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Be Bold

Posted on February 6, 2023 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (41)

Monday Meditation – Be Bold - 2/6/2023

 

Do you act boldly and with courage regarding your faith?

 

As an inherent introvert, I tend to not speak up about things unless I am sure I know the answer. It always seemed to take me awhile to get comfortable with something, but once I am comfortable, I have no problem speaking up.

 

When it comes to my faith, though, sometimes I am hesitant to speak up for what I believe. Perhaps it’s that introverted nature of mine, but so often I pass up opportunities to express my beliefs more out of fear of negative reactions of others.

 

I have been reading the Book of the Acts of the Apostles recently, and Chapters 4 and 5 talk about how bold the disciples were regarding proclaiming Jesus to the people around them. They spoke up freely, teaching anyone who would listen to them. They gladly accepted being thrown into jail for what they taught, and even rejoiced – “The apostles for their part left the Sanhedrin full of joy that they had been judged worthy of ill treatment for the sake of the Name.” (Acts 5:41)

 

When I read those verses I had to pause. I am a Christian, and so I am also a disciple of Jesus. All disciples are called to proclaim Jesus to others. But how well do I do that?

 

In church I’m fine. It’s a safe environment and the people there are all Christians too. So there I have no problem sharing my story and my beliefs with others.

 

And within this blog it is also easy for me to share my faith. I don’t have to face anyone directly, and chances are, people who disagree with me don’t even read my blog! I’m probably talking to a very receptive audience.

 

But out in the world? When I look at those who go out and boldly share their faith with the homeless, prisoners, or other groups who may react hostilely, I shrink back. I seem to lack the boldness necessary to speak in these situations.

 

The passages from the Acts that I was reading follow sequentially on the heels of Pentecost – that fiery event when the Holy Spirit came down on those in the Upper Room. The people in that room were emboldened by the Spirit – all of a sudden they had the courage to proclaim their faith to others.

 

Now I was confirmed as a young girl, and in Confirmation I supposedly received the Holy Spirit. So, I wonder why I don’t feel that bold like the Apostles?

 

Then I remember that the Holy Spirit gives all kinds of Gifts to us. And we don’t all get the same gifts. Not everyone is called to be preachers or doctors or teachers. Not all of us are gifted with the ability to sing or write. But all of us ARE called to proclaim God, using our specific gifts that are unique to us. Some people are given the wherewithal to proclaim God publicly. Others are given gifts to proclaim God through their actions. There are many kinds of gifts that help us to proclaim Jesus.

 

Do you recall that famous aphorism traditionally ascribed to St. Francis of Assisi? They say he said: “Always preach the Gospel…. by words if necessary.” With my gifts I can proclaim God in many ways, not just in speech! I boldly proclaim what Jesus and the Apostles demonstrated in the Gospel by my acts of kindness toward others. In writing my blog, poetry and prose, I proclaim my faith to my readers. I proclaim God in song, as I lead liturgies and offer sung comfort at funeral masses. I may not be called to proclaim God in the same way as the Apostles, but I can boldly proclaim Him using the gifts that I do have.

 

What gifts do you have that you can boldly use to share your faith with others? Take a few moments this week to think about what you can do, and then do it! Be bold this week and proclaim to others the gifts you have received – because in doing so you will bless others with your gifts.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2023 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Pulled

Posted on January 30, 2023 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (144)

Monday Meditation – Pulled - 1/30/2023

 

Have you ever been pulled between two things? I have been many times. I have been pulled between deciding to go to one favored restaurant versus another favored one. Sometimes I’m pulled toward an extra helping of that delicious casserole or to have a cookie for dessert instead of declining those in favor of my waistline. I also have been pulled between doing all the things on my to-do list versus finishing that puzzle.

 

The choices I listed above are probably minor in the big scheme of things, and they really only affect me (except maybe when I put off doing the things I need to do in favor of that not-so-important jigsaw puzzle...)

 

The problem comes when I am pulled by something more critical in my life, especially when it comes to my faith or other people.

 

A few weeks ago I was pulled toward getting a free meal at lunch instead of attending daily mass prior to my scheduled adoration hour. I’m sad to say that I chose the meal. And why? I certainly didn’t need the extra calories that meal provided, and I lost the opportunity to spend that extra half hour with God. That certainly did not help my faith life. But I chose the “freebie” and the satisfying of my hunger over an opportunity to improve my faith.

