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Reflections From Faye

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Faith

Posted on April 8, 2021 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)

We just celebrated Easter Sunday – I am so grateful that Jesus suffered and died on Good Friday, and then rose and conquered death, all to save me and you from our sins. I wish you all many blessings in this Easter season!

 

How is your faith doing these days?

 

For those of you who are “serious” prayers of the rosary, you are probably aware of the three Hail Mary beads at the beginning. When I was young, I was taught that while praying on those beads you remembered the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. I still remember these virtues as I pray the rosary. Since I am praying the rosary a bit more often these days, I decided that my next three reflections will be about these virtues.

 

This week’s virtue is Faith. I sometime think of it as my “patron” virtue, because one definition of my name is faith or belief. The Oxford American Dictionary presents as its first definition of faith "complete trust or confidence in someone or something."

 

I think humans are believers spontaneously, instinctively, naturally. For what do we know which we have not acquired by faith? Humans spend years in school learning and then believing in an abundance of things. We often believe based on the words and demonstrations from someone whose judgment and integrity we trust, and we have faith that what we believe is true.

 

For example, I believe that a rock will fall to the ground if I let it go, because I believe in gravity. So I can easily have faith that if I let go of another rock, it too will fall to the ground.

 

But when it comes to belief in less tangible things, that’s harder. For example, I can’t see God. So far I haven’t come across any scientific proofs that God exists. So my faith in God is based on other things that I have learned and read about from trusted sources. I believe also that my faith is “supernatural” in the sense that my faith is a gift given to me by God. This faith allows me the freedom to believe that He exists and has my best interests in mind.

 

The Bible and our history books are filled with people who had faith in something, whether it was faith in God or faith in some ideal. And many have kept their faith in spite of serious challenges. Take Abraham – he faithfully took his son Isaac up the mountain to become a human sacrifice because God asked him to, even though it seemed like he would lose his son. Abraham had faith that God would honor His promise. The Acts of The Apostles too records numerous incidents where the faithful disciples put their very lives on the line in faith to proclaim the Good News.

 

Yet many people also doubt. Countless authors have written on this subject over the centuries. Some prime examples are found in our Bible: Remember when the Israelites had trouble keeping their faith in Moses and God’s command when they kept wandering in the desert with no place to call home?

 

Faith is challenging for many people right now, too. Everyone also has to deal with troubles: a family member gets sick, our spouse loses their job, or something else happens and suddenly our world is not so secure anymore. We look at all the tragedy in the world and we wonder why it happens, and continues to happen, with little relief in sight. It becomes hard to trust that things will work out yet easy to blame God for not righting the situation. It’s hard to keep the faith when we do not know the outcome. When we cannot see how a particular problem can possibly be resolved, it is a struggle to maintain faith.

 

I have to admit that on some days I feel a strong lack of faith. It is easy to doubt God’s presence, His goodness, or His ability to answer my prayers. But at the end of the day, I look around and realize that I have been blessed in numerous ways, even though I still have worldly problems. There is much good in the world. When tragedies strike, there are always people who continue to have faith - they do not give up but instead just dig in to help. There must be something behind all those people and their good actions – and I believe that something is faith.

 

As a disciple of Christ, I must not only keep the faith and live it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it. I know at times that will be challenging, but this is my call as his disciple, and I hope that my writings can help spread true faith in God.

 

St. Augustine said, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” I pray that you may have a strong faith. May you believe in the goodness of God and the gifts he has given to you, no matter what your circumstances may be. Remain strong in your faith, and eventually you will see what you believe!

 

When preparing my book “Reflections on The Journey: Living The Rosary,” I wrote reflections for each of the prayers said during the Rosary, and I also wrote some short reflections on the three theological virtues. My gift to you today is this one on Faith.

 

FAITH

 

Faith is our deep belief in God, that God is one in Three;

And other truths from Mother Church, revealed for us to see.

In humble love our Jesus came,

To save and set us free.

Here now we know that God is love; He came to earth for me.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Passion

Posted on March 29, 2021 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

What is your passion?

 

Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday. In my church, the Gospel reading for Passion Sunday is a long one – usually beginning with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and following through to Jesus’ passion and death on Good Friday. For me, the Passion narrative sets the tone for Holy Week, identified by most Christian Churches as the holiest week of the year.

