Archive for February, 2016

REFLECTION:  Memories are seeds for hope…

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Yesterday, our parish community joined in celebrating the memorial service of a dear friend’s husband.  Although he had a lingering heart problem, his passing was sudden and unexpected.  His family and friends knew his time would come, but no one expected him to go without having a chance to say goodbye.  Michael passed in his sleep.

Msgr. Greg began his homily by mentioning that this would be his second homily at a funeral service within 24 hours.  His long time friend, Sr. Josephine Carny had passed and he mentioned that she was in her 90’s.  Michael, on the other hand, was 58.  Regardless of their age difference, Msgr. said that we would be asking for the same thing.  “God, forgive his/her sins.  Show him/her Your mercy.”

Michael died in the Year of Mercy.  God’s mercy is the aspect of His very nature and His plan.  Michael’s family was very aware of God’s mercy.  The scripture text they chose are par excellence.
What did the criminal do to earn his way to Heaven?  He asked.  For Michael, we ask that he, too, will be in paradise.

Memories are seeds for hope.  This message is particularly for Michael’s children.  The scriptures read are the memories of God’s love by his chosen people.  Undoubtedly, the memories of the shock of Michael’s death Saturday morning has not worn off.  Friends gathered in the family home, planting seeds of hope.  The Gospel is the seed of hope that now needs to be watered with faith so that it will bear the fruit of peace.

When my father died, Sr. Josephine wrote this on her card…”Memories are seeds for hope.”  Annamaria, I say to you, and especially to the children, ponder all your memories of life with your husband and father.  Every memory is surrounded by God’s love.  Let this love be a reflection of God, your Father, who will be with you today and the years ahead.”

In Christ Alone by Chris Townend
(sung by the children choir)

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3ExMwj9Efw <- click to listen

BIG SIGH…

God bless,

Melissa – February 27, 2016

p.s. –

Lamentations 3:22-25 (First Reading)

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

Psalm 103:1-18

1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the Lord, my soul,and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: 8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. 17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (Second Reading)
 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Luke 23: 39-43 (Gospel Reading; Jesus’ crucifixion)
...39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.d ” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

REFLECTION:  God’s Word!

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

We did Sybolon at our Bible Study session today and it was good!  The topic this week was the Bible.  As she was being interviewed by the host, one of the guests mentioned that, to her, BIBLE stood for the acronym“Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”.  We all laughed, but I wondered how many knew how to apply that to their lives?

I wonder how many truly believe the Bible is God’s love letter to man?  The Bible is God’s revelation of who He is to us.  Through time, God employed various authors, giving them the freedom to apply their own writing styles and personalities, while inspiring them to record His messages… no more and no less.  What the author affirms in scripture is exactly what God wants to affirm.

Another guest mentioned “Scripture was written so a mouse can wade in it while an elephant can bathe in it.”; the mouse representing a new Christian while the elephant representing a well versed theologian.  No matter where we are in our life journey, each can glean from the Bible!

Dr. Ed Sri, the DVD host, closed the session with …”God wants to write His word in our hearts.  Will you listen to Him?  Open the Bible, pray with it, use it.”

My heart’s desire has always been to teach others what the Father has taught me.  He has brought the Bible to life for me and my heart yearns for others to experience the same joy and strength that I receive from it.

While in the garden this afternoon, I asked our Father, “How can I teach them, Lord?”  I didn’t sense an answer, but not too long after, I began to sing On Eagle’s Wings

You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
Who abide in his shadow for life,
Say to the Lord: “My refuge,
My rock in whom I trust!”

Refrain
And he will lift you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of his hand.
The snare of the fowler will never capture you,
And famine will bring you no fear;
Under his wings your refuge,
His faithfulness your shield.

Refrain…

You need not fear the terror of the night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day;
Though thousands fall about you,
Near you it shall not come.

Refrain…

For to his angels he’s given a command
To guard you in all of your ways;
Upon their hands they will bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Refrain…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrLafWZxczI <- cover by Josh Groban

As I sang, my mind and heart began to realize that many knew scripture through song, but they didn’t realize it was scripture!

