Religious Spin Artists

Did religious spin artists exist back in Jesus’ time?  My parish (St. Rose) handed out a gift recently on Ash Wednesday. “Not By Bread Alone 2017 – Daily Reflections for Lent”  What a wonderful gift! These reflections were written by Genevieve Glen, OSB.

Before we begin, did you know Genevieve Glen happens to be one of the great hymn writers of our time?  She is a Benedictine nun at the Abbey of St. Walburga in Colorado.

First, Matthew 23: 1-12 was the source for Glen’s reflection today (today’s Gospel).  Glen wrote “Jesus challenges us to take a new look at “scribes and Pharisees.”  Glen called them “religious spin artists then and now.”   Additionally, she pointed out “…all their works are performed to be seen.

Furthermore, I believe the principle behind the message from Jesus is still current today: For some folks (sadly), image IS everything.  Do you know people who “wear” their faith?  Customers at our lonely store ask us about wearing rosaries. Crucifixes as fashion statements? Or always wearing over-sized religious jewelry?

Glen asks incisively: Do folks wear this stuff to convince others — or to convince themselves they are worthy of God’s love? Good question!  

Finally, in the verse BEFORE the Gospel today, we may have the answer.  It read “Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD.  And make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.”

Look, it doesn’t matter what you were (or what you wore?).  It matters what you ARE, and what you aim to be, from this day forward.

“…thinking not as God does, but as human beings do…”

From the Twenty-fourth Sunday (Mark 8), we learn that Jesus is (in one moment), happy to hear Peter speak up and recognize Jesus is the Christ. But Jesus soon rebukes Peter. Because as Jesus explains what is to happen to him soon, Peter tries to rebuke Jesus — Peter simply does not want to hear it or believe it.

Jesus told Peter, “…you are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

God has a plan.
We may not understand it.
We may not like it.
But God has a plan.
And in the “Our Father” we pray, “thy will be done… on earth, as it is in heaven.”

Speaking of “thy will be done” I want to share a story with you.

A woman in our parish, a Eucharistic Minister, distributed holy communion with me just three weeks ago at a local rehabilitation center. Then, last Sunday, I visited with her, as she was now a patient in the very same facility! This very healthy person was stricken with a rare illness, out of the blue.

This woman dedicated her life to her parish, to her faith and her family.
On Wednesday, she passed away. She was just 57 years old.

As the Gospel from Sunday continued, Jesus reminds the disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”

Unable To Breastfeed? Shake Away Your Frustration

Breastfeeding is considered to be one heroic act of mothers. More so, if you can continue breastfeeding your child until 2 years old. For many moms, this is an easily achievable feat but for others it can be heartbreaking. One mom shares her frustrations about not being able to breastfeed and the guilt that she has to go through at A Woman With Opinions.

Many moms plan to give the best for their children and that includes breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has all the necessary nutrients that every newborn needs. But what happens if breastfeeding for you and your baby really does not work out. Some are filled with grief that after planning on breastfeeding, they end up using bottles. Now is the time to ease your worry. What works with another person may not work for you and your baby and this fact just needs to be accepted. What you can do? Find another alternative and move on. There are a couple of choices that you might want to try. There are surrogate breastfeeding volunteers who are ever willing to share their milk with your young or you can choose formula milk and bottle feed your baby.

If you tried but nothing worked then go easy on yourself and plan on what will work best for you and your baby.

How To Help Your Child Lessen Life’s Anxiety

Growing up, I had fears of my own. First, I feared the crowd then feared of boys and relationships. So how do these fears happen? Some of the fears that we have as adults began to develop when we were children. We carried these fears as we grew older and have failed to address them thus they haunt us until now. So, how do we prevent things like this from happening to our kids? A blog entitled Parenting the Fearful Child gives advice on how parents could help handle fears in their children.

Quoted from the blog post:

“The Theology of the Body tells us that we are created for communion and connection – with God and with one another – but fearfulness and anxiety can actually prevent our children from having the peace of mind required for receptiveness to others. “

For children to become the best that they could be and avoid issues with fear and anxiety in the future, there are parenting styles that can help. It is also important to recognize the fear and know where it is coming from. All parenting styles should always have communication. An open line of communication between parents and children is important.

What It Means To Tell Your Child The Truth

A post from Pint-sized Treasures got me thinking. The blog post talks about honesty and how far does honesty go especially when concerning your child. As a parent it is your responsibility to hone your child’s skills as well as correct negative traits and values. One of the things that a lot of children normally gets away is are little lies. Most parents would not mind their children lying as long as they are not harmful or just little white lies. But lying can become habitual. If you let your child get away with those little white lies, is there a tendency for your child to become a chronic liar when they become an adult?

Adults and parents too are not exempted from this crime, often, we lie about little things to our children. As quoted from the blog post:

“You better be good or I am going to call 1-800-North Pole and tell Santa you need to be put on the bad list!
Take the medicine, it tastes like candy!
The shot won’t hurt sweetie, just close your eyes and hold my hand.
Tell Uncle Ben I’m not here. I don’t feel like talking.
If you cross your eyes, they will get stuck.
If you don’t come here now, i will leave you by yourself.
Babies come from large birds that fly around and drop them down to their special homes.”

Personally, I am guilty of these white lies. But I do not want to take away the magic that made my own childhood more fun. Now I am torn in between. To tell the truth and take away the fun or to lie a little and risk my child distrusting me or worse, that my child imitate my little white lies int he future.