 

The term “passion” comes from the Greek verb pascho, which means to suffer, and the noun form of its Latin derivative, passus. Although suffering was the word’s primary meaning back then, it was also used in Greek and Latin to refer to strong emotion, as the term passion does today in English.

 

Merriam-Webster has many definitions for the word passion. I was delighted to read that the first one is “the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death.” Additional definitions include suffering, emotion, ardent desire and love.

 

As I reflect on the Passion of Jesus, I have to marvel at what he went through for my salvation. Death on a cross is one of the most horrific forms of torture and death, as the person suffers immense physical pain and agony, not to mention mental anguish. I can’t even fathom what Jesus must have felt. The bouts of pain I have experienced during my life are miniscule compared to that.

 

And Jesus felt passion throughout his whole ministry. Recall those other definitions of the word? Jesus had an ardent desire to bring the people to God, to share God’s love for them and help them to reform their lives. Jesus tirelessly spread the Good News with great love. He lived his mission with profound passion, and he endured an unfathomable passion in his death.

 

At times I have experienced strong passions in my life. I recall that when I became a mother, I became quite passionate about the role – I spent a good portion of my waking hours ensuring my little ones were fed, clothed and educated. Yes, I faced obstacles, and I wasn’t perfect at the job (just ask my kids!), but still I strove to do my best – it was my mission.

 

I have some different missions now – one of my primary ones is to bring hope and encouragement to people. I do this through my ministries at church and through my writing.

 

When living out this mission, I believe it is important for me to always keep in mind the Passion of Jesus. As long as my mission aligns with God’s will for me, I should strive to persevere and carry out my tasks with as much ardor as I can, as Jesus did during his lifetime. When the inevitable challenges arise, I can look to Jesus on the cross, and to our Blessed Mother below the cross, for examples on how to suffer in love.

 

My plan for this holiest of weeks is to take time each day to read the Passion narrative. I will look for nuggets of wisdom and encouragement to help me to better live my mission in the way God has called me. And I pray that by the dawn of Easter morning I will have renewed my passion for my mission. I hope to also watch the movie “The Passion of the Christ.”

 

What is your mission? Do you have a passion for it? This week, I pray you too will find encouragement and hope in the Passion of Jesus. Try to read through it (Mark 14:1-15:47) at least once, or better yet, once per day. Hopefully you will find some blessing to encourage you as you live your own passion.

 

Have a blessed Monday and Holy Week!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

St. Joseph

Posted on March 22, 2021 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Is St. Joseph protecting you?

 

2021 has been declared the Year of St. Joseph by Pope Francis. And last week on March 19th we celebrated the feast of St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and earthly father to Jesus. Devotion to St. Joseph has been around for a long time, but this devotion was not one that I learned about until recently. I didn’t know much about Joseph - there are only a few verses in the Bible that mention him – and he never speaks! Plus, we don’t have any idea when or how he died.

 

But we can glimpse much into Joseph’s character from the few verses we can read in the Bible. We know he had to have been a very pure and humble man, to take Mary as his wife knowing she was with child. He must have been very pious – he fulfilled all the law’s requirements, and he heeded the messages God sent to him via angels in dreams. He was hard-working and a great protector – after all, he took Jesus and Mary on a long and dangerous journey into Egypt! Joseph had to provide for his family while they lived there for several years, and then he had to bring them on the long trek back to Nazareth.

 

Are you aware of the miracles credited to St. Joseph? There are several – my favorite is the unique spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Three mysteries surround the spiral staircase: the identity of its builder, the type of wood used, and the physics of its construction.

 

When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, surprisingly there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.

 

Legend says that to find a solution, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters' prayers.

 

The stairway's carpenter built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today. The staircase contains 30 steps and has two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support. The staircase was built without nails, only wooden pegs. There is no record of wood being purchased from anywhere near the chapel, and no one remembers any wood being hauled in. In 1996, a study was done which determined the staircase is made of spruce, and it most resembles a type of spruce only found in Israel!

 

The staircase remains intact today – and I got to see it several years ago when I visited the chapel. It is indeed a wonder!

 

Looking at this miracle and other evidence of his holiness and protection, I believe St. Joseph is the perfect saint to call on as our father and protector. St. Teresa of Avila once said about St. Joseph: "To other Saints our Lord has given power to help in one sort of need, but this glorious saint, as I know by experience, helps us in every need."

