Prayer, Reflection
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash
"No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it." - 1 Corinthians 10:13
Do you ever feel like you have “information overload” or have been inundated with TMI (too much information)? It seems as though we can only take so much before we start “bursting at the seams.” Like this utility tower, we start spouting out in every direction, sometimes by laughing, crying, yelling, or some other outburst, in order to release the pressure building within us.
Remember that there will be occasions when God takes us through a time of correction and testing. When we respond the way He wants us to, and not the way we want to, He then brings us out of it and pours His blessings upon us. Many times we want the blessings of God without the testing and correction, but some impurities in our life will only come out with increased pressure. Don’t despise this happening. Look to God and allow Him to finish the work.
Glorious God, help me to see all situations as a blessing from You. When You give me more than I think I can handle, let me watch how You turn it into something much better than I could imagine. Amen.
TAGS: Prayer, Reflection
“Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart … “ – Joel 2:12
Too often, we approach Ash Wednesday with liturgical gloom and doom. It’s the “black sheep” of the family of dark solemnities in the liturgical calendar, failing even to garner status as a holy day of obligation. But when painted in this light, it’s easy to miss its beautiful invitation to claim our brokenness, embrace our vulnerability, and stand in solidarity with all those who do the same.
The difference between the good in us and the bad in us is sometimes frightfully thin. We so often fall short of the Faith we claim. We have treated people as things and we have treated things as if they were valuable people.
Lent is a season that reminds us to repent and get our lives centered, our priorities straight, and our hearts clean. This holy season offers us a new chance to say, "yes" to the Lover of our Souls who created us and who made us in his own image. Lent is the time for a restoration project that will reveal the beauty of God’s design for us, showing once again the scale, proportion, and priorities intended by our Maker.
Lent is a season of hope and with ashes on our foreheads and hope in our hearts, we go forth to love and serve. For by God’s grace in Christ, we do not have to stay the way we are.
God is ready to heal our woundedness, to make us more whole than ever before. Ash Wednesday is our call to make room for the divine dance to work its sacred magic within us.
Lover of my Soul, as I begin this year's Lenten Journey, turn my attention to the things that matter most to you. Amen.
TAGS: Prayer, Reflection
"Looking at little life moments with a spiritual eye."