Reflections On The Journey

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Meditations

Hope

Posted on May 17, 2022 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (92)

Monday Meditation - Hope 5/16/2022

 

I imagine that every one of us have fallen into a bit of despair (or a lot of despair) when things are not going right for you or a loved one. When we suffer a loss, like the loss of a job, or the loss of a dear friend, we can feel so hurt, and we might even wonder if there is a reason to go on.

 

Hopefully in a situation like this we end up on our knees begging God for help and mercy. Such a prayer is an honest acknowledgement of whatever situation lies before us. It shows that we care, we are not giving up on the situation, and we have hope that somehow the situation can be resolved, especially in the mercy and compassion of Jesus.

 

It is so important that we pray for each other, as well as for ourselves, in difficult situations. We may not understand why God allows things to happen, but our prayer shows that we trust in God anyway. No one is beyond hope - all is possible through prayer and faith.

 

Right now, I am praying with great hope for a dear friend of mine who is dying. She has fought a good fight, but healing seems not meant to be. I know her family is hurting right now, and I am praying with great hope that God will bring her home safely into his arms and comfort her family.

 

Today I encourage you to reflect on whether there is someone in your life who needs you to hope and pray for them. Maybe they have fallen away from God, perhaps they are suffering an illness, or maybe they are just stuck in a bad situation. I believe we are called to pray for them, not just in a casual and quick way, but rather we are called to deep and faith-filled prayer for them. Jesus is the answer to all things, and he can do all things. Surrender that person to the mercy of God today, tomorrow and every day. Do not give up but retain hope that God can bring healing and transformation of life.

 

Jesus, I hope in You.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Spirituality

Posted on May 9, 2022 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (149)

Years ago I used to think of spirituality as something reserved for the mystics, saints and religious who seem to have that special, close relationship with God. It seemed so out of reach for an ordinary person like me. I also associated spirituality with certain religions, with definite rules and guidelines for living.

 

 

These days I believe that while these things are true in part, spirituality is more, and definitely within reach of all persons. When someone strives toward an extra awareness of life and an enhanced relationship with God, they can become more spiritual, even in the midst of human brokenness and limitations. It seems to be about the way we live our lives and interpret the world and the sacred mystery which surrounds us.

 

We can have spirituality in our work when we see our efforts as more than just making a living but a real opportunity for service to others. Spirituality is shown in our responsibility to care for all human life and nature as gifts from God. It is shown in the way we spend our time - when we live our lives with purpose and without wastefulness.

 

I believe that our spirituality can be strengthened when we become aware of what is sacred and by improving our relationship with Jesus. We can do this by participation in church celebrations, by quality reading and studying, and by a good choice of friends who can help us become more spiritual. It may take some effort, but a deeper spirituality is achievable.

 

For the past several months, I have been working on my spirituality. I am enhancing my knowledge of Scripture by daily readings in the Bible In A Year series. I have tried to immerse myself in the special celebrations of the Church, most recently during Lent and Easter. And perhaps most importantly, I have attempted to enhance my prayer life. This last item hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped… I am so easily distracted by my responsibilities and life events that keep cropping up. It’s been a struggle to find quality time to really focus on prayer and my personal relationship with Jesus. But I am not giving up - I will keep trying to work on prayer, every day.

 

I encourage you to think this week about how you might be able to improve your own spirituality. Perhaps there something you have been meaning to read. Maybe there is a religious event that you would like to attend. Or maybe you just need to sit down and give a little time to God. I pray you can find something to do this week to bring a spiritual blessing upon your life.

 

 

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Saying Goodbye

Posted on May 2, 2022 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (50)

I don’t think it’s ever easy to say goodbye to a loved one for the final time, even when you know it will happen soon.

 

My mother-in-law Vivian passed away last Monday at age 101. She had a heart attack six days prior, and once my husband got her to the hospital, the staff was able to keep her comfortable as her body shut down. I was able to visit with her briefly via video chat, and my sister-in-law and my husband took turns staying with her. We are grateful that several relatives and friends stopped by to see her. Both my husband and his sister were there saying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary with Vivian when she breathed her last.

 

Vivian was a kind and caring woman, and she kindly welcomed me as her daughter-in-law. When my own mother passed away thirty years ago, Vivian became my second mother. She offered advice when I asked, and she taught me a lot of things. She crocheted and was an avid card player, and even up to just a month ago was winning many of the card games we played!

 

We will be celebrating Vivian’s life this coming Saturday with a mass and luncheon at her hometown church. It’s actually been a joy for me to be involved in the preparations for her service, and I just hope I won’t cry too much when I sing “Ave Maria.” We know many friends and relatives will not be able to be with us in person, but we have been blessed by the many thoughts and prayers that have been sent our way.

