Summer Rest

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;  he restores my soul. ~Psalm 23:1-3

As much as my schedule is very much linked to a school year, I still find summer to be the busiest time for me. There are registrations to be sent out, taken in, and sorted into classes. Teachers to encourage to accept the call to minister in one of the most terrifying ministry jobs- teaching the faith! The Herculean (although much less messy and ultimately more fun) task of planning, writing, and executing the Summer Bible Land Adventures program. The list could continue, but this is supposed to be about relaxing! And so, with all of those tasks hanging over my head it would be easy to lose sight of the fun that also comes with summer.

My children are completely my own again- no dance, school, or FF classes. I may still be working, but these are also the days when my schedule is the most flexible. So, I try to have little outtings with the kids- zoo, berry picking, shopping, and movies. But even with these little adventures it can be easy to slip into a nonstop work mode until the Lord practically shoves me out the door- get outside and play!

Isn’t that exactly what our earthly parents would do when we were kids? If we became too absorbed inside (at least in my house) we were unceremoniously kicked out of the house- without whatever book you were reading, and told to GO PLAY!

We don’t all have our parents around to remind us, and the good Lord is much more subtle. So the next time your wifi isn’t connecting, or Pinterest is loading too slowly… take the hint!

GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!

After all, the Lord just wants us to chill out by calm waters, and eat lots of good food… Sounds like a pretty good summer to me!

God Bless,
Kim

It’s coming…

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Winter so Spring is coming! If you have ever seen the popular TV show “Game of Thrones”, then you know that Winter is used to describe any period of difficulties, not just the season. But here in CNY, with our constant winter, it becomes an actual complaint, and the phrase “Spring is coming” is rarely heard. Spring, and the idea of new life, new growth and even new ideas can easily get lost in the day-to-day winter drudgery.

The same can happen in our faith journeys. It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day demands and forget the obligations of our soul! We might remember to put the laundry away, make dinner, grocery shop, finish homework, and practice instruments- but at what expense?

Have we allowed the “winter” to freeze our faith? Our we stuck in a snowbank? What can we do to thaw the winter that takes over our spiritual lives? Lent and Easter offer us the perfect opportunity for a renewal- springtime- for our souls! There are so many different opportunities for prayer, fasting, almsgiving, service, penance. It is a “greenhouse” of spiritual flowers for your soul!

So, maybe you should take advantage of this Lent to pick a bouquet of refreshing flowers for your soul, because remember… EASTER is coming!

God Bless,
Kim

Jesus brings the daylight and savings!

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
~ John 8:12

With Daylight Savings time behind us, there seems to be just a bit more light in our lives. It’s still a little too cold for my liking, but with the light comes the promise of spring and new growth.

Isn’t interesting, that even our secular lives mimic the cycle of our faith? At this time we are all a little desperate, aren’t we? Desperate for warmth, desperate for spring, desperate for light! Jesus is so good to us, that he brings all of that in one shot- NO WAITING!

So, with this little bit of extra daylight as a reminder- seek Jesus. The bringer of light to our world, and life to all!

God Bless,
Kim

Treasure the True Reason

 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.   But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. ~ Luke 2:17-19

Keep it Simple!

We do not need a more complicated holiday season. We need simplicity which brings freedom, especially in the midst of hectic schedules, high expectations and other pressures. Our celebrations should be about what matters most to us, but we have to be intentional to make that happen. Instead of going on auto-pilot consider these ideas for a more joyful, faith-filled Christmas.

Stop and Be Intentional
Set time aside to decide how you want your holidays to be this year. What might you do differently? Brainstorm, refine your ideas, come up with a plan and make a checklist.

Set Good Expectations
Be clear about your holiday intentions early, from what gifts you will buy to how elaborate your parties will be and how you want to spend your time together.

Make Room for God
Set intentions for personal and family prayer.

Make Room for the Needy
How will you reach out to those in need this year?

Change Slowly but Surely
Do not try to change everything this year but try making a couple meaningful changes each year.

Watch the Work
Are there members in your family who become stressed during the holiday season because they do a disproportional amount of the work (cooking, decorating, cleaning, shopping)? How can you change that this year?

Give Intentionally
Find creative ways to make gift-giving more fun, personal, practical, sustainable and joyful. Give quality over quantity! Prioritize presence over presents!

Start a New Tradition
Is it time to try a new activity that will bring you closer together with family and friends? Let go of a less life-giving activity to make room for a new one.

