Sewing for the Kingdom

Posted on January 17, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Sewing for the KingdomFor Sunday, January 21, 2018
Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

My favorite childhood movie is The Three Amigos. In this comedy, three American cowboy-actors come to the realization that their movie career is dwindling and there’s not much waiting for them in America. They receive a curious telegraph from a small town in Mexico inviting them to put on a show. Soon after their arrival, they realize that this is not a movie they are in, but a real-life scenario of a villain who is harassing a tiny villa. Instead of leaving the town to its fate, they help the village in their plight against the menace, El Guapo. In a poignant scene before the final showdown, the villagers are asked, “What is it that this town really does well?” An elderly grandmother responds, “We can sew!” This is met initially by a quizzical look from our would-be heroes, but then the actors begin to brainstorm.
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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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Seekers of Truth

Posted on January 3, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Seekers of TruthFor Sunday, January 07, 2018
The Epiphany of the Lord

Isaiah 60:1-6
Ephesians 3:2-3A, 5-6
Matthew 2:1-12

We Three Kings of Orient are bearing gifts, we traverse afar…”. So goes the popular song we’ll likely hear this Sunday. Each verse highlights one of the gifts the Magi bring. Homilies sometimes include a symbolic breakdown of each of the gifts and how they point to Christ’s kingship, priestly role, and his death. Most of us won’t see much gold in our lifetime, and we probably need to Google “frankincense ” and “myrrh”. At Epiphany, we often focus on what the wise men brought. All too rarely do we reflect on what brought them.

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Our Families: Blessed and Broken

Posted on December 27, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Our Families: Blessed and BrokenFor Sunday, December 31, 2017
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 OR Genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-3
Colossians 3:12-21 OR Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19
Luke 2:22-40

Does the “typical” family really exist? Families come in so many shapes and sizes and there is nothing “typical” about them. Our family of origin, our family of association, the family of our church, the family of humanity and the family of creation are all different types of families. Even our work and school associations are often referred to as “families.” They vary in expression and style as much as human beings vary one to the other. As much as we are different, our families are different. All require tolerance, patience and freedom of expression. We are more connected to each other and to all of creation than we think. We are hard-wired to be connected with God, one another and our world. We cannot be our best selves in isolation.

The Holy Family was not typical either. (more…)

Lessons In Obedience

Posted on December 20, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Lessons In ObedienceFor Sunday, December 24, 2017
Fourth Sunday of Advent

2 Samuel 7:1-15, 8B-12, 14A, 16
Romans 16:25-28
Luke 1:26-38

The Gospels do not relate a single word spoken by Joseph, the husband of Mary. He is a silent, loving figure standing in the shadows during Advent, coming into view only in the final days of this season of watching and waiting. And, while we do hear from Mary in the gospels of Luke and John, few of her words have come down to us.

Despite the fact that we hear so little from the parents of Jesus, we can nevertheless recognize one particular virtue that both shared: obedience.
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Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

Posted on December 13, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Jesu, Joy of Man’s DesiringFor Sunday, December 17, 2017
Third Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 60:1-2A, 10-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

No other season of the year has inspired as much music as the Christmas season has. From Thanksgiving Day on, travelers and shoppers are serenaded with carols both new and old in shopping centers, airports and restaurants. Many radio stations dedicate 24 hours of programming to Christmas music.

This loop of Christmas music includes not only classic holiday favorites such as Bing Crosby’s I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas or Burl Ives’ Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, but to more contemporary songs such as Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You and Wham’s Last Christmas. And younger musicians continue to release new holiday albums in hopes of scoring the next Christmas classic.
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Preparing for an Arrival

Posted on December 6, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Preparing for an ArrivalFor Sunday, December 10, 2017
Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

Before I entered the monastery, I enjoyed hosting dinner parties at my house. I enjoyed planning the entire evening – from choosing the dinner and dessert menu, to selecting a good bottle of wine, to shopping, cooking and cleaning, and setting the table. I would prepare topics for conversation and even readied a board game if the mood felt right! By late afternoon, I had freshened up and the last minute food prep underway. As the appointed time drew nearer, I put the flowers in the vase, lit the pine-scented candles, and vacuumed the rug one last time! I would feel a nervous excitement. Then “ding dong” went the doorbell and the party was on!

The Advent season takes on this same anticipatory sense. (more…)

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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A Hollow Kingdom?

Posted on November 22, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: A Hollow Kingdom?For Sunday, November 26, 2017
Solemnity of Christ the King

Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
Matthew 25:31-46

In his encyclical Laudato Si Pope Francis writes: “The creation accounts in the book of Genesis contain, in their own symbolic and narrative language, profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality. They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself.” In other words, we are designed by God to keep these fundamental relationships in proper perspective and order. With our reading from Ezekiel and Matthew’s Gospel front and center on this Feast of Christ the King, we are able to give these primary relationships some much needed reflection. Also, assessing these relationships is a wonderful way to end one liturgical year and begin another.

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Using the Time We Have

Posted on November 15, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Using the Time We HaveFor Sunday, November 19, 2017
33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Matthew 25:14-30

What is the purpose of the Christian life? Or, to ask the question in a simpler way, what’s the point of all this?

As the Church Year comes to an end, this essential question is brought into sharp focus. The answer is as simple as it might be unpopular: we’re waiting for the fulfillment of time and of hope-filled promises of an untold future. We are awaiting the return of Christ. I would go so far as to say that if we’re not watching and waiting in hopeful expectation, then something vital is missing from our individual faith.

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