“Take your life and give thanks for it, all of it.”
“Abundance grows out of gratitude.”
Both of these quotes are brought to you by Fr. Darrell Venters.  His homily this Sunday was short, but intense.  The readings reflected the loaves and fishes.  But Father decided to talk about gratitude and I’m glad he did.  He told us that at the last supper Jesus gave us his body and blood, out of gratitude and that we should do the same.  The point that I liked especially was his comment “all of it”.  Father said the good and the bad.
Jesus was human.  He had some of the same issues we have.  He had doubt.  He had joy.  He had love.  I’m sure there were people he didn’t like although he loved everybody. Jesus was just as human as you and me.
I’ll bet there were days he didn’t want to get out of bed.  I’ll bet there were days he couldn’t wait to get out of bed.  I have those days.  Anymore though I can’t wait to get out of bed more often than I don’t want to get out of bed.  I don’t know why.  It probably has something to do with the sun being up.
I’ll bet there were days Jesus was nothing but hungry.  I’m not sure he loved food as much as I do but I do know that eating a meal was social for him.  My favorite meals are social for me.  I just love going out to eat and having a good conversation.  Jesus seemed to like that too.  Think about the loaves and fishes.  He didn’t want the crowd to disperse so he told the apostles to feed the crowd themselves.  He knew that good conversation was going on and there was no reason to interrupt that for a meal.
Can you believe I didn’t delete this picture? It’s awful! But I love it because I loved taking it. And it reminds me of something my mother would have done.
I’ll bet that Jesus didn’t care one minute about what he was going to wear each day.  I don’t worry about that either.  I wear the next thing in my closet.  Sometimes I get put out because I never wear the things in the back of my closet.  So then I’ll change direction.
I’ll bet that Jesus was in a bad mood sometimes.  In fact, I know that he was.  I’m sure he was snarky sometimes.  I can be snarky.  There are lots of times that I’m in a bad mood.  But then there are times that I’ll force myself to change my mood.  I may call a friend or eat chocolate.  I know ways to get me out of my bad moods.  I think Jesus used being in a bad mood a lot of times to prove a point.  I usually don’t do that.  Usually my bad moods are brought on by other people, lack of sleep, or because I’m hangry.  I get hangry a lot.
I’ll bet that Jesus was all about his relationship with people.  I love developing relationships with people.  That’s probably one of those things that I’m really good at.  It’s probably one of those things that I don’t think twice about.  Jesus didn’t think about it but I’ll bet you he has looked for opportunities to build a relationship with people.  In fact, even today he is looking to build relationships with people: some that he knows and others that have never met him.
I try very hard to be open to what God wants from me.  Some days he tells me specifically while other days he leaves it to me to figure it out.  Sometimes he puts people in my path to set me straight.  I value those people so much more.
Sometimes Fr. Darrell’s homilies are funny.  He brings the point home in a funny way.  Not this day.  I could feel my face paying very close attention and trying to understand exactly what he was saying.  I asked my family at breakfast what they thought about Father’s sermon and they just shrugged their shoulders.  I wanted to call them out on it and tell them that I knew that they didn’t get it.  But I decided that Jesus wouldn’t do that and I’m going to try really hard to be so much more like Jesus.  I’m grateful that I grasped a little bit of Father’s sermon and I hope that I can pass that abundance and gratitude on.  And each day I hope that I can take my life (the good and the bad) and give thanks for it.  Because I do have a pretty great life.
Cynthia Elder

Roll the Stone Away

You might think that I’m behind but I’m not. There has been so much going on in the Church the last 40 + days that I just can’t get my head wrapped around it all. So, if I repeat myself here please accept my apologies.

If you walk up to or drive by St. Jerome Church in Fancy Farm the sign on the church says “Roll the Stone Away and See the Wonder God Can Do”. Woah! What stone will I not roll away? What am I hiding behind that stone? Better yet, what is God hiding behind that stone.

A friend of mine posted on social media “What if I told you that you already are everything you are trying to become?” Woah! Same message? I think so.

