Reflections On The Journey 

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Meditations

Reflections From Faye

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Caring

Posted on June 1, 2020 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

It has greatly disturbed me that there has been so much violence in Minneapolis and the surrounding area in the past week. In response to a wrongful death, some people became outraged and began to protest. Much of the protesting has been peaceful, but the tide turned and others began to loot and set fires to businesses in the area. Now not only one life is affected but many, including business owners who can no longer operate and local people who can no longer purchase their needed supplies at these stores.

 

Black lives matter – absolutely! And everything should be done to eliminate racism of any kind. And other lives matter too: red lives, old lives, businessowners lives, yellow lives, young lives, protesters lives, disabled lives, white lives and unborn lives, just to name a few. ALL human life matters. And I sincerely hope that things will soon calm down and strong action is taken to make corrections and bring justice to everyone.

 

We are in challenging times. Everything around us has been shaken by the virus, by loss of jobs and income, and by incidents. People are understandably raging in discontent. Unfortunately, pent-up emotions can trigger bad actions and destructive acts which in no way atone for the wrongs committed but instead make the situation worse.

 

In my opinion, we should do our best to not let this tide of anger overtake us. We should not get swept away into hatred and violence, as it seldom serves to help the situation. That is not to say we should sit idly by and not do anything, though. As Christians, we must act – in fact, we are called to act – but in a loving and caring manner.

 

Throughout the centuries when disasters struck or diseases ravaged the world, Christians have taken the impetus to care for their brethren. To the extent possible, these Christians would care for the injured and sick, providing medical care, food and shelter. Even if they were not able to save some of the people, they were there to provide what comfort they could. Those people lucky enough to be around Christians had a much better chance of survival than those who were not.

 

I am choosing to look to Philippians 2:4 as a personal mantra—“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” I may not be able to provide direct medical care, but some of us can. I don’t wear a badge, but others can offer protection. But I can sew masks to give to those who need them. I can help deliver groceries and supplies to those in need. Even people who may be more vulnerable than me can help – we can call and talk to those who are isolated and we can pray for our brothers and sisters in need.

 

What are you doing to care for those around you? I challenge you this week to find some way to be a blessing for someone else. If you can do something specifically for someone, please try to do that. And please pray - pray for those who have been affected by COvid-19 and the violence of this week, and pray for those in position to help to fairly deal with these situations. May God help us to see good in all our brothers and sisters and may we all help to bring this issue to a close.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Belief

Posted on May 25, 2020 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (1)

Every one of us has beliefs. I have beliefs about myself - for example, I believe that I have learned a strong sense of the difference between right and wrong, and that I am a strong and capable woman. In addition, I hold beliefs about others. One of my beliefs is that my husband loves me and will take care of me if I become ill. And I believe in the patterns of nature. I know that spring will always follow winter, and seeds will grow after they have been planted and watered (well, most seeds, anyway!) I imagine you could name a number of similar beliefs that you hold.

 

Most people also have a faith belief. Some people may say they have no faith belief, but then most likely they believe in atheism, or that there is no God. I believe that many religions hold some points of truth, but I have chosen to hold Catholicism as my personal faith belief.

 

Our beliefs can shape our reality through their influence on our behavior. What you think directly influences how you feel and how you behave. For example, if you think you’re a failure, you will feel like a failure. Then you’ll act like a failure, which reinforces your belief that you must be a failure. On the other hand, if you believe that you are capable, competent, and deserving of your dream job, you will probably be more likely to seek out and notice opportunities that could help you get there.

 

There was a point in my life when I believed I was not a good person. I had made some mistakes, things were not going well, and I didn’t have much hope that those things would change – I believed that I was stuck where I was. I moved through my days almost like a zombie… just functioning through the things I had to do, but with no bright outlook on life. During that time I doubted my faith, too. I strayed from God and didn’t want to let him back into my life. I didn’t have any hope; I didn’t believe that things would improve and I couldn’t see a bright spot anywhere, and I found it tough to hold on.

 

Thankfully I was able to get some help to get me back on track, and eventually I realized that God hadn’t left me, but in fact I had left Him. My faith began to grow stronger, and I started to believe in God and myself again.

 

Looking back on this time, and how I felt while I was in it, I can certainly see how some people may be driven to despair during times like these. When a person doesn’t seem to have any hope, and can’t seem to believe that things will improve, nor can they see good things, I can imagine that it would be tough to hold on. I was one of the lucky ones, I did get some help and was able to climb out of my hole and regain my faith.

