#Judy

Thank You Mama

My mother passed away this past March. I had the great privilege of being able to be with her for her last months and in many ways, it was a “refresher course” for me on being a Catholic woman. My Mom lived her faith daily. She prayed the rosary every day and in fact, went to her eternal reward with her hands wrapped in her beads. She always, always gave of herself to everyone, no matter how difficult it was. When it came time at the post-funeral reception for me to give my remembrance of her, all I could put on paper were about thirty lines, each of which began with “Thank you, Mama” and was followed by some aspect of my life that was a direct result of her having been my mother. Even six months later, I still find myself looking upward every so often and saying “Thank you, Mama.”

by JAM

Acceptance

“The best way to show my gratitude to God is to accept everything, even my problems, with joy.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta

I have a great fondness for this new saint and her advice about “accept(ing) everything” gives me pause for thought, since who is ever happy about having problems? Then I realized that without those stumbling blocks in our lives, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the solutions as much. If your life is always smooth sailing, it is easy to pay less attention to God, who is the reason that things are going well. Without those glitches in life, how would we know to be grateful for the many times there aren’t any? One thing that I am most grateful for is that when things go awry, it makes me appreciate the times they didn’t even more. Thank you, Lord, for showing me that your love is with me always, in good times and bad.

by JAM

Mischief Night

In the northeast, October 30th is known as “Mischief Night.” In the towns where I lived, this eve of Hallowe’en was the time when teenagers would sneak out to their friends’ homes and string miles of toilet paper on the trees and some would even throw raw eggs at the sides of houses. We all knew to leave every exterior light blazing to discourage the pranks, yet some of the more audacious young people were not discouraged by that. My kids were always kept in that night for obvious reasons. Now that I’m aging I look back at that time as almost a metaphor for my own life. There has been many a “mischief night” in my time on earth, some worse than others. Yet, I have always been given the grace to gain forgiveness through the great gift of reconciliation. That dying to sin and making amends hopefully will keep me in the blazing light of the Lord.

by JAM

Treasure the Journey

“Autumn reminds us to treasure the journey as much as the destination – Unknown.” This week in my email there were notifications of six funerals scheduled here at our parish. It made me sad, as it always does, and also gave me pause since two of those who passed were younger than me. This news, with the horror that took place in Las Vegas still fresh in my mind, was yet another reminder that life is precious and the Lord can call us home at any moment. At my age, there is no doubt that I am in the autumn of my life, and I pray often that God gives me the grace to not be in a hurry and to continue to “treasure the journey” in the great gift of life he has bestowed on us and that this journey will get me to the destination of his heavenly reward.

by JAM

Jockey Hollow

When I lived in New Jersey, come fall I had a bit more free time with my three back in school. Sometimes I’d treat myself to a walk in nearby Jockey Hollow, where Washington spent the terrible winter of 1779.  There are still remnants of the “log city” that was built during what historians call the “worst winter of the eighteenth century.” In the barely cool air, it was hard to imagine how awful it must have been for the 10,000 men who endured the below freezing temperatures, snowstorm after snowstorm, and lack of food. Had they not sacrificed so much and suffered through this we would not enjoy our gift of independence in our homeland; they set us free from tyranny. It was, in some ways, like the Paschal Mystery, where the Lord suffered and died for us so that our souls may someday enjoy the freedom of heaven.

by JAM

Autumn Sunsets

One of the most beautiful blessings of where we live are the amazing sunsets that God gifts to us every day. With the changing of the seasons, there is also a change in the sky’s color palette:  blazing red and orange turn into softer shades of pink and gold. Each is equally beautiful. This is sort of how life is. In our prime, we are all red and orange and ready to go, but when we begin the autumn of our years we tend to become more subtle. David Jeremiah writes “The autumn of life is a strange mixture of nostalgia, blessings, and potential. It yields the harvest of seeds we’ve sown throughout life and braces us for colder days to come.” How very true. While the enthusiasm and energy of our first few decades may wind down we still have many blessings to count and many opportunities to continue God’s work here on earth.

by JAM

Lesson in Faith

When I moved to California, my daughters, both of whom live in New Jersey, asked me if I wouldn’t miss the change of seasons. My tongue-in-cheek response was “We have a change of seasons in California: spring, summer, spring, summer.” I always found it difficult to be happy about the coming of fall. Summer has always been my favorite time of year and when the calendar got to the autumnal equinox it meant the kids were back in their school routine, my time was regimented by their schedule, the days got shorter and cooler. I realize now that without fall there can be no spring or summer. In much the same way, our Christian faith teaches us that everlasting life rises from Jesus’ death on the cross. Now I look at the change of seasons more as a reminder that the signs of eternal life are all around and ahead of us.

by JAM

Sisterly Love

My sister had seven children in ten years. She married young and earned her college degree by taking mail-order classes while caring for this happy brood (it was long before the Internet!). Even while doing this, she managed to serve on her Parish Council, go to the local jail to minister to the prisoners there and serve hot meals at a homeless shelter. When the children were grown, she and my brother-in-law went on missions to Haiti where they built a school and cared for the poorest of God’s poor. Her love knows no bounds and she did all this because she truly believes in living the way Jesus taught. The example she set for me is truly inspirational. If she did all this with the enormous responsibilities of caring for a large family, there is no reason why I can’t follow in her footsteps in my own small way and serve my brothers and sisters, too.

by JAM