Monday, April 20, 2015

Reminder to Slow Down

Jesus taught me to try to slow down. He was not type A trying to visit as many countries as he could in three years. He stayed near home, directed but did not micromanage the apostles. He was mindful of the moment and did not attempt to control it. He did not force himself on those who did not want him around and spent time with those who invited him. The Spiritual Exercises are transformative; I was blessed that I was able to do them slowly over the course of a year, that was a true gift to Type A me. I pray that, if it be God’s will, each person who desires them will be presented an opportunity to participate in the Spiritual Exercises or spend a significant amount of time with their faith or spiritual tradition.

I still oftentimes go a million miles a minute but, frequently enough, I recognize the speed and give myself permission to skip a meeting or ignore an email imploring me to sign another petition. If I can't live up to my commitments I simply apologize and re-set the time frame; I give others permission to be late so that they will extend me the same courtesy.

I am still working on sitting down with my family and watching mindless TV just to be with them!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hark the Herald, Angels Sing

December 20

The daily Advent reflection pamphlet tells the stories of Sampson and John the Baptist, two men whose lives were heralded to their parents by angels, were given a mission but but who both, ultimately, had violent deaths (Sampson in the temple of the Philistines, John by beheading).

Are angels still with us? What message from God have they brought? What mission is God asking of me through them and how will I use my gifts for that mission?

There is a culture of angel worship today that seems to supplant a direct relationship with God. Do we feel that we are not worthy of talking directly to God? Do we feel that angels are less demanding of us than God? (Ignorance is bliss?)

Angels in Hebrew & Christian Scripture

The word "angel", from the Greek angelos, etymologically means "one who is sent" or a "messenger."

I thought there were lots of kinds of angels but the Scriptures themselves are actually pretty sparse on them. We picture angels in flowing gowns but the Scripturally they are pretty strong.

Seraphim is translated as "fiery ones" with six wings that, as strong as they were, two pair were needed to cover their feet and eyes to protect them from the Presence of God. The other two were for flying - no time for harps, here. They would have lit up the stable/cave area and their attraction more like a searchlight and rock concert than chamber music.

Cherubim are guards and protectors so their depiction as helpless babies doesn't match up. They guarded the Tree of Life, with a flaming sword, and the Ark of the Covenant. Think of Indiana Jones as a Cherubim taking human form.

Turns out Archangels are not found in Hebrew Scriptures, only the New Testament which deemed Michael & Gabriel to be archangels, posthumously.

The responsibilities of the hierarchal choirs, powers, principalities, dominations, thrones are not biblically based but come from tradition. Considering the hierarchal nature of the many formal Christian denominations, & the desire to formalize dogma, since the 3rd century probably not all that surprising; it's fun to consider this hierarchy but I take it with a grain of salt.

Angels in Islam

Faith in the unseen world created by Allah is a required element of faith in Islam. Among the creatures of the unseen are angels. Some of the angels we think of specifically are given by name and responsibilities in the Koran, beliefs passed down through Abraham to Ismael. Angels, in Islam, are considered to be made from light but can take on a variety of forms and are all considered to be good because they serve Allah and they have no free free will to do otherwise. It is considered blasphemous to make images of angels in Islam:
  • Jibreel (Gabriel) - in charge of communicating Allah's words to His prophets
  • Israfeel (Raphael) - in charge of blowing the trumpet to mark the Day of Judgment 
  • Mikail (Michael) - in charge of rainfall and sustenance 
  • Munkar and Nakeer - after death, these angels will question souls in the grave about their faith and deeds 
  • Malak Am-Maut (Angel of Death) - in charge of taking possession of souls after death 
  • Malik - guardian of hell 
  • Ridwan - guardian of heaven 

The Koran doesn't consider Iblis aka Shaytan (Satan) to be an angel but a disobedient jinn (demon); jinn have free will to disobey.

Where Humans Fear to Tread

Through my 12 years of Catholic schooling I learned much about angels, most of which is found in this compendium by Fr. Hardon which religion geeks like myself will appreciate if it is up your alley; you know who you are.

Personally I like shortcuts, so am content to bypass the angels and usually go straight to the Creator/Mother, Son and Spirit/Sophia for my spiritual sustenance . I am action driven though so do like the idea of an angel blowing a trumpet loudly in my ear and telling me to get off my bum and feed the hungry or welcome the stranger ....but sometimes, especially at Christmas, my softer side enjoys the of choirs of angels welcoming a little child.

