“April Fool” – thank you Noel Paul Stookey for your lyrical gift (music video)

“April Fool”

(Noel Stookey and Stu Davis
©1981  Neworld Media Music Publishers)

April Fool
You wear your heart on your sleeve
And though they laugh when they leave
You call it Love and I believe (you)

April Fool
Why must you always play the clown?
You have the edge you laid it down
You give it up without a sound…

Oh April Fool
How can they say “love is cruel”?
They catch the ring but drop the jewel.
Like a teardrop in a pool…

April Fool
As the heart shows through the eyes
Before you were born you were recognized
And unto the losers comes their Prize.

Oh April Fool
Even as the hands were washed, knew
We’d free the thief instead of you
April Fool
You said the Father was in You
You said we know not what we do
Forgive us…April Fool.

Among Women 175: An Appointment with God

Among Women 175: An Appointment with God

Allison GingrassThis week on Among Women, as the liturgical calendar brings us to the season of Lent, we talk about the centrality of having a relationship with Jesus. The Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, almsgiving are designed to draw our attention to growing in our faith in Christ. I’m delighted to welcome Allison Gingras, a speaker and writer who loves sharing her faith in Jesus with others.  This show profiles Allison’s story of conversion and growth in ministry.

I also open up the Bible and talk about  St Mary Clopas – one of the contemporaries of the Blessed Mother and Jesus — a first century convert who found herself both at the Cross and as a witness to the empty tomb on Easter morning.

Listen to this new episode of Among Women.

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This makes me think… about reading the Bible every day in order to know Jesus better

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him: “If you continue in my word, you will be my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8: 31-32

 

O my soul, if you want to be enlightened and instructed, you must not read the Book of Life hastily or superficially, but slowly and attentively; then you will be inflamed with divine love and you will know the truth.
-St Angela of Foligno-

This makes me think…. about praying more to the Sacred Heart

How good and sweet it is, Jesus, to dwell in your heart! All my thoughts and affections will I sink in the Heart of Jesus, my Lord. I have found the Heart of my king, my brother, my friend, the Heart of my beloved Jesus. And now that I have found your Heart, which is also mine, dear Jesus, I will pray to you. Grant that my prayer may reach you, may find entrance to your Heart. Draw me to yourself. O Jesus, who is infinitely above all beauty and every charm, wash me clean from my defilement; wipe out even the smallest trace of sin. If you, who is all-pure, will purify me, I will be able to make my way to your Heart and dwell there all my life long. There I will learn to know your will, and find the grace to fulfill it. Amen

-St Bernard-

Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

This makes me think… about all the little ways God is calling us…

This Beloved of ours is merciful and good. Besides, he so deeply longs for our love that he keeps calling us to come closer. This voice of his is so sweet that the poor soul falls apart in the face of her own inability to instantly do whatever he asks of her. And so you can see, hearing him hurts much more than not being able to hear him… For now, his voice reaches us through words spoken by good people, through listening to spiritual talks, and reading sacred literature. God calls to us in countless little ways all the time. Through illnesses and suffering and through sorrow he calls to us. Through a truth glimpsed fleetingly in a state of prayer he calls to us. No matter how halfhearted such insights may be, God rejoices whenever we learn what he is trying to teach us.

- Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle -

This makes me think…. about the magnitude of Christ’s gift to us

“O Deity eternal, O high eternal Deity, O sovereign, eternal Father, O ever-burning fire!… What do Your bounty and Your grandeur show? The gift You have given to man. And what gift have You given? Your whole self, O eternal Trinity. And where did You give Yourself? In the stable of our humanity, which had become a shelter for animals, that is, mortal sins.” 

-St Catherine of Siena-
as found in Divine Intimacy
by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD

Among Women 171: The Joy of the Incarnation

Among Women 171: The Joy of the Incarnation

This week on Among Women we think about the coming of Christmas through the eyes of Mary, as told by St Ephrem the Syrian, a 4th century Doctor of the Church. We examine some of his Nativity Hymns, in a departure from our usual saint segment that typically profiles women saints — after all, he is talking about Mary and he’s a Church Doctor!

Our guest today is a cloistered contemplative nun — Sr Grace Remington OCSO, a Cistercian Sister of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, Dubuque, Iowa. Together we discuss the life of a Trappist nun and Sr Grace’s portrait of Mary and Eve (below)… as well as the abbey’s candy-making endeavors!

Listen to the whole podcast here — or on iTunes, episode 171. This is the final episode until 2014!