I’m one of these people that say “when all conditions are right then I’m going to do . . . “. So for most of my life I didn’t write because I didn’t have a computer. Then I didn’t write because I didn’t have the right pen. You name the excuse and I could come up with it. Every. Single. Time. But what I’m hearing from all outlets is that I already am a writer. Yes, I write blog posts. And yes, I write some for work. And yes, I have about 3 novels inside of me SCREAMING to get out. But do I spend hours writing? No, I don’t. I wish I did. But I always say “well, all conditions are not right”. I need to sit myself down in a chair and scream to myself “YES THEY ARE!”

When the disciples met up with Jesus originally I am sure they had no clue what He had in mind for them. If they had, would they have come? Would someone like Peter have put himself through all that he went through? Peter had to grow quite a bit to become the rock of the Church. And as much as we berate Thomas for doubting he had to have a good role model in Peter. The Lord tested him at every turn. What about John? Timid, precious John? John, who loved Jesus above all. Would he have followed Jesus knowing what he had to witness? Would any of the disciples have followed Him knowing what they had to suffer and how they would die?

But they came out of that upper room energized in faith. They all took to the streets to make sure everyone know about the Risen Savior. And the people flocked to them. Everyone couldn’t get enough of them.

Aren’t I called to do as the disciples did? Aren’t I called to live up to my potential? You knew that I was going to have to get Fr. Darrell’s sermon in here somehow, right? We are all required to live up to our potential. That might be just raising a child that will raise a child who will continue the faith. That might be writing a blog post as the Spirit hits. That might be going out and discovering a cure for cancer or diabetes or heart disease. We all have a potential to live up to. So my question is, on days, weeks, months, years, that I procrastinate or do something other than my potential, am I sinning against God? Ooooh, food for thought. My immediate answer would be “yes”, but isn’t God a lot more merciful than me?

So, if I all we have to do is live up to our potential then maybe that is something to strive for during this Easter season. And if I make it to Pentecost doing as He tells me to do then I should be able to make it for the rest of my life.

Yep, I’m energized to do that. I’m excited to do that. Listen here, all conditions are right.

Cynthia Elder


My son has a friend who has made up his mind he wants to be Catholic. He doesn’t have any family members who are Catholic. He went about this, in my opinion, the right way. He considered several different religions, studied them, asked about them, and then decided that he wanted to learn more about the Catholic faith. He attended a couple of different Catholic churches but then made up his mind to consider St. Jerome Catholic Church in Fancy Farm. I don’t know why. He lives in Marshall County. He went to Graves County High School and was friends with my son, John, but he really didn’t have any other ties to St. Jerome or Fancy Farm. He then started attending classes to learn more about the Catholic faith and started to get involved in other ways at church. When I met him he tried to explain his path. He was raised Church of Christ and Baptist. He has some Jewish ancestry. It wasn’t that he had a problem with those faiths, he was just looking for more. He would come out to the Rosary on Wednesday nights some and he seemed to spend an awful lot of time in church.

Of course, I fell in love with him.

Not literally, but I decided to make him a member of my family, and to help him in any way that we could through his journey. Since he got to 8 o’clock Mass pretty early he had his choice of seats which meant that we always had a seat waiting for us when we got there. Since most of my kids have left home I have been so excited that we have him with us at Mass.

Bryce has been going to classes for over a year. There are times that he and John have lively discussions about the faith. Sometimes they include me. I felt so blessed when Bryce asked John to be his sponsor into the church. It made sense to me, two brothers in faith, taking Bryce down this road.

I’m not going to tell you that this has been an easy road for this boy. He graduated from high school but couldn’t come to the Graduates Mass at church because he had a flat tire. Once he was out of school he began working at a nursing home almost full time. Then he started going to school in the fall. So he’s been working close to full time and going to school full time. He goes to school in Paducah, lives in Marshall County and comes to church in Fancy Farm. The boy is on the road. But his dedication to this process has impressed me beyond belief.

