Be Holy, Be Happy!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Reflection 3-27-16 Easter Sunday

Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed

Alleluia, Alleluia,  Jesus is risen!  Sin and death have no power over us who believe. Glory and honor and praise forever to the lamb that was slain. 

Jesus, renew in us the wonder we felt when we first truly understood and believed that you died and rose again for our salvation.  Give us the courage to share with others this glorious good news! 


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-26-16 Easter Vigil

Tell the Israelites to go forward.  And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea, split the sea in two, that the Israelites may pass through it on dry land. 

I am choosing to reflect on the third reading of the Easter Vigil rather than the gospel.  Having had the privilege of attending the Easter Vigil Mass for the past several years, I marvel at it every time.  Starting with the act of creation itself, and continuing through all of salvation history, the vigil shows us quite literally that God has not for a moment removed His hand from the care of His people.
Lord thank you for your constant and abiding care.  May we thank and praise you forever.

To aid in your prayer, I am attaching a favorite song El Shaddai written by Michael Card, sung by Amy Grant


Friday, March 25, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-25-16 Good Friday

When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished”.  And bowing his head he handed over his spirit

It is impossible in just a few words to reflect on the complete self giving of Jesus for our sins.  He spent His life teaching and healing and doing good, and in the end gave everything He had for our salvation. 

Lord, there is nothing I can do or say to merit in any way shape or form, the priceless gift of eternal life you have won for me.  Give me the grace this day just to sit quietly with tears of gratitude for  your extravagant love.  


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-24-16 Holy Thursday

If  I, therefore, the master and teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash  one another’s feet.  I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. 

There are not many clearer examples in all of scripture of service.  Jesus Christ, the creator of the universe, bending down to wash the disciples feet, and telling them as well as all of us to follow His example.  What does service mean to you?  It may mean doing the family’s dishes after a meal, writing a letter to a friend who needs encouragement, or serving at a soup kitchen among countless other examples.  God has given each of us unique gifts that we may serve one another in a particular way for the benefit of the Kingdom. 

Lord,  lead me to people and places that need a touch from you, that I might serve you in gladness with my words and my actions.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-23-16

One of the twelve who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”  They paid him thirty pieces of silver.

I read that thirty pieces of silver was not the price for a wealthy man, but rather what was paid for a common slave.  As I ponder this I wonder if I treat the Lord in this manner.  I know that Jesus wants to have a relationship with me and to be my friend, but sometimes I focus on this too much and fail to remember that He has the title of King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  I also know many times I ask Him to do things for me as a slave owner would.

Lord I know that you want to have a relationship with me and be my friend, but I also know  that you are the creator of the universe, and I am your servant and not the other way around.  Forgive me for the times I have failed to acknowledge this and help me to honor you as you deserve.  


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-22-16

Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you.”  Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?  Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”

All of  us have denied the Lord at some point, either by overtly saying we do not know Him as Peter did, or by not speaking in His defense when others have maligned Him.  It is comforting to know that even though Peter did deny Him, Jesus still made him the head of His Church.  The mercy of God is so vast that we cannot fathom it.  Even though He knows our humanity and that we will fail, He still wants to use us to spread His message of love

Lord, thank you for this jubilee year of mercy.  Give me the courage to stand up for You, and when I fail give me the humility to ask for forgiveness.  


Monday, March 21, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-21-16

Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. 

Mary knew Jesus well.  She loved Him deeply and listened closely to His teaching and felt His love for her personally.   She did this to express her love for him.  As I read these words I realize my love for him is not as lavish.  Many times I have felt his love for me and been moved to tears, but I also must acknowledge there are days when I barely speak to you at all. 

Lord, help me to realize that my love for you will only deepen if I spend more time with you, in prayer,  in your word and in the sacraments.  Remind me that I owe my very life to you, and help me to lavish you with the love you deserve.  


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-20-16 Palm Sunday

They proclaimed:  “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.”  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  He said in reply, “I tell you, if they kept silent, the stones would cry out!” 