Mary & Eve, Sr Grace Remington OCSO

Mary & Eve
Pencil and Ink
copyright 2005 Sr Grace Remington OCSO

Advent Journal Entry: Mt 11: 4… “what you hear and see”

Advent Journal Entry: Mt 11: 4… “what you hear and see”

Here I am with another Advent journal entry. You can read my earlier entries from week one here, and week two here.

:::

John the Baptist offers one of my most favorite lines in reference to Christ from the New Testament: “He must increase, and I must decrease. (Jn 3:30)”  I think it is an accurate summary of the Christian life. I’m thinking of him, as he made an appearance in last Sunday’s gospel. But I digress.

:::

In the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Advent, we hear some of the final words of John the Baptist from his imprisonment before his death. He is the forerunner, the one who is making ready the path for the Savior who is to come. John sends word to Jesus, and asks forthrightly, “Are you the one….?”

Jesus does not answer with a simple yes to John’s question. He describes the powerful miracles he works as an affirmative and unmistakeable reply.

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” (Mt 11:2-6)

I’ve mentioned here before that this Advent I’m asking the Lord for what in particular he wants to show me each week. This week, it’s a way to evangelize… how to share the truth about Jesus: “Go and tell… what you hear and see…”

Yes, I am internalizing the words of this particular gospel for myself, asking what do these words of Jesus say to me? I am already convinced: I already believe he is The One. So what must I do? Give evidence of this faith.

How should I share this truth of the saving love of Jesus with another person? For starters, by sharing what I hear and see about Jesus.

How does Jesus work in my life? What do I hear and see?

:::

I’m so very grateful that I heard the gospel proclaimed boldly when I was a teen. On a retreat in my parish, given by several Spirit-filled adults and teens, I gave my heart to Jesus. Decades later, my commitment to Jesus must continually be renewed, at Mass and through the sacraments, and through my daily prayer and actions. Part of that is giving witness to what I hear and see.

My adult life has been punctuated with many physical maladies, so its really no surprise that I pay attention to Jesus’ words of healing in this gospel. It’s also no surprise when I find there is more going on besides.

After a year of recurring chalazion cysts in my eyes, one day in prayer I felt Jesus nudging me to find another eye doctor, to get a second opinion. It was the right move: I’ve recently been diagnosed with ocular rosacea. (I never heard of that before! I don’t have skin rosacea either!) Yet Jesus is helping me heal slowly from it, with medication and diet. Some days this is slowing down my work and my pace of life, but I’m getting by, and grateful for a solid diagnosis. Blindness in my life need not be related to physical sight, it can be spiritual too… I can be blind to the needs of others due to my own selfishness and pride, or blind to my own laziness at times. Jesus has been trying to cure me of that too, in his direct, yet gentle ways.

In one chapter my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, I wrote about a kind of lameness that I’ve experienced for many years. A congenital deformity — bi-lateral hip dyplasia — has led to one hip replacement in my 40s, and another one to come in the future. What a gift to finally be able to walk straight after my hip got repaired in 2008. Before that point, I often used a cane and limped. I thanked God for using medical science to bring me relief from that lameness and pain. Recently, there are more signs that the other hip, similarly afflicted, is deteriorating. There are days when the pain gets the best of me. Jesus is even using this somehow — especially when I remember to offer it up for the needs of others. He’s reminding me that lameness of spirit is a more deforming and detrimental condition than my hip. So he is calling me to daily disciplines that are designed to build up spiritual muscle in the meantime.Acer Image

I’ve never met a leper, though I know the disease still exists — but I know what it is to have a disease nobody wants. My breast cancer diagnosis in my 30′s left me pretty scared and beat up. Yet here I am, still chugging with double digit years of survivorship. Jesus saw me through that painful time too. I write about some of that in my book too. Cancer is the club that nobody wants to join. Just this month my husband was diagnosed with melanoma, the worst form of skin cancer. Yet despite the shock I felt that morning when he got the call, we were both already on our way to Mass that morning — the very best place we could be. Jesus gave us strength that day. We are grateful that Bob has an early stage of the disease. It was caught very early and is treatable by surgery.

Some people might look at my life and not see a single miracle in any of this stuff I’ve shared. And you’d be right… there were no miraculous restorations to my former health, just ways of keeping me alive, and dealing with illness and disability… both physical and spiritual. Yet, the depth of my gratitude, my blessings, and my joys are innumerable. Jesus has seen me through. He guides my steps. He re-aligns my faltering ones. My life is on his timetable, not mine. I belong to him. He’s the One who is the source of all my good.

If I’m looking for miracle, I can tell you where I find one.

The real miracle is Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist at every Mass, or in Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. No matter what shape you’re in, no matter the highs and lows in your own life… go to Him. Spend time with Him there.

Then tell me what you hear and see.

Then tell someone else.