 

In many places in my Bible I can find quotes reminding me why I believe. Probably my favorite is John 3:16, which says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I am choosing to believe in God, despite the situation in which we live.

 

I pray that you have strong, positive beliefs in your life, and especially some centered around your faith. For “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) We may not be able to see what God has planned for us and our world, but I believe that He will take care of us and that somehow we will be blessed.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Remain

Posted on May 18, 2020 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)


 

Many of my Scripture readings from this past week include the word “remain.”

For example: 1 John 4:13,15 says “The way we know we remain in him and he in us is that he has given us of his Spirit….When anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him and he in God.”

 

This word hit home for me this week as we are still under Governor’s orders to remain at home. Yes, some businesses are starting to open up, but precautions still need to be taken. I for one am planning to remain at home as much as possible for the time being. I am not in a high-risk group, but I still want to remain healthy. Before I venture too far into businesses, I want to be sure they are making every effort to ensure a safe environment for their visitors.

 

In my personal life I have been doing my best to remain rooted in my faith. It’s hard when I cannot go sit in our chapel to pray or attend a mass in person. I have to make do with a little prayer spot I have set up at home, and I am regularly visiting online sites that display the Blessed Sacrament for adoration and broadcast live masses. I am remaining faithful to my daily prayer regimen as well as my study of The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien, SJ. Thankfully, I have a wonderful spiritual director whom I can call each week to share my current faith journey and remain accountable to my study plan.

 

As long as our world remains in this new normal, I must remain faithful and remain rooted in God. I may not understand why He is allowing this disease to ravage through the world, but I can trust that God still is in control. I also believe that there will be some good coming out of this, even though that may not be evident right now.

 

Are you remaining faithful in our challenging time? I hope you have resources to help you remain on track. I am going to say a prayer for all of my readers every day this week that you are somehow blessed this week and that you remain full of faith and the Spirit.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Plan Your Goals

Posted on May 11, 2020 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you have any particular goals right now in your life? My world has completely changed recently, and goals that I had set a few months ago have fallen by the wayside. So many requests have come in to sew facemasks that I have let my photo project slide and I have slacked off on my writing. I used to have at least one or two blog posts written ahead of time, and now I’m finding myself writing them only a few days before my Monday deadline.

 

I decided I needed to re-look at my goals and my plans to complete them. To be honest, I have no particular deadline for my photo project (other than prior to my passing so my kids don’t have to clean it up). The sorting and compilation of the family photos benefits me and my relatives, and it certainly is a good thing to do, but it is something that can be pushed aside for more important tasks.

 

But my writing is different. The kind of writing I do uses a charism I have been given, and it is for the benefit of others. I often am inspired to write about certain topics, and the writing itself usually cannot be forced. But when I wait until the last minute to write, like for my blog, I find it maybe does not contain the richness and meaningfulness that it could have if I had spent more time.

 

Therefore I must be diligent about regularly planning time to write. Even though my days are often unscheduled now, I still must set aside writing time on my calendar. If I do not do this, my days could easily fill with meaningless tasks and time would slip right through my fingers. Progress toward my goal will stall. Setting a schedule is a way I ensure I am being responsible to myself so that I can attain my goals.

 

Do you have a goal that you should be working on? Have you made plans for how you will attain that goal? I encourage you to take a look at your schedule this week and be sure you have allotted time to work on your goals. The blessing of a completed project awaits!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

What Can I Do?

Posted on May 4, 2020 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)

It’s hard to believe that another week has passed. We’ve been locked down for several weeks, and our Governor has extended this for another two weeks. I’m sure it’s driving some people crazy – thankfully it’s warming up enough to sit outside, take long walks and go biking.

 

Yet I’m far from bored. I have plenty of things to do – some of them things I have been “meaning to get to” for quite a while now! It actually feels good every time I reorganize a drawer or empty out a box of old stuff. I’ve crossed several things off my to-do list that have been there for a while.

 

I’m also reading a bit more and trying new things. I haven’t had much experience using yeast, but this past week I baked Cinnamon rolls (which had trouble rising but tasted great) and bread (which rose ok but didn’t taste so good). I guess I can keep trying! I have learned how to make face masks in two different styles, using elastic, ribbon ties and hair ties. This has done a fantastic job of keeping my old sewing machine from rusting away!

