Where Is Your Upper Room?

Mary and the disciples huddle together in prayer.  They have sought shelter in an Upper Room.

 It seemed a good place for hiding.  It granted them some distance from the crowded streets below.

 Streets crowded with confusion, with people uttering death threats, with accusations that they are “one of them”

…those who followed the Crucified Jesus.

How did they get to this place?

  “Come now, my children, let us climb up to this place.  It is a place to wait, for we know He will never abandon us.”

Her words comfort like any Mother’s words would.  Like little children they follow her.  As she swiftly mounts the stairs she seems to know they need to be lifted up.  No lower rooms will do.  She must help them to rise above their fears.

Where is your Upper Room?

The fear talk begins.  The discussion about the future and what will become of them.  The grieving about the last few days, and that He has left their presence here on earth.

 Forgetting the promises He has made them, they speak out all at once, from hearts controlled by anxiety.

  It is just as the the evil one would want it.  His thoughts have taken over in their minds.  Discourage them, and drive them to despair!

 The same old lie from the Garden (for he is not creative on his own):  “Do not trust Him! He is not your loving Father!”

And then, after seeds of distrust are planted in their hearts he prods further, “Fools!  Look what He has done…..this Man who said He would save you has left you, and the people are gathering near to put you to death too!”

What thoughts has the deceiver spoken to you…. there in your Upper Room?

Mary allows their hearts to express all their fears. How vital that she listen to them first!

 She knows the importance of the waiting, and the space.

 All things have their “fullness of time”.

And just as it happened in Bethlehem years ago, she rises and gives birth to the Word.

She stands to be heard by her sons.  As she speaks, lower things, resembling serpent heads are crushed one by one under her feet. She raises their minds to the truths He has promised, and blesses them each with her eyes.  For she looks on each one with a unique and special glance, that calms and strengthens feeble hearts.

 Supernatural that grace that she has received and that continuously flows from her heart!

Can you find Mary there, in your Upper Room?  She’s looking for you with her eyes.

Encouraged by her, their hearts seem to steady, and ready the way for the Power.  Not knowing exactly how all will be done, matters not.

 This Upper Room has changed.

 A hunger for Spirit has been placed within them, along with a trust they’ll be fed.

 Nine days come to close, and she’s prepared them in prayer for His coming.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love!

The same Holy Spirit will come, to your Upper Room.

 “How can this be?”, we may ask like Mary, “That rooms filled with questions will be temples of the Most High?”

The One who overshadowed her, will overshadow you.

Mary, Temple of the Most Holy Spirit, pray for us!

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Inviting St Joseph Into Your Home

We live with the Holy Family.

It was as simple as inviting them in.

Raised to believe in Jesus Christ, my prayers in early years were always directed to Him.  My Savior, my Redeemer, my Brother, and my Friend, He was with me in joy and so profoundly in troubled times.

It was Jesus who introduced me to His Mother.

 Interestingly, while I was experiencing the cross, and getting familiar with Jesus’ Presence there with me, it was then that He spoke to me from that cross, and told me to look right beside me.

 There stood His Mother.

 And she was to be my Mother too.

.  Not long after, I was consecrated to her, and through that consecration, so many things have changed.  All is hers now: graces and blessings, joys and sorrows.  There is nothing we don’t go through together.  I walk about my home and I know she is with me… carrying laundry, raising children, cooking meals, saying rosaries- I am talking to her all the time.

Lastly, came St Joseph.

 With a husband and three sons who all have middle names of Joseph, I am so sorry I have loved him so late.  I guess I am in good company with St Augustine who said about Jesus, “Late have I loved you.”

 As protector and guardian of the Church and the family, I came to realize the power of his intercession for us.

 As my husband and I struggled to raise boys into holy men, St Joseph has become our example.  Model of humility and obedience to God, his statue outside our home stands as a reminder of his strength in guarding us.  And I love that he most often received messages in dreams.

 A holy dreamer, he takes us all into his home, just as he did with Mary.

The Holy Family lives with us.  Our home is now complete.

 With their presence and love abounding, how can we fail to love each other?

 Thank you Jesus, Mary and St Joseph, for all that you have done for us!  

Forest Fires, Ashes, and Lent

Lent- an Old English term for Spring.

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It begins this Wednesday when we don the ashes.  Our priests will smear the crosses on our heads, and we will admit to the dust we shall return to one day. Dirt and dust can be messy things, but they are also the ground for new growth.

In the spring following a forest fire, trees that survived the blaze explode in new growth and plants sprout in abundance from the scorched earth. For centuries, it was a mystery how seeds, some long dormant in the soil,

knew to push through the ashes to regenerate the burned forest.

When forest fires leave char and ash in their wake, scientists have discovered that special chemicals known as karrikins are created as trees and shrubs burn and they remain in the soil after the fire, ensuring the forest will regenerate.  Decades ago when Yellowstone National Park was allowed to burn it forests for the first time, many people felt that it would never be restored to its former beauty, But by the following spring, when the rains arrived, there was a burst of flowering plants amid the nutrient-rich ash and charred ground.

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Lent. A springtime of new life from devastation.

 “Repent and believe in the Gospel” .

  Forests will be consumed in the fire of His love,

His Word will be sown in the ash that remains. 

These mysterious seed will regenerate us as Easter graces rain down.

Interestingly we burn the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday, to provide the ashes Lent.

Forest fires, ashes, and Lent.

Earth, fire, and ash are messy things God can use to make something beautiful.

What an earthy religion!  God made us out of the clay of the earth,  Old Testament folks sat in sackcloth and ashes. Our Savior healed blindness with earth and spit. And ashes on foreheads mark the beginning of  Lent.

Maybe the key this Lent will be to remember the fire from which they came.

Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

 Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.

