Our Lady's Garden
Encountering the Mother of Mercy
July 20th, 2016
How does one prepare to meet the face of Mercy? If it is me, not well.
The most amazing things are often found behind a simple door, up a flight of steps. I met a simple door and began to wonder as I ascended the steps. Once I noticed bouquet after bouquet of roses at each windowsill, I started to pay attention. At the top of the flight of stairs I turned to see a couple in prayer.
Showing my Seams
July 7th, 2016
I am not sure where I heard the saying, but I use it a lot – “showing my seams.” I think the phrase was used by my husband’s Grandma Chris. I always love to hear a Grandma Chris’ saying.
They speak to me.
Showing your seams is about the seams that hold your clothes together and perhaps what holds you together. I love to sew and seams are fascinating to me. Although every seamstress appreciates the beauty of a perfect seam, they are not supposed to show, ever. Seams are made to be covered and go unnoticed. When I “show my seams” it means that I am showing my softest underside, I am vulnerable. It may mean that what is meant to be covered is exposed.
Yesterday, I was showing my seams figuratively and literally.
I had offered to made alterations to a dear friend’s daughter’s dress. The dress is for a special event and the daughter is 15 years young. This time in a girl’s life is delicate. We can all remember what it felt like to be growing up but not grown up, to be excited to dress up and be part of the excitement. The dress didn’t fit quite right and it was on honor and a privilege to alter it.
The bodice was the first issue. The decision of how to adjust it was a tough one and my mind worked on constantly until I developed a plan. It was a dangerous mission but once done, I was pleased with the outcome. The greatest difficulty was that the fabric was chiffon and any pin had the potential to snag or run the fabric. It was dangerous and I was scared.
Sewing always offers an opportunity for prayer. In a tight spot, I pray and ask for the intercession of my great grandmothers who sewed without patterns and inspire me. God is good and I sat back after sewing the seam by hand and evaluated my work. It was effective but it wasn’t pretty and in my haste to get the project started the color of thread didn’t match. Hmmm, I thought, “You have to buy the right color of thread for the hem, why didn’t you just wait to sew the seam?” It was a good question and I considered redoing once I had the correct thread.
The hem was going to be easy in comparison, or so I thought, so I took the time to finish a few other projects before starting this last alteration. This blog should have been called, WHO USED MY SCISSORS!, because someone did. My sewing scissors are off limits. Not to be used without permission, and then only on fabric. There is no doubt that someone used my scissors and that they now need to be sharpened. For this project, I needed more and with this dress being chiffon, lined with satin, continued the difficulty that any pin placed or scissor cut had the potential for running the fabric. This reality reduced my options. The rotary blade had the same issue so with fear and trembling I cut the length off the dress with the fabric slipping and sliding. By the time I was done, I feared damage was done so I hollered at one of my young daughter to try it on so I could decide what needed to be done. As Cecilia came out wearing the dress, I could see the benefits of the fitted bodice, her face was bright as she said, “Oh, this is a beautiful dress!” I realized that I had lost focus (again). That was the goal, that the dress would be a blessing. That when wore, the young lady would feel comfortable and pretty. No, the hem is not perfect, not by any standard. It is woggily and uneven because of the danger of pinning it, but it is done and ready for a beautiful evening. Between the dinner and the dancing, I don’t think anyone will notice the hem or the seams. I am sure she will have a wonderful time!
Have a beautiful day, seams and all!
Feed 'Em Yourself
June 19, 2016
Today’s first reading caught my attention,
“Thus says the LORD:
I will pour out on the house of David
and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem
a spirit of grace and petition;
and they shall look on him whom they have pierced,
and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son,
and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn . . .
On that day there shall be open to the house of David
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.” Zach 12: 10-11; 13:1
I love the book of Zachariah. This Old Testament prophecy speaks to the events that follow Our Lord’s death and it speaks to the out powering of the Holy Spirit in the early days of the Church. It also speaks to the Holy Spirit's role as He pours out blessings on The Church, His People, and the World. It should inspire us today. It speaks to our response as the people of God. There are a few bible stories that I have been thinking about; specifically, the stories of the feeding of the 5,000 and the question of the restoration of God’s Kingdom. *
The Feeding of the 5,000
After the death of John the Baptist, Jesus withdrew in a boat to a deserted place but the crowds found out and followed Him. When Jesus saw the people, He had pity on them. He cured the sick and taught them. It was a day the disciples thought was going to be different. Maybe they thought they were taking the day off. Maybe they were excited to be alone with Jesus. They had other plans . . .
It became evening and the disciples said, “enough is enough.” In an effort to make things “better”, better for themselves, better for Jesus, better for the people, his friends approached Him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.” Mat 14: 13-21
My humble translation – Be reasonable, Jesus. You have served enough today. Please, send these people away to take care of themselves. Jesus looks at them and says simply, “Feed them yourselves.”
