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Falling for Change

This time of year takes my breath away! You too?change7

All of a sudden the air has a chill to it – I can see my breath in the mornings when I walk the dog! – and the trees all over town and at the Lake are beginning their slow, magnificent transition of letting go of “business as usual” and turning toward the long rest of winter.

I often wish I could zip up these colors and contain them inside me.  change6

Trees have always been an amazing revelation of following God, for me.  They do exactly what they are supposed to do! They respond to the deepest invitation of their nature and conform (easily?) to the demands of each season.

Now you can see why they inspire me. I do not follow the same path for myself…at least, I am sure, I don’t do it so beautifully.

CHANGE ME

Why is it that CHANGE, which is so important for all of creation in order to get from HERE to THERE, looks so different on us than it does in the example of Brother Sun and Sister Moon?

change4I think it is our fear of being changed – of not recognizing ourselves on the other side of it – that makes us so leery, or resistant even, of releasing ourselves to the process which allows us to grow.

Do you agree?  What do you think? Pause here, will you, and reflect for a second.

 

changeAre we so satisfied with the way things are right now that we couldn’t benefit from a little transitioning? In our head – intellectually – I think we would push that idea aside and reply, no.

But…we don’t respond to change with our intellect – do we?

change2Ha! I know the answer to that myself!  Often I have to force myself to move my need for change TO my head in order to win myself over.

So…if our resistance to change is located in our emotions, then what is the formula that will help us to see this invitation as something that is not life-threatening – though, perhaps it will be life-style threatening.

change3What will help?  We can lay a few thoughts out here but you will have to do your own personal homework in order to make a new approach to change, stick.

Reflect for yourself:

  • What do I like about the way things are?
  • What isn’t working anymore?
  • If I can’t change everything about what isn’t working anymore, what IS possible to shift? Is there a new habit that I can begin that would take some weight off the issues I struggle with?
  • Decide to try this new shift in attitude, as well as in practice, for one week…ok, I know we are playing a mind-game here BUT mind-games can become pretty persuasive if they succeed!

OK – now determine what “success” would look like. What would make your efforts at shifting-what-isn’t-working-anymore feel “successful?”

KEEP DOING IT.

change5Don’t forget.  Even though you might be a wee bit more resistant to change than the breath-taking trees around you this season – as a friend of mine said last weekend – this is only a season.  The next season is coming soon, we can bank on it.

If we don’t do the work of this season – letting go of what isn’t working anymore – we won’t have room for all the new growth and beauty of what comes next.

We think we know ourselves so well.  We’ve lived inside this body for so many years but there are amazing, wondrous, new breath-taking realities just waiting to take hold in your life.  Things you haven’t even begun to dream about.  spring crocusSpring comes after the slow, deep sleep of Winter and this time – you’ll be ready!

 

 

 

Spare Change?

anam caraJohn Steinbeck observed, “When two people meet, each one is changed by the other…so, you’ve got two new people.”

It is so tempting to limit our relationships with others.  “I know everything there is to know about my ________________.”  It was very funny when, after 50+ years of marriage, my Mom would answer questions for my Dad…they’d look at each other and laugh, rolling their eyes at the familiarity that was an integral part of the way they interacted over the years. I KNOW you know people like that too!

Steinbeck’s observation makes so much sense…and yet…do we believe it to be true? Do I really allow myself to be actually changed by the other person?  Am I open to this?

clenched fistIf I take Steinbeck’s words to heart, it means that I have to be open to letting go of my self understanding – of my identity.  I would be invited to hold my life loosely…not in a clenched fist.

It simply means that I recognize that I am a person in process…a human being who is growing, evolving, and changing…using this LIFE as an opportunity to see what else I can make of myself…what else is in store.

hopeThis can be just as real in my relationship with God.

How is that relationship growing, evolving, and changing?  Do I know everything there is to know about God? Of course…I’d never say that out loud, would I? Ha! Yet…do I fall into that easy, lulling-to-my senses, kind of thinking where God ultimately doesn’t matter too much in the way I live my life today?

2fingersNo guilt, here.  Guilt bears no constructive fruit.  Just another way of making those critical comparisons…how am I consistent? Do I reflect on my relationship with God, shape my relationship with God, in the same way I reflect and shape my relationships with others?

alone in prayerSo…really…that is what LENT is about. Looking at this amazing, mysterious relationship, which has this eternal flavor to it, and seeing how I can be changed.  Do I come out of Lent the same way I went in?

One of my favorite quotes is from German theologian Karl Rahner: “In this sense everyone, really and radically, must be understood as the event of a supernatural self-revelation of God.”

Imagine what CHANGE would look like if we saw each other in this light?

If I am willing to be changed this Lent…will it be radical or spare change?

Lent Begins

Tomorrow:  Ash Wednesday

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.  We begin the journey through Lent marking the public life and ministry of Jesus.

Probably you are quite familiar with the practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Perhaps you will consider making an act of sacrifice… maybe the same as last year or maybe something different.  You might even choose to adopt a new practice or work on changing behaviors or attitudes.  What will you do to make this Lent a time of renewal and spiritual growth?