Psalm 91 Security Under God’s Protection
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,[b]
    who abide in the shade of the Almighty,
Say to the Lord, “My refuge and fortress,
    my God in whom I trust.”
He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,
    from the destroying plague,
He will shelter you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you may take refuge;
    his faithfulness is a protecting shield.
You shall not fear the terror of the night
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,
    nor the plague that ravages at noon.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    near you it shall not come.
You need simply watch;
    the punishment of the wicked you will see.
Because you have the Lord for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
10 No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.
11 [c]For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.

12 With their hands they shall support you,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You can tread upon the asp and the viper,
    trample the lion and the dragon.
II
14 Because he clings to me I will deliver him;
    because he knows my name I will set him on high.
15 He will call upon me and I will answer;
    I will be with him in distress;
    I will deliver him and give him honor.
16 With length of days I will satisfy him,
    and fill him with my saving power.
 

Thank You Lord for answered prayer!  Help all realize that as we sing this song in times of trials, we are declaring  Your Word back to You, to ourselves and to the enemy and his adversaries; declaring who You are and what You do in the lives of Your children. Father, teach each one to pray the promises You have given us in Your Word.  Father God, thank You that we can securely proclaim that “You ARE our refuge, our very rock in whom we can trust!”  Help each of us realize that as we sing and declare Your Word, we are doing battle with Your Word, just as Jesus did when He was tempted in the desert.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the golden thread that connects every book of the Bible to You.  That golden thread is You, dear Holy Spirit.  Thank You that Your Golden Thread also runs through each of us, Your children, so that Your Word can come to life in our lives.  Thank You that the stories of our lives are part of Your story (His story).  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – February 25, 2016

p.s. – Today, one of our participants had shared a vision which she received at our parish sanctuary this morning.  She had mentioned that each Christian is a “beating” cell of our Father’s beating heart.  Together, we beat as ONE with the Father’s heart!

A prayer for our Priests

Monday, February 15th, 2016

 

Father God, we lift all of your Priests to You; the young and the seasoned, and all those who are studying to become Priests.  We thank You for giving them the grace to sacrifice themselves from the world, consecrating themselves to You alone, so that they may serve You with their whole mind, body and soul.  Lord, protect them and shield them from the fiery darts of the enemy.  We, the laity, forget that these ones whom You have hand picked to be Your shepherds are constantly under the attack of the enemy, more so than the laity, so that IF they stumble, many will fall with them.  Protect them Lord.

Although many of us see them only for an hour each Sunday during the celebration of Mass, we do not realize the hours they put in counselling and praying with others, be it during the Sacrament of Confession or the time spent edifying and encouraging those who are struggling with their families and with the world.  Lord, grant them the many graces they need… the strength and endurance against fatigue, wisdom and discernment, compassion and understanding, and the gentleness of Jesus, so that those who come to them for guidance will be lifted up by You, as these Priests encourage and redirect each one’s focus back to You.

Lord, we ask that You give them time to spend alone with You.  Jesus never failed  to take time away from the business of the world.  We ask for your grace to give our Priests, with such busy schedules, the strength to break away from the call of the world to refresh themselves and to regain their strength in You.  Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on your faithful servants.  It is You alone who can equip each  to fulfill the will of the Father.  We ask that You open the spiritual eyes, ears and hearts of each Priest so that they will hunger for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Fill them with Your fire Lord.

And Lord, as we pray for our Priests, we also pray for ourselves, their congregation… we ask for patience and understanding so that we can appreciate the busy schedules they have.  We ask that You plant the daily desire in each of us to intercede for our Priests who are at the forefront so that they can continue to do Your will.  Father, help each of us laity realize that we are a team with our Priests and without our prayers, our Priests go forward with limited artillery.

Lord, we ask for sound and restful sleep for each and that they will awaken refreshed.  May each Priest be strengthened daily by Your body and blood in the Holy Eucharist so that they can continue to go forth in Your victory.

Lord, help us not forget our retired Priests.  We thank You for their service and dedication.  We ask for your continued protection over them and continue to bless them with a fulfilled life until You bring them back Home to You.

Thank You Lord for our Priests!

