Pentecost

“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.

confirmation

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

 

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You Are the Light of the World

I love the play “Godspell”.  I love the music.  And yes, I know that I am a child of the ’70’s but I could play that music over and over and over.  One of the songs is Light of the World.  “You are the light of the world”.  Sorry, you’re going to have to listen to it.
BushelBasketWe are the light of the world.  If we don’t shine for all the world to see, then what in the world are we doing here?  I ask you, what?
We are a reflection of all that we see and hear and learn and know.  And as a light of the world then we shine all of that for the world to see.  If we are not confident in who we are and what we know then it’s real easy to put that light under a bushel and then “it’s lost something kind of crucial”.  We have got to let that light shine, we just have to.
Today is the Feast of the Epiphany.  Used to, the Feast of the Epiphany was celebrated on January 6th.  I can understand why it now is celebrated between January 1st & 6th.  It is important to be celebrated as a full community and the best way to do that is at Sunday Mass.  This is the day of gift giving.  There are those who wait until the Feast of the Epiphany to exchange gifts.  I thought it would be cool to offer spiritual gifts today.  So today I pray for my friends and family so that they will experience peace and good health.  I also offer prayers of peace for our world.
Fr. Darrell talked about the Feast of the Epiphany being a feast of light.  And the readings today seemed to concentrate on the Star of Bethlehem.  I love stars.  Can you imagine being an amateur astronomer and seeing this star that is new to the sky?  Can you imagine going back into your notes of all the stars in the sky and realizing that this star had never been in the sky before?  Can you imagine going to your stargazing friends and conferring with them and then all of you decide that you need to scope this out?  Can you imagine?
Well, we have all been tapped to follow that star, haven’t we?  We have been trained to take our notes and confer with our friends and to scope out what was in the sky so many years ago.  And we have been tapped to spread that light wherever we can.  I’m not talking about preaching about it, I’m talking about living it.  We know how to live to share that light.  We just have to do it.
When I was looking at this day I found that today is the Feast of the Epiphany but it is also the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.  It is also the feast day of Pope St. Antherus, St. Genevieve, St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, St. Odilo of Cluny, St. Athanasius of Cilicia, St. Bertilia of Mareuil, St. Fintan of Doon, St. Gordius of Cappadocia, St. Theogenes of Cyzicus, Blessed William Vives, St. Zosimus of Cilicia, Blessed Arnold Wala, St. Bertille of Thuringia, St. Blitmund of Bobbio, St. Cyrinus of Cyzicus, St. Daniel of Padua, St. Eustadius, St. Finlugh, St. Florentius of Vienne, St. Florentius of Vienne the Martyr, Blessed Gerard Cagnoli, St. Lucian of Lentini, St. Melorius, St. Munchin of Limerick, St. Primus of Cyzicus, St. Salvator of Belluno, St. Theonas, St. Theopemptus of Nicomedia, St. Wenog, Martyrs of Africa, Martyrs of Tomi, Blitmund of Saint-Valery, Daniel Himmerod the Younger, Hymnemodus of Saint-Maurice, and Imbenia.
The thing about all of these people is that they took the message that they were the light of the world to heart.  They took their knowledge and their love of their faith and proclaimed it for all of the world to see.  So even though they lived between 235 AD and 1871 AD they let their light shine and it is still shining for all of the world to see.  If not, why would we care that today is their feast day?
shine-his-light2
You are the light of the world, you are the salt of the earth, you are the City of God, but  “you’ve got to live right to be the light of the world”.  So is it time that you took after the wise men and the saints that have come before us and let your light shine?  Is this the year for you?  I think it could be.
Cynthia Elder

The Good News of Advent

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Santa Dropping In For a Visit

“So . . . what do I really think about this good news that I’m celebrating this Advent season?”

Well, funny you should ask. Because yesterday during Mass I was listening to the good news that Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming! Say that with authority. Of course, he is coming. It’s almost Christmas.

Advent is the preparation of Christmas. It is the anticipation of the birth of Jesus. Yeah, we know. We’ve been here, this exact place, for years and years. We know. And we are excited about it. We are excited to commemorate the birth of Jesus. It warms our hearts. It is nothing less than love. Yes, we do get caught up in Black Friday and we might even put our Christmas tree up right after that wonderful Thanksgiving dinner we feasted on. We do this because we cannot wait for Christmas. We cannot wait to have the house decorated and the presents bought and then we can enjoy the Christmas season and be absolutely prepared for that day of love and happiness and joy and peace. We cannot wait.

