Reflections

Remain at the Foot of the Cross

There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not bear with us. And on the far side of every cross we find the newness of life in the Holy Spirit, that new life, which will reach its fulfillment in the Resurrection. This is our faith. This is our witness before the world.”- St. John Paul II

   We all have our crosses to bear—in our sicknesses, in our families, in our jobs, in our retirement years, in the challenges of everyday life. Jesus is calling from the cross- “Remain with my mother Mary at the foot of the cross.” It is with Mary that we can endure our sufferings.

   “Whenever I meditate on Your sufferings Jesus, my own become less heavy.”--The Stations of the Cross by Immaculee Ilibagiza.

   Mary continues to take my hand and led me to the foot of the cross each day. When I meditate on Jesus' sufferings, I am strengthened to endure my own crosses. When I look at Mary watching her son go through unbearable suffering, it helps me to know that I am not alone.

   But how easy I forget to remain at the foot of the cross with Mary. I try and flee from my crosses but Mary gently takes my hand and brings me back to the foot of the cross. I was meditating on how to remain at the foot of the cross, and I thought that perhaps if I super-glued myself to the foot of the cross I would have no choice but to stay with Jesus and Mary. I smiled at that thought! Yet another way is to ask the Holy Spirit to keep me holding on to Jesus no matter what is going on in my life. The Holy Spirit does a much better job than super-glue.

   “I desire, through your Passion Jesus, to see the example You wish to give me for how I may live my life, especially in difficult times.”

Let us Pray: “We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God's little surprises

 

   As I entered the Cathedral Saturday morning for 9 am Mass, I greeted Ruth who was holding her baby boy in her arms and tagging right behind her was her charming little girl.

 

   Ruth and her little ones took the pew in front of me. Mass began; then her little girl began wiggling and informed mom she had to go to the bathroom. Ruth handed me her baby and asked if I could hold him for a few minutes. I was delighted. It has been a long time since I held a baby in my arms. 

   Her baby in my arms warmed my heart to overflowing. I really needed this simple touch from the Holy Spirit through this precious child of God.

 

    I thanked Ruth for allowing me to hold her baby. I shared with her that I really needed this gentle touch of God's love through her beautiful baby boy.

 

    After Mass I got in line for confession. Holding this precious baby in my arms, opened my heart to the Holy Spirit. I began to make an examination of conscience.

   During my confession, I was able to share with the confessor that I was struggling with some looming depression that seemed to be trying to enter my life. I know that it was the Holy Spirit because I had no intention of sharing this with the confessor. He gave me some real practical suggestions. My burden became lighter. “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.” Psalm 149: 4

 

    God is always gifting us with these little surprises if we are open to the Holy Spirit promptings. I desire to practice the presence of the Holy Spirit in each moment of each day so as not to miss those little surprises of God's grace and healing.

 

 Let Us Pray: Come Holy Spirit fill me with your presence in this moment.

 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love. Zephaniah 3:17

 

 

 

 

Trying to put a square peg into a round whole

   When Isaiah 22: 19-23 was read at Mass on Sunday, the last verse stayed with me throughout the day: “I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot to be a place of honor for his family.”

   I pondered how God created each of us unique and beautiful as it says in Psalm 139: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

  God created me to fit perfectly like a peg in a sure spot. Unfortunately for many years I was trying to force myself to fit my square self into a round whole. I tried to live up to my expectations and other people's expectations of me. I was always silently comparing myself to others. If only I could sing like my friend. If only I could speak eloquently like my other friends. If only my marriage could be like my friend's marriage and on and on. I spent a lot of years trying to be someone that I am not. I ended up miserable.

  Over time the Holy Spirit showed me that God created me with unique qualities and talents. He created each of us with unique qualities and talents. Once I embraced the truth that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, my perception of myself changed dramatically. I ask God to show me how I could serve Him with the gifts that He knit together in my mother's wombs.

  When I was a child I was very shy and timid and was scared to death to talk in front of people. As an adult I began asking Jesus to be my strength and be my courage. “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self control.” 2 Timothy 1:7. Today I can speak up and talk in front of people because Jesus is my strength and my courage.

  Instead of being someone I am not, I surrender and allow God to continue to form me into the person that He created me to be. It is then that life becomes an awesome adventure of discovery. I joyfully try to live His Words: He will fix me like a peg in a sure spot...