 

Whenever you are faced with the challenge of saying goodbye to a loved one, I pray that you will find some joy or blessing in the situation. Remember them for all the good they brought to your life and happily celebrate their new life with God.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Divine Mercy

Posted on April 25, 2022 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (219)

We are continuing in the Easter season, and yesterday we celebrated the Divine Mercy of God. This movement was started years ago by St. Faustina Kowalska when she received a vision of Jesus with rays of white and red mercy emanating from his heart and was told to spread this image throughout the world. Today, images of Divine Mercy, with the inscription “Jesus, I Trust in You” are everywhere, and the first Sunday after Easter is called Divine Mercy Sunday.

 

This devotion to Divine Mercy is one I am only recently starting to appreciate. It seems I am often travelling on that Sunday and cannot attend a Divine Mercy service. But when I do, I am moved by the greatness of these rays of hope which represent the blood and water poured out by Jesus on Good Friday as the Mercy of Salvation for our world.

 

Henri Nouwen, a wonderful Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian, talks about rays of hope. Although he doesn’t specifically mention Divine Mercy in these words that follow, to me they are appropriate: “The Easter season is a time of hope. There still is fear, there still is a painful awareness of sinfulness, but there also is light breaking through. Something new is happening, something that goes beyond the changing moods of our life. We can be joyful or sad, optimistic or pessimistic, tranquil or angry, but the solid stream of God’s presence moves deeper than the small waves of our minds and hearts. Easter brings the awareness that God is present even when his presence is not directly noticed. Easter brings the good news that, although things seem to get worse in the world, the Evil One has already been overcome. Easter allows us to affirm that although God seems very distant and although we remain preoccupied with many little things, our Lord walks with us on the road and keeps explaining the Scriptures to us. Thus there are many rays of hope casting their light on our way through life.”

 

Even when we are basking in the sunshine of Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus, we can still feel sadness. Human life is filled with illnesses, setbacks and struggles.

 

My family is undergoing a struggle right now that has greatly dampened our Easter joy – my mother-in-law had a heart attack just a few days after Easter and is now in the hospital in rather poor shape. We have been notifying relatives and friends. My husband and sister-in-law are there with mom, working through paperwork and just being present for her, as there is the very real possibility that she will soon pass.

 

Despite the sadness I am feeling that the woman who has become a second mother to me is probably dying, I am encouraged that probably soon she will be welcomed into Jesus’ arms as a result of those beautiful rays of mercy. I can envision that ray of hope through the veil of my tears, and I am comforted. Jesus, I trust in you. I trust you know what’s best and that you have this situation under control.

 

I encourage you this week to think about the great mercy and love God has for you, too, and find some blessing in a bit of mercy that comes your way this week.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Back to ... Normal?

Posted on April 18, 2022 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (284)

I have a bad tendency to congratulate myself on the good I did during Lent…. This year I lost a few pounds by fasting and giving up certain sweets. I donated a bunch of clothing and gave some extra cash to charities. I did continue my Bible in a Year daily readings, and I attended a Reconciliation service. And now I think can relax my vigilance about these things and slip back into my old habits, or “back to normal.”

 

But that’s not what I should do.

 

Hopefully I learned something from my Lenten practices. As I pondered my 2022 journey so far, I realized I had really overindulged during the winter and gained back some of the weight I lost last summer. My diligence in watching what I was eating during Lent and periodic fasting helped me get back on track.

 

My review of my clothing during Lent got me thinking that I really do have too many clothes. I don’t really need ten sweaters and four sweatshirts (even though I do live in Minnesota), and I certainly don’t need 16 winter shirts and 18 summer shirts, not even counting tees! There are many people who only have a few items, and I certainly can stand to part with several of these, so several pieces went into the donation box.

 

When I attended the reconciliation service shortly before Palm Sunday, I realized it had been many months since I last had gone to confession. What happened that I failed to go more often? Laziness, I guess. Thus I had several things to confess, especially when I consulted the detailed confession guide my church provided for us. Oops.

 

All this reminded me that I cannot go back to my old “normal” ways. Even though Lent is over, I need to remain diligent about my habits – making sure I stay as close on track in my faith as I can. I need to continue a pattern of fasting, almsgiving and prayer. I know there will be times when I will slip up, but I can always go back to confession to return to the right path.