WHAT? FEED THEM YOURSELVES?!
Is this what the disciples thought? Another Gospel has the disciples responding, “not with a year’s wages could one provide enough food to feed such a crowd.” Feed them yourselves - yea right. Then Jesus takes the donation of a small boy, a child, a child who was willing to give everything, a child who was not thinking about his needs. Jesus takes his bread, his fish and blesses them, multiplies them and send the apostles out to distribute what wasn’t possible. How did they feel, passing out Jesus’ blessings? Did they say “Your welcome.” 5,000 times. Did they begin to understand or did they stand back and wonder.
Ok, next story - The Ascension of Our Lord
The Apostles have been through a lot. They mourned His Death. They grieved their lack of courage, their denial, and their brokenness in the face of the Jesus’ arrest, torture and death. They spent time considering and perhaps questioning everything they had come to believe about Jesus. Just when they were ready to go back to their old way of life, “Where did I put that net?” Jesus visits them. It had to have been a roller coaster of emotions for 40 Days. The Apostles have seen so much and yet they have no idea what is going to happen next. They still have their notions about how things a supposed to be. Before He ascended up to Heaven they asked Him,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
“Are you going to restore the Kingdom?” It was a good question. Did the Apostles think that the fight against evil was over and with a wave of His hand Jesus would restore Israel and sin would no longer reside in the hearts of men. Did they think that their lives would become easier? In today’s Gospel Reading Jesus says,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9: 23-24
That’s today, tomorrow, and the next day. Was Jesus’ answer, “Do it yourself”? Just like the feeding of the 5,000, the answer of restoring the Kingdom of God is the same – It’s our job and the job of The Church.
During the time of Christ, the people kept wondering, “Who is this man who forgives sins.” They argued, “What authority do you have to forgive sins.” Yet, time and time again, He demonstrated His power. In response, He said, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” Luke 5:23. Jesus has the power over sin and death and He gave that power to the Apostles, the Early Church Fathers. The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ and we are here to do Christ’s Will. We are His Hands and His Feet. It is time to get to roll up our sleeves, get to work, and believe what the first reading's prophesy.
“On that day there shall be open to the house of David
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.”
Zechariah’s words speak to the gifts waiting to be given. The Church is The Fountain. We, as members of The Church, have a vital role in bringing Christ to the World. If you see a need, provide what you can. The Church in her wisdom even gave us a list.
Corporal Works of Mercy
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Clothe the naked
- Shelter the homeless
- Visit the sick
- Visit the imprisoned
- Bury the dead
Spiritual Works of Mercy
- Counsel the doubtful
- Instruct the ignorant
- Admonish sinners
- Comfort the afflicted
- Forgive offenses
- Bear wrongs patiently
- Pray for the living and the dead
There are people in your neighborhood who are lonely, stop by and say hello. There are kids who are struggling in their faith, smile and tell them how happy you are to see them in church. There are needs everywhere, pray and do something. The joy will be true and the blessings will be abundant.
May God bless us in our work. Jesus, We Trust in You!
*Disclaimer, these ideas are not mine: I have had the blessing of listening to a number of speakers offered by Lighthouse Communications and I have been reading much. Recently, our parish had an amazing mission with a Priest of Mercy who was commissioned by Pope Francis to take the message of this Year of Mercy to the world. I can’t even identify where my ideas come from anymore but I know, for a fact, that they are not mine. Thank you for understanding.
June 7th, 2016
Love is Moving!
Every trip a Pilgrimage make . . .
In between First Friday, First Saturday, Sunday Mass hundreds of miles lay. I am on a road trip!
How much fun it is to travel and celebrate Mass in different places. It gives me great hope for the future of the Church, hope for our children, hope for our world and each of these three days offered a unexpected blessing.
First Friday was wonderful and I spent it at a St. Patrick's Cathedral, I was able to walk through yet another Golden Door of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. I was a few minutes late for the Noon Mass and afraid I was going to miss the whole thing. It was beautiful, full of people of different ages, families, momas with little ones. One three-year-old girl with golden curls began the Sign of Peace in the back of the church with her mom. Soon, she visited everyone with a smile and a handshake and almost made it onto the altar to shake the Priest’s hand when scooped by her fast moving moma. She made every life brighter that day.
During this brief 12:15 Mass, time seemed to stand still as everyone stood and sang the Holy, Holy, Holy. Church should offer a respite from the world. It is place to bind our wounds, join in praise, and experiences the Presence of God. What an amazing way to begin the first of my next 9 First Fridays. God is Good!