I’m not going to tell you that he’s knocked the church doors down, because he hasn’t. He’s missed some of his classes and he’s missed Mass. But he has been there more often than not and he’s done something that you don’t see too many people do these days: he brings people with him. It’s like he goes around asking people he interacts with if they have a faith life. And if they don’t, he brings them to Fancy Farm. There are many times when I am overly thrilled when I pull up for the rosary and he is there with a friend.

If you ask him to do something he gets it done. Last year, while he was still in high school, I asked him to help me with some plants for the Grotto. I don’t have a green thumb and he was taking a landscaping class. He got the plants, planted the plants, and worked at watering those plants all through the summer (I’m sure he had help though from the watering genie who shows up out at church some). The point is, I didn’t have to do it. Thankfully. I really am not good at that. This year, I mentioned the plants and the next thing I knew they were planted.

We don’t normally go to the Easter Vigil at St. Jerome Church each year. We’ve been some but mainly because we knew someone who was joining the church. I will tell you this, I will put this on my calendar to go to from here on out. It might have been more special to me because Bryce was entering the Church Saturday night but I don’t think so. I think I just looked at the celebration a lot differently. I was excited and joyful and emotional, all in one fell swoop.

To say that I am proud of Bryce and his journey is an understatement. To say that I am proud of the Catholic faith and my Catholic community, that goes without saying.

Welcome Bryce, and all those who entered the faith on Easter.

Cynthia Elder

I Am Not Worthy

Everywhere I look and see these days I feel that I am being called to evangelize. I feel very comfortable being given that role, but. . . .

I don’t feel that I am worthy. Who am I? I’m an older, white, female (you notice that I didn’t say “elderly”). What do I have to offer? True, I have stories but I don’t have that one story that catapults me to the role of evangelist.

But then I hear this at Mass this morning:

“Jesus did not read the scripture, He let the scripture read Him . . . Let the scripture read you too.” Fr. Darrell

I am a firm believer that the Holy Spirit is in my life. There have been times that I do a very good job at something, and I know, for a fact, that the Holy Spirit is responsible. But I also know, that there are times that I work very hard at something. And although I believe that the Holy Spirit is there with me, it’s not all about Him. I’ve had some input into my accomplishments. In my life, it’s like I’ve always owned the things that didn’t go right but have always waived the things that did go right. I give credit for those things to anyone who has helped me, or to the Holy Spirit. I do appreciate it when those who are winning awards say, “First, I would like to give all glory to God”. I usually give myself credit way down the list. Honestly, I don’t think like that. Honestly, I think “Man, I have worked hard on this. I sure hope that somebody notices.” And when they do I’m all like “shucks, Ma’am, twernt nothin’.” But inside, I’m all like “you got that right, sister, it’s all about me!”

So, let’s get back to the evangelization thing. I’m Catholic. We don’t evangelize. Why would we even want to? That could have something to do that I’m a cradle Catholic, raised in a very dominant Catholic community. It could be that I was never around anyone who ever evangelized, other than a preacher here or there. There was no need to evangelize. We would have been preaching to the choir.

But, as I have gone through life I have found myself in the middle of an opportunity to evangelize and I’ve missed the opportunity. Or I’ve discounted what I had to say. That’s it more than anything, I’ve discounted what I have to say. And those who know me know that I have a lot of something to say. So, . . .

I think the shingle will be hung out. I’m giving you all fair warning. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on preaching. I don’t plan on getting my soap box and letting you know of the evil you do and the wonders that I do. That’s not going to happen. But I am going to live my life out loud. I intend to look for opportunities to tell you of my beliefs and my perspective on faith. I think I’ve earned that.

I have often told myself that no one wants to hear what I have to say. But then I look at places where people have wanted to hear what I have to say. They’ve asked. Or they’ve commented on something that I’ve said. And, something else. I have an awful lot of life experience. Things have happened in my life, that has brought me my stories. I’ve lived a pretty full life, a pretty good life, a faith-filled life. No, I don’t have a story of conversion. There was no need for that. My stories are of the journey of life, of faith. And it’s the story with the Holy Spirit by my side. Sometimes I knew it, and lots of times I didn’t have a clue. But there are reasons that I am still here when there are times I look back and by all rights I shouldn’t still be here. I do give that credit to my guardian angel, or the Holy Spirit. I know it’s because of divine intervention.

