Thursday, September 27, 2012

Doesn't Look Like 80

My dad gave my mom 80 roses for her 80th Birthday last week. How sweet is that? My niece and my daughter had to count them because the way they were so beautifully arranged made it seem like there could not possibly be 80 roses in the vase. Well, there were and they were big and they were beautiful and they are extremely long lasting. Thinking about these roses has made me think a lot about my mom. She too is beautiful and for her barely 5' frame (so she believes...I think she's 4'11" now) she is big and she is bold. When she is in a room, people love to look at her and they admire her and they want to talk to her and hear what she has to say. Heck, she never stops making others look good or sharing God's handiwork or passing on some bit of wisdom she has acquired. She rarely sits still, constantly doing something to make herself grow or learn or to make one of her grandchildren or children grow or better themselves.

Her favorite and probably most frequented prayer is (I think) the Novena Prayer to St. Therese of Lisieux:

Saint Therese, the Little Flower, please pick me a rose from the heavenly garden and send it to me with a message of love. Ask God to grant me the favor I thee implore and tell Him I will love Him each day more and more. Amen

(The prayer above, plus five Our Father’s, five Hail Mary’s, and five Glory Be to the Father’s, must be said on five successive days before 11 a.m. On the fifth day, when the fifth set of prayers have been completed, offer one more set - five Our Father’s, five Hail Mary’s, and five Glory be to the Father’s) 

Invariably after saying this prayer in intercession for someone, she has received a rose, roses or the fragrance of roses to confirm her prayers were heard. So it is no wonder that the gift of roses is very special to my mom.

She certainly does not look or act 80, whatever that's suppose to be I suspect. She asks, "What am I suppose to be like at 80?" as she fills out the third entry form for another art exhibit in October or as she moves a display at the bookstore with one of her grandchildren or as she hops on the computer to check her email or drags her easel out of the car to paint at Radnor Lake. I'm pretty sure for her 80 is just like that huge vase of roses that she got from my dad. Big. Bold. Full of Life. Blooming. Hard to hold in one place. And Beautiful.

Just so ya know, I flipped the roses image about 10 times and every time I put it on this page it ends up on it's side. I guess that's another quality this vase of roses shares with my mom, she is not easily swayed once she gets her mind set so we might as well just go with it her way. Usually, all is well if not better.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wash With Tears

Today we read in the Gospel the story of the "sinful woman" who washes the feet of Jesus with her tears. She never says a word. She uses her sorrow for her sins for the good of another and in return, without asking, she is made clean. Her faith saves her and she is given the gift of peace.

I have to ask myself today, what do I do in times of sorrow? How do I react to others? Is there some way to actually turn my times of sorrow into some sort of good for someone else? Why should I? It's the time when I may want others to come to my rescue, to attend to my needs, to give me attention. And yet, maybe it's the time when Jesus asks me to have Faith, to sit with Him and to accept the gift of peace, to be an example to those around me. This lesson I read today is a tough lesson for me to even fathom. In the times of my greatest loss, of my greatest fear, of my greatest anxiety, how can I turn this into something good for others? How can I see beyond myself?

Jesus tells me today that especially in my darkest moments, in my brokenness, in my sorrow, I am to have faith. He will bring me peace. He will cleanse me of my sins. He will be my consolation.

My mother has always, and I have mentioned it before, told us to "wash feet". She has passed on the idea that until we have been in someone else' shoes, we have no idea. Maybe it is times such as this, our own times of sadness, or fear, or anxiety, that we can understand just what others go through and we can ourselves be witnesses to what it means to truly have Faith.

Today, as I envision this woman's tears washing the feet of Christ, may I learn to wash, may I take the time, may I make a difference, and most of all, may I not say a word and simply have Faith.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Language of Kindness

"Being a disciple of Christ means being meek and gentle." St. John Chrysostom

As I park, I notice she is at the Grotto, bowing slightly toward the large figure of Our Blessed Mother. I don't walk past her, not wanting to disturb her time in prayer. I walk around and hop up the larger flight of stairs and head for the Chapel. I sit and read a little about the Saint of the Day, St. John Chrysostom, "Golden Mouth". I read a bit on his amazing talent of preaching and of using his words, the words of Christ, to turn others to the Faith. I sit and listen. Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I notice she enters the room. As usual, those who come in after her, old and young alike, stop for a hug or exchange a smile or a soft spoken word. It happens every morning but this particular morning it hits me. She speaks very little English and even that is rarely understandable. And. That's. Just. It. We all understand the language of kindness. She is meek and she is gentle and she is always kind and all can understand. She never fails to ask me about my children and my parents and to tell me about her grandchildren. She is always smiling and praying and touching her lips to her hands and passing that kiss on to the figure of Mary or of Joseph or of Jesus. She is always in that Chapel and her kindness and her love for her Faith is an example to us all. She is truly an example of being a disciple of Christ and although we can rarely translate the words, we easily understand the language. As St. John Chrysostom spoke to small and great alike and all were able to understand by his word and his example, so too can those who have mastered the language of kindness.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Barely Squeezing By

