DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY

GOOD MORNING WORLD

In my faith walk as a Protestant I had no real conception of the first Sunday after Easter as being Divine Mercy Sunday.  It frankly did not exist in my world.  It was not until the last few years that I knew of its existence as rightly so.  It was a lesser feast and new to the Catholic Church as being established in 2000.  It now draws thousands to Stockbridge, MA.

http://catholicism.about.com/b/2013/04/07/divine-mercy-sunday.htm

Divine Mercy Sunday is one of the newer feasts on the Roman Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar. Established on April 30, 2000, when Pope John Paul II canonized St. Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the Octave of Easter, the Sunday after Easter Sunday.

It was really brought to my attention when my cousin was the Director of Music at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Massachusetts.  Bruce is a wonderful man, husband, father of 6 now director of his local church’s music and mostly self taught in his musical endeavors.  Much of his music is also written by him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QlRfg4Rw-g

As I was thinking of writing this today I thought about what is the divine mercy that is given to us.  In church this morning the priest suggested it is like a graduation.  Up until this last two weeks Christ led the Apostles.  Today He came back in the Upper Room and Thomas doubted and Christ sent them all off to preach the word and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then for a second time He said “Peace be with you.  As the Father sent me, so I send you.”  We are then told that He breathed the Holy Spirit on them.  He further went on to say “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  The priest today also said that forgiveness is to the church like oil is to gears.  Each needs its component – forgeivness to sin and oil to gear –  to keep everything running smoothly.

One of the things I have had on my mind of late is how we treat our children.  This probably came about as I saw an incident in Wal-Mart.  I also have had the joy of having our grandchildren with us these past 10 or so days.  This morning in church it all seemed to be the same topic.  I want to logically walk though this and that may be a challenge.

Starting way way way back……….years ago a friend told me that when chaos and noise ruled a home then satan was in the corner smiling and clapping his hands.  I actually tried this once when I was in an argument with our son who was in his teens.  I thought of what my friend had said, told my son, we stopped and sat and talked about the issue for over an hour in calm and came to resolution thus kicking satan out of the corner and our house!

Next, when our children left home I asked each for forgiveness for anything I had done to harm them as they were growing up.  I did not believe I was a bad parent and still knew I was not great.  It was confirmed as late as yesterday that I was in fact on occasion (+/-) a ‘yeller’ for which I am greatly sad.

In Wal-Mart last week, shopping with the kids, I saw a young family pass me.  One child I guess was acting up as I heard the father say words that if the child did not stop that he would take down his pants and smack him in the middle of the store.  I said to the clerk how sad to hear that and she said the father was probably raised that way too.  I gave my grandchildren lots of hugs that day I think as a way to assuage any guilt I have about not being a perfect parent to their parents.

So to tie these seemingly unconnected ideas all up to my understanding………In the beginning of the Apostles ministry they were told to spread the word with Peace and Forgiveness.  If parents are screaming at children then there can be neither peace nor forgiveness in the house.

As I was thinking of this I was covered with despair.  It felt cold and gray like the cold chilled steel of playground equipment in the winter.  I could feel a bitter taste in my mouth like vinegar.  Tears streamed from my eyes.   How can we undo any damage we inflict.  I like to think that asking forgiveness works totally though my humanity has me wondering sometimes.  I trust it does.  I wish I had stopped the Wal-Mart man and asked him to please find peace and discipline and love his children in a better way.  They are with us such a short time.

I worked hard to find an uplifting thought to erase the feeling of despair that came upon me and I got a text from my Lady J.  They are all so wonderful – our three grandchildren.  Each of them individuals.  The text brought a smile.  Like erasing the chaos of satan with the Peace of Christ, indeed a divine act.  Children are so loving and giving and desiring of love to please us all as they inevitably teach us.

I am nothing more than a person in this world trying to serve the Lord through my life work and ministry.  When I have failed (I know I certainly have) I heard that forgiveness is mine when I ask.   Sometimes the person I need forgiveness from may even be myself.  Forgiving myself is the hardest!  I heard that Peace must reign so that in all of our actions we must make an effort to find a way to love and foster and discipline in a way pleasing to Christ.  If I am to be in relationship with my family and fellow man on this journey how can I not believe this?  How can I sit in a church each Sunday and go home and scream at my husband or children. Or be in a store and speak in a vile tone to a child?  Or to a clerk?  Then again Wal-Mart man may not go to church.  AHAH???  One more thread to the wanderings of my mind today.