I have often felt that God had a plan for me. Maybe I haven’t been ready. Maybe I keep looking in the wrong places for His plan. I do know that if I do as He tells me to do that He will reveal his plan for me, in His time. Maybe he’ll do that when I’m 80. I hope that He does it before then because I would really like to enjoy it.

So, Fr. Darrell, I’m going to continue to read the scriptures and maybe I’ll let the scriptures read me. Maybe that is part of the plan.

Get ready, because I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.

Cynthia Elder

Romans 13

It’s been awhile since I posted anything here. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, you know I do. It’s more that it hasn’t been a priority. I think it’s time to change my priorities.

The readings at Mass this week were full of visuals: lots of trees and seeds and birds. I like these kind of readings, I can put myself right there. But that’s not the way Fr. Darrell went. He went political, which he seldom does. But it seems as though a. Man with HUGE authority went Biblical and got it all wrong.

Romans 13

You know, you can grab a line out of the Bible and use it to say whatever you want. Personally, I think Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General of the United States, citing this passage is hogwash. The way I read what he has said is that God appointed those in authority. HOGWASH, I say! If that were the case, as Fr. Darrell pointed out, then abortion would never be legal. And if you go down just a little further past this passage in Romans 13, you will see that it says “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.

So, let’s go there.

Jeff Sessions was born in Selma, Alabama in 1946. This would mean that he was involved in all of the civil rights turmoil that happened in Selma in the 60’s. He was named after his father and grandfather (as he is a III). So, he was named after Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America and General Beauregard, the Confederate General who oversaw the bombardment of Fort Sumter, which started the Civil War. I’m just guessing here but I might wager that he was not all about civil rights back in Selma in the 60’s. I was just down there recently, saw quite a bit of what happened during the 60’s, never once heard his name mentioned. Never.

His family came over from England, maybe Scotland or Ireland. I guess back then we didn’t have closed borders.

Jeff Sessions has 3 children and at least 6 grandchildren. I wonder how he would feel if someone separated him, forcefully, from any member of his family? I wonder.

Oh, he’s a Sunday School Teacher.

I don’t advocate for open borders. But I will tell you this, as someone who is familiar with people from Mexico and other Latin countries, they are coming here for a better life. The poverty is extreme. Their lives in many ways are awful. They are looking for their children to have a better life than they have. I’m sure Mr. Sessions has worked his entire life to make sure his children’s lives are better than his. I know my parents did that. I know that I did that. How can we resent that?

But if the law says you have to deport them then don’t you dare take their children away from them. This hurts my heart and soul. How in the world can Mr. Sessions call himself a Christian, and a Sunday School Teacher, and, as a person of authority, allow that to happen? I cannot fathom anyone being okay with this. No one. Never.

Cynthia Elder

If I Want Your Opinion

We all have opinions don’t we? Some are better than others. We all try to second guess our government. I have caught myself, on numerous occasions, critiquing television commercials.   At every level sporting event we all turn into coaches. And we don’t mind voicing our opinions. Of course if ours is different than yours, we don’t want to hear it.