The whole idea of incorporating these Lenten sacrifices and practices is to help us repent… to help us have a change of heart… to help us grow closer to God.

Our goal is to somehow be different on the other side of Resurrection.  So it’s important to do something during Lent that will invite you to change.

Disciples in Line

If you need to find the schedule for an Ash Wednesday Mass in your parish, go to our Parish Life page by clicking HERE.

The Unlikely Disciple

We find a great theme for Lent in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well.  You can read that in the Gospel of John… click HERE to go to that Scripture.

In the middle of a hot, dusty afternoon, she is in the right place at the right time.  A stranger passes by and asks her for a drink of water.  It was a simple chance encounter… but then again, meeting Jesus face to face is never simple… and probably never by chance.

When Jesus tells her whole story, the Samaritan woman begins to believe that he is indeed the Messiah.  She runs off to tell everyone.  She becomes one of Jesus’ biggest fans.  She is an unlikely disciple.

We Are Called

The story of the Samaritan woman reminds us that Jesus will call us to discipleship in the most unexpected, unlikely circumstances.  Our job is to be ready when that happens.

Lent is an excellent opportunity for us to get ourselves ready for those moments when Jesus will call to our hearts.  It is a season of metanoia… a change of heart, attitude and behavior… a time to turn back to the Gospel and believe.

However you choose to mark and live this season of preparation, enter into the work of being a disciple.  You probably already do a huge variety of simple acts of discipleship in your everyday life.  Like caring for a family… teaching children how to reconcile and forgive… sharing stories of faith with neighbors and friends… smiling and greeting people you meet… helping others to carry groceries or shovel snow or clean up a neighborhood.

Being a disciple doesn’t require big acts of service or all-day time commitments.  Think about all the small, perhaps invisible, ways that you show love and care for those around you.

Here is a one-page reflection for Ash Wednesday:  Ash Wednesday Reflection.  There’s a list of 10 Simple Acts of Discipleship.

Think about making this a part of your Lenten practice.  Add your own simple acts of discipleship to the list and then do one each day until Easter.  Cross them off your list as you complete them.  Then come back and share with us the story of what occurred.

Each week, we’ll give you another reflection sheet for the upcoming Sunday readings.  The reflection for this Sunday, February 17, the First Sunday of Lent will be posted on Thursday.

Come back ya’ll… ya hear!

We Gotta Do Much More than Believe

What will it take?

We know that we live in an unprecedented day and age.

The world is immensely different than it was 50 years ago… vastly different than it was 25 years ago… hugely different than it was 10 years ago… totally different than it was 5 years ago.

We know deep down inside that next year will be entirely different than even today.

Everything around us changes at lightning speed.

We have a sense of life spinning all around us… but more often than not, it tends to prompt us more toward resistance than change.  There’s a balance in there… between changing for the good and change for the sake of changing.

We have to be discerning.  Not all change is necessary and not all change is good.

But when it comes to the big things… like changing our hearts / growing in love for each other / world peace / building the kingdom of God… change is needed.  In us and in the larger world.

What will it take for us to move toward change?

Another Great Song

I shared that music video from the Dave Matthews Band the other day:  Mercy.  [<— click to go back and watch it.]

Here’s another song from that same album… it’s called Gaucho.  {<— click to go and listen on YouTube.}

As I was driving into work, I found myself cranking the volume on my CD player… the words and message were that good!  Here’s a sampling of what I mean:

we gotta do much more than believe if we wanna see the world change
we gotta do much more than believe if we really wanna change things

oh, my little baby
i’ll show you this movie
you know we landed a man on the moon?
i know its hard to imagine
but we could do anything
under the stars.

What legacy do you want to leave?

As a parent, my heart-strings get tugged whenever I think about what kind of world I want my children to inherit from me.  And these days, we have a lot of issues to be concerned about… future generations stand on our shoulders… and I want to feel proud of what I leave in their hands.

This song challenges the mama-bear in me to start acting with more intention to shape a world that will be good for my children and their children.

We gotta do much more than believe if we wanna see the world change.

Again, we come to the heart of Christian discipleship.

It’s not enough to just believe.  It’s not enough to just go through the motions.  We have to act.

True disciples of Jesus put their faith in action… in every corner of their lives… in every conceivable way possible… in all the seconds and minutes they have breath in their lungs.  Faith is such an intimate part of everyday living that life feels empty without it.

I really like this song.  It reminds us all that we can do anything… we can live in the kingdom of God here in this moment if we choose to work for change.  The world doesn’t have to be the way it is.

We have the power to make a difference now.

What will you choose to do?

That Lovin’ Feeling

Has it already passed?

The joy of new life that comes with Easter resurrection.  Do you still feel it?  Or has it already passed?

We are still in the season of Easter and will be for many more weeks until the Feast of Pentecost on May 27.  So theoretically… we should all still be basking in the glow of Easter joy.

