Thursday, December 31, 2009

Do we go to Church because it is the New Year?

This is really just a reminder....the 1st day of January is a holy day of obligation to honor our Blessed Mother, Mary Most Holy. Mary is the Patroness of the Americas and it is on January 1st that we celebrate and honor her as such. For us, the Church, she was the one, true Ark of the Covenant. With her yes to God and His will for her, she bore our Salvation to fruition.

I think about how she must have worried about raising Jesus and that responsibility she had. Did she worry that she had done an adequate job as a mother to God the Son. Can you imagine the panic when she realized the child she bore for God was left in Jerusalem. I lost my little girl in the mall once and my first, flash thought was, 'I have to tell her father, please help me find her.' Of course I did, but that feeling of panic was overwhelming.

Another reason Mary is so important to us is because she was given to us, as Church, from the Cross. When Jesus designated John as the son to care for Mary He was saying, followers this is your Mother now, take care of her. She became the giver and caretaker of the Church. It would be Mary who would intervene for us to the Father. You know how that is, whenever you did something wrong as a child, who did you go to, she could break the news to dad and help soften the blow.

Mary is such an incredible role model for women. Mary was perfect mother and wife and a wonderful example to young girls on living a chaste life of virtue. We have so much to be thankful for when it comes to the gifts given to us as Church. As we welcome in the New Year and ponder all those resolutions, let's remember all we have to be thankful for and to offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God the Father for all He has bestowed on us.

Happy New Year and many blessings for you and yours!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Heaven has been graced with a saint and this one needs no declaration.

As most of you know by now, my husband's mother died this past Sunday, the Feast of the Holy Family. I would be remiss if I did not give a place in my musings and thoughts to this incredible Catholic woman. Gloria, or Memaw, as she was so lovingly known was a gracious lady, and a true Catholic, not only by nature but by faith.

Actually the words do not do her the justice she so deserves. Gloria taught me what it means to be a woman of faith when being a wife and a mother. This is not to take from what my own mother has shown me or taught me, but Gloria impacted my life at a time I was wanting to learn and I was open to listening to the lessons she had to share. She taught me about giving in a marriage that was not always going to seem fair, she showed me a loving patience when giving so unselfishly to children. As Marie told Debra (from an episode of Everybody loves Raymond) "we are mothering". Gloria was mothering. Gloria was the Catholic wife and mother. I found that I wanted to be like she had become. She was gracious, loving and giving. She was a lady and I wanted to be just like her. I miss her terribly. I am not the only one.

Years ago we noticed a change in her behavior and found she was diagnosed with the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease. The family made loving, yet difficult decisions with regard to her care and she has been in a wonderful facility in Memphis for several years. We began to miss her many years ago, but her spirit remained with us whenever we visited. Several years ago I wrote a paper arguing that the brain is not the mind. I wrote this paper with Gloria in mind. Gloria was so much more than the physical body we watched deteriorate, her spirit, that soul gifted by God was still alive and full of life. Her 'self' was inside that shell and she still loved and was loved by those who cared for her. I remember her daughter saying once that now since her children were grown she could travel and enjoy her mother, she would not be able to. It seemed so unfair. A friend, a mom was lost to us.
There are so many memories I could share. I will always remember that glorious smile and the fact that she loved to sing. She loved music. It is with sadness that I realize there will be no music.... I know she will be singing up in heaven and enjoying the beautiful music of the angels. Gloria sat only after everyone else sat. She served others , she was our 'Martha', always tending to the needs of those around her. She was happy doing it, she loved caring for her family. I miss her terribly.

This is when we must realize we are not of this world, we are God's. Gloria was always one of God's. She can now be with Him where she was meant to be. I hope that Heaven is all she hoped it would be and more, I pray she is praying for us for I know we have been graced with a saint. Saint Gloria Jeanette, pray for us!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What does this birth mean?

"...and the word was made flesh and dwelt among us..."

Next to the Resurrection, the miracle of the Incarnation is one the great mysteries of our faith. When Elizabeth spoke those words to Mary, "who am I that the Mother of our Lord should come to me", any one of us could have spoken those words. God has come to us, each one of us, to show us the way to new life. He came to show us that as human beings, which Christ was fully, we too can live a holy life. I always thought that was some sort of rhetoric cliche when I heard that God humbled himself to become a man. The reason for that was because I didn't know what those words meant, what the impact those words had on me as a creature of God.

