Tag Archives: inspiration

When you least expect it, God shows up

November 26, 2012

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God puts us where he wants us.

He puts others where he wants them, too.

Sometimes our stories and those of others become enjoined, our “where” and the “where” of others come together, and God makes his presence felt. That’s what seems to happen in “Unexpected Presence,” a gathering of a dozen stories destined to awaken one’s spirituality and remind us we’re all part of a greater story.

In less than an hour you’ll breeze through this little, pocket-size ACTA Publications collection that’s subtitled “Twelve Surprising Encounters with the Divine Spirit.”

These are first-person pieces, the longest only 13 pages and a couple only six. Every one is a winner, though, a credit to Dave Fortier who wrote one of them and edited the rest.

A few of the writers are published authors, but not all.

Alice Camille, a well-known Catholic writer and religious educator,  shares the time when, burned out on church work and temporarily employed at an incense factory, she had to explain the parable of The Prodigal Son to her co-workers. It’s an unforgettable anecdote you’ll find yourself re-telling others.

Charlotte Bruney is a lay pastoral administrator in New York who writes about the Holy Week she spent not at the church services she loves but as chaplain in a university hospital with a very busy trauma center. She notes, “Its steady diet of tragedy felt to me like an eternal Lent.” Instead of attending the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday or venerating the cross on Good Friday, Bruney tells of baptizing an infant with a massive tumor, of holding the hand of a suicidal heroin addict going through withdrawal, of bringing communion to a woman with an irreversible condition, of encouraging a scared teen to go through with a bone marrow transplant — and finding God in each setting. She writes:

I was not where I wanted to be that week; it was not what I wanted to be doing. Still, should I really be so surpassed to find the Divine One lurking in the darkest of places?

These are heartfelt and heart-warming stories all. You love the punch line from Donald Paglia, the head of a diocesan family life office who finds that parenting is the last thing he wants to do one evening.

Fortier’s own “confession” is a worthy entry, too, one that will make readers reflect on, as he puts it, “the greater story” often hidden as we make our judgments about those whose lives touch ours. These are stories that reveal God alive in our world, and that’s something we all need to be reminded of. — BZ

 

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Ever thought of yourself as an angel? Here’s how you could be one

December 16, 2011

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All this Advent spreading of inspiration. What follows is a post that was headlined “Silent Christmas Angels” and shared by Bob Proctor as his “Friday story” on http://www.Insightoftheday.com

 

By Virginia Hay

 

From the emails I have been receiving lately and my own observations out there in the world I would have to say that a lot of people are really going through some difficult times right now.

 

The population is aging and this is impacting those who are growing older, those who are taking care of them, and those who are alone.

 

The other day I witnessed a lady in our building who had just been dropped off by one of those handicapped vans, and even though she was not in a wheelchair herself, I could see that she had serious mobility issues.

She had just returned from visiting her beloved husband and lifelong companion who was now confined to a nursing home. I had seen them out walking together a few years earlier, laughing and holding hands and thoroughly enjoying each others company.

As she slowly made her way to the front of the door, she held the key in her hand ready to open the lock. And then at that precise moment she just leaned in toward the building and started to cry. I could see from the look of anguish on her weary face, that she was trying to summon the courage to enter the building, walk up the stairs, and open her apartment door, just to be alone once again for yet another evening without him.

 

 Should I go comfort her?

 

My heart went out to her. I wanted to rush over and hug her but got the feeling to just honor her presence instead and the precious space she was in. I sensed that she was a very private person and just needed to be alone in that moment. Sometimes the moment can carry us through when we don’t have the strength to carry ourselves.

 

I did hold her in the light in my heart and whispered a quiet prayer that somehow things would get better for her and that she would know that she is deeply loved, even though I am sure she was certainly not feeling that love right then.

 

I think sometimes if we can simply acknowledge each others pain, without trying to fix things, then that may be the greatest gift we can give to another human being. I don’t mean wallow in the pain or focus on it, but to just acknowledge it with deep compassion, would make a huge difference to so many.

 

We are human and pain is part of the journey. If we ever allow ourselves to love anyone or anything for that matter, pain is an integral part of the process because some day we may, probably will, lose that person, place or thing to which we have become attached, either physically, mentally or emotionally. Of course, the price of not loving, of not seeking, of not becoming involved, is a much deeper and emptier pain that strips away at our soul and destroys our spirit.

 

Your spirit will always reach towards the love and your soul will always take the higher road.

 

 Let’s do our angelic part

 

And so I would suggest that this holiday season, we answer our soul’s calling and “take the higher road” by becoming “Silent Christmas Angels” for each other, especially at this difficult time of year for so many. Christmas has a way of surfacing so many emotions and memories, some joyful and some not so joyful.

 

So, as a “Silent Christmas Angel”, be on the look-out as to where you could shine your light on someone else’s darkness. Be constantly aware to where your wings may take you, whether it be in a busy shopping mall, a lonely sidewalk cafe, a homeless shelter, a park bench, a Christmas dinner or party. Be constantly vigil of where you could look beyond the surface to the deeper pain that may be lurking there and attend to it in whatever way and means may lie before you.

 

Pretend you have been given a mission and are part of the “Silent Christmas Angel Invasion” of whatever city you live in or visit and it is your job to keep the home fires burning and heal the hearts and souls of those you encounter along the way.

 

Sounds daunting? Fear not! You have at your command an arsenal of tools with which to do your work.