 

Because this is the Year of St. Joseph, and to prepare for his feast day, I made a 33-day mini-retreat leading up to a consecration to St. Joseph on his feast day. I used a book called “Consecration to St. Joseph” by Donald H. Calloway, MIC. Each day for the 33 days leading up to his feast day, I spent time in reading and prayer, learning more about Joseph and why he makes a perfect spiritual father, and each day I prayed the Litany to St. Joseph. After completing my preparation and making my consecration to Joseph, I now feel confident that Joseph will always be there to protect and guide me, as long as I reach out to him.

 

Could you use a protector? Are you struggling with some earthly challenge? “Ite ad Ioseph!” (that’s Latin for “Go to Joseph!”) St. Joseph will fill the bill! He is called Light of Patriarchs, Zealous Defender of Christ, Model of Workmen, Guardian of Virgins, Comfort of the Afflicted, Hope of the Sick and Terror of Demons, just to name a few of his titles. He will help you!

 

If you would like to look into the consecration to St. Joseph, I recommend Fr. Calloway’s book. In it you fill find much good information about Joseph along with several prayers of consecration you can make. I especially like this short prayer of consecration from the book, which I plan to use daily:

 

“O dearest St. Joseph, I consecrate myself to your honor and give myself to you, that you may always be my father, my protector, and my guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me a greater purity of heart and fervent love of the interior life. After your example, may I do all my actions for the greater glory of God, in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. O Blessed St. Joseph, pray for me, that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death. Amen.”

 

May you be blessed with greater knowledge of our spiritual father St. Joseph!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

The Whole Picture

Posted on March 15, 2021 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

We don’t really know very much at all.

 

We may not like to admit it, but we are rather clueless about much of what is happening in this world. Yes, we can get constant tweets and posts. And yes, we may catch the daily news to keep up with current events all over the world. But we really only get the merest glimpse of what is really happening. Only a limited amount of information can be shared in a 30-minute newscast, in a tweet or on a webpage.

 

Even if we spent hours listening to podcasts, perusing blogs and articles on the internet and talking in-depth with our close friends and family members, we still could not grasp the complete reality of any event. Plus, sad to say, many news sources are biased in their reporting, and even if they do their best to be fair, there just isn’t enough time to completely present all the information. And we can never truly know what goes on in the mind of another person, so those pieces of information will almost always be missing from the story.

 

I recently read that St. Padre Pio shared a story about a youngster who each afternoon sat on the floor near the lap of his grandmother while she sewed. The boy kept happily occupied with his toys. For days into weeks, he often glanced up to heed his grandmother’s voice and smiles. In those moments, he caught glimpses of what seemed a puzzling, even peculiar, design of her handiwork. One afternoon the grandmother excitedly invited the lad to stand near her. There he surveyed her outstretched finished piece, and was stilled by its detail, harmony and beauty. Weeks of viewing only the underside of the project had not prepared him for the exquisiteness of the work, now fully and rightly viewed.

 

How easily we jump to conclusions when we get our limited information. We base many of our thoughts and ideas from the few bits of data that we have, often not even realizing we are not seeing the whole, true picture.

 

When things are not going “right” in my world, I am tempted to blame God for abandoning me. I wonder how God can allow certain things to happen, and why He seemingly does not see the plight of so many people who are struggling. But I don’t see the full picture. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle: when I only have a few pieces which are right-side up, and they aren’t even from the same quadrant of the puzzle, I can’t possibly know what the picture is supposed to be. There may be more pieces which I can see, but when they are upside down, I can’t tell what they are or where they go. And when most of the pieces are missing from my box – well, you get the picture (or not!)

 

You see, only God can see the whole picture.

 

I need to constantly remind myself of this fact. I must restrain myself from making snap judgements about troubling events when I know that I only have a tiny piece of the data and my sources may be biased. And I need to remind myself Who is the only one who can see the whole picture. The best thing I can do is to pray – to ask God to help me see more of the puzzle pieces, or to help me be content and at peace with the pieces that I can see.