 

All of this is good, but I feel bad that I still cannot resume many of my regular interactive volunteer activities. I may offer my baked items to friends, but they often do not take them like they used to. I cannot take communion to homebound friends for the time being, and I miss seeing them! But I can at least call. We can chat as long as they wish, and with a few of them a bit on the lonesome side (being cooped up in their residences), it’s a blessing when someone wants to visit. I can also offer to go pick up items from the store or order a meal for them to be delivered.

 

I have set up Zoom calls with a few groups of friends, and our immediate neighbors are planning to gather in the cul-de-sac this week (socially distanced, of course) to catch up on any news and events. I am continuing to look for more creative ways to connect with others and help.

 

What are you doing these days? I hope you have found something to keep yourself busy and help others. If you are still not sure what you can do, try reaching out to friends with a phone call or email, or search the internet for local volunteer activities. And there is always study and prayer. Pick up that book you have been meaning to read or open your Bible and peruse a few passages. A blessing might just be awaiting you!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Recognize

Posted on April 27, 2020 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

While pondering the gospels since Easter Sunday, I decided to place myself into the scenes. What would I have seen or felt if I had been there? I would have probably been scared, wondering, and unsure about what was going to happen next. I may have played over in my mind various scenes from the previous three years, trying to recall exactly what Jesus said in all those huge gatherings with the crowds and in the intimate gathering with just the disciples, and how that all fit in with His death.

 

And I wonder – If I had been Mary Magdalene on that Easter morning, in shock that the body of my Lord was missing but not yet understanding, I’m sure I would have failed to recognize Jesus right away. Or had I been one of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, I can envision myself being so confused and grief-stricken that I would not have recognized Jesus during that walk. And if I had been locked in that Upper Room wondering what was going to happen, I surely would have been startled when Jesus appeared.

 

It was only when Jesus plainly showed himself to the Magdalene, to the disciples on the road and to the Apostles huddled in the Upper Room that they recognized Jesus. But once they did recognize Him, what joy they had! These people were forever changed by that encounter with Jesus, by the recognition that He truly was risen and was with them once again!

 

I don’t have the privilege of being one of those disciples who were able to see Jesus in the flesh after He rose. I am separated from them by two thousand years, trying to keep my faith alive in an era where I cannot even attend mass! How easy is it for me to fail to recognize Jesus, especially when I am preoccupied with the virus and my own life, and some days it seems I feel only fear. We live in difficult times.

 

What I have learned, though, is that despite the world’s situation I must continue to be proactive with my faith. I need to use every resource available to be able to recognize Jesus. And boy, do I have the resources! In addition to the many Christian books I own or can borrow, there are many in-depth bible studies and commentaries available on the internet and through my church. Even though I cannot attend mass in person, my church and others live-stream masses daily and many of these services can be accessed via video at a later time. I also am blessed to have several trusted people in my life that I can call on if I have a question about the meaning of a biblical passage or a tenet of my faith.

 

I also know that it is crucial for me to set regular times during the week when I will attend to my daily prayer and studies. I can’t just wait “until I have time” – things will invariably get in the way. When I choose to watch movies when I need a break, now I often select those with religious themes. There are many excellent ones out there! I need these regular times when I purposely seek out Jesus to get to know Him better. This helps me to be able to recognize Him quicker!

 

How is your recognition of Jesus? Do you know Him well? If not, perhaps you could take a little time this week to chat with Him for a while or read something about Him to strengthen that bond between the two of you. Spending time with Him will enable you to recognize where Jesus is in your life. This could be just the blessing you need to perk up your week!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Blessings

Posted on April 20, 2020 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)

I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to see many blessings in our world today. The news reports are filled with sad things about illness, death and jobs being lost. There is a lot of conflicting information, too, about the virus and plans to re-open our society, and scammers are taking advantage of our fears to try new ways to cheat people out of their money.

 

Fortunately my husband and I are in a fairly decent position. We did get our stimulus check, we have an adequate amount of money stored away for retirement (and we hope it doesn’t deplete too quickly!), and we have a strong faith community to support us. Our church is reaching out to every parishioner via phone and email to see if they are okay and if they need any resources. I’m part of the calling team, and it’s gratifying to hear that so far most of our people are okay.

 

But I know that not everyone is in a good position right now. I know people whose work hours have been reduced and others who are furloughed. Some are having a hard time financially and I’ve heard concerns from others who severely distrust the ability of our government to help them. I do not personally know of anyone who has the virus, but my family and friends are rightfully concerned. People are not feeling blessed, and I can’t blame them for doubting or being angry and upset.