As I read these words about the stones crying out, the Holy Spirit again convicts me.  I am perfectly comfortable talking about my faith with other parishioners after Mass or in a group of Christian friends, but too often in other places I keep silent. 

Lord, give me the courage to speak your name in the public square,  knowing that if my faith doesn’t cost me anything, it is hard to prove that it exists at all.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-19-16

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. 

Today we celebrate the solemnity of Saint Joseph.  He was an honorable and compassionate man chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus.  Also from the quote above we know he was quick to obey the instruction of the angel

Lord thank you for Joseph’s holy example.  Help me to be honorable, compassionate and quick to obey as he was.  


Friday, March 18, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-18-16

Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.”  And many there began to believe in him. 

Sometimes I wish I could have lived at the time of Christ and been among those who got to see and hear him face to face.  I am blessed to have many friends and family however, that make his existence and presence undeniable.  I believe in Him because of their witness and love in my life

Lord,  help me realize the privilege I have in helping others to believe.  Help my words and actions be a witness to Your love.  


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-17-16

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.”

To never see death, what an amazing promise.  As I ponder this quote I wonder if Jesus is talking about more here than just physical death.  People in a period of darkness emotionally and spiritually can feel dead inside.  We as His followers can bring life to others with something as simple as a smile and a kind word.  I don’t think we realize how powerful this truly is.

Lord, help me keep Your word and share it with others so that together we can bring life to the brokenhearted.  


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-16-16

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Many years ago, I made a friend who wrote me letters every week for an entire summer.  I could hardly wait for the mail.  I read and reread every word.  I was completely astonished by the  sweetness in the pages.  As I think back on that time, I feel convicted by the Spirit.  My relationship with God through His word, is not nearly as alive.  Sometimes I read His word, most often I do not, or do so only half heartedly.  The love that gave to the point of death for me deserves everything from me in return. 

Lord, give me a love for Your word that I might be completely free to do your will with joyous abandon


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-15-16

The one who sent me is with me.  He has not left me alone, because I always
do what is pleasing to him.

We are not alone because Jesus, and the Father and the Holy Spirit are always with us.  I know how often I fail, I know I do not always do what is
pleasing to Him.  This lenten journey of fasting and prayer and almsgiving is meant to bring us closer to God and help us remove ourselves from the things that do not please Him.  We may not have lived up to all of our resolutions for the season, but we can never tire of starting over.

Lord thank you for this season of lent.  Help me to draw closer to you so I can know what pleases you and how to act on it


Monday, March 14, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-14-16

Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

There is so much darkness in our world, hatred and confusion and loneliness and violence seem to be ever increasing.  As Jesus' followers we are called to work with Him to banish these things and bring His love to our brothers and sisters

Lord, help me to follow you more closely and listen to your voice so that I know what you would have me do to increase the light and the love in my community.  Lead me to specific people today whose lives I can brighten


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-13-16

"Woman where are they? Has no one condemned you? She replied, "No one, sir."  Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not sin any more."

What an incredible picture this paints once again of the mercy of God.  This woman must have been so frightened, literally in fear for her life.  Jesus sent her human judges and accusers away, and even though as God he did have the right to condemn her, he chose to forgive instead.   We often feel like we should be condemned, due to something from our present or our past, but Jesus longs to forgive us.  All we have to do is admit our failings and ask.

Lord, thank you for always being willing to forgive.  Give me the courage to thoroughly examine my heart and life for those things that displease you and ask for forgiveness


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-12-16

Thanks to Anne Harsh for this contribution 

“Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him
and finds out what he is doing?”
They answered and said to him,
“You are not from Galilee also, are you?
Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Have you ever skipped a workshop with a compelling theme because you knew the speaker? I have. Even within our Catholic Community we tend to look upon others based on categories to discern their holiness. Charismatic or dogmatic, Home school or public school, early morning Mass goers or "lazy Mass" attendees, people who go to the same retreats as me or those who don't. It is so much easier for me to accept the word of God from those I don’t know because I am not familiar with their flaws. I have not categorized them in one of my boxes. But in this attitude I am convicted of my tendency to see the “good” as being generated by the person rather than the work of God through them. Jesus said “Why do you call me good, no one is good but God alone”.