 

So often lately I have found myself focused more on “me” than on others or God. When faced with two choices, I somehow tend to gravitate toward the one that serves me rather than the one which serves others or God. Feeding my body certainly isn’t a bad thing, but oh, how much better it would have been for me to feed my soul instead. And taking the time to call a lonely neighbor would be so much more beneficial than getting a few more chapters read in my book.

 

I am happy to report that last week I did forgo the lunch and instead attended mass before my adoration hour. My extra time at church was very productive! When I pay attention to what is pulling me, and why, I can make better choices.

 

Have you been pulled lately? If so, maybe it’s time to review the choices that pull you and really think about what you are choosing. And maybe this week, you can make one better choice for God or others instead of a choice for yourself. A blessing may await you!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2023 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Sunsets

Posted on January 23, 2023 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (503)

Blog 349

 

Monday Meditation – Sunsets - 1/23/2023

 

I love watching the sky in the evening and noting the descent of the sun. Sunsets can be so beautiful, especially when I am near water! Whenever I can, I sit for a while and enjoy the view. And when the sunset seems especially spectacular, I pull out my phone and start snapping photos to capture the moment, even though I know that my pictures will not come anywhere close to the majesty I see in person.

 

Sunsets whisper to us to look closer and relish the rest and peace in the approaching evening. If I put in a little effort to really look, I will see the beauty and the uniqueness of a sunset that will never again be known and experienced in the same way. The clouds will never align just as they are right now with the sun on the horizon in just that spot with a tint of this exact mix of color. The waning heat radiating from the sun on my face at this precise moment is here as a unique gift unlike any other should I care to welcome, engage and experience it.

 

God has created immense beauty around us that is meant to be savored and enjoyed. Whatever has brought me to this particular place, I can be grateful for my life and the enriched beauty of the oft unnoticed sun going down each day.

 

This week I encourage you to watch a sunset or two, if possible. Drink in the beauty of its hues and watch the shifts in the clouds and rays as the sun sinks past the horizon. Savor this precious blessing that God has prepared – just for you, at just this moment.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2023 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Visits

Posted on January 16, 2023 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (828)

Monday Meditation – Visits - 1/16/2023

 

Do you enjoy visiting with friends and family? I do. I appreciate when people call me up to chat and update me about what is going on in their lives. I also enjoy popping in with neighbors or meeting a friend for lunch. Texting is ok, too, when phone calls cannot happen, but there is something much better about direct person-to-person contact.

 

I’m sure you recall at the beginning of the covid pandemic when suddenly face-to-face contact became much less possible. I was thankful I was able to stay in touch with people by phone, but physical visits had to be put off. That meant I could not bring communion to people for a long time. Once restrictions were lifted, I was so happy that I could visit people again, even if I had to wear a mask.

 

Mostly now I am able to visit people without wearing a mask. Only for those people whose health is at risk do I wear a mask, and if I have a cold I will wear a mask when I go out.

 

It’s kind of sad that we need to have all these precautions.

 

Something that also saddens me is when I am out at a restaurant and there are people at a nearby table who are not talking to each other. Instead, they are each looking at something on their phones. I do understand the need to answer an important phone call, or maybe even to look something up as part of a discussion (I’ve done both!) but to spend your entire meal not talking to the person you are with? That is distressing.

 

This week I am fortunate to be visiting a dear friend who lives in Arizona. We are enjoying our time together, doing things with each other in person instead of just talking via video chat. I cherish these opportunities to visit face-to-face.

 

This week I encourage you to have a face-to-face visit with someone you haven’t seen for a while. Maybe the visit can only be via video chat, but if possible, physically visit that person. I think you will find a blessing in being able to look into their eyes and communicate directly with them!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2023 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

 

 

Planning

Posted on January 9, 2023 at 5:30 AM Comments comments (967)

Monday Meditation – Planning - 1/9/2023

 

I’ll bet each of you plans things in your life. I certainly do. I planned out which college I would attend, I planned job interviews, and oh my, what planning was required when I got married! Every day I plan for something – what I will wear and what I will make for a meal are my most common planning rituals. And of course, I plan what I will write for this blog!

 

Of course, I coordinate with my husband when planning large purchases, and I work with my family and friends regarding travel plans. But I do most of my planning on my own.

 

I got to thinking about planning this week because I have so much to plan for right now. I have to get my personal and volunteer accounting activities for year end completed. I have a few trips coming up (so I want to get a few blog posts written ahead of time) and I am hosting a gathering at my house this coming Friday evening.

 

But as I was thinking about all this planning, it occurred to me that maybe I’m not planning in the best way.