 

But there is One whom I can trust to provide for us – and that is God. Although it is hard to understand why God might allow the unfavorable impacts of the pandemic to occur, I still have to trust that God has everything under control and that somehow blessings will come out of this situation.

 

And I do think that blessings are here, if I just look for them. Perhaps I have been taking too many things for granted, and the blessing is that I now appreciate these things more. Perhaps (probably!) my faith life has sagged, and the blessing is that I am re-igniting that faith. And maybe I had slacked off in engaging with my friends and family, and now the blessing is that I am more deliberate about reaching out.

 

It’s not often that I include an entire song in my reflection, but today I want to share one that has held a lot of comfort for me in these past several weeks. Written and sung by Laura Story, the song “Blessings” helps me to look at challenges as possible blessings, even though I might not realize it yet.

 

I pray that this week you will muse upon these words and see how you can look at your life and current trials and see what blessings are there for you.

 

Blessings

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep

We pray for healing, for prosperity

We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

 

All the while, You hear each spoken need

Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

 

'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near

What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

 

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear

We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near

We doubt your goodness, we doubt Your love

As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

 

All the while, You hear each desperate plea

And long that we'd have faith to believe

 

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win

We know that pain reminds this heart, that this is not our home

 

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life

Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy

What if trials of this life

The rain, the storms, the hardest nights

Are your mercies in disguise

 

Have a blessed Monday!


Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

An Easter Reflection

Posted on April 13, 2020 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday we celebrated Easter Sunday. Jesus was in the tomb, dead, and yet he rose! He had spent time in the tomb from Good Friday afternoon to Easter morning. Many scholars say he had gone down into hell during this time. I believe this to be true because of his mission – to free us from the bondage of sin and death. And I know that he emerged, triumphant over death and the grave!

 

The whole week leading up to this Easter has meant so much to me. I knew what was going to happen, as it does during Holy Week every year, but this week was different. This year I spent most of my Holy Week alone, though my husband and I met up for meals and viewing of on-line services. I did spend time working on a home project, but I also had much more time than I usually do during Holy Week to think and pray. I could study the readings of the Passion in-depth, pray the rosary more often and just in general quiet myself to prepare for Triduum.

 

I was blessed to be able to participate in the Easter Vigil at our church as one of the cantors. One person was confirmed while hundreds of people (from across the USA, I’m told) watched our service which was streamed online. Then on Easter Sunday my husband and I connected online or via phone to greet family and friends.

 

Although we couldn’t exchange hugs this year, we could express our affection through our words and messages. Emojis I had never seen before were flying across my computer screen regularly. Despite our lockdown we were still connected – we could still encourage each other and share the Good News.

 

Now that it is Easter Monday, what am I going to do? I don’t want to let God drop into the background while I resume my old behavior. No, I’m going to try to keep up my studying, praying and reflecting. I’m going to continue to reach out to people via phone, text and Facebook. I’m going to try to keep the Good News alive!

 

What are you going to do?

 

Have a blessed Easter Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

What Matters

Posted on April 6, 2020 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. Usually I spend Palm Sunday in church, waving palm branches as we sing commemorating Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. But yesterday, I drove over to my church to collect palm branches while remaining in my car, then I drove back home to watch the live stream of the small service held inside my church. It was just not the same, but it was still a worship service, and reminded me that we have begun Holy Week. It’s going to be a Holy Week like no other!

 

This is the holiest of weeks – on Thursday we celebrate the Institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and on Friday we remember the crucifixion and death of our Lord. Then we will wait in anticipation until Sunday Morning, when He will rise triumphant from the grave. It will be so different this year, as my husband and I sit in our living room, doing the best we can to pray and “attend” these services through the computer.

 

Although this whole week is important, today I’d like to look at Good Friday. I attended an on-line webinar on Saturday, and discussion turned to the events of Good Friday. (By the way, The Passion of the Christ is a great movie to watch this week.) During His hours of torture, Jesus took on all our sins. He endured the most horrific of deaths to atone for those sins. I can’t imagine what that must have been like - I can handle some pain, but when it gets really bad, I become a big wimp. Yet Jesus endured it all, without complaint, a gentle Lamb led to the slaughter.

 

Have you ever read anything about what it is like to be crucified? To be hung upon a cross, with your arms outstretched and the weight of your body pulling you down onto your pierced feet? I have read that crucifixion victims experience excruciating pain as their lungs collapse, and they must push up with their feet to try to get some air into their starving airways. When they become so weak they are unable to do this any longer, they suffocate. What a harsh and painful way to die.

