Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Story of a Leaf

  A little leaf hung from one of the tall residential trees.  The leaf was quite ordinary.  It was green like all the others.  Every day the little leaf prayed that God would do something wonderful with it's life, but day after day, it appeared to be an ordinary green leaf like all the others.  The little leaf loved to watch all the people as they walked along the sidewalk underneath him.  As they walked by, the little leaf would ask God to bless them in some way.  He prayed and he prayed. Sometimes he wondered if his prayers made any difference to the lives of those who passed by him.
  As the leaf got older, he noticed he was starting to shrivel up a little bit.  It was harder for him to sway with the wind like he used to do.  He began to feel frail and lonely.  
  One day while he was praying he distinctly heard God's voice, "I'm coming to visit you today."
  The leaf waited with eager anticipation. In the afternoon a very bright light surrounded the little leaf, and then something incredible happened.  His coloring began to change.  The little leaf looked extraordinary!  Then he heard God's voice again, "This is how you will look for all eternity.  The beauty of your prayers will shine for all to see!  Do not be afraid in these your last days.  I am with you."
  The little leaf trusted God completely.  He prayed over and over, "I love you God.  Thank you for all your blessings."  A few days later, a strong wind blew through the tree and softly the little leaf fell to the ground.  He was there but an instant, and then he felt the palm of God's hand holding him.  God smiled at the extraordinary little leaf and said, "I have prepared a special tree just for you.  It is in the middle of a beautiful garden.  As God carried the little leaf through the garden, the leaf was amazed at the spectacular flowers all around them.
  "The flowers up here are astonishing!" said the little leaf.
  God smiled and said, "Those aren't just flowers. Those are all the prayers you offered."
  "They are?" exclaimed the little leaf, "They are so beautiful!"
  "I couldn't agree more," answered God.
  "I never realized my prayers were that special."
  "My dear little one, loving and praying for others is one of the most extraordinary things anyone could do!" Then God placed the little leaf in the tallest tree in the garden, and the little leaf was happier than he ever dreamed he would be.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Reclaim the Name

  Well I was not disappointed.  This week's Confirmation mass was beautiful.  I really enjoyed Bishop Battersby's homily. Towards the end of mass, Bishop Battersby gave the candidates some wonderful advice that I wanted to share with you as well. He said God’s name is holy and we need to reclaim the name. He said Jesus’ enemies use his name like a swear word, but we are not His enemies, we are His friends. We should remember that.  
  I couldn’t agree more. I hate hearing people use God’s name in vain. It hurts me to hear it, so I can only imagine the pain God must feel.  Whenever I hear God’s name disrespected I quickly pray, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”  
 Reclaim the name.  Will this be challenging?  You bet. So who’s up to the challenge?  Let’s give them something to talk about.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Out of Control

  At our church we will be celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation this week.  I love the Confirmation mass!  The liturgy and the music poetically highlight the powerful love of the Holy Spirit.  It is so easy to be completely overwhelmed with joy during the celebration.
  A few days ago, I was creating a Confirmation bulletin board.for the mass.  As I carried my crafting supplies into church, my folder with the flames of the Holy Spirit kept falling open.  I bent down and quickly picked up the "Holy Spirit" and put it back in the folder.  A few minutes later, I accidentally spilled the folder again.  Initially, I was annoyed as I bent down and to pick everything up again.  "Seriously, Susan, what is your problem today?" I thought to myself.  Then I smiled as I realized, "You can't keep the Holy Spirit neatly contained, you have let the Spirit free."
  Confirmation isn't just a wonderful mass of special memories that we place in a scrapbook or picture frame.  Confirmation is the continuation of an incredible adventure with the Holy Spirit.  We would be all be wise to ask the Holy Spirit to direct each of our steps, and remember not to be "the one in-control" all the time.  Generously allow the Spirit to spill forth from you and follow His inspiration.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

All Souls Day

Each life is important.  
      Every soul is precious.  
          Remember to pray for the holy souls 
       Who have gone before us.
           Especially today.
                  They need our prayers.
          Our prayers can touch them,
       Just as their prayers can touch us.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Celebrating the Saint's Stories

  Have you ever read a really good book and found yourself both happy and sad when you finished, because you don't want the story to end? I sometimes feel this way when I read about the lives of the saints. I get so immersed in their story, that I don't want it to end.  And the "good news" is their story hasn't ended, the saints are still very actively building up the Kingdom. They have seen God face to face, and they want to share this joy with us! They want to intercede for us.  
  Do yourself a favor and start to build an everlasting friendship with the saints. Call out to them. Learn from them.  Follow their footsteps.  Follow a trail that has already been blazed by a soul filled with the Holy Spirit, because it will lead you directly to God.
  Today, let us celebrate the beauty of a life devoted to God.  Let us celebrate the beauty of God's love. Let us remember that the grace to become a saint was given to each of us at our Baptism. Let us live lives that inspire others to follow Christ. Let us live so that the last sentence of our life reads,"and they lived happily ever after."


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

It's Going To Be Sweet!

  Today on all Hallow's Eve, the neighborhoods will be filled with kids chanting "Trick or Treat" as their bags get heavier with candy.  I have passed this fun tradition down to my children as well.  But it got me thinking....instead of going trick-or-treating, what if I had taught my children to say, "Bless and guide" as we remembered as many saints as we could from 6-8pm?  Would we be amazed at how generous the saints were to us?  Would we sort out all our blessings and talk about our favorites? Would we trade and share their words of wisdom with each other? Would our lives be completely different?  
  I hope you all enjoy the festivities of today, but more importantly, I hope you remember how much more important, celebrating the festivities of tomorrow will be.  I hope you find attending mass on All Saints Day to be even sweeter than a bag of candy. God is gathering us all around the family table tomorrow,  don't miss out on the big family reunion! See you there!


Friday, October 27, 2017

Vacationing With God #13- The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

   As I walked up the steps to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C., I could feel my  excitement growing.  I was so thrilled to be back again!  Thirteen years ago I had walked up these same steps with my parents and husband and had consecrated my heart and life to Jesus, through Mary.  At the time, I thought I was making a pilgrimage to this beautiful shrine as a sign of my love for Mary.  What I have since realized, is that this act was just the beginning of my pilgrimage with Mary.  A pilgrimage that has encountered challenges, pain, and suffering, as well as moments of joy, growth and love.  I asked Mary to dwell in my heart; day by day, little lesson by little lesson, she has been teaching me how to draw closer to the heart of Jesus.
  If you have a chance to visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, you will not be disappointed.  It is the largest shrine in the United States. There is a beautiful cathedral on the main floor and the basilica has over 80 little chapels as well.  You could spend hours visiting the many different chapels filled with artwork dedicated to Mary and her loving influences upon the world throughout history.  It would be difficult to leave this shrine without being touched by Mary's heart.  I think a visit to the basilica could best be summed up by two little prayers from St. Teresa of Calcutta, "Lend me your heart, dear Mother" and "Keep me in your most pure heart."