Blessings of the Season to All.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Prayer for Financial Wisdom

I receive a daily scripture and prayer from this Financial Crisis Prayer Patrol. Today's prayer spoke to me directly in the role I take in advising others financially:

ScriptureBlessed is the one who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. -Prov. 3:13
Prayer: Lord, You are the God greatly feared in the counsel of the holy ones, and before You the angels cry Holy, Holy, Holy. There is no one else like You, a God of justice, compassion, and wisdom.
Lord, I come before You today in the midst of great uncertainty, with concerns about how to manage the affairs of this life. I thank You for Your invitation to come boldly before Your throne to receive help in times like these. You are my rock.
Show me Lord, the right choices to make at this time. Release to me Lord, Your divine wisdom. Help me move forward in confidence, and  enable me Lord to stand in faith and honor Your Holy name in this season. Open my mouth with wise counsel for others, and guide me Lord that I might be a blessing to those around me.
Lord, I need Your wisdom. There are many voices saying, “do this and do that,” but You are the One I look to. Guard me from deception and fear, and guide me with Your eye upon me. I choose to not lean on my own understanding, but I trust in You and I wait for Your counsel. Speak to me Lord, for I am listening. In Jesus name, amen. Sharing Services

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Do Not Fret

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; 
do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; 
do not fret — it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off, 
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.” -Psalm 37:7-9

Do Not Fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out wicked schemes. Such a difficult thing to do but one I will try and remember. Often we see these wicked schemes eventually fail as people boycott the products or the processes... much better than attacking. Making someone's idea or product irrelevant by not buying into it, injures their feeling of power as much as their pocketbook.

The ranchers and Native Americans have just joined forces to protest the XL Pipeline. God works on her own timeline.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The Middle East

Though I am a pacifist and discourage economic development through the defense/offense industries of this country, I have several family members whose livelihoods are in the military and who are also on a first name basis with their maker. I yearn for their safety and pray that their service may be that which builds up all God's children; I know that many armed service activities revolve around rebuilding rather than destroying.

 I pray for wisdom for our president and military commanders that they first seek diplomatic solutions over destructive ones.I also struggle to remember to pray and so I have subscribed to two Prayer Patrol's that remind me daily. This is today's Baghdad Prayer Patrol prayer and I want to remember it:

"Right now we want to stand with our brothers and sisters in Iraq, and we want to ask for a wave of divine help as they begin to rebuild their nation. Extend your favor in a special way over your children, as they step forward to see your Presence and blessing be sown into the foundation stone.Give them courage, to go and do and say; give them peace to wait and trust and persevere; give them strength and vision to bring about the patterns, plans and purposes of your heart in their land.Thank you Lord, that when we approach your throne of grace, that you have promised to release your grace and mercy to help in time of need; shower Iraq with fresh rain, release healing winds and the dawn of new things. We declare that the earth is the Lord’s, and we bless the strategic nation of Iraq in Jesus name. Amen."

Our enemy is not Islam but radical fundamentalist's of any faith whose views exclude from eternal salvation anyone that does not believe exactly as they do. I pray for these men (yes predominantly men) and few women that their hearts may be softened and that they may come to seek to build rather than destroy. That they will come to a vision of heaven that includes all of Allah's children.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Throw Off the Works of Darkness

On the first Sunday of December we're in Buffalo NY, visiting, and by chance I attended mass at Blessed Sacrament. First Sunday of Advent, days getting shorter, the city naturally rainy and often dark. Due to nearby Niagara Falls though, it was one of the first major cities to have hydroelectric power and a well developed grid and called itself the City of Light and it plugs on with resilience even as it deals with many ills of being in the Rust Belt. I did have many "moments of light" as we enjoyed the hip Elmwood District, distinctive architecture, a wedding and being with family.

Though the decision to walk to Mass was last minute, the sermon written was not and the priest had an inspired cadence that led me to pull out my pen and take notes, herewith:

The first reading from Isaiah 2 is one of my favorites:
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raised their sword against another, nor shall they train for war again"

The second reading, from Romans 13: 11-14
"It is the hour for you to awake from sleep. Our  salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day... Put on the Lord Jesus Christ"

Take off the clothing of darkness...
...of lying
...of criticism
...of labels
each is a form of taking up a weapon, be they of the tongue rather than tangible.

Put off the need to earn God's love which is freely given.

Put on the armor of light (Hanukah started on Thanksgiving this year and it's lighting each year is a symbol of light, openness, pride of doing right)

Put on the white robes of baptism, we will will be hearing the story of John the Baptist in the weeks to come and should be preparing ourselves for the cleansing of the Saviour to be born.

What are our defenses against the darkness, our armor of light?

  • Truth
  • Readiness
  • Word of God
  • Ready prayer
  • Kindness
  • Bear with one another
  • Love
I just found these notes a couple days before the New Year but these words helped me to have a wonderful and relatively relaxing advent focused more on the people in my life rather than the acquisition of gifts, overdecorating. I even let holiday events come to me rather than trying to press my family into activities they did not want to do (for the most part!).