Blessed Lent!

Will You Be Mine? A TOB Perspective

Seems like a harmless question.  We’ve heard it year after year on Valentine’s Day.  It’s been stamped on those little candy hearts, and stamped in our first memories of trading Valentine cards with the cartoon or movie characters on them.

As we age, things tend to take on deeper meaning if we are the pondering type.

That’s me- on both counts-  the aging and the pondering.

In our culture today the question can conjure up feelings of possessiveness and stalking.  What do you mean

“Will you be mine?”  I don’t belong to anyone.  Or do I?

Years of studying the Theology of the Body has shifted my perspective a bit.  The fact is I do belong to Someone.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.  (1 Cor 6: 18-20)

What is it about this word belonging that scares us so?  It so “smacks” of commitment, and some sort of lack of freedom.

We buy things that belong to us, but people don’t belong to people….or do they?

 Before we crush those candy hearts, lets take a look at how sweet they might be.

Perhaps there’s a misguided understanding of real love.

 That kind of love that is freely given, says I am totally yours forever, and desires with all the heart to be faithful.

 The kind of love that wants to make more love abound in the world.

If I believe Scripture is the Word of God, that He is indeed speaking, then I need to meet this passage head on.

 I am not my own.

 I have been given the gift of life as a free gift from my Creator.  My body- gift holds within its very heart, the intense giving and receiving of love that is the Holy Trinity.

 If I am honest enough to acknowledge it, there’s literally a fire raging within me, that longs for one thing- union with God.

His Sacred Heart (not some sugar coated candy one) was stamped with a spear thrust so that I could have a way to enter and one with Him.

 I was purchased at this high and supernatural price.

Yep, I think I belong to Him.

 I can believe and receive that Truth, because the One that I belong to made me for Himself,

and only wants to possess me fully because He wants to embrace me in love.

 The least I can do is try to glorify Him in this body.

And the marked sign of that kind of love commitment here on earth is marriage.

 It has taken much time and prayer for me to get comfortable with it, but today, after almost 30 years of marriage,

I can say that I am wholly free in my belonging to my husband.

 His journey is mine, and mine his.  We hold each other’s lives in our hearts.  With all true love comes great responsibility, so neither of us takes this lightly.  Each day we begin again, pick ourselves up from the falls, and embrace again.

And interestingly enough, the trials that most test our love, only serve to increase the longing for belonging.

So, today, I’m alright with the question….and can answer with bold conviction.

Will you be mine?  YES!

Leaving Nets (Mark 1: 14-20)

Lord, you tell me to leave my nets behind.

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….my old life of fishing for worldly honor and material things.

 You show me how heavy they are when wet with sin and self.

 You remind me how they ensnare, trap, tangle, and bind me.

 They smell as rope rots.

And still I’ll try to mend them for reuse.

Your call to me takes my eyes off the nets and on to You!  

“Come after Me, I will make you….different, new…I’ll make you see your new mission.”

 So instead of me focusing on what wrong I have done – my old life of nets and striving-

my own will …

 you refocus my attention on Your Will

…the new path….

I am intrigued by all you offer even though I have no clue where you will take me.

Something in me ( for I was made for You) longs to follow and obey no matter what.

Something tells me I will find out who I am.

 I can even leave family members who I love (” they left their father Zebedee”)

and all that was secure ( “hired men” and the “mending”)

to follow You, to be your student disciple.

 The only thing that matters now and that is real, is what You think about me.

    I must know You as a Person, have encounters with You….not just know your teachings.

And now “netless”, I can’t just follow you around.

We must meet, talk, share, love.

 You have secrets for me, secrets to be whispered in silence- to be shared in close contact, sweet intimacy.

 As your disciple let me be eager for secret surprises

….things You will share about Yourself, about me, about our journey together. Amen.

Your Christmas Heart

Christmas Day has come and gone.

Hang the suits and velvet donned.

 Annual visits of relatives and friends.

Gifts to give and cards to send.

Carols sung. Traditions kept.

Return flights home. Tears are wept.

Christ the Lord is born.

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Was this season for you made new?

Has the Christ been born in you?

Is His new flesh on your bones?

Incarnate heart in spoken tones?

A body now is Christ in you?

One flesh where before was two?

A holy union He has made

By stooping low, though unafraid

To humble Himself thus….

All the years can be the same,

Unless the Child of Bethlehem’s fame

Has truly found a manger home

Within your Christmas heart…..within your Christmas heart.

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Advent: Ready the Way

Advent.

Preparing the way, getting out of the way, walking the way.

Will we make a way for God this Advent?

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How to prepare the way:  Empty it.

The way for God needs an empty stable.  The way for God is meant to be filled with God alone. He created us this way- with an emptiness only meant to be filled by Him.  So we empty the way to the manger in our hearts and then wait. Ouch. Still, quiet, empty waiting.  But lesser things don’t satisfy, and the choice remains our own.

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How to get out of the way:  What?  The major obstacle is me?

 Yes, it came upon a midnight clear– clear of idols and gods, clear of my will and agenda, clear of distraction and haste, clear of noise and busyness.  Then the glorious song could be sung…the one the angels bent near to earth to sing.  When the world got solemnly still enough, He came.

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How to walk in the way: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21

His way is poor, and really quite revealing. He takes us down paths that we’d rather not go, ones that reveal to us how small of heart we can be. He comes in the most distressing disguises…yes, the ones that create discomfort in us.  St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross called it empathy:  not merely understanding the experiences of others, but in fact, taking them on as our own. Then Christ is present to us.  He is one with us.

 Come ready the way for Me.

 Come let your emptiness be filled with Me.

Come clear the path of idols that distract you.

Come walk with Me in empathy for the least of your brothers.

Blessed Advent.