Monthly Archives: March 2013

With Eager Anticipation

I woke up this morning exhausted. I was up very late working on a project, got a little sleep, and am up again — taking a day off work — to jump into the project again. It was a little odd, being home in the morning on a weekday — getting to watch the garbagemen pick up the garbage. I don’t think I’ve been home for this since I was a little girl. I should have gotten ready faster. I should have gotten up earlier. Someone was waiting on me and it’s never good to keep people waiting. But I just had to take a few moments. Enjoying the fact that others were already well into the work morning and I was just now taking my shower. Looking at the way the morning sun (or well the overcast brightening, we take what we can get) lights up the house. Savoring the quiet. Praying.

These are blessed days. Blessed moments. In just a few days, we will be celebrating our Lord’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. I love the joy of this day. I also really love palms. 🙂 I know, I know. Palms are kind of not the point. And you are right. But I really like them, so they make me *extra* happy for this day. 🙂 I am particularly excited this year, because I finally remembered this year before Ash Wednesday and managed to remove all the palms from my house so that they might be turned into ashes. Come Sunday, I can decorate my house again with palms. They will lose their lovely green color over time, but I will still be able to look upon them with joy throughout the year.

Palm Sunday is great because it marks the beginning of Holy Week. My favorite week of the year! I usually take Holy Thursday and Good Friday off work, but this year I was too late in getting my request in. I did get Holy Thursday off, but I only got a few hours for Good Friday. So I won’t be able to celebrate with my parish in Troy as I usually do. However!!! I found out that my parish in Plymouth is celebrating Tre Ore a little later in the day, and I will be able to be with them for that!

Holy Thursday. Perhaps my favorite day. In the morning, I get to go downtown in Detroit and attend the Chrism Mass. Here, Archbishop Vigneron will bless the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick (MINE!), and the Holy Chrism. I love the smell of the Holy Chrism! It’s quite amazing to see all the bottles and large containers of the oils process in — such a huge sign of the sacramental nature of our Church. So beautiful.

But, as much as I like the blessing of the oils and the realization of the sacraments that they represent, they are not what I love most about the Chrism Mass. What I love is all the priests. Not all, but many of the priests of the archdiocese attend the Chrism Mass and concelebrate with the archbishop. While they are there, they recommit their vows of obedience to him and to the Church. THAT, friends, is the BEST PART EVER!!! The best, best, best part! I love watching them all come in together, and all recess out. Hundreds of priests (okay, I never really counted)!

Cutest Little Pies Ever!

Forgive me. I am eating as I type this. YUMMM!

A friend of mine posted on Facebook the March Menu for Sister Pie, which is run by Lisa. She makes breads, cookies and pies. I’ll show you what I saw:

Sister Pie

The honey buttermilk lemon pie and the leafy greens and goat cheese pies sounded great, so I ordered a 6-inch of each. We set a day and she even delivered them right to my work! How awesome is that! 🙂 She even gave me a hot cross bun to try! 🙂

Hot Cross Bun
I’m giving you big pictures so it will seem like it is closer to your tummy! 🙂

Next, the pies! They arrived in cute, little boxes:
Leafy Greens and Goat Cheese PieHoney Buttermilk Lemon Pie

And were even cuter on the inside!
Leafy Greens and Goat Cheese Pie
Leafy Greens and Goat Cheese

Honey Buttermilk Lemon Pie
Honey Buttermilk Lemon

[Sorry for the crappy cell phone pictures, I have been leaving my camera at home lately!]

These little pies are quite substantial! I had the bun and about 1/4 of the leafy green pie for lunch and am stuffed! 🙂

If you want to get some deliciousness for yourself, contact:
Lisa Ludwinski
lisa.ludwinski at the Gmail
646-469-7539

And I’ll leave you with an image of the inside of my pie!
Leafy Greens and Goat Cheese Pie

Quick Quick Takes: SickieMonkey Edition

— 1 —

This has been the slowest. week. ever. I have been feeling particularly bad throughout the week and have been barely hanging on minute to minute.

— 2 —

On the plus side, I have been able to go to work, which is a blessing because I need the Benjamins to pay the bills.

— 3 —

And… I have had tons of suffering to use redemptively for the good of others. Which has also meant that I have been praying A LOT!!! 🙂

— 4 —

Although I feel miserable most of the time… God is with me through this, so I still have joy. I am still blessed and I still love my life. These things will not change. I am grateful for all that God has done for me.