Jesus, bless me with the eyes to see the potential in every person to be an instrument of your grace, knowing that all good and perfect gifts come from You.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-11-16

Thanks to Anne Harsh for this contribution 

Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?
But we know where he is from.
When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”

They didn't recognize Jesus among them because He was familiar and not what they expected Him to be.  They avoided him because He didn't make them feel comfortable. This brings to my memory a recent experience, but one of many like it in my life, where an unfamiliar person was placed in my path.  Someone who on the surface looked unassuming and not of interest to me.   I made small talk long enough to meet the minimum requirements of being a good Christian then proceeded to ignore him the rest of the evening, instead looking for those people I knew and felt comfortable with.  Later in prayer God brought this person to my recall, gently but truthfully chastising me asking, "Why did you overlook me?"  How many opportunities to look into the face of God have I missed?  How many interactions with God through all kinds of diverse people have I passed over?

Jesus, grace me with the desire to find you in all the hidden gems that you place in my path.  The beautiful opportunities to look beyond the simple everyday exteriors into the radiance of you dwelling inside all of your beloved children.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-10-16

Thanks to Anne Harsh for this contribution 

I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?

Work without love is like a noisy gong ?  But if someone who doesn't  love gives a starving person food, isn't it still good?  If  the love of God is not in that giving, the  prisoner is still in their cell with their food.  But if that giving is done in God's love rather than the giver's self love, the prisoner will be set free. How often do I do good works with motives corrupted by my desire to be loved and provide that love for myself?

Jesus, please give me the grace to open my heart to your divine flashlight.  Let it shine not just on my wicked deeds but on the impure motives in my good deeds.  Purify my motives for all the good deeds I do so that only your perfect love that casts out all fear is the fruit. Your love that sets the captives free.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-9-16

Thanks to Heidi Knofczynski for this contribution

Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.

The voice of the Lord has the power to give life where before there was death!  Can it be true?  It is true!  And how can we hear His voice?  Reading His living word,  praying over it, letting it sink deep into your heart, mind and soul, knowing always that when He speaks to you He will awaken authentic desires calling them forth from their tombs and directing them to where they will bring the fullness of life!

Jesus, you are the way the truth and the life, speak your word into my soul and bring life to me and through me.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-8-16

Thanks to Heidi Knofczynski for this contribution 

When Jesus saw him, and knew he had been lying there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

Unforgiveness is one of the most difficult feelings to be healed of.  It is difficult because in our pain we want the one who wounded us to feel ten times over our hurt and our humiliation.  We may fear that  if we release this person from the debt they owe us, then maybe we will never be freed from the pain of the injury.  Maybe we fear that it means that we somehow deserved to be hurt.   Jesus knows your pain, and He knows what this infirmity is doing to you.  He knows that it saps strength from your pursuit of holiness.  He wants to build each of us  up in His perfect love.  It really is  an epic struggle to allow Him to heal us from unforgiveness, but take confidence His grace will prevail.  It will prevail over the Pharisees in our hearts and His great love will prevail over the fear that we are not worthy of love and restoration.

Saviour,  In your loving gaze you see all my wounds, let your perfect love cast out all fear and open my heart to your healing.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-7-16

Thanks to Heidi Knofczynski for this contribution

He asked them when he began to recover.
They told him,“The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.”
The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him,“Your son will live,”

The words of Jesus have power.  Do you believe it?  Jesus speaks “your son will live”  and at that moment the royal official's son is healed.  The royal official did not see it happen, and that seems to be the point of this verse; he had the faith to ask for his son’s healing and he then he  simply trusted in Jesus’ words.   And the words of Jesus go beyond the expectations of a mere physical healing!  We read that the royal officials entire family came to believe, and the life that comes through belief in Jesus is eternal.  