I have come to understand that God so wants me to be like Him. At our Baptism, the invisible reality of the signs of the water, the Chrism oil, the white garment, the candle, it all points to our being made in God's image. As we look upon the Christ child in our manger scenes, think about the invisible reality of this visible child and the consequences this will mean for us as human beings. We are called to make intelligent choices, we are called to rise above the animalistic behavior that is instinctual and look out for our well-being and those around us. When we approach Jesus in the Sacrament of the Altar, let us worship and adore, then let us remember, He became like us to remove our sin, He became like us to show us...

...'Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing, O Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord'

Monday, December 21, 2009

are we there yet?

How many times have we heard that question or asked it ourselves? I wonder if Mary asked it of Joseph after many days on the road to Bethlehem, riding on a donkey, very pregnant and anxious to boot. As we have heard in the readings Mary has been visited by an angel and has visited with Elizabeth. The misconceptions as to the child's father has been cleared up and now Joseph and Mary have set out on the road to Bethlehem. Much has happened to these two in a short time, their stress scale would be through the roof. Maybe though not so much....
They were such devoted people, to the Lord and to each other. Think of the words Mary uttered to the angel, Gabriel, " it done unto me according to thy word." What incredible words of trust. I wish I could be so trusting. I question everything and I am so controlling. This is something I pray about often, to trust in the Lord's plan for me and to let go and let God. I know that sounds so cliche but there is something to that. I am forever giving advice to people to take it to the chapel and let God handle it, I could be more accommodating of my own advice. There are times when I do Know God is leading me in a direction that I can follow and He gives me the means to be in control. He knows me so well.
This last week of Advent as we continue to get ourselves ready for the joyful hope of the coming of the Lord, I pray that we all can be more trusting in what the Lord has in store for us and to say that 'yes' to Him more often. I hope you all have a blessed and exciting week as you get ready to welcome Jesus into your hearts and homes.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

why throw in a pink? we wait in joyful hope...

The time is drawing near. We are waiting joyfully for the coming of Christ. As John the Baptist put it to the people, our salvation is at hand, repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand, make straight your path. I love this time of year. It is really getting exciting. Everyday the house becomes more festive, the music gets a little louder, the smells of cakes and cookies baking fill the air.

This weekend we light the pink candle in the Advent wreath. The pink candle is truly a rose color that represents the joy of our salvation. It is the penitential joy we feel as we truly wait in joyful hope. We've been preparing and getting ready, now as we perform works of mercy and kindnesses for others we take joy and delight in the happiness we bring to others. As we cleanse our souls from sinfulness we feel the joy of the burdens lifted from our hearts and celebrate the coming of Christ into our lives.

Rejoice in the spirit of Christmas, the gift of Christ to one another. But don't forget to let Christ come into you. Accept the gift God meant for you, the joy of salvation brought by the birth of His only Son, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What do the candles mean again?

It is the second Sunday of Advent and today we here about a simple man with a simple message, 'prepare the way of the Lord". The country of Israel is a political mess, look who's in charge, Herod, a tyrant if ever there was one, Caesar, well...we won't go there, Pilate a Governor, who knew his hands were tied as far as his political power of being in 'charge' was concerned. The people were starving for some SPIRITUAL direction. Can we relate? In many ways we can.

Our secular government has thrown God to the wayside and our Church is fighting tooth and nail to protect all human beings' rights from birth to the disabled to natural death. Our Church is in the business of saving souls, it's not about the feeling good of this world that will pass away. When will we get this through our heads? Only God knows and He is doing His best through the prophets He has given us of this day. I suppose that is what we use this Advent season for, to listen to the prophets of our time to remind us of the preparation we need to get ourselves ready.

I read that this second Sunday of Advent is a week of Faith. We need to have the faith of Mary and Joseph. They were visited by an angel to tell them something absolutely incredible. Mary would have a child of God, Himself no less, and was to accept this. Joseph was to go with the flow and accept this child as his and love Mary, no matter what. Now that is faith, could we do as well? Talk about your reality show and fodder for gossip. But what incredible news they had and yes they accepted this with such faith. We could be so blessed. As a matter of fact we are blessed. We are given the opportunity to receive Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist everyday. It is our faith that opens this opportunity up for us. We believe that Jesus is truly present to us in the Sacrament. We prepare by going to confession, giving of ourselves to others, and carrying on Jesus' mission of loving others.

This Advent as we wait in joyful hope let us remember that it is our faith that gives us hope for a better life in Christ, to not give up on our secular society, to continue to pray for the conversion of those that have lost all hope, and to continue to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Get ready!