To Continue…

87882356And, the more that I think about Jesus saying, “Do not be afraid, just have faith” to a man whose little daughter has just died, the more I am both amazed and comforted.  When I reflect on the many things that are ‘crosses’ in my life right now, none of them can compare with the death of a child.  If Jesus could tell a grieving father to ‘just have faith’ when the circumstances seemed so dire, then there is nothing that I can’t bring to him, and nothing that he can’t heal.

“Just have faith” – three little words that can change my life.  These three little words are transforming…they effect my attitudes, my decisions, my moods, my past, present and future, the way I live and the way that I love.  He tells me, “Just have faith” and I answer:

BUT….

I’m really worried

I’m so afraid

I’m not seeing you, hearing you, feeling you right now

I have to do something…I have to take control

I fear the worst

And he responds, “Do not be afraid, JUST HAVE FAITH”

And I ask for the faith of a mustard seed so I can move mountains.

Our Secret Weapon

DSC_0092I read one of my favorite Scripture passages this morning – the healing of both Jairus’ daughter and the woman with a hemorrhage.

I can’t tell you how many times I read it….just love it for so many reasons.  

I always zoom in on the sick woman and how she only had to reach out and touch  Jesus’ cloak.  I may not be able to stand up straight and face Jesus face-to-face, I may not even be able to kneel before him, sometimes the best I can do is to just extend a weak and shaky hand to lightly touch that tassel.

But today, it was another phrase that caught my attention.  After Jairus was told not to bother Jesus anymore because his daughter had died,
Jesus turned to Jairus and said, “Don’t be afraid, just have faith”.

“Just have faith”

So many times in the Gospels we read about Jesus speaking about the power of faith.  It’s as simple –and as difficult- as that…..just have faith

I need to reflect on that.  I need to Pray on that.  I need to ACT on that.

Care to join me?

Sadness in Sandy Hook

885I haven’t been posting lately…..this blog is both a blessing and sometimes, if I am honest, a burden.  I don’t even know if anyone is following anymore, but I felt the urge to write tonight because maybe it will help me to process this terrible tragedy that occurred just a few miles from my own home.

The last time I saw the field that the news crews are occupying 24 hours a day was when I was sitting on the sidelines watching my son play soccer there.  The last time I was in Newtown was to buy a delicious cake at a small market there in the center of town.  The last time I was at St. Rose Church was to visit my friend who works in the religious ed. office.  The last time I was in Sandy Hook was to dine at a quaint little restaurant there.  And….the last time I saw a second grade student who attends Sandy Hook Elementary School was this past Sunday when her mom told me that she really isn’t talking much, but has drawn some pictures of guns.

Yesterday I had to teach about 160 students in grades 4-6 and then about 60 8th graders later in the evening.  At first I thought that I wouldn’t address any of this, being conscious of the fact that each family deals with their children in their own way.  But then, I thought…..let the children speak….where other than Church should this be discussed?  I told my catechists that if it came up in the classroom to keep it brief, discuss free will and always bring it back to the faith.  We have no answers, never will in this lifetime, but as a community of love and faith, we can find some comfort and solace in the Lord who is in the midst of it all.

The younger ones didn’t want to really speak about it…..at the end of the classes we formed a large circle of ‘love’ and said a prayer to send to our friends in the next town over.  The 8th graders wanted to talk a bit more.  We discussed our own responsibilities and that in every action there is a choice – a choice to build up or to tear down.  Not one of our students asked why ‘God did this’ – I pray it is because they understand and trust that God doesn’t do this, I’d like to think it is!

So, where do we go from here?  Our Youth Minister who lives in Sandy Hook asked me today, “Don’t you think that this is being covered just a little bit differently than the other tragedies?  Don’t you think that there is more talk of faith?”  Oh, I pray that there is…..Jesus said, ‘Let the little children lead…’  Maybe we can let these children lead us back to our core, to the only thing that makes any sense in the midst of this horrific event.  We are the children of a great and loving God, a God who suffers with us, a God who is present to us, with us and in us.  A God who came to this earth out of this unconditional love so that we can be united in every way. A God who shares our grief, compassion, our tears and our  sorrow.

We know…..we read it in Scripture…….”Jesus Wept”

Expiration Dates

Last night I gave a retreat on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to 78 eighth graders and their parents.  What at treat for me!  These teens are so serious about their faith…  I have been working with children for a very long time and each year the group has a different ‘personality’.  This particular group is commited and throughout this year I have seen and read so many inspiring tidbits.  I know, without a doubt, that the Holy Spirit is at work here and I am quite confident that they will continue to “go and make disciples of all nations….”

I asked the students to to write one sentence about their faith – I can’t wait to read them all today, but as I was packing up last night, I glanced at the sheet on top.  Here is what it read:

“My faith has no expiration date”

Wow, wow, wow – no wonder Jesus proclaimed that the ‘kingdom of God belongs to these….’

You really want to be careful with that one…

I was talking with a couple people the other day.  One of those light but heavy conversations…We got on the topic of some of the ‘big’ authors of faith, Rahner, Balthasar, de Chardin, etc.  Oh, not that we were discussing their theology, no, it was more like…’why is it so difficult to understand their writings…?’

One of the people said something like, ‘Why do these authors make such simple tenets so complicated?’  He then went on to say, ‘Just read the Gospels, I understand everything Jesus meant’.

Oooooh, I’d be really careful with a statement like that!  Jesus, the God-man who turned the world upside down.  Jesus, the God-man who was unpredictable – silent when I would have screamed, slow when I would have rushed, faithful when I would have given up, loving when I would have turned away…..

Do I have faith? I sure hope so.  Do I love him? I think so.  Do I understand him?  Well, I’m still working on that one…..

Until We’re Together Again…

Yesterday my ‘second mother’ went home to heaven.  My dear aunt, my mother’s sister, lived next door to the house I grew up in.  We were very close and there is a sadness and heaviness inside of me today.

Now, for the facts, she lived a beautiful and full life and except for the past couple of years, she was active and dynamic.  She left this world at at the age of 94, just had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, although I’m not sure she was aware of it.

Although my heart grieves, I also celebrate because I know where she is and who she is with! 

Today, in addition to my prayers for her and our family, I pray in a special way for those who don’t believe.  How shattering events like these must be for those who don’t have faith.

Without faith:

There is sadness…..and no joy

There is despair…and no hope

There is death….and no eternal life.

On this Second Sunday of Advent, dear Lord, shine your light in the hearts of the unbelievers.