Last week as I was headed into the Chapel, the automatic door was closing and I turned slightly sideways and squeezed in, not having to push the door back open. I immediately thought, that is so me, just barely squeezing by in my spiritual life.
Mass was about to start and I didn't have time to read my Magnificat so I squeezed in the morning reading and the meditation on the Gospel during the short pauses of the Mass and some of the parts of the Homily. (Don't tell Fr.)
I've been thinking about my lack of organization lately, at home and at work. I blame it all on being out of town for a week and having a difficult time catching up but truth is it's more about goofin' off. Not that there's anything wrong with a little goofy around but let's face it, it can cause us to get behind and stay behind and we don't want to be continually late with God. Um, I can picture the Gates just closing as I sprint to squeeze into my Eternal Reward, or not. And why? Because I didn't take His Words seriously? Because I was goofin' off instead of working? Because I didn't take time to listen?
I'm pretty sure that I'm barely squeezing by because I'm doing more talking than listening. That's how it was the other day. I was outside the Chapel talking to a friend and her children before school, ya know, entertaining them with my mouth, and I missed my time for spiritual reading. Missed it. So often, I kneel down in there and start all my yammerin and I hear Him say clearly, "Shhhhh! Listen! I have the words of Everlasting Life." How more direct can that be?
For the most part, my dad gets to the Chapel for morning prayer about two hours before Mass. He's passed that example on to us just as he and my mom have of going to daily Mass. They both give time to Jesus in the morning and in return He gives them time to get all that needs done in a day, done. Now why in the world am I still just squeezing by? Fifty some years of hand me downs and I am still goofin' off. Lord, help me to do more than just squeeze by in this life. Teach me to close my mouth and open my heart and get where You want me to be.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Working As One

When we were young, my mom tried the “new” peanut butter and jelly in one jar. Thinking this would be easier, she proudly placed the jar in the cabinet, or was it in the refrigerator? Maybe that was the problem. We decided it should be kept cold after it was opened because of the jelly and then the peanut butter was difficult to spread because it was hard. Back to the old way quickly. Let the peanut butter be peanut butter and the jelly be jelly, so when they are put together they are one—perfectly one. The best of both together.
As Jesus speaks to us, He reminds us of the importance of a husband and a wife joining together to become one. They bring out the best of themselves and make a better life. We are called to leave our father and our mother and find our vocation where we will bring the best of ourselves to make this life a little better, to become one with what He has planned for us. Whether we are the thick, smooth peanut butter or the chunky, sweet jelly, we are made to join together with Jesus, with His Church, with one another to become one, to become better.  To mesh.     "Jesus at My Side"

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.”
Mark 10:7, 8

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

You Look So Familiar. Do I Know You?

Using Social Media Tools to Communicate and to Serve
Last week I traveled to Arlington, Texas for the CMN Trade Show, Catholic Writers Conference, and CMNC. What a wonderful opportunity to sit and listen to professionals speak about the importance of social media to our businesses whether we are bookstore owners (brick and mortar as well as on-line), writers or publishers.

I have a habit of thinking that I know people when in reality I have only seen them somewhere or they simply look like someone I know. I can't help it and now neither can my daughter. We actually can be driving down the interstate, halfway to Florida, and she can swear she knows someone in the car next to us. Now come on! Really! But, most of the time, she does know people in the most unlikely places.

As I jumped on board the Trolley outside the Crown Plaza Hotel at 6:30 A.M., heading for Mass at the Arlington Convention Center, I greeted a nice young girl seated in the first seat. I'm thinking, Wow! She looks familiar. Of course she does. We as a family know everyone as does my brother and my parents...ha. She swings around and notices my name tag and says, "I thought I recognized you. You're from St. Mary's Bookstore." "I am. Where are you from?" "I'm from Gallatin but I was in the store last week and I think you found a book for me for the Catechetical program I'm in." "Oh yes! The Craft of Catechesis. I remember." Ahhhh! Great. Someone to hang with a little while I'm a long way from home alone. Seems she was there for the Catholic Writers Conference. I was so fortunate to find her and sit with her during a few sessions of the Catholic Writers Conference and the Catholic Media Conference. What a great time! We both have a lot to learn and the talks were so helpful. Now we just have to put them into practice.

But, here's something else important about the entire week. I recognized so many of the authors, both of books and of blogs. I was in awe of the group of talented people so willing to give of their time and their energy to share with us the importance of what we do as Catholic authors. I realized that people do recognize us because of what we do and what we say. It is very important to understand that we do represent this large Faith Community and we can make a difference in this world. We can bring others to Christ. We are here to serve. And, hey, I do know you. I have read your words, I have bought your products and they have made a difference in my world. I knew you looked familiar.