 

When I plan, I usually make “to-do” lists, which lay out the tasks that need to be done, and I note the deadline, if there is one. This helps me ensure I accomplish things in a timely manner. The things left undone at the end of the day move to tomorrow’s list.

 

To most people this type of planning makes a lot of sense. And it did to me, too, until I noted one thing that was MISSING from my list.

 

God.

 

Don’t get me wrong - I definitely plan for my spiritual things, such as my adoration hour on Fridays (and planning for a sub when I cannot be there), choir rehearsals and Sunday masses. But regarding my other tasks, I wasn’t considering God. Is this a task that God wants me to do? Am I considering God when I say “yes” to some activity?

 

That thought had me searching my computer for a blog post I wrote just a few short weeks ago about “Good, Better and Best.” As I reviewed my plans this week, I realized that I had somehow slipped back into my old way of thinking – just doing tasks without considering how they fit into what is Best for me. And I certainly wasn’t bringing God into my planning.

 

So I sat down with my current to-do list. I compared each item to the chart I had started which identified things that were Good, Better or Best. Sadly, many of the items on my current to-do list are not necessarily “Best” items, although many were items for commitments I had already made (and I always try to keep my commitments.) So I left them on the list.

 

And for all of the items I wrote “God” next to them, even if they weren’t necessarily spiritual items. I did this to remind me to keep God in the forefront of my mind as I work on each task. For example, I can pray for the person or organization for whom I am doing the task. If the task may not be a “Best” item, I can pray about it right then and there, and maybe God will give me strength to say “no” next time. Or better yet, I can ask God ahead of time (that’s a novel thought!) if this is a task I should be doing. He might give me some direction!

 

I hope you are not surprised that I am still struggling with my planning and activities. It takes time for me to change my habits, and I must be patient with myself. I need to keep God in mind throughout all my planning so I focus on my “best.” And I need God’s help to do that, so I am praying for His blessing on my planning and on my work.

 

If you find yourself struggling with planning and prioritizing your tasks, know you are not alone! We all struggle with this. Just ask God to help you as you plan – always keep Him in mind so that you can accomplish your “best” tasks.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2023 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Wisdom

Posted on January 2, 2023 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (981)

Monday Meditation – Wisdom - 1/2/2023

 

They say that with age comes wisdom, and that’s probably true for most of us. We gain wisdom through learning and experience, so (in theory) the longer we live, the more wisdom we gain. Sometimes we learn from others (either from their mistakes or their successes) and at other times we learn from our own failures or wins.

 

Mentors are a very good source of wisdom. Typically, a mentor has had experience with whatever you are trying to learn and can guide you and give you tips to improve. I have been blessed with a number of mentors during my life, and I can attest to how helpful they have been to my own growth in many areas. I have also served as a mentor for others, which was a rewarding experience in itself.

 

Literature is another excellent source of wisdom. If you need to learn something, check out your local library or Google it! You can find books, papers and even how-to videos on YouTube to help you gain wisdom about things.

 

One source of wisdom that many people overlook is the Bible – a book that hopefully is not gathering a bit of dust on a shelf somewhere in your house! There is much good advice within its pages – just look at the activities and parables of Jesus! But Old Testament Books also have a lot of wisdom. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Wisdom are three books which are chock-full of good advice. Granted some of it may seem a bit archaic and difficult to understand but much of it has value.

 

As I have been reading my Bible I underline phrases which speak to me and may help me grow in Wisdom, so that I can refer back to them later. Here are a few of the gems which have meaning for me:

 

“Like clouds and wind when no rain flows is the man who boastfully promises what he never gives.” (Prov. 25:14)

 

“Be not hasty in your utterance and let not your heart be quick to make a promise in God’s presence. God is in heaven and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few.” Eccl. 5:1)

 

“Therefore I prayed, and prudence was given to me; I pleaded and the Spirit of Wisdom came to me.” (Wis. 7:7)

 

I interpret these passages to point to the value of meaning what I say, being wary of dominating the conversation, and the power of prayer to help me gain what I am lacking.

 

Perhaps passages from the Bible have not been a source of wisdom for you in the past. But who knows - maybe a blessing awaits you in some passage. I encourage you to open your Bible to one of these books this week and see if something stands out for you. You may read pages of text and find nothing, but it is possible that one or two verses might pop out and be exactly what you need in your life.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2023 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Welcome Back

Posted on December 26, 2022 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (695)

Monday Meditation – Welcome Back - 12/26/2022

 

How often do we fall short of our goals? How often do we sin?

 

The answer for me is: all the time. I am no better than any of you reading this blog. I fail so often, and I’ll bet my confessor tires of hearing the same old failures as well as a few new ones.