 

But here is something else to think about. In the past several weeks, thousands of people have literally suffocated due to the coronavirus pandemic. People with severe cases of Covid-19 have a rapid and progressive shortness of breath, which I understand is very painful. The inability to get enough oxygen into their lungs is a major factor causing death.

 

When I look back at the death of Jesus, I notice that He hung alone on the cross during his suffocation. Oh, yes, His mother and John were there, but they could not touch him. Even the two thieves next to him were unreachable. Jesus was kept at least six feet from everyone else, and he suffered and died alone. Just like the coronavirus patients.

 

This was an eye-opening comparison for me! Here we are in Holy Week, the week we recall so intimately how Jesus suffered and died. And so many people are dying each day from the virus. We may wonder why God has allowed this virus to affect so many in our world. I do not know, but I do know that Jesus understands exactly what these patients are feeling. He lived it, and He died it. For us.

 

Could this perhaps be a wake-up call? Maybe I have been laisse-faire about my church attendance or attentiveness at mass, or I have not taken much time lately to get a better understanding of my faith. Have I been focusing too much on concerts, sporting events, shopping or other worldly things and not paying attention to what really matters?

 

This week I encourage you to take a look at your life: look at what used to matter before the virus hit and what matters to you now. Perhaps, like me, you can see some ways in which you were not focused on your faith before, and that is changing now. Maybe this week you can start to see what really matters in your life and in your faith.

 

I know there will be an end sometime to the suffering of the Holy Week in which we live. God will somehow bring us through, and there will be a Resurrection. This is the hope that I will cling to. I pray that you too will be able to find hope as you ride out this storm, looking for what truly matters in your life.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Distancing

Posted on March 30, 2020 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The new buzz phrase these days is “social distancing.” With the COVID-19 pandemic in progress, we are encouraged to stay at home and if we must be out (for essentials) then we are to maintain as much as possible a distance of six feet from others. Hundreds of videos are out there showing how to sanitize things we buy and how to keep our homes clean.

 

I understand the necessity for the precautions – this virus is so easily spread from person to person, and it takes days before symptoms show up. It’s only prudent that we protect ourselves and others by following the guidelines presented to us and keep away from others as much as possible.

 

It hasn’t been too bad for me so far. I have my husband to converse with and share chores and meals. Our home is large enough that I can distance myself from him if needed, for my sanity or for his! We head out for walks and take the car only to pick up essentials and to get takeout to support our local restaurants. The copious news reports fill the airwaves all day, but I only pay attention to them once in the morning and once in the evening. That’s enough news for me. And we have several cleaning and repair projects we are tackling which help pass the time.

 

But sadly, some people, especially older ones, aren’t doing as well as we are. Many live alone – maybe in a house or condo but often in a senior living facility. For them it can get pretty lonely. These people no longer are able to meet their friends for coffee or a meal, nor even pass time in the dining room or social room of their building. For those who do not have computers, their main forms of connection are the television, radio and their phone. They are seriously feeling the downsides of social distancing.

 

To help alleviate some of the stress of social distancing for these folks, I have made it a priority to check in with some people every day. I make phone calls, write texts and send messages using Facebook, video chat with Messenger and Duo, and even say hello to my neighbors when I go out for walks. When I do this, so often I hear they are so grateful that I reached out. Even though they may have their children or building staff checking on them, it’s always nice to hear from other people.

 

I have also offered to go out to get things if they need something. We have to make trips out anyway, and I can certainly pick up something extra. No one has taken me up on that offer yet, but it may happen. It seems we may have many weeks of the stay-at-home situation ahead of us.

 

Another idea I heard about was (on a nice day) getting a few friends to each drive to a drive-through, get meals, then go to a parking lot where you can park your cars 6 feet apart with the windows open. You can eat your meal and chat a little bit. I haven’t tried this yet – but if someone is interested in experimenting with me using this concept, let me know!

 

This week, if you have the ability to connect with others during this time of social distancing, I encourage you to do so. Call, text, email or even write a letter. Set up a video chat. Family and friends will be grateful to hear from you, and your connection could be just what they need to stay encouraged. And if the people are willing, say a prayer with them too. Remind them that God is with us, even if we are a bit uncertain about what our future holds.

 

Be a friend to someone today – reach out across the social distance. You will bless them, and yourself, too.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net


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