God Sees the Worth in All of Us

Posted on May 30, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: God Sees the Worth in All of UsFor Sunday, June 3, 2018
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Exodus 24:3-8
Hebrews 9:11-15
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

When I first got married, I was clueless about food and cooking. My husband wasn’t much more skilled, and together our repertoire of recipes was a rotation of frozen pizzas, tostadas, and takeout. I once bought potatoes thinking I could find a way to use them but, not so surprisingly, they were promptly tucked to the back of the pantry and forgotten about. We quickly learned that forgotten food soon becomes rotten food.

A simple lesson in biology or life experience has taught us all the same. Living creatures don’t last forever. Whether it’s potato skins or a pet dog, there is a finality to everything we touch on this earth. And for some, this sense of finality creates disordered ambition and laws.

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An Intimate Relationship with God

Posted on April 18, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: An Intimate Relationship with GodFor Sunday, April 22, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:8-12
1 John 3:1-2
John 10:11-18

As a newly pregnant mother years ago, I remember hearing that newborns could distinguish their mothers from other women by scent, and mothers could smell random clothing and know exactly which ones belonged to their babies. I was so intrigued by this. I mean, I could recognize my husband’s cologne or feel nostalgic at the scent of laundry detergent I remember my parents using. But to have the scent of one’s personhood be the deciding factor of knowing was incredible to me. When my first child was born, it rocked my world, and I experienced firsthand that amazing chemical bond between mother and infant.

Knowing that comes from more than intellect and observation is something that forms who we are. When an infant knows his mother by scent, he knows more than just what his olfactory cells are telling him. The scent is just what sets her apart from those around him. But what it means is safety, warmth, nourishment, and wholeness. The mother’s knowing goes far beyond being able to pick her baby out of a crowd. Her knowing engulfs a sense of urgency to protect the child and care for him and the feeling of utter incompleteness when she’s away from the baby. Knowing by these standards is more about intimacy than knowledge. And it’s the same kind of knowing we hear of in the readings this weekend in our relationship with God the Father.

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Choosing a Life of Light

Posted on March 7, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Choosing a Life of LightFor Sunday, March 11, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Lent

2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

As a military family, we often find ourselves living far from those closest to us and going at life alone. While some years have felt lonely, others have felt full depending where we were stationed. Right now, we live less than a mile from the ocean, which has guaranteed us one thing over the past three years: a steady flow of visitors. Each year, we’ve housed friends and family who are either traveling through, coming to vacation, or staying awhile to help. Our most recent guests were my parents, who trekked miles and miles to find reprieve from the snowy north. (more…)

Speak, Lord. Your Servant Is Listening

Posted on January 10, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Speak, Lord. Your Servant Is ListeningFor Sunday, January 14, 2018
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19
1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20
John 1:35-42

Now that the Christmas season is officially over, my family and I are slowly trying to get back into the daily grind of life. It’s amazing how a couple weeks of presents, staying up late, and sugar can deconstruct even the best home routine and make everyone a mild form of a post-Christmas Grinch. Our biggest hurdle this new year has been an ever-present night coughing from a current cold strain making the rounds in our neighborhood. For the past two weeks, I’ve been up for at least two hours each night tending to sick children.

Reflecting on the first reading this Sunday, where we hear Samuel’s call from the Lord, I’m brought to an odd state of gratitude for the coughs and sniffles. What strikes me the most about Samuel is that when God called him, he missed the point a few times before finally discovering who was beckoning him. And what’s more, he needed help coming to that discovery.

So often in my vocation, God has called me in mysterious ways much like Samuel. I have the heart of a champion and want to believe I could do heroic feats for the sake of Christ. I imagine God asking me to start a kitchen to serve the poor with my family or maybe write a book. But instead, in the deep of my slumber I’m woken with “hack hack hack hack, Mommmyyyy!”. It doesn’t sound like the Lord. I’m disoriented and tired and daydreaming of grand ways I could be serving God if only I had enough sleep at night. The readings remind me that God’s ways are not our ways.

The third time he’s called, with Elijah’s help, Samuel finally understands who is calling him. He is no longer confused and wandering about in the night. God has made the first move, and patiently called him, and now Samuel answers, “Speak, Lord”. The past two weeks, I’ve been reminded that God is indeed calling me, only I’ve not been truly listening to recognize it’s Him, hidden in the tasks of my vocation. With each night of coughs, I’ve slowly come to hear His voice.

The wonderful thing is that God is a patient lover. If we feel He isn’t listening or our prayers aren’t being answered, we can be assured it’s not because He doesn’t hear us, but perhaps because we don’t hear Him. In the Catechism, we’re reminded that God always makes the first move and we respond.

The second reading from St. Paul gives us a pragmatic game plan when we step up to follow the will of God. Everything we do ought to be pure and give glory to God. This upcoming Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Martin Luther King is one example of this as he fought to bring light to dark parts of our nation’s history. He wasn’t perfect by any means, but without his influence and bravery, countless more people would have been violated and abused in our nation’s history. King saw a call to do good, and he rose to action.