Thank you Lord for being with me and holding my seasonal darkness at bay. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Seeing God's Plans

Yesterday I "lost" a friend, Irene, to cancer. While not BFF, I admired and enjoyed her company, mostly in all things Girl Scouts but also when we encountered at the store or July 4 parades where she faithfully marched with both the Girl Scouts AND the Stanford Marching Band, purple hair and all. While I believe her to be a woman of faith, her church was people and their care, not an intentional faith community.  She recognized stragglers who needed "another" mother and cared for them as for her own daughter. I know she is at peace with the Lord right now.

"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose...What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:28, 31

A Prayer for Discernment

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes, 

to discern and test the spirits
that help me read the signs of the times,
to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate
them to others.
Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

--Pedro Arrupe, SJ.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Centering Prayer "Blessed are the poor in spirit

Again from Basil Pennington’s “Centering Prayer”

To maintain an unceasing recollection of God, this formula must be ever before you: “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me”...

Perhaps wandering thoughts surge about my soul like boiling water, and I cannot control them, nor can I offer prayer without its being interrupted by silly images. I feel so dry that I am incapable of spiritual feelings, and many sighs and groans cannot save me from dreariness. I need to say “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.”

The mind should go on grasping this formula until it can cast away the wealth and multiplicity of other thoughts...and so it will attain with ease that Gospel beatitude which holds first place among the other beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor  in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Meditation:  I can so relate to the boiling water and silly images ... it is so hard to clear my mind of words, images, sounds. I started thinking about what it must have been like to be the first cave woman and have a baby. I had no words, I did not have a to do list that included bills, internet, car schedules. I had only food to pick, a baby to keep safe and feed. I had time to observe, see and listen to the bugs, birds, plants,  animals.  The Spirit was wind, water and fire only for I had no words  or reasons to conceive of a 3 person God.   Those complex societal problems that necessitated Jesus’ coming did not yet exist.

Spirit, help me let go of all the clutter and information that I no longer need and trust that you will provide whatever is needed to do your will. May I be poor in spirit and being.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Reign of God Application Form

I  found this on a yellowed piece of paper while searching for something else, as always. It is a reminder that should be available to all seeking God so I shall type it in. The author is Mary Alban Bouchard, CSJ. She is a University Professor in Montreal and also spent time in Haiti after the earthquake.

The Reign of God Application Form

Please fill out the questionnaire after careful thought:

1) How long have you been at your present job?
(The purpose of this question is to determine whether you can stick with it)

2) How many ploughs have you burned? Give reasons.

3) What are you presently doing for the reign of God (instruction, peace, justice, reconciliation, spiritual and corporal works of mercy, regular & persevering prayer)? Check one:
     ___ All I can full time, ___ very little, ___ Nothing

4) Are you willing to be transferred (i.e. sent)?

5) If not now employed in the reign of God, when will you be ready to begin?

6) If not immediately, what is causing delay? List your excuses below (use back of page if necessary).

7) State in a sentence or two what you consider to be the essence of the message of the kingdom of God (if you got the message!)

8) How do you usually handle lack of positive response? like James & John, the "fire from heaven" treatment? Are you easily discouraged?

9) List your qualities for this job:
     Faith:   strong___, medium ___, weak ___, barely alive ___
     Hope:  enthusiastic ___, cynical ___, hardly a flicker ___
     Love:  active ___, theoretical ___, out of practice
     Willingness to learn:  eager ___, apathetic ___, doubtful ___, consider it unnecessary
     Ability to work with others on a scale of 1 to 10: _____
     Humility: want lots of credit for my work ___, don't need it ___, appear not to need it but get it subtly ___

Re-read, then present to the head of the corporation, Jesus Christ. Await reply.

Mary Alban Bouchard, CSJ

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Another Biblical Model for Letting Go of "Stuff"

Never spent much time with Acts of the Apostles (written by Luke but mostly about Paul & his adventures) til this last year and now I'm going through very slowly and repeating many readings that I glossed over because it sometimes seemed like a grand adventure story. If I truly believe that every word in the Bible is meaningful, I'm going to take the  Spiritual Exercises to heart and dig in.