 

Yes, we are human. We make mistakes. The devil himself is responsible for many of the temptations that cross our paths, yet sometimes it’s our own fault. I imagine my poor guardian angel has often worked overtime trying to stop me from falling, and hopefully that has helped me not to fall too frequently, although I still fall regularly.

 

But the good news is that God always welcomes us back. As long as we are willing to admit our failures and come back to Him, repentant, He stands with open arms. What a blessing!

 

As we bask in the afterglow of Christmas, hopefully we are fully reminded of this precious gift: a babe in a manger, our Savior. He comes to us always, not just once a year at Christmas. He is present to us each time we receive Him in the Eucharist and each time we pray for and accept His forgiveness. He always welcomes us back.

 

This week, I hope you will take some time to thank God for this amazing gift, and fully let Him welcome you back, wherever you are coming from. Tell God your failures, and receive Him into your hearts.. May Christmas be the start of a beautiful new year of blessings for you, journeying once again with God.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

The Nativity

Posted on December 24, 2022 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (294)

Christmas Meditation – The Nativity - 12/24/2022

 

On Christmas eve I find it valuable to reflect. I love sitting with the lights dimmed, maybe only with Christmas tree lights aglow with the single C7 bulb in my manger scene casting a warm glow on the figures therein. It’s a lovely way to ponder the events of 2,000 years ago.

 

A lowly maiden with her betrothed spouse arrive in a small village where many other travelers are gathered for a census. As late arrivals, they find there are no rooms available. Yet it is urgent, a room is needed, for the woman is about to be delivered of her first-born child.

 

The man hunts, and finally locates a stable. Not the best room at all, but it is the Best for their needs. She is delivered. A baby boy. And the angels rejoice, as He destined to be the Deliverer of the world.

 

The story has been told hundreds of thousands of times, and I myself have heard it by the scores. Yet it still brings me to wonder that God had such an unusual plan for mankind. No one could have predicted this was how the Messiah would come. No one, that is, but Isaiah the prophet, who said “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” (Is. 7:14)

 

What a precious gift. God, who loved us so much, gave us the best present - that of His Son, sent to redeem us.

 

Today and tomorrow, as you celebrate Christmas with your family and friends, take a little time to remember the reason for the season. My gift to you this year is one I have given to you before in this blog, but it is worth giving again. The poem titled “A Winter’s Night.”

 

Small specks of glistening snow

Fall silently, softly, earthward.

A hint of the setting sun lingers in the west,

Only a narrow band of light shows through.

 

Above hang dusky clouds

Seeming to brush the treetops.

The vastness of the universe seems somehow gone,

And peacefulness reigns.

 

The snow stops.

A whisper wind tugs at the clouds.

They gently part, bringing to view

The thin sliver of a fading moon.

 

A star, brighter than the others, pierces the darkness

Between the trees’ webs of tangled lace.

Soon the sky is filled with bright points.

The majestic aura of the heavens is unveiled.

 

The world is watching, waiting.

The hour of midnight silently comes.

Creation rejoices with the heavens.

The Christ Child has arrived.


 

Have a blessed Christmas!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Angels

Posted on December 18, 2022 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (851)

Monday Meditation – Angels - 12/19/2022

 

Yesterday was the fourth Sunday of Advent, and the gospel reading at my church told the story of how Joseph got a visit from “the angel” who said to not be afraid to take Mary into his home even though she was found to be pregnant. My Bible does not say who that angel was, but tradition is that it was Gabriel, the same angel who announced to Mary that she would be the Mother of God.

 

In my Bible, whenever angels visited people on earth, they seem to always say the same thing when they first appear: “Do not be afraid!” I don’t know what angels look like, but probably they are not tiny, delicate, cute creatures – I suspect they are large and very majestic beings! If I were to be visited by an angel, I would probably be a bit frightened, too, so the phrase “Do not be afraid” would hopefully calm me down a bit!

 

Angels tend to visit people when important things are going to happen. Angels visited Abraham, and soon he and the barren Sarah conceived a child. Gabriel visited Mary and announced that she was destined to be the Virgin Mother foretold in Isaiah. I can’t imagine what Mary must have felt – young, betrothed but not married, and here she was to bear a child, and no ordinary child at that! Wow. Do not be afraid, indeed.

 

And the angel came again, this time to tell Joseph that Mary’s situation was all part of God’s plan – I’m sure he must have been a bit frightened at the thought of caring for Mary and Jesus, the Savior of the World, so it makes sense that the angel had to reassure him and encourage him to take on that responsibility.