 

Are you struggling with a personal problem today? Is a world situation weighing on your mind? If so, try to remind yourself that you are only seeing a teensy part of the whole picture. We each only have a few pieces of the master puzzle, and even when we try to join our pieces with others’ pieces, there are still many pieces missing. So it is important to remember that God does see the whole picture, and that He will complete the puzzle, in His time. Be patient and wait for His blessing.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Truth

Posted on March 8, 2021 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

How often do we tell the truth?

 

No, I am not talking about malicious lying - I wrote a reflection on that a few months ago when I was reviewing the Ten Commandments. This writing is focused instead on being honest about yourself.

 

There is a song by Matthew West which he released in 2020 called “Truth Be Told.” The first time I listened to this song, I realized the truth of his words, and how they described my life for such a very long time.

 

In the song, Matthew talks about how we often are not honest to others (and to ourselves) about our lives – we say that we are just fine, that we have no problems. But in order to become healed, we have to be honest about ourselves. Here is an excerpt from the lyrics:

 

I don't know why it's so hard to admit it

When being honest is the only way to fix it

There's no failure, no fall

There's no sin you don't already know

So let the truth be told

 

Flashback to April 1996. I had gone on a women’s weekend retreat sponsored by my church. On Friday night I heard one of my fellow parishioners, someone who I did not know very well at the time, describe a very personal difficult event she had experienced. She spoke about how she hid this truth behind a mask of perfection. She stated that we don’t want to reveal our pain and hurts because we want to put forth an image to the world (and to ourselves) of perfection and beauty.

 

Her honesty and openness about her experiences and how they affected her life shocked me! How could she possibly tell others about her anguish and sorrow? I began to cry as my own dark truths began to push themselves up from the deep recesses of my heart where I had thought I had carefully locked them away. I spent the next several hours of the retreat crying as I confronted several incidents in my own life. When I left the retreat center I felt freer and no longer so ashamed about my own past failings, for I now realized that everyone has experienced something tragic in their life. None of us is perfect. The truth was starting to be told.

 

It was about a year later that I stood up in front of a new group of retreatants and shared my own personal story. I won’t deny that it was hard. I shed so many tears while writing my talk - I had to confront my deep pain and my horrible failures. But after telling the truth and speaking with other women who were also recognizing the importance of truth, I gained even more freedom. I did not need to wear a mask any longer. I understand now that it is ok to have pain and to have sinned. God loves us anyway!

 

Is there some pain or hurt in your life that you have not been honest about? Is there a sin you don’t want to admit? I encourage you this week to reflect about this. Even if you feel pain while doing it, dredge up whatever it is, just one thing. Then tell someone the truth. Telling a priest in confession is the best choice, but even discussing it with a good friend will do. It is so important that we be honest, especially with ourselves. Once you have opened up about that one thing, you may be willing to open up about one more. And I believe that you will find that the truth is a blessing!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Temptation

Posted on March 1, 2021 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

I’ll bet I’m not the only one reading this who has ever been tempted.

 

It seems like every time we turn around a new temptation jumps into our faces. Ads on TV and the internet promote the latest phone that we just “must-have.” We watch the Joneses get a new car and we want one, too. Or we are tempted to break our diet when the tantalizing aroma from the Cinnabon store wafts by.

 

These kinds of temptations don’t really seem so bad – what’s wrong with wanting a new phone, a car or a Cinnabon? Even if our conscience says we really don’t need it, we still want it, and sometimes we will act on these temptations. The problem may be more in what it DOES to us.

 

When I give in to temptation “just once,” perhaps I think I will have better resolve to stick to my goals. But sadly, for me that is usually not the case. Once I give in it is so much easier to give in again. And again. And pretty soon I may have totally given up on my resolve. In the case of a Cinnabon, it’s not soooo bad, but what if it was something bigger, or a temptation to sin?

 

Another time temptation can rear its ugly head is when we experience disappointments and rejection. We can feel unloved and angry that we were passed over. If we brood on these inequalities, we can become resentful, and then become tempted to lash out at others. It’s all too easy to do – I know, because I have experienced this.

 

Temptations are like that. They seem so innocent when they first pop up. We may not see the first little stone as we start down the path of temptation. We stumble, and we get up, but then we fail to see the bigger boulders that are ahead, and we are completely oblivious to the huge cliff which also awaits. Pretty soon we may be in big trouble.