 

 

Because He Lives

   Last Sunday, as I was returning to my pew after receiving Jesus, I closed my eyes and quietly began my time with my God and my Lord. In my mind, I saw the Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalene and St. John walking towards me. Our Blessed Mother took my hand and quietly said, Come follow us. They led me to the foot of the cross. There I saw my crucified Lord suffering so. To see Jesus in such pain and agony, took my breath way as tears flowed down my face.

 

   Our Blessed Mother whispered, Jesus has accomplished it all for you. He has redeemed you. It is finished. Stay at the foot of the cross always. Every time you receive Jesus go to the foot of the cross.

As I was gazing upon my crucified Jesus, I looked to the side and saw my family coming to the cross. I saw countless members of my family both past and present kneel down before the cross. Again our Blessed Mother whispered, It is accomplished. Jesus has redeemed all of your family. Stay at the foot of the cross. It is here all will be purified and sanctified.

 

With tears in my eyes, I whispered, My God how I love you my Jesus.

 

   We need the sure security of Jesus Christ crucified ever before us because life is so unpredictable and things can change in an instant. We need to receive often Jesus in the Eucharist so we can be anchored in Him in the midst of the many challenges and storms facing us each day.
As I continue to reflect on this interior vision, the words from a beautiful song entitled: Because He Lives burst forth from my heart.

 

Let Us reflect on the words from this song: God sent His son, they called Him Jesus. He came to love, heal and forgive. He lived and died to buy my pardon. An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow; because He lives, all fear is gone; because I know He holds the future and life is worth living, just because He lives.... Amen.

 

You can click on the link below and listen to this touching song: (Just hold down the control key and the link will open)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPW9xYEyijQ

 

 

 

When Life Happens....

   This past Spring and beginning of Summer, I have been busy, pulling weeds, preparing the soil in the garden and planting seeds to be kept in the greenhouse until the warmer weather. It is a labor of love with some physical challenges.

   The little vegetable plants were blossoming and growing each day in the greenhouse and becoming ready to be planted in the garden. Then something happen to the tiny plants.

   Life Happened! The squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and zucchini's leaves began to turn yellow. I began going through the list of possible reasons—too much water, too little water, too much sun not enough sun. But I finally came to the conclusion the little innocent plants were apparently attacked by a squash bug or some kind of fungus who feasted on the leaves daily.

   By the time I could put together a rescue mission, many of the plants were beyond rescuing. I was really disappointed as I had cared for the little plants just like a mother cares for her babies. I decided to plant the ones that seemed like they might survive. Perhaps with warm sunlight, fresh air, water, a good sprinkling of Miracle Grow and a pray or two, some might survive.

   Unfortunately all the zucchini and the cucumber plants didn't make it. Some of the pumpkins and acorn squash look like they might survive the squash bug epidemic.

   I was fusing and fuming about the plants for a few days, when in prayer the Holy Spirit nudged me to accept what is and go buy some more plants. You know those sayings—don't cry over spilled milk; when life hands you a lemon make lemonade. It was a simple solution.

   Now I will probably have some yummy cucumbers, zucchini and pumpkins later this Summer and Fall. I am still caring for the little sick plants in the hope that perhaps they will make it, but now I have a back up plan.

   I was reflecting on this little gardening experience thinking that life is a lot like gardening. You don't know what you are going to get. You suit up and show up, pray, surrender and hope.

   When life throws me a curve ball, I sometimes want to wallow in “wow is me” and feel sorrow for myself. But I have a choice to process through the loss and learn from the “lemon” experience or I can stay stuck in my yuck.

   I also know I am anchored in Jesus Christ and nothing shall shack my inner calm regardless of curve balls coming my way. How do I remain anchored to the Rock of my salvation? Through daily pray, reading Scripture, Mass, surrendering and trusting in Jesus each day.

   Today, regardless of what is happening in our lives, let us meditate on these words from Isaiah 12:2-3:

God indeed is my Savior. I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my Savior forever and ever. Amen.

Praise be Jesus!

Hope for our World

   I've been on a pilgrimage these last 33 days. It began when my friend Margaret Ann and I decided to renew our consecration to Mary through the book, 33 days to Morning Glory by Father Michael Gaitley. We have renewed this consecration for a few years now. Each time I participate in the renewal of the Marian Consecration, I grow a little more closer to Mary and this also means that I fall in love a little more with Jesus.