Can you imagine what it was like in Jesus’ day? I mean he travelled with twelve men. You know how men are. If there were twelve there then there were twelve different opinions. If women were travelling with them then they had their opinions too. They probably spoke most of those under their breath. I’m sure this happened a lot more than we hear about.
But in the Gospel this week we heard it more than once. Everyone had an opinion. The apostles tell Jesus that he doesn’t need to go back to Lazarus when they found out he was sick. Then when he died they tell him there was nothing more he could do. I’ll bet they grumbled all the way back to Judea. And then when he gets back Martha is telling him how she sees the situation and what he needs to do now. I especially like how she agrees with everything he says but doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about. If she hadn’t interrupted him with “Yes Lord, but . . . ” she might have been able to pick up on what the Lord was talking about. I wonder how often I do that. “Lord, I know you’ve got this but I’m going to worry about it a little more” or “Lord I know that you hear me but I’m going to . . . ”
Fr. Darrell asked us if we are believers during his sermon and then waited for our reply.   The church was silent.  Then he said “I guess not” and ended his sermon. I wanted to stand up and holler “Yes! I do believe!” But of course, that wouldn’t have been appropriate. If I didn’t agree with what he was saying I would have probably punched Jimmy in the belly and said something under my breath. Why would that have been appropriate? Of course, we could all tell Fr. Darrell what we think would be appropriate. That would probably go over about as good as the apostles telling Jesus what He should do.
I think we need to start a cheering section in the first few pews during Mass. I mean if we truly believe then we should cheer all through Mass.
So, a couple of things this week. I am going to continue to try to live the Gospel. Of course that does require reading the Gospel. If I ask the Lord to help me then I am going to accept His help. And if anyone asks me if I believe I’m going to shout it to the rooftops. I’ll leave the “hell yeah” out of it though.
Cynthia Elder

Who Is Your Child of Light?

Who is my child of light?

When I think about this question my immediate response is the baby Jesus.  We love the baby Jesus in our house, I think in most houses.  And no one can deny that child as a child of light.

But there are others.  I think of Elyse Carrico.  Elyse is the youngest daughter of Susan Mills Carrico.  No one can deny that child as a child of light.  A room lights up as she walks through the door.  I am sure that at times she can be a handful but because she makes you smile surely makes it all worth it.  And she will always be a child.  I think that is one of the reasons everyone falls in love with her the moment they meet her.


I think of Seth Karlson.  Seth is the youngest child of Matt and Deanna Karlson, the grandson of Donnie and Veronica Wilson.  He has Sanfilippo Syndrome which is non-curable.  This in itself is so scary and frustrating.  But Seth is so precious that it is only by some of his facial features that you even know that anything is wrong.  Of course, his parents know day in and day out because they live with it.  We don’t see it unless they come to visit from Texas or on Facebook.  But Seth will always remain a child.  God knew what he was doing though when he let Matt and Deanna have him.  Deanna is a wonderful nurse and Matt is one of the most loving men I have ever known.


There are some children of light in the movies.  I think a child like Shirley Temple or even Haley Joel Osment. When I watch a movie like “The Sixth Sense” I feel like he will forever be that young.  And just seeing him in that movie makes me smile.

And then there are the children, the babies who have gone before us and will forever be a child of light.  I remember two babies I conceived, but that did not make it to their birth.  I know, in my heart is where they are now and will be until I see them again.  But I remember my most precious granddaughter who lived in the womb longer than most and who got to go to heaven before she was born.  In my mind and in my heart, she will forever and ever be a child of light for she is lighting my path to heaven.