— 5 —

I think I’ve been driving my priest crazy with all of my prayer requests. But really, he’s one of my best friends and gets the distinct honor of knowing these kinds of things. 🙂 Plus, I comfort myself by picturing a man-shaped depression being worn into the tiles in front of the tabernacle from the hours and hours per day that he spends laying prone in prayer on my behalf. This is what happens, right???

— 6 —

One last sickie-take… If you happen to have any intentions, feel free to send them my way! I will be sure to pray for them, especially when I am feeling crummy when, I am told, they are most efficacious. 🙂

— 7 —

And now for something fun!! I got the great (stolen) idea to do a podcast on various things/topics around the church, hosted by our young adult group: Firestarters. I roped Fr. Eric to do this for the first session, and I have to tell you… I am SO looking forward to the creation of the “gag reel”! Here’s a little taste, “These are votive candles. They are called votive candles because that’s what they are.” I can’t make this kind of stuff up, people!

In keeping with the theme of the week, I will leave you with a pouty-face picture. Keep the faith, peeps! 🙂

God Bless!

DSCN5553

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Rescued from the Pit of Despair

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Memorial of St. John of God, religious

Today’s readings:
Hosea 14:2-10
Mark 12:28-34

[Read the Daily Reflection at Take Five for Faith. Unfortunately, there was an error in the bulletin this week and the reflection from yesterday was reprinted for today.]

For those of you who are like me and less inclined, perhaps, to poetry, the reading from Hosea can tend to be something which we skim over without extracting a lot of meaning. I know, for me, I need to make a conscious effort to slow down and think about the images being presented and what they mean.

In the first stanza (Is that what it’s called? I’m really bad at poetry. Really bad. I mean verses 2-3.), they are talking about a people who have hit the proverbial rock-bottom. They aren’t able to stand on their own; they have collapsed. Their “friends” won’t be there to help them. They don’t have any defenses. They are utterly incapable of saving themselves. Even the most pitiable people in their society — orphans — pity *them*.

Think about that for a minute. Have you ever been in a situation that was dark and seemingly hopeless? Where everything seems to have crumbled away? Where you were tempted to despair? Savor that emotion for just a moment.

Now, let’s read what comes next in verses 4-7. God is telling them that He is going to break into their lives — into their despair and hopelessness — and He is going to not only restore them, but transform them (and the situation) into something precious and beautiful.

To be swept from the absolute worst of situations to the best of situations… What an amazing feeling! And a reality that happens to us far more frequently than we realize.

Eternal Life Starts Now

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Memorial of Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 7:23-28
Luke 11:14-23

[Read the Daily Reflection at Take Five for Faith or on page 9 of the parish bulletin.]

Today’s reflection speaks of keeping the end in sight. Always knowing where it is that we are headed. And, hopefully, we are all striving to reach heaven. I suppose a “terminal” diagnosis should have had some profound effect on me and how I view my life.

But you know… It really didn’t.

Last week, Fr. John gave us our parish mission, during which he spoke of the 5 levels or thresholds of discipleship, as outlined in Sherry Weddell’s book, “Forming Intentional Disciples.” Forgive me for talking “off the cuff” as it were, but as I recall, the five thresholds were: Trust, Curiosity, Openness, Seeking, and Intentional Discipleship. The difference between the Seeking and the Intentional Discipleship stage was that when you are Seeking, there is still something that is holding you back from giving everything to God. Or, to put it another way, you have some safety net, security blanket, something to which you are clinging instead of completely abandoning yourself to God. So he invited us to drop our nets.

What is my net?

No. Seriously. What is my net?

Do I have a net?

I have been thinking and praying about this for the last week, and I’m not sure that I do. Perhaps my entrance into the Church came a bit oddly, but it seems to be that in one day I jumped from being the laziest agnostic/atheist in the world to somewhere between Openness and Seeking. And I “dropped the net” sometime during my extensive 2.5 month RCIA experience. 🙂

[Of course, now that I said that, I’m having visions of Fr. John rolling his eyes and placing me firmly in the Pre-Trust category.]

And maybe this is why my life didn’t change too drastically when I got this terminal diagnosis. Because it wasn’t my life to live anyway, at that point. Why would I get incredibly mad or deeply depressed when I don’t think that I am entitled to any specific length of time here on earth? How would I be “missing out” on anything by dying “early” if I hope to enter into eternal life with the Creator? Why would I worry about what I’m going to face, if I know that He will be with me every step of the way?

So I don’t.

