More to Learn

There’s something a little peculiar about growing up. The older I get, I’d like to believe I’m getting wiser.  That’s certainly the goal.  However, the more I know, the more I realize I DO NOT KNOW.  Do you ever feel that way?   So today I flat-out admit, I’m just an ordinary person, not a theologian, not an expert in psychology, just someone who recognizes that merciful moments and merciful people are everywhere.  Well, that’s such a cheerful thought, now, isn’t it?  Unfortunately, there are many parts of life I will probably never understand, such as human suffering, grief and natural disasters, to name a few.  I don’t have any answers about why bad things happen, but I can work to help lift others up, to be kind and merciful in daily encounters with others.  Chances are, that’s how you live your life, too.

Maybe sometimes mercy is simply being there for someone, listening or reminding them that they are going to be okay, that things will eventually work out.  Perhaps God surrounds us with people who watch out for us or who help pick up the pieces when it feels like the only world we’ve known has been shattered.  Mercy manifests itself in countless ways through the kind and unselfish actions of others.  Mercy looks at another person with love and compassion, focusing on the relationship rather than on the offense.  Where there is mercy, there is still hope.

 “A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”  Pope Francis

 

 

 

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Happy New Year

 

Happy New Year!  Okay, I know it’s only the end of August but in churches and schools, everyone’s gearing up for a new year, a new beginning of sorts.  In some parts of the country, school has already been in full session for a couple of weeks.  The prospect of a new year brings a sense of renewal, a feeling of possibility and adventure.  But for an anxious person, it can also bring a fear of the unknown.  Somebody once said that the one constant we have in life is change, and I believe that very much to be true.

As a gospel people, we are reminded, however, that as disciples of Christ, we journey together.  We gather each weekend as a faith community and pray as one, then strengthened by these weekly encounters, we are sent forth, looking forward to our weekly Eucharistic “reunions.”  Just knowing that we will soon be back in our parish “home” can bring great comfort to us!

So this week, I remind you of Pope Francis’ words he uses when speaking of whatever lies ahead for you in the coming weeks or months:

“To evangelize, therefore, it is necessary to open ourselves once again to the horizon of God’s Spirit, without being afraid of what he asks us or of where he leads us.”

Remember, evangelizing is something you and I already do on a daily basis.  It’s just sharing the Good News, witnessing our faith through the way we live our lives in encounter with others.  While the next leg of your journey might look or feel differently this fall, please remember you have many fellow travelers to look to for support or prayer.  On the other hand, if you have weathered many of life’s storms and you are currently sailing smoothly through life, perhaps you can be someone else’s guiding light in the days ahead.  Let’s journey together, trusting the LORD to lead us safely into harbor.

 

 

 

Sabbath time

Summertime can be a very busy season filled with many outdoor social events compressed into almost every available weekend.  Here in the northeast, I believe we try to celebrate the long days of sunshine and warmth because we know that winter will be filled with equally long days of clouds and bitter cold.  I’m not trying to depress you, dear reader, but that’s just the way we roll here!

Some people are like the “Energizer Bunny” and keep going non-stop.  The older (and hopefully wiser) I get, however, I feel the need to have some quiet moments by myself or with just family around.   Putting a vacation or “staycation” on the calendar has become a lifeline for my husband and me.  While we move each year closer and closer to becoming “empty nesters,” we realize the importance of temporarily unplugging from our work lives and resting, walking, talking and laughing together.  I am convinced that everyone needs some sabbath time, a time of rest.  In Scripture, Jesus also knew the importance of time away from work and responsibilities:

The apostles returned and met with Jesus, and told him all they had done and taught.  There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his disciples didn’t even have time to eat.  So he said to them, “Let us go off by ourselves to some place where we will be alone and you can rest a while.”  So they started out in a boat by themselves to a lonely place.  (Mark 6: 30-32)

I treasure family time because I know I tend to consume myself with work and responsibilities and at times my beloved family takes a back seat.  While they are extremely supportive and understanding, vacation is a time for me to let them know how I love them more than anything or anyone else in the universe!  They’ll get tired of my endless requests to play cards or watch corny movies, but I think deep down, they really like me and my quirky ways.

Embrace summer days and breezy nights.  Take a little time to slow down, take a walk or take a nap.  Pick up that book you’ve wanted to read but could not find the time.  Be well.  Peace.

 

 

Fear of falling

The topic of this week’s blog came to me when I finally took the time to try out the new Roller Blades I’d received for this year’s birthday.  I had wanted a pair for years and tonight, equipped with helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards, I was ready to take a spin.  Once I was on the paved path around the park, though, I soon realized roller blading is not as simple as ice skating or the roller skating I did as a girl.  I am convinced that has to do with all the worries and fears that clog our adult brains, worries I don’t remember experiencing as I zipped around the block as a youngster or spent hours outside in the winter with my siblings ice skating in a frozen field behind the fire station.

Is the fear of falling based on a fear of pain, a fear of ridicule or a fear of the unknown?  That was the thought that filled my head on the breezy summer evening as I made my way along the path.  Maybe we have an innate fear of being hurt?  I don’t know for sure, but I think our faith lives at times can be a bit like a spin on a new pair of rollerblades.  How so?  We are encouraged not to go alone but rather to journey together.  That way, when we do fall, we have someone nearby who can help us back up.  Pope Francis, in Chapter 19 of the Church of Mercy speaks of Walking in a similar fashion:  “But the most important thing is to walk together by working together, by helping one another, by asking forgiveness, by acknowledging one’s mistakes and asking for forgiveness, and also by accepting the apologies of others by forgiving—how important that is!”

So as we enjoy our summer months, let us rest and relax in the Spirit and know that with Jesus and our faith communities, we don’t have to venture out alone or ever be lonely.  And perhaps we might even try a new ministry or committee in the upcoming year, not too unlike trying rollerblading at the tender age of fifty!  Being in relationship with one another and with our Almighty God frees us to step out of our comfort zones a little bit at a time.  Seize the Day, friends!  And don’t forget your helmet and wrist guards, okay?