Cynthia Elder

Examination of Conscience

I remember the first time I ever went to Confession.  It was called Confession then.  It was one of the Sacraments of Initiation (I didn’t know that then) but it was right before I made my First Communion.  It was during the week, after Mass.  I went to a Catholic grade school and this was what we did, right before we made our First Communion.  I couldn’t wrap my arms around the fact that all the years I had lived, I mean I was 7 at this point, that none of those sins mattered before now because I didn’t know that they were sins.  That really didn’t make sense to me because I remember wholeheartedly that I knew some of the things that I had done were wrong, so how could they not have been sins last week but next week they would be sins.  I mean, I knew fighting with my sister or brother was wrong.  I got spankings for doing it.  I knew that saying bad words was wrong because I got my mouth washed out with soap.  So how could they not be sins, and then they were?  I was a rather stubborn child and I wanted to understand.  I found out later that being stubborn was a sin.  But I was scared to death sitting in that church pew waiting for my time to go into the confessional.  It would have been smart for the teacher to have let us go in there beforehand and explore because I was so intrigued with the kneeler that clicked the light on when I knelt down and clicked the light off when I got up.  That light told us that someone was in that confessional.  I really wanted to know how that worked.  Of course, our parish priest was a large man with a booming voice so we could all hear everything he was saying to our classmates.  That made us even more afraid.
I don’t think I ever got over my fear of the confessional.  Through the years we went to Confession at school.  I knew my mother went weekly or bi-weekly but she didn’t make us go with her unless we wanted to.  I wish I had done that more often.  But I think the Sacrament was so special to Mom that she appreciated being able to go by herself.  But all through school we went, first to Confession, then to Penance, then to Reconciliation.  They kept changing the name of the Sacrament I think to encourage more people to go.  Probably a lot of people were like me, and afraid to go, so renaming the Sacrament made it cool.  The Church was looking for cool back in the 1970’s.  When I was an adult it took the name of Reconciliation since that sort of went with the times.  I guess it doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you do it.
Which takes me back to my fear of the confessional.  I remember a time in my life, when I wasn’t really that good of a person.  I mean, I wasn’t a bad person.  I didn’t kill anyone.  But I know that I was a Sinner with a capital S.  I knew that if I went to Confession that I would be forgiven of every sin I had committed, those with a capital S and those with a small s.  I knew that.  I believed that.  But I was afraid.  I was afraid of that priest.  I mean, it didn’t matter who the priest was, letting him know about my shortcomings and my wrongdoings was what I was afraid of.  I never wanted any other person to know some of that stuff.  And remember, I never killed anyone.  I might have wanted to, but I never did it.  Anyway, I made up my mind that I didn’t need confession.  I made up my mind that I would take my sins straight to the top.  I made up my mind that if God was going to forgive me he was going to forgive me whether I told a designated priest or not.  I believed that.  And I still do.  The problem was, I didn’t believe that.  Do I believe that God is all forgiving?  Yes, I know that to be true.  But I also was taught that unless I got that sin out of my conscience that I would continue to carry that sin with me and even though I believed that God would forgive me I don’t think that I ever forgave me.  And that’s a sin too.  So, I was in another town on business.  I was close to a Catholic church.  And I saw that they had daily confessions.  I don’t know what possessed me to go into that confessional other than the fact that I didn’t know that priest and he didn’t know me.  That poor man.  I unloaded everything I could and I asked for forgiveness.  Now these were some sins that I had already asked God to forgive me but it took that act to truly believe that I was forgiven of those sins, and I forgave myself for those sins.
I truly believe that once a semi-practicing Catholic has kids then they become this uber-practicing Catholic.  I like to think that it was my kids who forced me to become the Catholic Christian I am today.  And if you truly are an example to your kids, you’ve got to do it right.  So, I am no longer afraid of the confessional.  That doesn’t mean that I run the door down to church on Saturday afternoon to be absolved of all my sins.  I should.  I would probably be happier in my life.  I do make sure that I go to Confession.  I’m just not great at going all the time.  I remember when Communal Penance came out.  My whole family would go to church that night, including my dad.  Through the years it has been done differently but there was a time it was truly an event.  And it was easy.  You didn’t really have to think.  You just had to put that little catch-all phrase at the end, “and anything else that I may have done”.  I love that phrase.  Because I’m forgetful.  I could have a list a mile long and my turn would come along and by gosh I couldn’t remember one thing.  Okay, I could remember one thing.  But my list would leave my head.  So “and anything else that I may have done” always worked for me.  Until I started thinking about it.
We teach our kids the 10 Commandments.  And any and all sin that we commit can be identified by a good examination of conscience considering the 10 Commandments.  So, that’s what I have started to do.  What Commandment did I just break?  But being the forgetful person I am I have started listing these in my Notes on my IPhone.  Go ahead and laugh.  But it’s a good place to jot something down real quick.  Because by the time I get to the confessional I will have forgotten all about trash talking that girl at Walmart who cut in front of me in line.  I will have forgotten that grudge I was holding against those guys for what they said about me.
But I will tell you that I have discovered this great Catholic app that I use for a lot of things.  It’s called Laudate and it has Daily Readings and the Saint of the Day.  It has prayers and the rosary (in pod-cast form) and stations of the cross.  It even has Latin prayers.  But my most favorite part of the app right now is on Confession.  It has a section for children, young adults, single people, married people.  It has a daily examination of conscience.  Can you imagine on a daily basis figuring out what you did wrong so that tomorrow you don’t make the same mistake?  So when I am perusing this app I can find all kinds of things I need to think about.  When you click on a section, it gives you a little prayer to say before you proceed.  So cool.  In the section I go to there are subsections and they ask you questions:  Have I prayed every day?  Have I read the Bible?  Those are responsibilities to God.  Have I told my spouse that I love him?  Have I listened to my spouse?  Those are responsibilities to my my spouse.  Have I prayed for my children?  Have I been affectionate toward them?  Those are responsibilities to my children.  Have I avoided theft and lies?  Have I paid my taxes?  Those are responsibilities to society.  Is that not cool?  It could probably take an hour or so to go through all of them.  But isn’t that a good time frame to spend before going to Confession?  I mean, I’m all about it after it’s over.  I plan to become all about it before I go.
The Catholic Church is very specific in some things, and not the least specific in others.  I think even in Confession they are very specific but when it comes down to the nitty gritty they are not specific at all.  That’s why I think a good examination of conscience helps you to stay right with the Church but also right with yourself.  It’s good to take inventory every once in awhile.  Even if you don’t do anything with it, it’s good to know where you stand, in your own heart, in your own soul.  It’s nice to have something to work from to make it easier to participate in the Sacrament.  Don’t we owe that to ourselves?  I know that I do.
Cynthia Elder
St. Joseph Catholic Church in Louisville – where I made my first confession –

