Abundance

“Take your life and give thanks for it, all of it.”
“Abundance grows out of gratitude.”
Loaves--Fishes
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.
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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
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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

Welcome

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.

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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.

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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