 

©2014 The Pastoral Center

Give Thanks

 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

How often do you give thanks to where it is due? I find it easier to give thanks to those I can see and touch here on Earth than to give thanks to God. But even I remember to give thanks for a particularly beautiful morning, or the fresh smell of fallen leaves, or even the quiet wonder of that first snowfall. However, God doesn’t want us to just give thanks for everything, he wants us to give thanks in everything.

We have been taught that it is good manners to be thankful for the things we receive, but the idea of being thankful in every action seems foreign. There are many actions we take during the day that would warrant thanks, in my mind, such as visiting with loved ones, enjoying a meal with friends, or engaging in a fun activity. However, every time I have to clean up a diaper “explosion” my first thoughts are not of gratitude! Are we really supposed to express gratitude (and not sarcastically) every time we have to do an unwanted task?

If let the idea sink in, it starts to make a little more sense. God has given us the gift of his unconditional love, and the promise of eternal life, what do have to give in return? The simple answer, is that there is nothing we can give our Lord that matches up. Lucky for us, our loving Father asks only for our love, faith, and gratitude.

So, I suppose that I can scrounge up some gratitude during my next diaper change. After all, he did give me my wonderful husband, beautiful children… and eternal life.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING (in all that you do!)

God Bless,
Kim

Is God’s House Haunted?

No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it;
~ James 1:13-15

        Ever been to a haunted house? It’s not really a fun experience for since it just reminds me of the many things that I fear, so I typically avoid going. Most people attempt to avoid situations that make them scared, nervous, or uncomfortable; however, how many people have allowed the house of God to fill with the things they fear? Why aren’t we going to church as much anymore? Being “spiritual” and being “religious” and not mutually exclusive in our faith- but have we allowed God’s house to be haunted?

      Think about your reasons for avoiding church, or religious activities… is the core that you don’t feel good enough? Are you so worried about the ‘ghosts’ of your sins that you don’t go to church? We cannot let our own fear and self-doubt separate us from the UNCONDITIONAL LOVE of our Holy Father.

      Now think about that phrase- Unconditional Love- No conditions, He loves us regardless of our sins, and even goes so far as to love us sins and all.

     Don’t allow God’s house to become haunted- go and receive the Light of Christ! I’ll be there this weekend. Come with me! As long as you don’t mind noisy toddlers, we can even sit together.

Let the Light chase away the Dark!

God Bless,
Kim

Can you hear Him now?

It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice. ~ Job 4:16

 

People today seem to have this strange aversion to silence. We have hold music, elevator music, and even noice machines! So it doesn’t seem all that surprising that we have lost touch with God. In the bible it often says that you hear God in the silence… how can we hear him with all the noise in our lives.

The difficulty is that not all the noise is easly turned off. The “noise” in our lives consists of so much more than a radio. It is sports practices, drama rehearsals, band trips, tutoring sessions, family gatherings and everything else that we have scheduled into our lives. Even church events, when they become no more than a chore or an event to check off our lists interefere with our abiltity to “hear” God. It is even more difficult because none of those things are bad! It is when they keep us from taking a few moments to connect, listen, and just be with God, that they become “noise.”

Verizon had a great commercial a while back, with the Verizon guy walking all around and constantly asking “Can you hear me now?” Well, take a few minutes from the noise- both physical and metaphorical, and listen for God’s voice in the silence. He is just like the Verizon guy, always waiting, always ready, and always there…

Can you hear Him now?

 

God Bless, Kim

“Shine” vs. “Show”

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
~ Matthew 6:1-4

           In the Ash Wednesday gospel Jesus makes it clear that we shouldn’t be almsgiving, praying, and fasting so that everyone knows and will praise us. It can be confusing when faced with the challenge to live the faith- especially during Lent: the season for almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. However, there is a difference between letting your faith be a “show” for others to applaud you for, and letting your faith “shine” through you as an example.

         This Lent, don’t give something up so that others will congratulate you on the “difficult thing” you gave up for Lent. If you give up sweets for Lent(which I should probably do…), there should be more to it than “It will be hard”. Good! Choose something challenging- but instead of complaining everytime you want a piece of candy- pray! Thank God that you have enough to eat, and pray for those that do not.

         If you don’t give something up, you can choose to do something more- volunteer at a soup kitchen. Instead of bragging to a friend how “good” you’re being by helping the less fortunate- take a moment and pray (noticing a trend here?) Thank God that you are well enough to give of your time, and pray for those who need the help.