   I shared with Our Blessed Mother since I am not able to go to Fatima on a pilgrimage, perhaps I still could journey with her these 33 days.

   On Friday, the pilgrimage with Mary brought me to St. Andrew's Catholic School to join the children, parents, grandparents and friends to participate in a May crowning and a special Mass to honor Our Blessed Mother.

   It was the first time since I was a child that I had been to a May crowning. It brought back so many precious memories. As a little girl I fondly remember how special it was to honor our Mother Mary with a procession and placing a beautiful rose crown on her head.

    As I entered the gym at St. Andrew's School where the Mass was to be held, I was invited to take a flower so I too, could participate in the procession. My heart was filled with joy to see the children ages from kindergarten to high school all dressed in their very attractive uniforms. The children were filled with excitement and child-like wonder.

   The Mass began with singing songs to Mary. The sounds of children's voices filled the room which felt like scented roses falling gently from heaven. Father Bart asked each of us to offer up a sacrifice for Mary as we placed our flower on her altar. It was very simple but deeply touching.

    I so appreciate the parents of these children who have sacrificed much to give their children the gift of a Catholic education at St. Andrews. They are giving their children a firm Catholic foundation so that they can become strong, moral adults. These children are the hope of the future. Pope Francis said: “To Christians the future does have a name and the name is Hope.”

    Saturday morning, as my pilgrimage continued, I participated in a special Mass in honor of the May 13 feast day of Our Lady of Fatima celebrated by Father Bart. Following the Mass, Father invited us to consecrate ourselves to Mary by reciting the special prayer of St. Louis de Montfort.

    Father Bart asked us to take away three things from this celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions and to incorporate them into our lives each day:

  • Do Penance—make little sacrifices for the reparation of sin in our world.

  • Pray the Rosary for peace in our hearts, homes, and in the world.

  • Renew our devotion to Saint Joseph because he is our great intercessor along with Mary for our family and the world.

    At noon on Saturday, found me in front of our State Capitol along with many fellow travelers also on this pilgrimage with Mary. It was a very chilly, windy day, but as soon as we began to pray the Rosary, the wind died down some what while the sun was trying to break through the dense clouds. The Holy Spirit's peace filled the air and warmed each of our hearts.

    What a beautiful pilgrimage. Yet the pilgrimage is not ended for me but my heart is renewed with greater hope for peace in my family and in our world.

   The pilgrimage for each us continues with Mary each day as she continues to bring us closer to her son Jesus through the powerful pray of the Rosary. Each time we participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we have the great honor to receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet. I can't quite wrap my mind around this. It just doesn't get any better than this, at least this side of Heaven. Amazing!

    Thank you Mary for walking with me on this pilgrimage to the Sacred Heart of Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Let Us Pray:

You have changed my mourning into dancing, O Lord, and have girded me with joy.” Come Holy Spirit, living in Mary....Renew the face of the earth so that all creation may return to God. Amen. (33 days to Morning Glory)

To find out more about Our Lady of Fatima check out: https://www.americaneedsfatima.org/

Open my Heart and my Mind

    I try and read the daily Mass readings. Many times its just words that I am reading and the words don't penetrate my mind or my heart. I easily forget what I read minutes later. But today as I was reading the Gospel the following passage began to take on a deeper meaning for me:“Then Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Luke 24:45.

   If I desire to understand the Word of God, I must ask the Holy Spirit to open my mind and my heart to grasp what God is saying to me this day. Our God desires to talk to us and to shower us with his words of wisdom, counsel, strength and knowledge.

   It is such a simple prayer to invite the Holy Spirit but it helps to grasp the meaning of the passage. It makes such a difference in my quiet time when I ask the Holy Spirit to open my heart and my mind. When I invoke the Holy Spirit to come into my prayer time, the Lord does grant me a time of refreshment as it says in the book of Acts: that time of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.....Acts 3:20.

   Before the Word is proclaimed at Mass or we begin to read Scripture, let us remember to invite the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and our minds so that we can better understand the Scriptures and how they apply to our lives right now.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2

 Let us Pray:

Come, Holy Spirit open my heart and my mind that I may know you more intimately in Your Word today.

My Plan Verses God's Plan

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

 How is your Lent going? We are almost into Holy Week. We are just days away from the completion of Lent.