Extravagant Inheritance

prodigal-sonThe readings this weekend at Mass had to do with the story of the Prodigal Son. But Fr. Darrell’s take on the reading was more like the prodigal father.  And when he was talking this way he implied that the father in the story was the same as our Father in heaven.  That made me think.  He defined “prodigal” as “spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wasteful extravagant”.  That made me think.  And I think it was the point he was trying to make.  I took it that God, our Father, is immensely extravagant.  He’ll give us all that He has.  He only asks one thing of us, to follow Him.

But then I started thinking about inheritance. The prodigal son asked for his inheritance early.  I don’t think I could do that.  If you were to get your inheritance before you were entitled to it, to me, it’s like asking for the person who is “leaving” you something to leave.  Now, if I had a rich old aunt that I didn’t know about that was going to leave me a gazillion dollars, I might want a part of it right now.  But I think I know about all of my aunts and I can tell you that none of them are rich.  But if I did . . .

When my grandmother died, I inherited a small sewing rocker that I had bought for her. I had bought it at an antique store.  She had been with me and told me about her mother having one of those.  I was so proud that I was able to take my babysitting money and go back to that store and buy it for her.  When she died, her daughter, my aunt, gave it to me.  I treasured that little rocker.  I still have it although I wouldn’t recommend sitting in it.

This is not Grandma’s sewing rocker but it looks just like this one.  I inherited it after she died.


When my father died my mother inherited everything. We didn’t know there was anything to get.  About a year or so before my mother died she started giving everything away.  She put our names on everything.  What she didn’t divvy up, we did not long after she died.  We had all of the furniture to get rid of, just all kinds of things.  It seems strange to me now, but I ended up with quite a bit.  Through the years I have lost some of those precious items but other things I still have.  It’s a shame that I have allowed the memories of those items diminish.  Sometimes you just have to move on.  Every once in a while I note a table that Mom got from her aunt or a pair of earrings and I remember what Mom used to wear those earrings with.  They’re nothing special except I can still see her wearing them, some 30 years later.  I kept Mom’s Evan Picon red suit too.  It was a size 6.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been a size six.  I wanted to give it to my daughter one day.  If I had made up my mind that I wanted to do that then I should have taken better care of the suit because when I pulled it out for my daughter to wear it for senior pictures it had all kinds of moth holes in it.  Oh well, it still made me smile.  Just like my son wore my daddy’s suit coat for his senior pictures.  Again, moth holes; again, it didn’t matter.  He looked so much like my daddy in that jacket.