I’m not mad, sad, or worried. Or well, I’m not worried about *me*. I am concerned for those whom I love. Even though *I* know that God will be with them, I don’t know that *they* (or all of them, at any rate) know this. So when something happens to me, what will help them to trust in God and not fall into anger and despair? This is probably why discipleship is so important. It’s not for us, although to be sure we definitely benefit, but it’s for others. So they can see our witness and be lead towards the Lord.

This is not to say that every day is bliss. FAR from it! Actually, lately every day is a great struggle. Sometimes, it’s all I can do to make it from minute to minute. Other times, I feel okay and can do more things. Through it all, I have a deep sense of joy. Which is not giddiness. Believe me. Especially when I am curled up in agony. Luckily, or unluckily depending on your perspective, most of the time my suffering is not apparent to others. And usually I can still get things done. For which I am so thankful. Because I know that I will be useful until the moment that I die. And I so desire to do as much as I can.

God gave me gifts and talents, and I’m not one to want to bury them, but fling them out there into the world. With glee! And more enthusiasm than is advised by most sane people, but that’s my Tigger-esque personality. I am not one to stand around in hallways waiting for others.

[Oh. Wait. I do wait sometimes. This is, I think, one of the only changes that I’ve made. I tend to wait for my friends, even if it is just to say “Hi” for 5 seconds. Because, next to God, people are the most important. And if I died tonight, I would be sad that I didn’t take that time to say “Hi.”]

I stand here (or bounce, as the case may be) saying, “Here I am, Lord. Use me!” Or I am not feeling well and I intercede for others saying, “Here I am, Lord. Use me!” And perhaps more than the intercessions and requests, and through it all, I pray, “Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!” because it is truly a blessed life.

Um. Yeah. We were originally doing a Scripture reflection, right? I didn’t forget. Jeremiah is actually talking about all this too. In his own way, he is calling the Israelites to drop their nets. To let go of those things which seem to be means of salvation: power, money, status, friendship with powerful allies, foreign gods… And to turn to the One who truly has the power to save them. To repent of their sins and come back into relationship with God.

St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, pray for us!

Do You Believe in What You Do?

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Today’s readings:
Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9
Matthew 5:17-19

[Read the Daily Reflection at Take Five for Faith or on page 9 of the parish bulletin.]

Today’s reflection speaks of integrity between what you believe and your actions. They suggest you check out a website called “This I Believe.”

The passage in Deuteronomy is a call to the people to this kind of integrity. They have been made God’s Chosen People, so now they must act like it. The same, too, with us. We have been chosen by God for Himself by the means of our baptism, so we must respond to the grace that He has given us by the way in which we live our lives.

They say that the reason why more people aren’t Catholic is because of Catholics. If we claim (as we do) to have the fullness of the means of salvation, then the logical response by others is to assume that we are holier than people who do not have the same kind of access to God’s grace (via the sacramental life, in particular).

However, this is often not the case and is quite a scandal to the world. We are seen then as hypocritical, false, and superficial in our faith. And who would want to join a church like that? We need to first look to ourselves, and make sure that we are adhering to the faith if we hope to pass it on to others. I have to have a flame burning in me, if I hope to light a fire in my neighbor.

Let’s flip this around the other way. Suppose you are someone outside of the Church and you see scandalous behavior from people who call themselves Catholics. Does this mean that the Church itself is corrupt, full of errors, or just not a good idea?

Of course not!

The Church is made up of sinners just as it always has been. But the Holy Spirit is what guides us, not the actions of any particular individual — not matter how heinous his or her actions may have been. We trust *God*, and this is why we have faith in the church that Jesus founded. For He promised to be with us always, to the end of the age. (Cf. Matt 28:20)

Talk About Prayer Under Pressure!

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Today’s readings:
Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Matthew 18:21-35

[Read the Daily Reflection at Take Five for Faith or on page 9 of the parish bulletin.]

The reflection focuses on the beauty of the prayer of those men in the fire. They praise God and acknowledge their sins in the midst of their suffering instead of begging to be spared from the flames. What grace must have been given for them to be able to pray like that!

Again, (this must be my contrary nature!) I feel drawn more to the Gospel reading than the one picked by the people writing the reflections. But perhaps that’s a good thing… Anyhoo…

I think the Gospel is referring to one of the most dangerous prayers that we tend to say several times a day without thinking about what it is that we are saying: the Our Father. In this prayer, we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.”

Did you get that?

We are asking God to treat us the way we treat people who have hurt us.