 

We have all that it takes

A magic wand that you can point and shoot better than any camera will ever do and grant silent wishes to unsuspecting troubled hearts, uplifting them in the twinkling of an eye and restoring peace on earth.

 

A big, beautiful, heart full of love, with light beams that extend from you for miles and miles ahead washing away any sadness that may appear in the distance and replacing it with joy, wonder, belief in the magic, trust in the knowing, that we are all in this together and we are truly loved.

 

Dancing, daring, delightful Angel eyes, that dispense laughter, spread kindness, seek miracles, offer compassion, give thanks and beam these out into all the other eyes that meet yours along the way, eliciting an enchanting smile of knowing and surprised look of tender acknowledgement.

 

And we “Silent Christmas Angels” have the ability to recognize each other. A knowing glance, a curious nod, a gentle, sweet and unsuspecting touch. A sacred salute to a comrade in arms and wings and halos.

 

And so, dear heart, will YOU join me? Will you take your place among us? Will I sense you standing there next to me wherever I may journey?

 

I think I already have and I know that I will, for I feel you here, reading these words, and I already recognize you.

 

Veronica Hay is an inspirational writer. She provides inspirational support and resources to help you live a richer life. Visit her website at:http://www.insightsandinspirations.comor email her at:veronicahay@telus.net


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20 takeaways from a pastoral letter aimed to help Catholics get more out of Mass

November 15, 2011

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Snippets of meaning from Archbishop John Nienstedt’s pastoral letter “Do This In Memory of Me”

With my highlighter in hand as usual, I read the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ first pastoral letter on the Sacred Liturgy. Here’s what caught my eye or touched me as worth remembering — or at least giving more thought to:

  1. “The words of the priest gave voice to the unspoken prayers of those gathered in faith.”
  2. “The words obviously are important, but their true importance lies in the mystery by which those words are animated, inspired and inflamed.”
  3. “…with the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal . . . we have the marvelous opportunity to stop and reconsider the important role that the Mass plays in our lives as individuals, as parish communities and as an Archdiocese.”
  4. “…the purpose of the Church is to call her members to holiness.”
  5. “…sanctity for the Christian is not a solitary activity.”
  6. “In the community of believers, our own hearts’ hopes and sorrows, joys and disappointments find reception, affirmation, and transformation as they are offered as one with Christ to the Father in prayer.”
  7. “The Liturgy . . . finds its origin in Christ’s call to be ‘gathered’ . . . . He calls us to holiness, but always in and through the church and her Liturgy . . . . this is the reason for the Church’s existence: to bring the baptized into a closer relationship with Christ as members of His one Body who pray the Liturgy together with Christ for the glory of God and the good of all.”
  8. “Our corporate prayer is thus a prayer that what has been accomplished in Christ might be accomplished in us, and that like Christ we might be sent to bear fruit for the life of the world.”
  9. “Unity does not mean ‘going along to get along.’ That would be a false unity, and one that cannot endure.”
  10. “As we are gathered around the one bread and the one cup, we are strengthened and summoned to form an ever greater unity of mind and heart with Christ Himself, so that we might be joined more closely to one another. Our unity with each other comes from this unity in Christ.”
  11. “Fundamentally, the Church’s Liturgy is not the expression of local customs or the particular interests of a parish or a priest. True enough, an assembly or a presider often do bring with them gifts and talents that should be shared with all, including at the offering of praise that is the celebrations of the Mass. But at its heart, the unity of the Roman Rite, reflective as it is of the Church’s universality, is meant to shine through our liturgical celebrations as an expression of our unity through one common expression of faith.”
  12. “How we pray together manifests what we believe.”
  13. “The new texts of the Church’s prayer provide a grace-filled moment to re-examine our liturgical practices, and to ensure that the liturgical life of our parishes, religious communities, and various apostolates are in conforming to the liturgical norms of the Church.”
  14. “Of course, it is not enough that we simply follow the liturgical law of the Church . . . we must strive to understand more fully just what it is that we are doing when we assemble. “
  15. “. . . take the time simply to listen to the Liturgy itself. We all must strive, clergy and laity alike, to hear with true docility the words the Church has given us, and the memories she cultivates within us as her prayers are proclaimed in our midst.”
  16. “When we stop to listen to the words of the Mass . . . we discover anew the mysteries of faith and enkindle the sense of wonder which marked the disciples on the road to Emmaus when they discovered the Living Christ, present to them.”
  17. “(Author Matthew) Kelly suggests that every Catholic ought to bring a journal to Mass which has inscribed on the cover, ‘What’s the one thing I need to do today to be a better person?’ He guarantees that if we have that single focus in mind as Mass begins, we will discover the joy and meaning that lies at the heart of the Eucharist. I think he’s right. I suggest we try it out.”
  18. “For many, even good Catholics, Sunday Mass can become just one more activity to fit into the schedule, rather than the culmination of the past week and the beginning of a new period of time.”
  19. “For human beings caught up in a whirlwind of activity, Sunday is meant to be a call to a contemplative re-examination of where our lives have been and where they are going. Sunday is meant to give meaning to the other six days of the week.”
  20. “We listen to the words of the Liturgy so that we may truly speak them in our daily lives.”
Care to read the pastoral letter in its entirety: Click here and you’ll have the option of reading it as it appeared as a special section in The Catholic Spirit or downloading a PDF.
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