 

I encourage you today to think about the good things you did during Lent and resolve to continue them as we head into the Easter season. If you didn’t do many good things, that’s okay – you can always start now. Don’t just slip back into your old “normal” – make some permanent positive changes. Who knows what kind of blessings may await when you follow Jesus.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Easter Sunday - He Is Risen

Posted on April 17, 2022 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (37)

What a joyful day this is! Even if the weather in Minnesota is a bit on the cool side, I am rejoicing! The pain of Good Friday has passed, and the waiting is over. Jesus is risen from the dead!

 

My favorite story surrounding the resurrection is the one in Luke 24, on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-35) The despondent disciples were so disheartened after the shock of Jesus’ death. They didn’t believe the women who went to the tomb and reported that Jesus had been raised, and they walked home in sorrow. It took the words of a stranger, actually Jesus, explaining everything in Scripture that pointed toward him, and a Eucharistic meal, for them to recognize Jesus and realize that yes, He has risen!

 

Over the years, I too often did not recognize Jesus in the things around me, or even in the words of Scripture. It has taken me years of experiencing little things (perhaps little miracles?) in life and diligently studying the Word of God to truly believe. And since I am human, I have lapses all the time.

 

But today, I believe! Jesus died for me, and he rose for me! So today I will celebrate this precious gift. And I pray that you, too, will recognize Jesus in your life, and celebrate the blessing of his rising for you.

 

Have a blessed Easter Sunday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Good Friday - The Cross

Posted on April 15, 2022 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (73)

Today we celebrate Good Friday, when we remember the day Jesus was cruelly put to death. Some people may wonder why we “celebrate” such an awful event. And true, it is a very sad day.

 

However, we can celebrate because we know the ending to the story! The great sacrifice of the cross meant that Jesus had to endure immense suffering, humiliation, and ultimately, crucifixion, all for the Glory of God and for our salvation. The same people who lauded Jesus when he rode into Jerusalem, only a few days later condemned him to a most horrible death on the Cross.

 

How many times have I condemned Jesus after praising him earlier? Have I denied Jesus when I put other things before my faith? Was I actually saying horrible words to Jesus when I ragged on or dishonored a coworker or spouse? Did I turn my back on Jesus when I looked down on the homeless or denied help to a stranger or even to a friend? Could I have pounded nails into Jesus’s hands and feet when I disobeyed one of his commandments?

 

In so many ways I have acted as bad as that crowd in Jerusalem. My actions hurt Jesus as much as those of Pilate and the soldiers. Yet Jesus died on the Cross for me anyway. Despite my failings and my faults, despite my lack of trust and sinful ways, Jesus died FOR ME and FOR YOU. That indeed is something to celebrate.

 

“We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.” These words I will be speaking as I attend the Stations of the Cross service at my church this afternoon. I hope to be properly penitential as I remember what Jesus experienced on that dark Friday two thousand years ago, and the incredible gift he gave to us.

 

I encourage you to take some time today to meditate on Jesus’ death. Attend Stations of the Cross, or a Veneration of the Cross service if you can. If you cannot get out, you can find resources on the internet to walk you through a meditation on Good Friday. One that I particularly like is here:

https://provpresri.org/docs/GoodFri2013StationsCross%20(1).pdf

 

May you be blessed as you ponder the gift of the Cross.

 

Have a blessed Good Friday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Holy Thursday - The Passover Supper

Posted on April 14, 2022 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (23)

Have you ever studied the Passover as described in the Old Testament? I have done it a few times now, and I have found the parallels to Jesus’ Holy Week to be very insightful.

 

The Passover ritual is described in detail in Exodus 12. The gist of this passage is that the Israelites were first to procure an unblemished male lamb. In a specified manner they were to sacrifice it, prepare it and eat the flesh, and sprinkle its blood on their doorposts so the Angel of the Lord would pass over their homes while the Egyptian first-born males were killed. The Israelites were to repeat this ritual every year to remember how the Lord had saved them, as part of their covenant with God.

 

In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of his part in the salvation covenant: “I am the living bread come down from heaven, if anyone eats this bread he shall live forever; the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:51) He is telling the people what he will do for them.

 

Then on Holy Thursday, it is fulfilled. Jesus reenacted the Passover supper with his disciples. And during it, he did something amazing. “During the meal he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. ‘Take this,’ he said, ‘this is my body.’ He likewise took a cup, gave thanks and passed it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them: ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant to be poured out on behalf of many.’ (Mark 14:22-25) Then he asked the disciples to do this in remembrance of him. In this way, Jesus explained that He is the new Lamb (a perfect, unblemished male), and that we are to partake in this sacrifice to remember that he has come to save us.