For most of us the healing we need is often hidden deep in our souls occurring in subtle and unexpected ways.  It takes tremendous trust because it is hard to perceive anything happening. Read, listen and ponder His words in Scripture and, as Mary directs us, “do whatever He tells you to do.” Most of all trust that His healing is meant for you too.   It may come upon you slowly, occurring in the depths of your soul but it is occurring.  And His healing will go beyond you, surging forth like the dawn to bring others into His light.

Merciful Jesus,  I need your healing,  lead my heart into a deeper trust in your word of eternal life and let my life be a sign of your saving power.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-6-16

Thanks to Heidi Knofczynski for this contribution 

‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

Are you an elder brother?  Are you so caught up with works of piety that you forget to stop and receive the Father’s love?  Most of us fall into this as some point or another, which is why It is so necessary on a daily basis to stop “doing” and be still in prayer.  When we sit before the Lord  in prayer His deep and abiding love gently reveals our vain motivations for doing even good things as He purifies these motivations in His love.  When we know His love we will not be caught up in counting the trespasses of others, like the  elder brother in this parable.   The resentment he stirs up by comparing himself against the trespasses of his brother is false because his father’s love was always at hand.  Whether our sin is outward and obvious or inward and not so obvious, we are all becoming new creations in Christ if we receive what He is freely pouring out upon us even at this moment.

Father, Quiet my busy mind and open my heart to receive all that you have to give me,  purify my motives and give me true joy for all the blessings you pour out on all of your children, particularly the prodigals who have come back home.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-5-16

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,  and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

I don’t think of myself as an overtly proud or arrogant person.  But as I examine my conscience and prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation,  which I find to be difficult, I realize humility is not a strength of mine.  I would rather focus on the good I have done than be honest about the good I know God was calling me to that I left undone. 

Lord, grant me the humility to be like the tax collector who bowed his head and asked for your mercy.  It is not works done to be seen that justify us, but a heart humble enough to ask for your forgiveness.  


Friday, March 4, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-4-16

And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “ You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  And no one dared to ask him any more questions. 

What strikes me as I read this is the apparent fear at the end—no one dared to ask him any more questions.  Sometimes getting too close to God can make us fearful.  As an exaggerated example we might think that if we ask God what He wants us to do, we might be asked to become a missionary in a far away place.  While this may be true in some very specific cases, I believe God’s call comes to us in more simple and ordinary ways,  give this person a smile and a greeting, she is having a difficult time, or  this person is hungry, go buy him a sandwich

Lord, please give me the ears to listen to your call and the courage to carry it out.  You would never ask me to do something that you would not help me with.  


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-3-16

But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,  then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. 

Because Jesus is with us the very Kingdom of God is in our midst.  As I read this I realize how little time I spend integrating this knowledge into my heart.  In the busyness of  jobs and meals and laundry and soccer practice and on and on, sometimes the Kingdom gets lost in the shuffle. 

Lord, thank you for coming to earth to bring the Kingdom of God upon us.  Remind us every day of the part we have to play as we spend our time with family and friends and coworkers and classmates to bring the Kingdom to others.  


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-2-16

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.  But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. 

For me, priests, sisters, oblates and other consecrated men and women have been some of the most influential people in my life.  They have guided and instructed me in amazing ways and helped to shape the person I am today. 

Lord, thank you for those who have instructed me to follow You more closely.  Please bless and strengthen them and help me to follow their example as we journey toward the Kingdom of heaven.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lenten reflection 3-1-16

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?  As many as seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times”

Our human nature limits us.  On our own, we only have so much time, patience, love, strength and energy.  What Jesus is telling us here is that if we lean on Him, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, our resources are infinite.  The easy way out is to give up and push back when things get difficult.  We must learn to stop and pray for His guidance in these situations.

Lord, when I am tempted to give up and repay anger with anger and weakness with weakness, help me to stop and look to You so together we can overcome hatred with love.