The past two weeks of illness have taught me to see those suffering right in front of me and to use my body to glorify God by doing something about it, even if imperfectly. Once we realize God is calling us, we have the courage to say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”

The Gospel shows us this reality as Jesus beckons his disciples and names Peter. He is reaching out; they are searching and intrigued even if they don’t fully understand what the call means. Much like Samuel, the words hit their ears, something stirs in their hearts, and as they answer back, they begin experiencing communion with Christ. This is the beauty of conversion—finding that God has called us in places we may have never expected and moving away from sin toward Christ as we respond. We are called to glorify God with our whole selves, whether that means tending to sick children, sitting at a parish office desk, or speaking to the crowds. God is calling each of us by name … do we hear it?

Angie Windnagle

PRAYER

Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
Amen.

Prayer of Abandonment by Bl. Charles de Foucauld

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An Inviting Warning

Posted on November 29, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: An Inviting WarningFor Sunday, December 03, 2017
First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 63:16B-17, 19B: 64:2-7
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:33-37

We hosted two other families for Thanksgiving this year, which means I spent the week of Thanksgiving like many of you – cleaning, cooking, and preparing. After the pomp and chaos, I settled in for a long weekend ready to rest (and eat more turkey). I stumbled upon a Hallmark-type Christmas movie centered on the predictable worldly pair falling in love as the snow flurries around them. At one part in the film, the lead female missed a warning sign on the banks of a lake not fully frozen and found herself stranded in the middle, ice skating, as the lake began to crack around her. As expected, the leading male arrived just in time to help her off the ice, admonishing her for missing the warning sign.

In an unexpected way, that scene in the low-budget film has me reflecting a lot on the connection between Advent and the stern warning our Lord gives us in the Gospel. “Be watchful! Be alert! … What I say to you all: ‘Watch!’”

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To Whom Do We Belong?

Posted on October 18, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: To Whom Do We BelongFor Sunday, October 22, 2017
29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5B
Matthew 22:15-21

Something somewhat unique about my family is that we have three boys pretty close in age. This means we have a lot of fun, a lot of energy, a lot of messes, and a lot of fighting each and every day. It’s a joy to watch them grow in community with each other, and in a lot of ways the littleness of their actions is a school of love for me as I tend to them.

One thing that really fascinates me is how particular they are about their possessions.

Growing up with four siblings of my own, I totally empathize and remember going through this phase. But being an adult spectator is something brand new to me. There have been many times when the boys receive the exact same gift from a family member, yet they can quickly identify the owner of each toy in a glance. The most recent objects of their affection are Minions placemats sent by my mom. Within seconds, each of the boys had their prized possession and no sooner than they put their hands on the mats they could easily tell me which was theirs (despite the fact they were all quite literally identical). This means if I try to give someone the wrong item or mix things up, there is always a heated quarrel as they take it upon themselves to find the proper owner of each item. (more…)

The Way of Little Sacrifices

Posted on August 29, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Bending Towards JusticeFor Sunday, September 03, 2017
22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 20:7-9
Romans 12:1-2
Matthew 16:21-27

Having four kids (and three of them boys close in age) guarantees me at least two things in life: there will always be messes and there will always be fights. The latter is something that is, most days, minor or done in jest. But every once in awhile we get two of the stubborn ones fighting over a beloved toy and chaos ensues. One thing that catches my eye is the outside motivation that defuses the rage. I can usually tell how beloved the object is simply by what gets them to pull away for a second and get their head on straight again. “Oh, you’ll trade me for a cookie?” Then I secretly note the true value of the toy that I can likely donate in the future.

But the ones that really tell me something are the fights that end on their own with little help from me. When I remind them that pulling at the toy will likely break it, the first one to let go is usually the one that truly loves that toy—the rudimentary life lesson that if we truly love something (or someone) we have to be ready and willing to let it go if that is what is best for it. (more…)

The Paradox of Life in Christ

Posted on June 28, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Midweek Reflection: The Paradox of Life in ChristFor Sunday, July 02, 2017
13th Sunday Ordinary Time

2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16A
Romans 6:3-4, 8-11
Matthew 10:37-42

A few weeks ago, my family and I were involved in a rollover accident coming home from the grocery store. Thankfully we all walked away, but internally it was the kind of life event that shakes you to the core. Something that hit me the hardest afterward was the terrifying feeling I had while rolling over. Not just the dreamy feeling where everything seems to go in slow motion, but the feeling that I was not ready for this to happen. I wasn’t ready to die. That shook me. Where is my faith? Who have I been living for up until now? What does God want me to change so when that time comes I am ready to embrace his will?

In this Sunday’s readings, we encounter a reality meant to be a similar wake-up call. In the paradox of the cross, we experience the tension of losing everything in order to gain all. In order to live we must die. It’s a reality we seldom think about at length because it’s uncomfortable. Self-denial is a prerequisite for holiness. This is something I thought I was living, but as the van rolled I quickly realized how little I really was. (more…)