#Judy

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

Open To Hear

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I talk a lot. Sometimes it is out of nervousness and sometimes it’s just an effort to make someone feel comfortable in an awkward situation. I also talk to myself …words of encouragement in order to do something hard or words of criticism for having done something stupid. I don’t only talk to people; I also talk to God.  I like to think that I am a good listener and am available for anyone who needs a shoulder to cry on or some advice.  When it comes to God, he needs neither of those, but he does need me to listen.   The thing is, I have to have my spiritual ears open and tuned up to hear what he says to me.  Lord, please help me to hear and be open to your plan for me, during Lent and always.

by JAM

 

Strength to Endure

The last several weeks I have been with my parents in upstate New York as my Mom is in Hospice care, finishing her earthly journey. My parents are nearly ninety-seven and I have never imagined a time without them in my life. Even though I saw them less as my life changed,  I always knew they were just a phone call away and in later years, a weekly Skype. My Dad is the strongest person I have ever known; he always did what was right and not what was popular.  I see how broken his heart is as he holds Mom’s hand and sometimes cries. I want to join him in his tears, but I know that he needs me to just hug him and reassure him that Mom has a zipline into heaven. This Lent I pray that God gives me the strength to endure the loss of my beloved Mother and to be there for others when they need someone to lean on.

by JAM

God Is. . .Faithful

Recently I was able to take part in a parish mission to Piura, Peru. In my lifetime I’ve seen hardship in other parts of the world, but the poverty there was beyond anything I’d ever witnessed. By proportion, that poverty was countered by the extraordinary faith of the people.  While we have every opportunity to attend mass frequently, Peruvians   sometimes walk miles in all types of extreme weather to take part in the Eucharist wherever it may be offered. We met with people who had next to nothing and lived in bamboo houses with dirt floors. Yet, in every home we visited there was a crucifix, a picture of Jesus, or the Holy Family. Everyone we met spoke of their devotion to God and their faith in him to provide what they need. After all, God gave his only Son as Savior, the greatest gift of faith ever.

by JAM

God Is. . .Merciful

 

My ninety-six year old mother is in hospice. I learned my faith from my parents, who still pray the rosary every day and fast during Lent, despite their age. They live in upstate New York and never miss mass unless the drive to town is too treacherous because of the weather.  While sitting with her one evening, my mother became very worried because she’d missed mass. Their pastor had been in earlier that day to bring her communion and told her she had a dispensation since she was hospitalized. I reminded her of this. She frowned and then told me that Father Ralph had his conscience and she had hers and if she felt it was wrong, then it was wrong. She only relaxed when I told her that she would be forgiven since she was “sick” and Father had absolved her of all her sins in the name of Jesus. Our God is a merciful one.

by JAM

God Is. . . Everywhere

 I like to drive. It doesn’t matter to me whether it is just across town or across the country. Time in the car alone always gives me an opportunity to speak with God without distraction. Sometimes I petition to him for something, or pray for someone I know who needs help, but very often I say thank-you to God for all the blessings and beauty he has bestowed on us and me in particular. When I am behind the wheel, I also try to look at something familiar with a new eye. God  is in the rolling green hills, the vast blue expanse of the ocean, or even the perfection of something as small as a bumble bee. He is in all things and within all people if I but allow myself to see. God truly is everywhere.

by JAM