 

Our earliest ancestors experienced temptation – remember Adam and Eve in Genesis Chapter 3? Their desire for knowledge overcame their fear of disobeying God. And anyway, an apple is good to eat, right? Even Jesus experienced temptations. In Mark’s Gospel Chapter 1 verses 12-13, we learn how Jesus was sent into the desert by the Holy Spirit where he remained for 40 days. There he was tempted by seemingly innocent things, like bread to eat! What’s wrong with bread? Well, that’s fodder for another whole blog! Jesus was able to resist temptation, but Adam and Eve were not.

 

We as fallen human beings are prone to the temptations of the flesh. The devil preys on that weakness and provides all sorts of “opportunities” for temptations to hone in. I am no better than Eve - overcoming temptation is very hard for me. It’s hard to see beyond the innocence of the temptation to the boulders and cliffs that lie ahead.

 

So how can we deal with temptations?

 

For me, the first thing to do is to recognize that I WILL be tempted. It’s a part of being human. Therefore, it is important for me to avoid those things which may cause me to be tempted, if at all possible. For example, if I think a movie might contain images or ideas that may be harmful, it’s better for me not to see it.

 

Second, when I am faced with a situation, I need to be alert. I need to recognize when something is a temptation. Because when I recognize it, I can take action. I can take a deep breath and walk away, or ask for help from those around me. I can request that my husband keep the cake in the fridge, out of my sight! For bigger temptations, I may need to cry to God and to my guardian angel to give me strength to say no.

 

A third step is for me to try to replace my negative thoughts and feelings, which may lead to temptations, with ones of gratitude for what I DO have. When I shouldn’t go see a particular movie, I can remember I am blessed to have many books at home to read instead. When I can’t eat the whole bag of popcorn, I can enjoy a little bit each day for several days. And when I am faced with something bigger or more dangerous, I can be grateful that God has my well-being in mind and will help me if I call out to Him.

 

Finally, I can learn from my temptations. I can look closely at what tempts me: What does it look like? How have I responded to it? What helped me to say no? And I can take these temptations to confession and ask for additional graces. All of this helps me respond better when that temptation pops up again. Whenever I say no to a temptation (even if it’s a tiny one) I become stronger, and it becomes easier and easier to say no in the future.

 

The next time you are faced with a temptation, I encourage you to be mindful about it. Before just rushing in, think about it and see if it is really a good thing for you. If not, put it aside, and ask for help if you can’t do it alone. Fill yourself with other good things and gratitude for what you have. Then keep repeating this for future temptations. You may be surprised at how much easier it becomes to avoid temptation.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Kindness

Posted on February 22, 2021 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (0)

We have begun the season of Lent once again, and a common practice during this annual season is to give up something. Catholics give up meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays during Lent. We may also give up something else, like soda or candy. The practice of giving something up (like fasting for a period of time) is a sacrifice, a kind of penance, a means of ridding ourselves (at least for a while) of something for which we may have grown a bit too fond. These sacrifices are also a means of joining ourselves to the sacrifice of Jesus on Good Friday.

 

Over the years, I have pledged to give up lots of things during Lent besides meat on Fridays. I have given up chocolate, soda, desserts and more. Sometimes I was successful at maintaining my pledge for the entire period, and sometimes I slipped. I do know that on Holy Saturday after the Easter Vigil mass or on Easter Sunday, I would gleefully again take up those things. In looking back, most of the time those sacrifices really did not change me all that much. I didn’t use them to draw closer to Jesus.

 

The prophet Isaiah talks about fasting in chapter 58, and an excerpt from this chapter was included in the daily readings last week. I spent some time pondering the words of verses 6 and 7 which state: “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke, setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.”

 

What a good way of fasting! I could work on this kinds of fasting for Lent this year, but what specifically should I do?

 

A while back I became friends on Facebook with a former classmate from high school. She was in the middle of doing a “365 Days of Kindness” project. Each day for a whole year she did something kind for someone. I was quite impressed as she posted about her varied efforts to effect acts of kindness. Sometimes the kindness was very small, one that cost her practically nothing. Others involved an outlay of some money. Occasionally the kindness was performed anonymously, and sometimes the recipient knew.

 

Her project was an ambitious one, but it piqued my interest. Then along came Lent 2021, and I decided that instead of GIVING UP something every day, I would GIVE something every day. I finally had my plan: each day during Lent this year I would perform at least one act of kindness for someone.