So…. How well do you treat those who hurt or mistreat you? I think the general tendency is to be like the guy in the Gospel reading, who seized the offender and started to choke him. We don’t want them to just apologize or realize what they did to us (although we want this too!), we want them to hurt the way we have been hurt!

And, at the same time, we beg God that He doesn’t treat us the same way.

We can’t possibly live with integrity and hold both of these ideas in our hearts. So, we need to learn how to generously dispense mercy to others. We need to model Jesus. Being merciful does not mean being a doormat and letting bullies get away with anything, but it does mean that we should have a heart for what is in that other person’s best interest in our dealings with them. Sometimes a just punishment or fraternal correction is required, but more frequently, I think that forgiveness, humility and a realization of the many times that we, ourselves, have failed is more in order.

This all kind of goes back to that sense of gratitude that we talked about when reflecting on yesterday’s readings. If we adjust our outlook to one which reflects more on the gratitude we should have toward the many gifts that God gives us, we are more likely to have charity in our hearts to be able to give to others.

Prayer for the Election of a New Pope

papal flag close

Lord Jesus Christ,
You are the Good Shepherd,
And you never leave your flock untended.

You gave your life that we may live,
And you appoint shepherds after your own heart
To lead your people by word and example
To likewise give themselves away in love.

We thank you for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI,
And for his service to the Church and the world.
We ask that you now give him a fruitful period
Of rest and prayer, of gratitude and praise.

We ask you, Lord Jesus, with the Father,
To send the Holy Spirit on the Church once again.

In particular, guide the Cardinals who will shortly exercise
The obligation and privilege of electing a new Pope.
Guide their deliberations and decisions
With divine wisdom and insight.

Even now, Lord Jesus, give to the new Pope,
Whom you have already chosen,
An abundance of holiness and strength,
To carry out the mission you have entrusted to him.

May your Word reign supreme in his life,
And may his every word and action point the Church to You,
The supreme and eternal Shepherd,
And the only mediator between God and humanity,
For you live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

[From OLGC Parish Bulletin 2/24/13]

Whose Side Are You On?

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament

Okay, new fun activity…. To reflect on the daily readings! 🙂 In the parish bulletin, they have a page where they list not only the daily readings for Mass, but also include a little blurb about them. I thought that I’d provide the link to “Take Five for Faith” for the daily reflection for your reading pleasure, as well as my [amazing, insightful, colorful] commentary and personal thoughts on the readings.

I was originally going to provide the text of the reflections in my post, but I don’t want to step on anyone’s copyright privileges, so if you are reading this post on the day I posted it, you can click on the link to read it there. If you are reading the post on a different day, you can access the parish bulletin and read them there. This week’s reflections are found on page 9 of the bulletin.

Are you ready?! Let’s go! 🙂

Today’s readings:
2 Kings 5:1-15b
Luke 4:24-30

The reflection written notes how we tend to create divisions between people: it is “us” and “them,” but that this is contrary to how we are to live as the Body of Christ. These divisions are due to a lack of charity, many times. Even so far as to have the townspeople drive Jesus out of town in the Gospel of Luke! We should work to break down some of the divisions which have been created between us and reach out to those on the other “side.”

The other thing that struck me about these readings came from 2 Kings, and how Naaman reacted when he was told to wash himself in the Jordan. He was angry.

Why?

Because he had expectations of how God would intervene in his life.

It wasn’t that he didn’t think that God *would* do something; it was that he had a different idea of *how* God should fix the problem. And don’t we do this ALL. THE. TIME??? And then we have the audacity to be angry with God because He didn’t do things the way that we wanted or expected them to be done? Instead of being grateful that He intervened at all?

Amazing, really, that God loves us so much that He heals us, protects us, guides us, and forgives us — despite the incredible ingratitude that we often show Him every day.

For me, I know that I’m going to spend a few extra minutes in prayer today, just thanking Him and praising Him, instead of asking for Him to do yet one more thing.

Thank You, Jesus, for Your unending love and mercy!

Uniting Your Suffering to the Cross

This is perhaps a timely message for me, and for many others. Especially during this time of Lent when many of us are inflicting “mini-sufferings” upon ourselves, it is good to know that God can use all of this. The things that we take on upon ourselves for reasons of self-discipline and love of God, and those sufferings which God permits. These are never good, to be sure, and we should not be seeking them out, but our prayer in the time of suffering is particularly efficacious.

Fr. John was interviewed by Dr. Ralph Martin of Renewal Ministries on this topic. The video is just under a half hour long and is well worth watching.