The next day, I celebrated First Saturday in my childhood parish. What joy to see the stained glass of my youth and memories flooded my senses. It was also my blessing to have two of my kids, young adults, with me. I don’t think there is greater pride when I made the offer to attend Saturday Morning Mass and was met with. “Yes!” If you haven’t experienced the faith of our young people, let me encourage you to take notice. Their faith will preserve the church and certainly the world is in need of them.
May God bless them, give them courage, and our encouragement!
Finally, Sunday Mass brought me to a small community where hospitality was truly felt. From a welcome at the front door to the final Amen, the community of Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church in Lead, South Dakota knows how to share the joy of Christ. The music in this small church was remarkable; but more important it was passionate. Everything about the Mass spoke to the compassionate, unconditional love for God. It felt like the doors were thrown open to Christ! May each parish be so welcoming and loving. At offertory time, the priest bent low with a basket in hand, and little ones brought their gift to him at the alter.
It was beautiful!
What touched me about all of these parishes was how the call of Pope Francis has been embraced. Each had their unique way to celebrate and remind us that this is a Jubliee Year. Each parish offered a prayer for the Jubilee of Mercy. One had a display t explained its “Golden Door" and an invitation and the opportunity to enter. One displayed a fine Jubilee banner and another offered the prayer card to all enter.
All three parishes valued music and whether it was a daily or Sunday Mass their celebration was joyful. Individuals found ways to share their talent and together offered songs of praise. Shouldn’t we sing like children do? Shouldn’t we join our voices and thank God for His blessings in song. All three celebrations offered something different in song and it was impossible not to join. One song sung beautifully in a cappella, I would like to share. It was offered as the meditation after the communion hymn. Its name is “Love is Moving” by Audrey Assad.
Love is Moving
The hem of His robe is where healing lies
The wounds in His hands are where our lives resides,
Love is moving, moving among us
The beat of His heart our steady rhythm
A soul of a King and a Kingdom
Love is moving, moving, among us
Love is moving, moving, among us
This Jubilee Year reminds us that we are the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We are One!
May we always lift our voices in song and prayer, as one.
June 3, 2016
Yesterday, I met someone.
No, not really, I saw someone.
No, it was more then that . . .
I was standing in line at the store when someone said, “Next” and next was me. The voice came from someone who was fighting a heavy beard, wore makeup, a feminine hairstyle, and dressed in a floral empire waist style shirt. He was transitioning. I believe that is the correct word - transitioning. It wasn’t comedic, not at all. The voice was normal, not forced, pleasant and helpful. The exchange between us was quick but involved a number of steps, and their service was courteous and kind.
As the hot, hot, hot debate over transgender bathrooms is waged in courtrooms, schools, and at dinner tables, the question of how people of faith encounter transgender individuals is not a subject that I have noticed in the debate.
As the sales person inquired if I wanted to extend my warrantee and other details, I considered how different this looks than the cover of Vogue magazine featuring Kaitlin Jenner. This person does not employ a professional stylist and is attempting an evolution that must be quite frustrating.
Several questions came to mind: How does this person who is making critical lifelong decisions manage living moment to moment? How rejection may be a constant friend and how isolation fuels the high suicide rates for transgender persons. I wondered how many times a day, someone might refuse service from this person who calls, “Next?” What is the proper response on a personal level?
The situation reminds me of a story shared in a homily. The priest shared that he needed to renew his passport. He was in a large city, and as he approached the office building, he noticed a commotion outside, a homeless man was yelling at everyone and no one in particular. As he focused his attention to the left and then the right, everyone scattered to avoid confrontation. The priest, wearing clerics, managed to walk in the office door without being noticed. Some time later after completing his business, he stepped out into the street not remembering the earlier situation. The crazed man was still there, ranting and raving. The priest tucked his chin down and moved quickly away from the man, but he had been noticed.
“You!” the homeless man cried. “You! YOU can’t do THAT!”
The priest stopped, thinking of the best way to get away from this potentially dangerous situation.
The man’s eyes fixed on him.
“You are a PRIEST, YOU CAN’T!”
He screamed, attracting yet more attention from people on the street.
"All of these people can pretend not to see me, but YOU are a priest, YOU MUST SEE ME!”
The homeless man’s words struck a deep blow in the heart of the priest. The words rang true and the reality echoed,
You must see me. You must recognize me as a Child of God. You cannot avert your eyes like all the others. YOU must grant me the dignity given to me by God.
In reflection, I asked myself:
- Are I seek the Face of God when we encounter others?
- Do I dismiss those I fear, or people who make me uncomfortable?
- How do I speak the truth in love and recognize the Sacred Human Dignity all God's people in
- these difficult and chaotic times?
- How do I manage to love one another even in brief encounters?
- How can I preserve my values and love like Jesus loves?
Please pray with me for guidance as we travel this rocky road together.
“Peace begins with a smile.”
January 2015 Blog