I inherited Daddy’s Love Story jacket.  It resembles the one that Ryan O’Neal wore in the movie from the 1970’s.


But if God promises us the kingdom of heaven, do I expect that I will go around putting my name on the bottom of items I want? I don’t think so.  You know, I’ve never wandered what I would do if I am lucky enough to make it to heaven.  I’ve never considered how my existence will be.  I just want to be there.  I just want to be welcomed in.  It doesn’t matter if the streets are lined with gold, I won’t care.  All I want is the streets to be lined with those who have gone before me.  I want to see my grandmothers again.  I want to sit down and analyze my life with my mom and dad.  I want to hold my precious granddaughter Lucy in my arms, for all eternity.  And I want to bask in the glow of the Father and His Son.

I know that God has been extravagant with me. I know that He has given me anything and everything that I need.  He might not always answer my prayers but He knows what’s good for me, and what’s not.  Now if only I could figure that out then I feel that I will be welcomed into His arms.  Because when it comes down to it, that’s all I could ever want.

Cynthia Elder


“No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’, except by the Holy Spirit.”  1 Corinthians 12:3

On the first Pentecost a huge wind came upon the house where the apostles were hiding.  And then, tongues of fire came to rest on each one of them.  And then they left the house and everyone who heard them understood them.  I always took it that the apostles were speaking in all languages but it was the people who were able to understand everything that they said.  Wow.

Catholics believe that when we are confirmed that the Holy Spirit comes into us.  At that time then we become a “soldier of Christ”.  I learned that when I was confirmed in the 3rd grade.  I may not have always practiced that but I have always believed it.

Through the years though I know that the Holy Spirit has been alive in me.  I can feel it when He descends upon me.  I can feel it right before I serve as Lector during Mass.  I can feel it when I watch my children practice their faith.  I can feel it when I attempt to influence others in my faith.  I can feel it.  And it’s not just a feeling.  It’s physical.  In other situations I would consider it to be butterflies.  But when I am professing my faith those butterflies take on a whole new meaning.

Right now I feel those butterflies in my arms, not telling me what to write but encouraging me to write.  Writing is pretty scary.  I can understand how scared those apostles had to be.  They saw what happened to Jesus.  And yet they were told by Jesus that they had to go out, put themselves out there, to teach about Him.  I’m sure they were sitting there going, “yeah, right”.  I can remember when I made up my mind to do what God asked me to do.  It was only then that He made me write.  Writing is one thing, letting someone read it is something completely different.  But when He had me to write, He also put people in front of me that I could ask to read my writing.  I remember my son, who is a writer, and a teacher, proofread my writing.  I had to go back to him and tell him I wasn’t looking for an editor, I was looking for his opinion.  I let others read what I had to write and most didn’t comment at all.  That was good for me.  A no comment meant to me that they didn’t hate it.  Subsequently I have gotten good comments out of those people.  But those silent opinions made me realize that maybe I could write, maybe I did have something to say.  And so I have decided that it is my writing that the Holy Spirit wants to see out of me.

He wants different things out of different people.  In that 1 Corinthians reading this week at Mass it goes onto say “As a body is on though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.”  In order to accomplish all that we need to do for Christ we must all take our talents and put them out there.  I claim a “hand” in that body.  You’ve got to have a “hand” to write.  I could see my youngest son saying “I get the mouth”.  He’s not much of a writer but he has a lot to say so give that boy a microphone.

I have always liked the image of the tongues of fire.  I took a picture years ago of a confirmation class at Youth 2000.  We had all the kids lined up with the monks who put on the retreat.  You can see orbs in that picture, over some of the kids’ heads.  I thought that was so interesting.  If that doesn’t make you believe I don’t know what would.  Honestly, when I dug out that picture I thought there were more.  It’s still pretty cool.


What’s more important is that we do have the Holy Spirit in our lives.  He’s there, whether we feel Him or not.  Sometimes life will squash him down but He’s still there and given the right opportunity He will make His presence known.  We just have to be open to listening to Him.

Cynthia Elder