#Judy

Spreading Peace

Today’s Advent quote from the gospel of Matthew speaks of being blessed when you are spoken ill of and the peace practice begins with the phrase “Listen attentively to the language around you.” It reminds us to speak positively about others and ourselves. For me, this is harder than it sounds since I frequently have no filter and whatever is in my head comes out of my mouth. Sometimes I find myself saying something negative about someone without even realizing that I’m doing it, like making a comment about someone’s hair, or outfit. I almost always do that just to be funny, but it isn’t necessary and if the person ever heard me it would be hurtful.  So today I will try to keep a filter in place and look for times that I can spread peace and joy to others. Hopefully, it will become a habit, not just today, but ongoing in my life.

by JAM

 

The Shoebox

Beginning when my children were small, we had an Advent tradition that lasted many years. I had a shoebox covered in wrapping paper, with a slit in the top. There was a gift tag on it that read “To Baby Jesus.” We kept it under our tree and my kids would write something good that they did each day and put it in the box as a “gift” for the Lord. This lasted until the youngest of the three was in her teens. Over the years the box became full but it was never opened. Then when I was packing to move to California, I found it and opened it. I sat in the attic, reading what they’d written, sometimes laughing and sometimes crying. It was a difficult time for me but seeing that shoebox gave me a sense of peace because I knew in some small way, I raised my children with a sense of what the season was truly about.

by JAM

Communal Thanks

I was thinking about how many times in the mass we say “thank you” to God. In the Gloria “We praise you, we glorify you, we thank you for your great glory.” One of my favorite parts of the Mass is the preface to the Eucharistic prayer when the celebrant prays “It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father most holy, through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ…” It is a firm reminder to be thankful for the many blessings in our lives as we are about to partake in the greatest of all God’s gifts, the Body and Blood of our Savior. It causes me to reflect on all the goodness in my own life: the freedom to worship, the blessing of being a part of such a vibrant faith community, and the saving grace of a God who is always with me.

by JAM

Thanksgiving List

Today begins Thanksgiving week! Besides grocery lists and menu-planning, no doubt we are also thinking of things for which we are grateful. Of course, at the very top of the list (and I’d guess we all have pretty similar lists) is, of course, what I sometimes refer to as the “Three F’s’–my faith, my family and my friends. What would have to come next is being able to work with our middle school families who participate in our parish Outlet program, performing service projects.  The parish staff often teases me because I’m always exclaiming “I love my job!” or “This is the best job I’ve ever had!” But, to be honest, it really isn’t a “job” to me. It is a gift.  To be able to introduce young people to ways they can follow Jesus by helping others is anything but work. It is not a “job.” It is pure “joy.”

by JAM

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