 

Jesus is telling us that the Eucharist is not merely a symbol – it is indeed the living flesh and blood of Jesus. The Bible in a Year reflection for Day 100 confirms this, stating: ‘For over 1500 years, every Christian believed in the Eucharist as the true Body and Blood of Christ. If this teaching is wrong, then every Christian was guilty of idolatry, and Catholics and Orthodox Christians are guilty of idolatry today. Recall how quickly God put a stop to the worship of the golden calf on Mount Sinai. Would God have allowed Christians to idolatrously worship mere bread and wine from the beginning of the Church?”

 

Wow. When I spend my time in Holy Week remembering the words of Jesus on that Holy Thursday, I am in awe of the great gift he has given to us. His Body. His Blood. The Holy Sacrifice of each and every Mass truly is that partaking in the Passover of Jesus, and I am encouraged to participate in Mass and eat his flesh as often as I can.

 

If possible, I encourage you to attend a Holy Thursday service to partake in this blessed ritual. If you cannot attend a service in person, see if a local church may be livestreaming their service and you could watch. I also encourage you to spend some time in Adoration in front of the Tabernacle in your church this weekend. Take some time to be blessed by this amazing gift that Jesus is giving to you.

 

Have a blessed Holy Thursday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Passion

Posted on April 11, 2022 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (78)

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday. At church we listened to the reading of Jesus’ passion and death. For me it was a sobering start to Holy Week.

 

The passion in yesterday’s gospel reading is a sorrowful one – describing what Jesus went through following his initiation of The Lamb’s Supper (The Eucharist): a mocking trial, torture, the jeering crowd and the arduous journey to Calvary where he became The Lamb of sacrifice for us. We also read of Peter’s passionate denials of Jesus followed by his equally passionate sorrow once he realized what he had done.

 

Jesus’ passion as described in the gospels is one of agony. Jesus is no longer in control but must surrender to the wishes of others. He must endure many hours of anguish, waiting until he could finally utter those three sacred words “It is finished.” But he lived his life fully, and with passion, for us.

 

No doubt you have suffered in some way in your life – your own special passion – where you were no longer in control but had to wait in a type of agony until whatever it was finally became resolved. I have too, and I know how hard it can be. A challenging health diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, a broken relationship – each of these and many other things can bring on a time of sorrowful passion in our lives. And yet we must press on, looking upon our cross with hope.

 

It helps me to remember that within the passion of Jesus is the mystery of God’s immense love for us. In his Passion, Jesus sacrificed everything for us, and now Jesus waits in passionate love for us to choose him; to allow him to give us an abundance of love, graces and blessings. We just need to choose him above all else.

 

I encourage you to spend some time during this most holy of weeks to think about the Passion of Jesus – that special gift he gave us in the form of his suffering, death and resurrection. Think about the passion he had for all of us – the amazing love he showed by going through the terribleness of Good Friday. Perhaps you might watch a film this week that depicts Christ’s passion. But even better, if you can, attend some or all of the services offered by your church during this week. Immerse yourself in Jesus’s passion. And may you become as passionate about Jesus as he is passionate about you.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Lent

Posted on April 4, 2022 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (19)

We are already several weeks into Lent – and in just two weeks it will be Easter. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. I have to say that my Lent has not gone as “well” as I had hoped. I did not do great acts of penance, and I barely managed to keep up with my daily prayers (I had a few slips and catch-ups).

 

I know I need to step up my game, and so I am planning to attend a reconciliation service this week. I will continue to fight to become holier and purer so I am ready for Our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection.

 

I hope your Lent is going well, and that you have received some blessings from it. If it hasn’t gone so well, I invite you to join with me in re-committing to your Lenten goals. And so I encourage you to say this prayer with me today:

 

O Lord, this holy season of Lent is passing quickly. I entered into it with fear, but also with great expectations. I hoped for a great breakthrough, a powerful conversion, a real change of heart; I wanted Easter to be a day so full of light that not even a trace of darkness would be left in my soul.

 

But I know that you do not come to your people with thunder and lightning. Even St. Paul and St. Francis journeyed through much darkness before they could see your light. Let me be thankful for your gentle way. I know you are at work. I know you will not leave me alone. I know you are quickening me for Easter - but in a way fitting to my own history and my own temperament.

I pray that these last two weeks, in which you invite me to enter more fully into the mystery of your passion, will bring me a greater desire to follow you on the way that you create for me and to accept the cross that you give to me. Let me die to the desire to choose my own way and select my own desire. You do not want to make me a hero but a servant who loves you.

 

Be with me tomorrow and in the days to come and let me experience your gentle presence. Amen.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net