 

And so I began on Ash Wednesday by sending a donation to a charity I had been thinking about supporting. On successive days I prepared special meals for my husband and made phone calls to lonely friends. I’m not going to post on Facebook or in this blog everything that I will be doing, but I am noting everything in a notebook to keep myself accountable to my pledge of kindness for Lent.

 

My plan is working well so far! Instead of lamenting what I can’t have, I am actually looking forward to what my next gift of kindness will be! For each of these kindnesses I am stretching myself by going farther than I usually would or doing something I might not normally do. I might give more to a charity, spend a longer period of time on the phone with a friend or go out of my way to buy something needed by another. So yes, I am still sacrificing, but the sacrifice is for another person. When I look at the person for whom I am doing the kindness, I visualize them as Christ. And that puts my efforts into a whole new perspective!

 

I’d like to encourage you follow in my footsteps and do a kindness for someone this week. You don’t have to do something every day but do at least one thing. Ideally this will be something that makes you expend more effort than you normally would. In other words, make it a bit of a Lenten sacrifice! And who knows, in addition to blessing someone else, you may end up blessing yourself too!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Prayer Changes Things

Posted on February 15, 2021 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Prayer changes things.

 

I wasn’t always a believer in that statement. When I was young, I’d pray to get certain things I desperately wanted, but most of the time I didn’t get what I wanted. As I got older, I’d pray for the end to war or for people to stop hurting each other, and once again, most of the time it didn’t happen. I’ve also said many prayers asking for healing for someone who was ill, and their illness did not leave, or for my own hurts to end, and they didn’t go away. So why should I believe that prayer changes things?

 

It is true that not all prayers are answered in the way we want them to be. People don’t get cured, wars do not stop and we don’t get the things we ask for. But prayer still changes things.

 

For one thing, my prayer changes me. By praying for other people, I become kinder and gentler. When I come out of my own little hole and really see what is going on around me, something inside triggers a compassionate response. Praying for someone may prompt me to doing something physical to help others. Even though how God acts is up to Him, I can still pray that God will create a change in the world. Sometimes He does respond with cures and other changes in the world.

 

But sometimes God does not cure the problem. Sometimes He merely changes the people involved. He may give a person with a terminal illness a calmness to accept their diagnosis. Sometimes He uses the prayers to encourage people like myself to take some action to effect a change. It is a mystery why some people report miracles yet others find nothing. But that doesn’t mean that some change did not occur.

 

Everybody needs to pray. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone would begin to pray instead of doing evil? Prayer in faith opens us to the power of Divine Love.

 

If you struggle with prayer, you can find thousands of books and internet resources to help you. I’ve looked at many of these, and while most are good and provide us with ideas, the best thing I ever did to improve my own prayer life was to get down to business and actually PRAY.

 

It wasn’t easy! Oh, I could pray the standard prayers I learned in my youth, like the Our Father and Hail Mary. But spontaneous prayer? And praying for others? That was harder – I didn’t know what to say.

 

But it turns out it doesn’t matter WHAT you say. What is important is that you try. You can simply just mention names – for God knows exactly what those people need in their life!

 

One little tool I found which helps me in my prayer is the Five-Finger Prayer. This prayer was developed years ago by Cardinal Bergoglio before he became Pope Francis. The method is so simple that most people find it interesting that someone as significant as the head of the Catholic Church would develop something so simple.

 

Here’s how it works:

 

Your thumb is closest to your heart, so pray for those closest to you – your family and friends.

 

The pointer finger is used to give directions. Pray for teachers, coaches, therapists, doctors, and first responders.

 

The middle finger is the tallest. Pray for leaders in government, business, and the church.

 

The ring finger is the weakest. Pray for the sick, poor, and those in most need.

 

The pinkie finger is the smallest. Pray for yourself and your own needs.

 

That’s it! So simple, yet very effective. When I’m stumped for words in my prayers (yes it happens, even for a writer!) I can just go through each of my fingers and name names if I know them, or mention groups of people that come to mind.