Is faith, belief, church something that is missing?  Have we all bought the lie that satan does not exist?  Do we even bother to think of the difference?  None of us is perfect and believe me God knows my many imperfections.  All we can do is strive to live the best life He has chosen for us.  Today my understanding is we have to have peace and forgiveness in our lives.  We cannot talk one way and act another.  We cannot ask for help and then not allow others to do so.  We cannot face the future without a grasp of the past.  We cannot berate our fellow man and expect cooperation.

On this Divine Mercy Sunday I am going to step out and challenge myself to walk the talk I am writing.  In the meeting I have later today I am going to pay it forward and bring love and peace and hope.  The next time I see a Wal-Mart man or woman I am going to pray for words to share so they may love those beautiful children that God has entrusted to their care.  Children are with us for such a short time.  When you think of it life itself is not here that long.  Peace and forgiveness seem pretty good choices on a daily basis as we live the days with which we are gifted!

…..ONWARD TO MORE MISADVENTURE…

PS – please note I have not capitalized satan.  My spell check says I must do so.  I choose to give no importance to the name.

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PALM SUNDAY – A CHOICE FOR CHRIST

GOOD MORNING WORLD

Yesterday I spent the day in the company of couples as we laughed at the foibles and inexplicable truths of marriage.  Stereotypes exist for a reason.  Someone actually – a lot of some ones really – do really act in stereotypical ways thus the creation of a stereotype!!!  It was a fun day.  Now today we face the beginning of huge sorrow.   Thankfully next week begins in joy!!!

Today is Palm Sunday and we Christians begin Holy Week.  In the Catholic Church every Palm Sunday the readings are the story of Jesus being turned over for crucifixion.  It is hard for me in our church as it is usually spoken by a Narrator, Crowd and the Priest speaking Jesus words.  I choke up every time the Crowd says “Crucify Him”.  In years past I have not been able to say it as it makes me such a part of the denial of Christ.  When the crowd is asked who they choose to free and we are called to say, ‘Give Us Barrabus’ there may be tears in my eyes as I know what comes next.

I was not confirmed in any church until my thirties much to my Father’s dismay.  It was usual in our church for teens to be confirmed and I did not believe I was ready.  No real explanation except I did not believe I understood fully what I was about to do.  My parents were quizzical and did not make a big issue of it thankfully.

I believe in Jesus Christ and considered myself a Christian early on.  Heavens I was the State Vice President of our youth group, Pilgrim Fellowship, my junior year in High School as I mentioned before.  I attended our church camp each summer, spoke from the Altar on Youth Sundays and went to church every Sunday.  That I HAD to do if I wanted to date or go out anywhere else on the weekend.  The not always unspoken rule was that if we could not give God an hour then we need not worry about how any other hours of the week would be spent!!!

I am also certain that like Peter I have denied Christ in my life if not in words then in actions.  For that I am sad.  The comfort I get is that the church I attend is filled with sinners.  We are all there looking for the love and forgiveness!!!  Saints in the making perhaps sinners in the pews regardless!

I like a vibrant church.  I want to go to a church that celebrates our rich Christian faith.  I want to see people happy to be sitting in the rows anxiously awaiting the service about to happen.  You can get that feeling at the early Christmas services at our church as there are children excited to be all dressed up and know that when they get home it will be Santa time.  You see they are less excited about church then what is to come after.

I wonder if Christ thought about that – what was to come after –  as he rode across the palms that were put in his path as he entered the City and what we now call Holy Week.  This man was a human being in all things.  His divinity allowed him to know what he was going to do this week and how it was going to end.  He made a choice.

As a human I am certain he could have changed the plan. As the divinity He knew the choice if He was to save all of us.  I am continually humbled by this choice.  It brings tears to my eyes every time I choose to meditate on this fact.  Christ gave His life for me – all of us.  What else can one say except WOW!!!

What else can one do?  We can live the life Christ wants us to live.  How do we know what that is?  He tells us.  It is pretty clearly written in the book we use for our faith.  The Bible gives us 10 Commandments and ways to pray.  It is a living document.  It is as real today as when it was written.  We simply need to read it and seek to understand.  We can choose.

On this Palm Sunday I once again choose to go through Holy Week with Christ.  I will sit in the Upper Room in my meditations and try to feel the fear the anxiousness and share the joy of the bread and wine being given as Christ shared.  I will try to experience the humbling of the feet washing.  I will once again choose to experience the Good Friday walk to the Cross by my prayers.

The movie “The Passion of Christ” brings this all too clearly into reality with the portrayals.  I cannot watch that movie without pain in my heart and tears in my eyes.  This man chose to live and die for us!  It truly does challenge my mind as to how He could make this choice.  As a Christian I am eternally grateful.  I would not exist had He not chosen to fulfill the law with this horrid death!

The joy of Easter makes all of this easier to choose. Perhaps it was the same for Christ.  He was looking beyond the pain to the joy.  A choice to accentuate the positive to get through the negative?