The Truth About Parenting

The news of being pregnant is probably one of the most blissful moment that every expectant mother would have. Add up the good “build-up” from many other parenting blogs and pregnancy sites and you envision a perfect pregnancy and a happily ever after parenthood. But after you read out all those blissful blog post and you go back to real life, you begin to question. Where are those promising, fun, and happy moments that you have read?

Being a parent is great, no doubt, but parenting is not all candies and roses. A quote from Scary Mommy explained a better realization of real life parenting:

“Through the years, I have learned (and am learning) several hard truths, each one stripping away the expectations and leaving in their place authenticity and courage, vulnerability and resilience. Each hard truth has been a nugget of insight into my family, my spirit, and humanity as a whole. Each one has taken me a step closer to the parent – and person – that I am called to be.”

Parenting may not be perfect. It requires a lot of adjustment, tons of letting go as well as heaps of realizations. But at the end of the day, you begin to see what matters most in life-your children.

Traditional School or Home School?

If you as parents were given a choice with how you would have learned, will you opt for home school or traditional school? Why Home- School? Reasons Why Parents Educate Out of School says: “School is fine when it’s working. Not so great when it isn’t.” It turns out that not all children are comfortable with learning from an institution. According to the blog, there are a few factors that parents and their children choose home schooling. Such factors are:

  • Unhappiness
  • Health
  • Bullying
  • Poor Achievement
  • Poor Relationships

Home Schooling is more individualized and structured according to the ability of your child to learn. Traditional school on the other hand is standardized, although teaching staffs are trying their best to teach and accommodate the concerns of every student, there are those that are left out. While home schooling is best for parents who stays at home with their kids, traditional school is much convenient for working parents. In the end, parents should consider what will work best for their children. The good thing is that there are two options that you can choose from if one does not work out.

The Loaves and Fishes: The Message

In this weekend’s Gospel, we heard how Jesus fed thousands with just five loaves and two fish. The apostles approached Jesus, saying “five loaves and two fishes are all we have here. Dismiss the crowds, so they can buy food for themselves.”

This is where most folks miss the point of the story.

The Apostles tried to get out of having to feed the large crowd. But Jesus told them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”

Now, how were the Apostles going to do that?

How many times have we found ourselves saying “Oh, I am too tired” or “I am too old to make a difference” or “I already have enough on my plate.”

God will give us whatever we need. When we need it. Jesus wants you to be another Apostle. You are not too old, too busy or unprepared. Just do it.

Who Are You When Nobody is Watching?

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.

You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Peter asked Jesus if this was directed at the apostles, or was that message meant for the entire crowd?
The message Jesus gave to Peter was (essentially), don’t be a slacker! You have to be prepared, because you don’t know the day when we will be called.

I’ve heard it said the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching. I think this is very true. So who are you when nobody is watching? I like to keep this thought in my mind throughout my day as a reminder, but I digress. I think that message of character applies here as well. Jesus is telling us, through parables, that we can’t just “act the part” at the end. It’s not enough to stand up straight and look ready when the master appears — that will be too late. You need to be ready and doing what is right ALL the time.

The parable ends with a mightier message: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” We interpret that to mean, God expects ALL of us to lead good lives and follow his commandments. But even more will be demanded of the leaders.

Who is a leader? In the church, we have the priests, bishops, deacons, as well as other members of the church leadership. And on a higher level of the church here on earth, we have the cardinals and the pope. But even on the lowest level, Jesus is referring to anyone who might be (or could be) a role model: parents, teachers, leaders in the community.

Keep in mind, we go to church to give praise to God and participate in the Eucharist. But when mass is over, WE become the church. It is our mission to carry. Who are you when nobody is watching? I think we should all strive to be as hardworking and faithful as possible at all times. That would be a good start. You need to be ready and doing what is right ALL the time, not just when it’s convenient or when it’s comfortable to.

It’s important to remember we can’t just be slackers, and show up on the last day expecting a ticket to the show. We have to earn our way in.

Defining Vigilance: What Does It Mean to You?

Have you ever stayed up into the night to care for someone in your family who was ill? Or, if you are a parent, have you stayed up late, waiting for a child to arrive home safely?

Vigilance is defined as the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties. Defining vigilance personally can lead us to different meanings of the word.

What’s that over-riding feeling you have at those moments? When your parent’s fever spikes to 101, or your baby won’t stop coughing? I just want my loved one to be safe, I don’t want them to be harmed in any way.

I know, personally, as a parent, I’ve actually stood by the window waiting to see that pair of headlights to come down our street, late at night. You just want your children to get home safely, even if it is a half-hour beyond the time you wanted them home from a party.

It’s a nervous emotion, this feeling of vigilance. You need to be prepared.
And that’s what Jesus meant in the message today from Luke:

“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”

Jesus then goes on to add that the master will then wait on THEM, those who are vigilant. Indeed, even if the Master arrives in the second or third watch (meaning, later in the night), those who are vigilant, ready and prepared, will be rewarded.

What is the meaning behind the message? Is it to prepare for the end of the world? No. My understanding is first, there is no timetable for His return (it could be in the second or third watch — later than you want!). Regardless, you must remain prepared every day to ward off temptation. You must be ready and prepared to avoid the evil that exists in the world, to continue to persevere in your belief in God and the Holy Family. When personally defining vigilance, that is my definition.

How would you define vigilance, in your words?