 

This week I encourage you to try the five-finger prayer method. Perhaps once a day, sit down with your hand and go through each finger. Who knows what changes might result from your prayer, in you or in others. And just imagine all the blessing you will bring on the people of our world!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Winter

Posted on February 8, 2021 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you get the winter blues? I do. By the time February rolls around, I am so tired of the frigid Minnesota days (it’s below zero today), gloomy gray days, the blackish snowdrifts looming along the side of the road, and the ice patches that secrete themselves under innocent patches of snow. I have to be careful every time I venture out – I do not want to land in the emergency room with a sprain or something worse.

 

I had hoped to spend some time in sunny Arizona or in Texas with some of my grandchildren this winter, but that was not to be. With Covid and the need to help my mother-in-law, our travel plans changed. We merely exchanged one cold town for another right here in Minnesota!

 

I know that many people enjoy winter. Those who enjoy skiing, skating or sledding can get out and play. Many people continue to walk outside during the winter months, but I guess I am a wimp when it comes to the cold. If I walk during the winter, it’s usually only up and down the stairs in my home or inside warm malls. I really should dust off that old treadmill parked in a dark corner of my basement…

 

So what’s a poor human to do during these bleak winter days? Since I can’t always expect to see sunny blue skies outside my window, I need to create my own sunshine! One way that works for me is to pull out a good book. Sometimes it’s the Bible or a Christian theological book to allow me to further my faith. Other times it’s an intriguing mystery novel from one of my favorite authors. Since I have decided to weed out my book collection, I’m also periodically pulling out from my shelves a book I have either never read or last read a long time ago, to see if I really need to read it or even keep it.

 

Another thing that gives me sunshine during the winter is writing. Besides this blog, I really haven’t written a lot of other things lately. It’s been several years since I published a book, so I’m going to try to spend more time writing. It can be hard to find the motivation to write, so I must be open to the promptings of the Spirit. I have the idea for another publication, and I’ll let you know when it’s ready!

 

I can also get sunshine in the winter by giving sunshine - to friends. Several people I know are spending a lot of time alone in their homes, and so I’m spending a little time calling some of them just to talk. I can tell their day brightens when they can talk to someone, and I find that my own day is better, too.

 

Are you experiencing a bleak winter? What are you doing to combat it in your life? Things that might give you sunshine may not be the same as mine, so I encourage you to think about how you can bring some kind of sunshine into your own winter. How can you bless yourself and others with a bit of sunshine this week? You might be surprised what you find!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Old Things

Posted on February 1, 2021 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you have a bunch of old things? Now, just to be clear, I’m NOT referring to you or to your spouse…! But I am talking about things that you have kept for many years that you really haven’t been using.

 

I admit to having several old things. I’m (slowly) working on cleaning them out! But recently my own cleaning project got interrupted when we needed to spend time at my mother-in-law’s house to get her set up for home health care.

 

Since we needed to spend many days away from our home, my husband and I have been taking some time to clean out a few old things of Mom’s. Mom loved to keep up with anything and everything that was happening in her town and especially with her friends and relatives. Therefore, she cut out newspaper articles for each wedding, birth and death for every person she knew. We discovered boxes upon boxes of these clippings!

 

We did manage to go through most of these treasured bits of information, and we confess to weeding out most of them. Although mom’s mind is still sharp, she no longer has the energy to review and sort through these things for herself.

 

A bunch of other old things were discovered in closets, boxes and drawers, too. There were some old coins and many magazines, a few old tools, and ancient kitchen gadgets. Most of the latter items are duplicates of what we already have, but a few we will keep. The local Goodwill store and the County Historical Society are now the proud owners of many “new” things! Plus, my local arts group is going to be getting a few props for upcoming plays!

 

We also found some old toys. There was a metal ferris wheel, a Tom Thumb cash register, marbles and several small model cars, just to name a few. We are keeping some of these things for the grandchildren, but we will donate or sell the rest. With the availability of the internet, we can quickly find out if something may have any value to collectors, so we will try to sell a few of the items.

 

The process of cleaning out these old things has allowed us to meander down nostalgia lane. My husband and his sister have recalled fond memories of their youth, and even I could enjoy some of the items, like the Nov. 29, 1963 issue of Life magazine featuring JFK - I’m keeping that one!

 

What kind of old things do you have in your home? When you find a little spare time during these next few winter months, it might be a fun project for you to go through some of those old items. Enjoy the memories the items evoke! Keep a few selected treasures and purge the things you really have no use for. I suspect you’ll likely find a blessing or two in this project!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 


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