But honestly…. are we?

It’s so easy to go back to the routine…

… of daily life / work / activities / ways of thinking and doing.

Maybe your Lenten journey culminated in an Easter Sunday feast with family and friends and the joyful return of whatever food and drink you had been sacrificing for all those weeks.  Maybe the anticipation of receiving sacraments at the Vigil Mass has given way to a satisfied spirit that is now resting in the peace of God’s grace.  Or maybe there wasn’t anything too out-of-the-ordinary at all that happened for you.

Perhaps the end of Easter is when all the discounted candy is gone from the grocery store.

Did Easter change you?

This year or last year or the year before?  Did resurrection make a difference in your life… back then or now?

Should it change us?
Should we be different people on the other side of death?

YES!

But how?  How does something that Jesus did nearly 2000 years ago make a difference to us today?  And why should it?

Those are tough questions that can’t be answered in a blog.  They need some figuring-out in each of us… we can only come to know those answers in our own hearts.  Thankfully we have lots of help… from people / priests / theologians / books / Bible / Church / liturgy… who can help us discover why resurrection is important and how we can live it everyday.

The Church isn’t relevant.

We can be tempted to believe that the Church / going to church isn’t relevant in life anymore.  And we can manufacture a lot of justifications and rationales to support that belief.

But honestly… there are more good reasons for the Church / going to church than there are not-so-good reasons.  And Resurrection is one of them.

Think about it.

People of the Resurrection

Resurrection is REAL!

It’s pretty easy in these modern times to quickly gloss over this whole Easter thing.

We are immune to retail displays of bunnies / eggs / baskets / candy.  It’s all just commonplace anymore… and if you are a buyer of such goodies then you probably look for exactly what you want and get out of the crowded aisle as quickly as you can.

There is a commercialism to Easter much akin to just about every other holiday on the calendar.

If you are one of the lucky ones…

… who is somehow connected to the preparation and events of people being initiated at the Easter Vigil, then Easter probably has some deeper intentional meaning for you.  As you participate in the journey of faith leading up to the celebration of sacraments, it is a fabulous opportunity to grow spiritually in the wonder that is new life.

But for many, Easter is just another Sunday… a little more special than most… but basically the same as the rest of the 52 other Sundays during the year.

We ARE people of the Resurrection!

Jesus’ death was a gift!  It may seem hard to frame it in that context… after all, it was bloody and gory and horrible.  But it was a gift to all of us.

So how will we receive the gift?  How will we show our appreciation?  By living as People of the Resurrection.

Here’s a bit of Fr. Bob Chorey’s homily (pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine in Fernley) from this 2nd Sunday of Easter… it’s good stuff.

The Resurrection, it is THE event of history.  It is THE event that began us, as Christians/Catholics.
The Son of God was killed, executed by humanity, and the Father raised him to new life and gave him back to humanity.
We have spent almost 2000 years living and experiencing this mystery, and we are nowhere near to exhausting the meaning of this event.
We have spent almost 2000 years of taking this event into our own hearts and lives, and letting it change us.
And by doing so, we have participated in the Resurrection of Christ.
This is all magnificently shown to us in our gospel passage and readings for today.
We have the resurrected Jesus coming to the disciples the first day of his resurrection.  He comes to them in the evening, in the darkness.  He comes to them as they sit in fear behind locked doors.
He does not come with recriminations, accusations, guilt or shame.  He comes in peace and breathes upon them the Spirit.  Thus, for John, the Church is born.

{ Click HERE to read it all… it’s worth the time! }

The Church is born!

We are born!  In the resurrection of Jesus, we are made new.  We are called to change and be changed by living as one community, one world.

We are challenged to live as People of the Resurrection… a people filled with hope and love and care for one another.  When we use our hands and our feet to be Christ on earth, we live out this call and give back to God what Jesus so generously gave us at the cross… himself.

How are you living the resurrection?  Do share with us!

Extra-Ordinary Time

Ordinary Time is anything but ordinary – what makes it extraordinary is that there is so much time now to do what the special seasons don’t allow for.  What will God have in store for us in the weeks to come?!

Today, this week, we celebrate an amazing human being.  A man through whom God did great things – continues to do great things – a man who in spite of human flaws and weakness, made an incredible difference to the way we live as Americans.  Martin Luther King Jr. had not only a dream and vision of a better country, he stepped up and out of his comofort zone to facilitate the changes he longed for.  He wrote this letter on April 16, 1963:
Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy…” -Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The Church lays the same challenge before us.  Catholic Social Teaching offers us a rich history of speaking up and acting in the name of the Gospel for the good of those who cannot speak for themselves.  Martin Luther King Jr. followed the example of the Gospel, as well.  Together…we do this together…co-workers with God.  What can you do today that gives voice to the love of God?  His words are striking, “…we repent for the…appalling silence of good people.”
Raise your voice! Let’s not be tempted to play it safe and live our lives in the shadow of what others might think of us. What Would Jesus Do, today?  Indeed, what magnificent things will Jesus do through you today?
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