Thursday, October 23, 2014

When It Hits Home

I am currently enrolled in the Catholic Biblical School of Michigan with my Dear One.  In this four year course we will study the whole Bible.

Right now we are plowing our way through Genesis.  So far we've read about the Flood and the destruction of Sodom (and everything in between).

I was reveling in the fact that at the time of this destruction, there were so few people in the world compared to right now.  I was also bemoaning the fact the we have done as fantastic a job as our Old Testament ancestors did in messing things up!  I wondered out loud to the kids in the truck, whom I was driving to school, why God doesn't zap us.

That's when I got this wonderful bit of knowledge and understanding from our thirteen-year-old daughter:

"Mom", she said, "that why we're here.  Catholics are supposed to go out into the world and teach others about Christ (and His Church).  That's our job."
My teacher!

Wow!  It is lovely to know that she is hearing what is being taught and is able to get her mom back on track when mom forgets for a minute the purpose of it all.  Thanks, Love, for the lesson.  I'll keep it in mind.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Grammar God

I just finished reading a wonderful book called, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, by Joanna Weaver.

For those unfamiliar with what that title means, it is an allusion to the Bible story where Jesus visits the sisters Martha and Mary.  Here's what happens:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 NIV.
While the whole book has several captivating ideas that have make me pause and think, one line really stuck in my head, so I thought I'd share.
We've all heard the phrase, God's ways are not our ways."  We get impatient to have our prayers answered NOW.  God doesn't work on our timeline. Don't let that discourage you.  Think about this instead:
Don't put a period where God puts a comma.  (p. 126)
When your prayers are not answered immediately, or even for what seems to you like a long time, don't give up praying.  Maybe God just put a comma there.  A pause while other things fall into place that will make the answer to your prayer better than you ever expected.  
In addition to reading this book, I'm in the midst of a Bible study and we are smack in the middle of the story of Abram/Abraham.  Abram was tired of the wait caused by the comma.  God promised him a great nation and Sarai was now too old to have children. So, he and Sarai took matters into their own hands.  Sarai gave her handmade to her husband so that he could have a child, and heir apparent(ly) through her.  NOT God's plan. 
Pray through the commas God uses.  Ask for courage to wait, courage to trust His will, courage to hang on when all seems lost.  If it's truly a comma, the answer is coming.  
There is another line in the book that didn't strike me as intensely but is equally important: 
Don't put a comma where God puts a period. (p. 127) But that may be a blog for another day. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sacrament Of The Sick

In the Church, there are seven Sacraments.

The Sacraments of Initiation:  Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.

The Sacraments of Vocation:  Marriage and Holy Orders.

The Sacraments of Healing: Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick.

Today I was an observer while two friends received the Anointing of the Sick.  It was very moving and beautiful.

One friend has suffered much over the past couple of years from injuries that occurred either when trying to lend a helping hand (got rear ended driving a passenger home from the airport) or by being in a bad place (under an overhang at work) at a bad time (when the ice on the overhang decided to slide off!).  A rotator cuff injury and ensuing surgery and a concussion (from the heavy ice)  have caused not only physical pain, but memory issues and much time off work.

The other friend is having surgery in a couple of weeks and was looking for peace and prayers for self and the doctor and nurses.

The Sacrament begins with a penitential rite whereby sins are acknowledged.  The priest then reads a short passage of Scripture.  The forehead and palms of the hands are anointed with holy oil (olive oil that is blessed at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday each year) as Father prays over the anointed person. We do this according to Scripture: Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:14)

Father then prayed a prayer for each friend.  The prayer for my injured friend mentioned and return of health in mind and body and a return to the work of their livelihood.

The prayer for my other friend included prayers for a successful surgery and return to health, and included a prayer for guidance for the doctors and nurses who would give care during the procedure and ensuing hospital stay.

This Sacrament usually includes the Eucharist, but since we had just been to Mass that part was omitted.

Both friends glowed with gratitude and holiness (as the Sacrament also has the saving power of forgiveness of sins).

This Sacrament used to be call Extreme Unction and was used primarily when death was imminent.  Forgiveness of sins, viaticum (food for the journey-the Eucharist) and anointing are all wonderful ways to begin the journey to Heaven.

However, the Sacrament is much more widely used now than in the past.

Do you know someone who is ill, facing surgery, suffering from Alzheimer's or other ailment such as a stroke or cancer?  If so, this Sacrament is available.  Get in touch with your parish priest.  I'm confident that he will be more than happy to confer this Sacrament for you or a loved one.