#Judy

Unexpected Blessing

Very little of my family lives near me, but I knew that would be the case when I decided to move here nine years ago. However, I have been blessed with a whole “new” family by virtue of being a member of our parish and being in the very best job I have ever had, as the coordinator for our middle school youth ministry (“Outlet”) here. The amazing people I work with have shared my joys and my sorrows, prayed for me and for my family and helped me innumerable times without my asking. It is an enormous joy to be with them, whether it’s with the families in our group working on a service project, a Monday morning parish staff meeting or sharing a meal with our team. I am truly excited each time I am able to be with this “new” family and I always thank God for yet another unexpected blessing in my life!

by JAM

Trust and Joy

“For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.” (Psalm 33:21)  I wish I had a nickel for how many times I’ve told myself, “God has a plan.” I tend to be a bit of a control freak. Personally it is my biggest challenge to “let go, let God” because I always want to fix things and I have to constantly remind myself that the Lord knows what he is doing. I even have a little card on the bulletin board next to my desk that reads “Relax! God’s in charge!” The most amazing thing is that when I am able to give up wanting to manage every aspect of every difficulty I encounter on the road of life, I experience a sense of freedom and of true joy that is almost like a present I’ve given myself. And that is when my “…heart is (truly) glad in him.”

by JAM

A Perfect Spot

I recently “discovered” our labyrinth behind the church. I always knew it was there, but never actually spent any time in that lovely space. We are all so busy with work and family and all the stresses of everyday life that few of us really take the time to stop and take in the surrounding beauty of the world in which we live. I have found this to be the perfect spot to “talk to God” and thank Him for all the gifts he has bestowed on His people. It is a quiet place to sit and just breathe and be grateful for the splendor of nature that surrounds us and is so visible from that little piece of land. I leave there feeling full of joy, inner peace and gratitude to a God who never ceases to amaze!

by JAM

 

 

The Joy of Praying for Others

Many years ago, I was speaking with a good friend of mine about praying for others. She is a seasoned believer and committed practitioner of daily prayer.  We were talking about our mental “prayer lists,”  those people we mention by name every day in our conversations with God. I wondered what to do about the many people we don’t know who might need our prayers.  She taught me a simple prayer that I frequently use, have taught my own children and the students I’ve worked with in Faith Formation ever since.  Whenever I pass someone in need, whether it’s a homeless person, an old person struggling with a cane or in a wheelchair, I  pray “Dear God, let that person be forever in my prayers.” I’ve used it countless times. This simple prayer has brought great joy to my soul, knowing that my prayers are flowing out to those in need. I may not know who “that person” is but I know God does.

by JAM

The Joy of E-Learning

I am not at my best at night. I seem to hit my stride by mid-afternoon and fade rapidly thereafter. Because of this I have rarely taken on anything more stimulating than a non-fiction book as the sun sets and certainly would not want to take on anything even remotely educational since my tired brain will simply not allow knowledge to seep in when all it wants to do is rest. To attend an evening lecture would be totally out of the question. Then I happened upon our parish’s podcasts. Here’s everything I’ve missed because of my unwillingness to remain dressed and educable after a certain time of day. I can listen to them whenever I want and learn from them. For me, it’s sort of like having a diet where you only eat chocolate and ice cream. I am discovering new and exciting aspects of my faith on my own time in my own way. Try it: http://tuesday-nights-at-rcia.madewithopinion.com/

by JAM

Invitation to Belong

When I moved to California nine years ago, a top priority for me was to find a parish where I was comfortable.One cannot find a comfortable parish like one can find comfortable shoes.You will have to walk much longer in your faith than you ever will in a pair of flats. So I tried some  on. The cathedral-like church of Basilica San Juan was a beautiful setting for mass, but it didn’t grab me. The priest at another church gave a “fire and brimstone” sermon  leaving me wanting something more positive. I happened upon St. Edward the Confessor quite by chance. Or maybe not? There was no reason for me to go up Calle la Primavera that day but I did and  found the church. I copied down the mass times and the following Sunday experienced a true “aha” moment. Here was this welcoming, joyful community, living Christ’s teachings through dozens of ministries, with uplifting music and “take something away” homilies; this is where I belonged.

by JAM

 

 

Witness to the Paschal Mystery

The year 2017 began for me with an unexpected event. My mother took seriously ill and then had a heart attack. The doctor’s prognosis was that because she was advanced in years, she was at the end of life and that she would not recover. This news precipitated my going East to help her and my Dad as much as I could. Even though  I was very much saddened at the thought of losing my Mom. a dear friend reminded me that I was being witness to the Paschal Mystery in my own life. Her words were a great comfort to me as I was able to be part of my mother’s final preparations and watch her continuing to pray daily. Even at the very  moment her earthly life ended she  had her rosaries in hand. My gift of faith came from my parents and I pray that I can continue to be a witness for the Lord until I am called home.

by JAM

Enduring Love

My parents would have been married seventy-four years this year. My Dad always said that he fell in love with my Mom the moment he saw her. He was with her all day, every day, holding her hand when she was in Hospice.  When Mom was awake they would say “I love you” hundreds of times. I can never remember them having an argument or a cross word between them and things weren’t always easy. When people would ask my Mom the secret to such a long marriage she would point to her ears and say “Whatever he said I didn’t like went in one ear and out the other.”  They were a perfect example of pure, unconditional love and they lived their lives spreading that love to others, especially those in need. I pray that I can follow their example and be loving the way they were and the way Jesus was and wants us to be.

by JAM