          Jesus said that we must give of ourselves without thought for recognition. That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything because people will know- make your Lenten sacrafices by giving up or giving more, but maybe just don’t tell anyone what you’re doing. There is no rule that states you have to tell anyone what you’re doing for Lent. (If I ask you what you are doing for Lent, you can always refer to this post!) Tell people you are simply following Jesus’ directions.

           Take the chance this Lenten season provides and bring yourself closer to Jesus through your actions alone. Be a “Catholic Ninja” see how much you can get accomplished without telling people- soon it won’t matter if anyone knows. God has a way of touching the lives of his faithful followers- so get off the couch and shut down the iPhone/iPad/Tablet/Laptop and FOLLOW! Don’t make your faith a “show” acted out for the benefit of others. Let your faith “shine” as an example, by living it for yourself.

“They will know we are Christians by our love.”

Blessings and Peace this Lenten Season!
Love, Kim

Feast of the Epiphany

JANUARY 5th, 2014- The Feast of the Epiphany

Scripture:

Matthew 2:1-12

“Happy all those who fear the Lord and walk in His pathway; you will find what you long for: the riches of our God.” 

The above quote is a paraphrase by Marty Haugen, a contemporary liturgical composer, of the first two verses of Psalm 128.  Psalm 128 is one of two Lectionary options, for the Responsorial Psalm, for the Feast of the Holy Family, which was celebrated this past Sunday.

Did you get what you longed for this Christmas?  Did it satisfy you as much as you thought it would or are you still longing for more?  What do you ultimately long for?  Do you even know?

This coming Sunday, January 5th, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany.  It is on this Sunday that we will hear the familiar passage of the Magi proclaimed from the Gospel.

The story of the Magi and their journey is one of my favorite Scripture passages.  To me it is a story of adventure.  The journey couldn’t have been an easy one.  It was surely marked with difficult travel, bad roads, stubborn camels, long days, harsh nights and the threat of thieves.  Yet the Magi were not alone.  They had each other, and they had God.  God guided their pathway with a star and spoke to them in a dream.

The journey we take to the Lord is also a long one.  Our whole life is meant to be a journey towards an ultimate goal: eternal life in the kingdom of heaven; meeting our Lord, as the Magi did, face to face.  Along the way our journey too will be filled with difficulties, unexpected turns and problems.  Yet, like the Magi, we are not alone.  We have the Church- the people and the resources that help us on our journey to the Lord.

We have the Eucharist as our Star, the Bread of Life, and our food for the journey.  When we lose our way we have the sacrament of reconciliation.  We also have each other, our worshipping community of St. Michael’s & St. Peter’s; believers, always there for one another.

The Magi were longing to find the Lord and their journey ended “as they entered the house and found the child with Mary his mother.”  They found the ultimate “riches of our God,” for they saw God face to face.  The Church helps us to do the same. “We don’t live to find the Church. The Church lives to help us find the Lord.” (Bishop Ken Untener, Bishop of The Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan)

I pray that you will find what you long for during this New Year and that you will take time during your life’s journey to draw closer to God.

Peace and Blessings,

Tom Andino
Director of Music

The Second Sunday of Advent

The Second Sunday of Advent 2013

 In the Gospel reading we hear about John the Baptist, a cousin to Jesus, who preaches about the Kingdom of Heaven.  He calls his listeners to repentance through baptism by water.  John taught that the nearness of God’s kingdom requires appropriate action – to repent, to be converted, to have a change of heart.  The “kingdom of God” refers to the fullness of God’s power and presence that will be acknowledged by all creation.

Where do you find the “kingdom of God” here on earth?   How can you help build the kingdom?

water

The water John talks about is just one of the symbols we see during Advent.  Through it we recall our baptism and are born anew in Jesus.  What do you remember about your Baptism?

Look and listen for some of these other symbols of the season:

candlelight

Candlelight is seen in our homes, in our churches and in Advent wreaths.  This represents Christ as the Light of the World.  Where do you see the Light of the World in your life?

evergreen

Evergreen wreaths, trees and garlands remind us that we are given the gift of eternal life through Jesus.  What will this be like?

angels

Angels appear to announce and witness the Good News of the coming of Jesus.  What Good News will you share with others?

star

The star leads the wise men to Bethlehem where Jesus, the King of Kings, was born.  Where will it lead you?

songs

Chants or songs of the season tell us the story of Jesus as we await His birth.  How will you share the story of Jesus?

 

 

Continue looking for and listening to the symbols of the Advent season as we journey to Christmas!

God Bless,

Bonnie Barker
Director of Faith Formation