Every year I make a list of things I would like to accomplish during Lent. I do pray about it and I do ask God if that is His plan for my Lenten journey this year. I decided that I would try and go to daily Mass more if possible. I made a commitment to go Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Friday's at the Cathedral. I also decided to spend more quiet time in meditating on Scripture. These were all attainable goals and I was committed to them with God's grace.

Then life happened. My little plans were turned upside down in one day. My knee decided to go out on me. I honestly don't remember hurting it. It was very painful and I ended up in the Emergency Room and put into a knee stabilizer until I could get into the Orthopedic doctor. My little Lenten plans and my little world were turned upside down in an instant.

I surrendered my plan to Jesus asking Him what now? I decided to offer up this little knee suffering and unite it to Jesus' passion for those who are most in need of God's mercy. I realized there are so many people who are suffering so much more than my little suffering and I am given an opportunity to pray for those suffering.

I was forced to give up my plans and enter into to His plan just for today. I also had to surrender my self-reliance and ask for help. I am bull-headed and I don't like asking for help. My husband began to take care of me with so much kindness and love. He took over the household chores which included walking our dog Annie. I was deeply humbled and touched by his tender care for me. I keep thanking him over and over again. I was able to spend a lot of quiet time meditating on Scripture and doing the little Lent Bible study. I found myself looking forward to this quiet time. I finally realized that God was given me the grace just for today to embrace this time and to see the beautiful blessings emerging each day.

I am realizing that God's will for me during this Lent is fasting from busyness—always doing, always on the move. To truly know that Jesus is whispering to me: “Be Still and Know That I am God.”

Psalm 46: 10

I am enjoying this peaceful, quiet time and I have no need to grumble or complain because I know this is God's will for me right now. I also know that by surrendering my self-reliance and pride and asking for help, it has blessed my husband's life. He commented that he loves walking our dog Annie and feels so good about it. Through this knee injury God's grace has brought us closer together.

I know with physical therapy and God's healing, I will be up and going again. However, I want to continue to fast from too much busyness and spend more and more time enjoying God's grace in the now moments of my life.

As I accept my situation as it is, God's grace is sustaining me day by day.

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation "some fact of my life" unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” ― Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous - Big Book

 

Cutting Off Your Limbs

   I was reflecting on the passage from Mark's Gospel in which Jesus talks about temptation and sin: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”

   As I meditated on Jesus words, I pictured myself missing some vital limbs such as my hand, my foot, my eye. Not a picture of wholeness that's for sure; but a picture of a broken soul going through life crippled and maimed because of sin.

   Jesus doesn't sugar-coat sin and the seriousness of the consequences of sin in our lives. Sin deeply wounds the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He loves us so much that He desires all to repent and enter into His mercy. He waits for us to turn to Him even just a little; then you can almost see Jesus running towards you with open arms and rejoicing. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit shout from the roof tops with unspeakable joy: “Let us rejoice for this child that was lost has been found.”

    It doesn't matter where you've been or what you have done, or how long you've been away from Jesus, He whispers gently: Come to me. Jesus says, “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” Luke: 5. This is truly good news for you and for me.

   Jesus' mercy is so much bigger than our personal sins, family sins and our nations sins. Jesus is standing by the ocean of his mercy pointing to us; urging us to enter into His mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In this Sacrament of Love, gentle rays of mercy flow from Jesus' Sacred Heart removing our stony hearts and replacing it with His gentle, loving and strong heart. For God created us from nothing, He can recreate us. We do not have to go through life, crippled, maimed and broken, bogged down by our sin. For what sin destroys, Jesus recreates.

   Through His merciful forgiveness, Jesus fills us with joy, peace and hope so that we may know Him more intimately, love Him more deeply, and serve Him with great joy all the days of our lives.

I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all you idols. I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,taking from your body your stony heart and giving you a natural heart.” Exekiel: 36: 25-26

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Beckita | Reply 15.05.2017 07.49

Beautiful!

Jill | Reply 14.05.2017 10.08

Thank you, Connie, for coming to our May Crowning. It is always one of my favorite days at St. Andrew.

Beckita | Reply 20.04.2017 19.58

Amen, Connie. Beautiful!

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Latest comments

15.05 | 07:49

Beautiful!

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14.05 | 10:08

Thank you, Connie, for coming to our May Crowning. It is always one of my favorite days at St. Andrew.

...
20.04 | 19:58

Amen, Connie. Beautiful!

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11.01 | 09:30

Oh Connie! How I needed to read this today. Thank you and God Bless.

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