I've been following Paul as he used his rights as a Roman citizen to demand that he be tried in Rome for overstepping the Sanhedrin's boundaries for free speech. He travels by sea accompanied by a centurion of the cohort Augusta that had other prisoners, as well. Setting sail from Crete they are several weeks at stormy sea and decide that they must abandon ship and look for the least hostile environment in which to run ashore:
  • "I urge you now to keep up your courage; not one of you will be lost, only the ship. For last night an angel of the God to whom (I) belong and whom I serve stood by me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You are destined to stand before Caesar; and behold, for your sake, God has granted safety to all who are sailing with you. Therefore, keep up your courage, men; I trust in God that it will turn out as I have been told.We are destined to run aground on some island.” Acts 27: 22-26
  • "In all, there were two hundred seventy-six of us on the ship. After they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea. When day came they did not recognize the land, but made out a bay with a beach. They planned to run the ship ashore on it, if they could. So they cast off the anchors and abandoned them to the sea, and at the same time they unfastened the lines of the rudders, and hoisting the foresail into the wind, they made for the beach. But they struck a sandbar and ran the ship aground. The bow was wedged in and could not be moved, but the stern began to break up under the pounding [of the waves]. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners so that none might swim away and escape,but the centurion wanted to save Paul and so kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to the shore,and then the rest, some on planks, others on debris from the ship. In this way, all reached shore safely. " Acts 27: 37-44
Decisions to cast off & abandon food & anchors are not lightly made . They had jettisoned cargo earlier in the storm. I have been cautiously & carefully ridding myself of excess stuff, which is fine as I mentioned in an earlier post, but I wonder if I am avoiding recognizing a storm that should be telling me to act more urgently? Lord, like Paul & the centurion, help me to recognize when objects & habits are no longer serving you well. I have cast off wheat (ha! ha! because I'm allergic), now onto other things.
The centurion had, over time, come to admire & respect Paul and perhaps know Jesus, through him. The centurion's decision to save all prisoners & to wisely save the planks for those who could not swim seemed to bear out this time spent in Paul's company. This reminds me of the runners at the recent Boston marathon who tore off their clothes to use as touniquets for those who were  seriously injured in the bomb blast.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On our new pope, Francis

 Today the selection of Jorge Bergoglio as our new pontiff, Pope Francis, has just been announced. I am of two minds. I am encouraged by his humility, disdain for trappings and preference for the poor. I am not sure about how his orthodoxy on women, contraception, homosexuality will play out though one would expect that it could only move toward understanding

 As I've been surfing the net, Catholics (& non-Catholics) have been weighing in pro- and con-.  I especially like this discerning comment from Matthew:

    • I've actually been praying on my thoughts and words for the last hour and so and I have had a new thought - God gave me the will to choose my course and a soul and heart to be molded by the aches and pains on this world. This then is my path and my choice - to be the Catholic who loves my faith and teachings so much that I can disagree without being unruly. I can voice opinions and thoughts and have no problem with being disagreed with. For those who feel as I feel and think as I do, I will find comfort and a home. For those I do not, I accept their slings and arrows as my personal whipping at the pillar. If it make you feel better to hurt me, do so. Battered, but unbowed. I humbly offer this all to my Lord as a life that may not be virtuous, but a life lived. I pray for forgiveness of sins commited here on Earth and a comforting embrace when I am called back to the Father's house.
    • So be it. Be it according to God's will."

"Thy will be done" - that is my mantra each day.

  • Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Letting go of "stuff" gently

    “I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am contents whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me”

    Philippians 4:12-13

    I like that it says we should try to be content when we have too much. Not that we should ignore doing something about going on a "stuff" diet,  but that we should not stress about it either – we are probably never in a place that we have just the right amount.

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    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Centered Prayer

    My prayer life has taken a back burner to Christmas preparations. It comes to me in bits and spurts but it is not the supportive skeleton of my life that it should be, mostly a series of requests for family members and requests for me to choose wisely among the many things that I can do each day...still, requests. I am doing all the talking and it is always about "doing" and not about "being".

    After a hiatus I again picked up Basil Pennington's "Centering Prayer" and found this beautiful prayer of the monk, Julian of Vezelay:

    • I pray that the Work of the Lord may come again today to those who are silent, and that we may hear what the Lord God says to us in our hearts. Let us silence the desires and importunings of the flesh and the vainglorious fantasies of our imaginations, so that we can freely hear what the Spirit is saying.

    • Let our ears be attuned to the voice that is heart above the vault of heaven, for the Spirit of Life is always speaking to our souls; as Scripture says, "A voice is heard above the firmament which hangs over our heads." But as long as we fix our attention on other things, we do not hear what the spirit is saying.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    My Sustainability & Quilting Blogs

    If you'd like to follow me on Sustainability and Social Justice issues, please go to my other blog

    If you'd like to follow my quilting adventures

    Peace & Blessings to all who read hear.

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    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    Hi Everyone,
    I'm trying to keep up with technology and newer forms of communication. I really wanted to read some other blogs but it seemed I had to join first. Don't know where this will take me but here goes.