On this Palm Sunday I choose to continue to live my faith in act and word and deed.  My choice I judge is surely easier than our Loving Lord’s was for Him.

…..ONWARD TO MORE MISADVENTURE…

LENT DAY 1 – ASH WEDNESDAY

GOOD MORNING WORLD

I was going to write about the State of the Union address last night.  I was planning to watch it and then only saw bits and pieces.  What I did watch left me feeling like a Peanuts character saying, ‘WAH WAH WAH’ or ‘BLAH BLAH BLAH’.  He still does not understand what the United States of America is and how we thrive.  It is by working not taking that America thrives.  There is no such thing as a ‘fair share’.  The top 5% of this country are already paying 59% of the taxes.  How is that fair?

Perhaps this is a good day to look at paying forward.  God asked for a tithe.  A tithe is 10% of what you earn.  So let’s do that.  Everyone who earns anything at all levels give 10% to the government.  If you earn $100,000 you pay $10,000.  If you earn $10 you pay $1.00.  Why wouldn’t that work for the government?

Is God’s way a good one?  Today begins a period of 40 days before Easter.  Christians all around the world begin this day to prepare for the Easter joy.  The definition of Lent came from christianity.about.com.

Lent is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count).

Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting,repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.

Not all Christian churches observe Lent. Lent is mostly observed by the LutheranMethodist,Presbyterian and Anglican denominations, and also by Roman CatholicsEastern Orthodox churches observe Lent or Great Lent, during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Orthodox Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begins on Monday (called Clean Monday) and Ash Wednesday is not observed.

The Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.

For years I gave up something for Lent.  I gave up chocolate or candy in general or soda or some other treat I enjoyed.  My strong silent husband had me in awe when in his senior year of college he gave up beer!  His fraternity house had a bar in the game room so this seemed like a huge sacrifice to me.  He even completed all 40 days!  Quite a guy this man I married!!!

This is one area where I struggle with my church.  Evidently it is okay not to keep the fast on Sundays as we go to church and are in the presence of our Lord.  I understand this in my head.  In my heart I wonder if Jesus went for the straight 40 days of fasting or if he gave in every 6 days?  Being an all or nothing kind of gal in some areas I struggle with this loophole.   The faith of my birth comes back in full force and I try to honor all 40 days.

I am not sure what I am going to do.  Last year I forgot and after a few days had not had diet soda (I think that was the one I chose) so decided I would give that up.  Most of the time lately I do not sacrifice.  I try to do more.

For instance I may try to do a Bible study for the 40 days.  Or I try to write a note of encouragement to 40 someones each of the 40 days.  Or I try to keep myself on a schedule to keep the house in better shape for my family.  I like this idea better as it pushes me harder than to give up something.

Have you ever taken part in this type of holiday preparation?  Give up or do more?  Perhaps both?  I think in the end the goal is to make we Christians act and live more like Christ.  For some it could be as simple as proclaiming Him every day.

Ashes are distributed on Ash Wednesday and Christians wear them on their forehead today.  The ashes mark the cross on the forehead that symbolizes that all Christians are free from sin through the death and resurrection of Christ.

My favorite Ash Wednesday story has to be from a friend of ours.  Steve traveled often for his work at one time.  He had gone to church on Ash Wednesday and the ashes were on his forehead as he entered the plane and sat down.  People walked by, looked and nodded.  One guy came down the aisle and said: “Hey Dude you forehead is dirty.”  Steve nodded a thank you!!!

One year I decided to read the scriptures daily with my husband.  That was a good 40 days.  I am doing that again this year and think I may add a prayer a day as well. I found some websites to share with you in case you would like to join me.

http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Lent/Daily-prayers-00.html

http://dailyprayers.prayinglent.com/

http://www.churchyear.net/lentprayers.html

http://wau.org/meditations/current/

I will end today with a simple prayer that these 40 days of Lent be a season of renewal for your spirit.

…..ONWARD TO MORE MISADVENTURE…

 

GLUM WORRY PRAYER PEACE

GOOD MORNING WORLD

I did not go to church this morning.  I am not feeling well physically.  My stomach is having a war within itself.  I have slept not well.  I can no longer stay prone in bed as the cramps are so uncomfortable.  Being not well wears me down.  It affects me physically as well as emotionally.  I am not complaining or asking for sympathy.  There are many more suffering more than I.  I am simply giving an evaluation of my circumstances.

When I am physically under the weather it hits my emotions as well.  Any upheaval over the past months, weeks, days, hours has an opportunity to be revisited as I have little fight.  My mind whirs with angst and upset and silliness that otherwise would be given no attention.  I feel glum.