 

Have you ever watched one of those tv shows or movies about angels interacting with people? The ones I have watched depict the angels in human form, helping people who usually don’t even realize that an angel is there. It’s a nice thought, and it causes me to wonder how many times this has really happened on earth? How often has an angel helped someone in some way? I like to think it happens more often than we think!

 

The other question is how many times have we been an angel for someone else? I believe every time we do something kind for someone else, we are being an angel to them. We may never know exactly how our actions benefit others, but chances are they do. One evening last week I went out into the church parking lot after an event, and these was an inch of snow covering all the cars. I decided to brush off a few cars that were near mine – I don’t even know whose cars they were, but it doesn’t matter. Let them think an angel came along to assist them!

 

My suggestion for you this week is to think about times when you have been blessed by another, perhaps by someone who may have been an angel in disguise. And then think of something you could do this week to be an angel for someone else. It might be something done anonymously, or something else. Just do something for someone. You never know how that action might bless them, and how much that might mean to them as we near Christmas.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Good, Better or Best

Posted on December 12, 2022 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (1017)

Monday Meditation – Good, Better or Best 12/12/2022

 

Already we are in the third week of Advent. Why have the first two weeks gone by so quickly? It seems we just turned the calendar page to December, and now Christmas is less than two weeks away. And I am behind.

 

When I spent some time thinking about why that is, I realized that, like usual, I have gotten involved in so many things. I’ve been so busy that I have been under more stress, gotten behind in some of my tasks, and as a result I have not always been able to do my best.

 

That’s frustrating to me.

 

But God has a way of pointing things out! As I was trying to catch up in my Bible in a Year (BIY) readings last week, I came across Sirach Chapter 40, which spoke directly about my problem. If you are not familiar with Sirach, it’s a book containing many statements similar to Proverbs, offering wisdom and thoughts for pondering. The particular passages that hit home are Sirach 40:17-26. These verses list things that are good, followed by something that is better. For example, Sir 40:25 says “Gold and silver make one’s way secure, but better than either is sound judgement.” I noticed that some of the particular items listed in these verses didn’t necessarily apply to my life, but more important was the idea behind the verses: there is a difference between what is good and what is better, and sometimes we need to choose what is better.

 

And to reinforce this, in a little mini retreat this past weekend I listened to the speaker talk about the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) and how Mary had chosen the better portion, that of being with Jesus. Although we may need to cook and clean, that doesn’t mean we can’t also spend time with our Lord. That better portion is available to every one of us!

 

Wow. All this hit home. I always want to help people and to improve my relationships with God and others, so I sign up to do many things. And I think those things are pretty good! But when all these good things overwhelm me, I perhaps can fail to choose the better portion, or fail to do my best.

 

To help me sort out my life, I listed out the major things that I do, and I came up with nine categories, and within each of those categories were several tasks and projects. I think the majority of them are truly good things that help others, and some of them are even necessary for my health and well-being. Some don’t take a lot of time, and others do. Certain ones require effort several times per week, and others are more episodic, or can even be put off for a period of time.

 

This analysis was eye-opening - no wonder I’m so busy and under some stress!

 

I have now begun the next step of my analysis, which is harder: going through the list and trying to identify which ones are truly “better” than the others, and perhaps even which ones are “best.” Questions I am asking about each are “Does this activity enhance my faith life and draw me closer to God,” “Does it improve my relationships with my family and my friends,” “Does this energize me so I can better perform other things,” “ Is it worth the time and effort I must put into it?” and “Is it truly necessary for me to do?” And I need to take these items to God. What does He want me to do?

 

I know I won’t be able to finish this analysis in a day, or maybe not even by the end of this week. This is going to take some serious reflection, and no doubt I may ultimately have to make some hard decisions about activities I should discontinue. I hate disappointing people, so saying “no” is going to be difficult. But in the long run, I know in my heart that choosing the better and the best things will ultimately help me manage my life more effectively, and perhaps even give me some new blessings.

 

This week, I suggest you take a look at your own life. Are there some things you do that are not good? Maybe it’s time to stop. If you have gotten too busy with “good things,” like me, maybe you could take a look at all the good things in your life and decide which ones are better and best. Ask God to help you! This reflection may take you a little time, but as we journey closer to Christmas and the coming of Christ, it may be just the right time to do this. Perhaps you will ultimately decide it’s time to stop doing some of the good things in favor of the better or best things. I believe God will bless us when we choose “better” and “best.”

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2022 Reflectionsonthejourney.net