In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – February 5, 2017

p.s. –

There was something that struck me from the readings last week.  I believe it was about Jesus and the Apostles hoping  to go to the other side to rest, but when they arrived there, they were greeted by a crowd.

As I heard that, I suddenly realized that this is what often happens to Priests.

REFLECTION: In His time…

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

She wrote…

”WAIT PATIENTLY WITH ME while I bless you.
Don’t rush into My Presence with time-consciousness
gnawing at your mind.  I dwell in timelessness: I am, I
was, I will always be.  For you, time is a protection;
you’re a frail creature who can handle only
twenty-four hour segments of life…

… Though you are a time-bound creature, seek to
meet Me in timelessness.  As you focus on My
Presence, the demands of time and tasks will diminish.
I will bless you and keep you, making My Face shine
upon you graciously, giving you Peace.”
(from:  Jesus Calling – Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young)

This was the daily devotion I opened to while I waited for my appointment at Chista’s, my Chiropractor’s, office this afternoon.  I had just spent two hours washing pots and pans which were used two days prior to serve the homeless and hungry on the streets.  I was a day late in washing up, but it didn’t matter.  It was okay.  I didn’t have to hurry because everything was stored in my car.

Most of my Monday was spent sleeping.  I was awake for a few hours, but before I knew it, my eyes started to droop and I drifted off into deep slumber for another 3 hours.  My body ached and I was tired.  I asked our Father if I had to get up and I sensed Him say, “rest” and rest I did.

Didn’t Sarah Young write “For you, time is a protection; you’re a frail creature who can handle only twenty-four hour segments of life.”?

Without realizing it, our Father had protected me.  Extreme fatigue had hit hard by the time I returned back to the parish kitchen.  Rather than bringing the serving trays and pots down, I bundled up what was left in the kitchen and I brought them to the “sanctuary” of my car.  Wiping down the kitchen didn’t take long and the kitchen was ready for the school’s use the following day.

Why I didn’t consider doing this before continues to puzzle me, but as I began to clean up this morning, I realized how God’s grace was so perfectly sufficient for me.  The cleaning up process wasn’t in my time, but it was in His time.  When I cleaned up in His time, I received His grace and new stamina!

Surprisingly, as I washed this morning, I was in good spirits.  I praised God in song as I scraped and scrubbed, chuckling while I wondered whether I was the only one who could burn soup while reheating it.  Washing up no longer became a dreaded chore, but it became a contemplative process.

There was a hiccup in the cleaning protocol the previous month.  Although a group had so generously washed up what we had left behind, the washing of the serving trays and pots after the meal service didn’t get completed in a timely matter.  Because the school used the kitchen the following day, problems arose.  Sparks flew and for a while there, the kitchen was no longer available.  Msgr. Greg took the problem as an opportunity to address that the ministry could no longer be tackled by one, but it required the help of many.  I must confess I saw the situation in a negative light, but God sent friends bearing His wisdom.  Mylene helped me grasp that Msgr was only concerned for my well-being while Adriana reminded me that Msgr. had intended to propose to take on the meal outreach as a Parish ministry.  Funny (in an odd way) that both Msgr and I had forgotten the latter.

How the Parish Council will vote on this matter is no longer my problem.  I am not sure why, but I am at peace.  I had written a dear friend prior to Sunday, stipulating that I would enter God’s rest and wait on Him.  I believe that is the reason for His peace.

How I randomly came across Sarah Young’s devotion that was dated for June 21st appears to be a human mystery, but to me, it is merely another of God’s perfect timing.  He makes ALL things beautiful IN HIS TIME.  (Ecclesiastes 3:11)  Thank You Lord!

God bless,

Melissa – February 2, 2016

p.s. – the Scripture readings for Sarah Young’s June 21st devotion are
Micah 7:7 –  But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord;  I will wait for the God of my salvation.  My God will hear me.
Revelations 1:8 –  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Numbers 6:24-26 – The Lord bless you, and keep you;  The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;  The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.

     In His Time (by Diana Ball)

In His time, in His time.
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord please show me every day
as You’re teaching me Your way.
That You do just what You say, in Your time.