Isn’t that a great word – GLUM?

The Free Dictionary

glum (gl m)

adj. glum·mer, glum·mest

1. Moody and melancholy; dejected.

2. Gloomy; dismal.

n.

1. The quality or state of being moody, melancholy, and gloomy or an instance of it: “He was a charming mixture of glum and glee” (Lillian Hellman).

2. glums Chiefly British The blues. Often used with the: “Most other publications have got the glums” (Tina Brown).

From Dictionary.com

glum

   /glʌm/ Show Spelled[gluhm] Show IPA

adjective, glum·mer, glum·mest.

sullenly or silently gloomy; dejected.

Origin:
1425–75; late Middle English; variant of gloom

Related forms

glum·ly, adverb

glum·ness, noun

Synonyms
moody, sulky; despondent, melancholy. Glum, morose, sullen, dour, surly  all are adjectives describing a gloomy, unsociable attitude. Glum  describes a depressed, spiritless condition or manner, usually temporary rather than habitual: a glum shrug of the shoulders; a glum, hopeless look in his eye. Morose,  which adds to glum  a sense of bitterness, implies a habitual and pervasive gloominess: a sour, morose manner; morose withdrawal from human contact. Sullen  usually implies reluctance or refusal to speak accompanied by glowering looks expressing anger or a sense of injury: a sullen manner, silence, look. Dour  refers to a stern and forbidding aspect, stony and unresponsive: dour rejection of friendly overtures. Surly  implies gruffness of speech and manner, usually accompanied by an air of injury and ill temper: a surly reply.

Glum covers just about everything when you are not at your best.  When I think of the word glum I see a gray cloudy day that spits rain off and on and just enough to spoil any outdoor plans you had.  If I think of a color that describes glum gray is it.  The image that really brings glum home is Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh stories.  He just lopes along talking slow and low and he is even a gray color! 

When I am glum and my thoughts start to whirl around I can begin to worry.  Now worry to me is a wasted emotion.  It does nothing good.  On second thought a lot of people worry themselves thin – that may be something I need to look into as a diet!  Worry wears you down and nothing productive comes from it.  I certainly do not see solutions or rest coming from worry.

I have long said, “I do not worry – I pray.”  This is true except on occasions like today when I get glum.  So despite not going to church this morning I have to immerse myself in prayer to get this stuff gone – the physical distemper and the emotional worry.  This is a job at times prayer.  It is hard to pray when you are not on top of your game.  If you have a routine then prayer may not fit in at this time or that time.

A favorite prayer book of mine is a little book by Malcolm Boyd.  I didn’t think it was in print any longer and pleased to see it is still on Amazon.  It is called “Are you running with me Jesus?”  Amazon describes it as:

In the middle of the turbulent 1960s Malcolm Boyd’s Are You Running With Me, Jesus? appeared on the scene and broke the mold from which devotional texts had previously been made. Boyd’s prayers engaged traditional Christian themes with a decidedly contemporary voice—honest, direct, insightful—while at the same time taking on issues of everyday concern: personal freedom, racial justice, sexuality. Billed by its original publisher as a collection of “prayers for all of us today who are finding it harder and harder to pray,” this landmark book has influenced generations of Christians and seekers. This fortieth anniversary edition promises to celebrate its impact and make it available to further generations.

I will have to find my copy for this day to help me turn this glum from worry to prayer.

When I am feeling well prayer is easy.  I pray gratitude and happiness and joy.  When I am going from glum through worry to find prayer it is a little more difficult.  And when I am physically debilitated it is heavy like moving a blacksmith’s anvil.

The prayer today will be that God takes this ugly feeling away from me.  That my mind is cleared and my body is healed.  God I want to be available for my family and friends and need your help to do this job which I truly believe is what you want me to do in this life.  I ask God for your will not mine and rest in your loving arms as I await your peace.  I know it is coming as you promised us.  If we follow you we will know a peace that passes all understanding.  I am following you Jesus.  Amen

And there it is the peace for which I prayed.  It can be as simple as turning on a light switch if I clear the path for it to come.  It can be as difficult as climbing a mountain if I believe I am still in charge and keep taking back the worry.  I have to let go of all my own will and let God take charge to experience his peace.  This peace feels comforting like a hug.  It gives you tingles like the first step as you are getting into a warm shower.  This peace is calm like looking at a lake the first thing in the morning when it is undisturbed and looks like a mirror.  It is wonderful like holding your child for the first time in your arms.

I did not go to church today and am now resting in the arms of our loving Lord as he assures me that all will be well.  It was as simple as writing down what I was thinking and feeling to let go to go from glum through worry and prayer to peace.  God is good!

…..ONWARD TO MORE MISADVENTURE…