I can remember as a child, before we were allowed to tear into our toys that Santa had left us that we had to stop and pause, wish Baby Jesus and my mother Happy Birthday and then we could dive in. We had waited so long for this. And yes, Mom and Baby Jesus did get their mention. We would go to Mass after breakfast and then go to my aunt’s or grandmother’s and have a birthday party for my mother and aunt. So, we had our priorities right. Sometimes Mom would let us take our favorite toy to Mass with us, if we had been really good that morning.

So, we all know that Jesus is the Reason for the season. We know. And we give Him his fair due. We kneel before the Manger and we thank God for the gift that is His Son. We do this. But, what would our life be like if we truly prepared ourselves for Jesus. What if we prepared ourselves, not for the Baby Jesus, but the returning Jesus? How different would our Advent, our Christmas, our lives be?

Because at Mass the last couple of weeks we have been asked about Jesus coming again. Would we be ready? Oooh, I hadn’t thought about that one in a while. Would I be ready? I would hope so. But, let’s not give this is a pat answer. Let’s think about this. Would I be ready?

Well, my house is a mess. I have just been so busy this year. Really, I have been so busy for the last two years. I started painting my living room two years ago and it’s still not done. Well, the living room itself is done. But the staircase going up hasn’t been touched and the accent colors haven’t been painted. But what about me? Well, you know, I’ve been busy. I just really haven’t had the time to take care of myself. I have gained most of the weight back that I had lost. I don’t exercise anymore. It hurts. I know that it hurt when I started the last time, but I got over that pain. So, my house, my body, is not ready. It’s just so much easier to take some Aleve and go to bed than to go hiking (something I truly, truly enjoy). It’s so much easier to play mindless games on the computer than to sit down and write what is in my heart. So, no, my house is a mess. I wouldn’t invite a delivery driver into my house let alone the One I live for. They say that acknowledgement is the first obstacle to get past.

The cupboards are bare. Well, some of that is self-induced. I’m in a clean-out mode. I have groceries in my cabinets that have been there years and years. I have pulled them out and I’m either going to use them or trash them. The same goes for Tupperware. I pulled it all out. If I can’t find the lid then I’m going to trash them. That is so much of my life. I hate to say this, but I’m a hoarder. I collect ties from bread bags. I never use them again. But I have a drawer that has a small collection of these. You never know when you’re going to need one. So what am I hanging onto that I should either use or purge. Oh, we don’t want to go there, do we? We don’t want to go into the hollers of my memories and make me

purge that which is bringing me down. We don’t want to go into my habits and finally break some of those. But what if I get rid of everything. Can I, will I, restock the shelves with the things I need in order to greet so great a Guest? Can I accumulate the graces needed to prepare for my Almighty God? Oh, I hope so.

And if I do get myself ready for the Lord Jesus coming can I plan a party worthy of Him? I think I can. I think I honestly could do that. I surround myself with those that believe as I do. Yeah, big deal. The hard part is bringing those that don’t believe as I do and invite them to the party. What if they don’t believe at all? Could I invite them? What if they believe in Christ but not the way I do? Would they be on my guest list? Those people sometime can be stubborn. Those people sometime want me to believe as they do. I don’t want to hear what they have to say. Ah, but if I don’t listen to them how can I expect them to listen to me? Can I use my old adage, “can we agree to disagree”? Or can I show them, not tell them about my faith and what it can offer? I don’t want to preach or judge or anything like that. I just want to offer what my heart knows to be true. Hopefully others can see this in my everyday life. And if my heart is open to bringing these people in then shouldn’t my arms be just as welcoming?

I don’t have parties at my house much anymore. I don’t want to have to clean the house and then do all of the shopping and cooking and then have to turn around and clean the house again. Is this just laziness or preservation? When I was growing up people came to our house all the time. They would just stop by. No one does that anymore. Those are some of my most treasured memories. Why can’t I have my house ready for whomever stops by? Why am I not prepared? Why not? I can’t give you a good reason, other than I am lazy or tired or worn.  If people don’t feel welcomed in my home how in the world can I expect the Risen Christ to feel welcomed? I don’t want to miss out on his coming just because I’m too tired to be ready.

So, during Advent, I’m going to make some changes in my home. I’m going to have the house ready. So, if you want to stop by, come on in. It won’t be perfect. I’ve never been a perfect housekeeper. I don’t have the patience for it. But it will be presentable. I’m going to do some exercising, and a little bit of dieting. I need to get my body ready for company. I’m going to have plenty to eat and drink. But I’m also going to rid my thoughts of past mistakes that I’ve been forgiven of. I’m going to rid my thoughts of negativity. And I’m going to replace those with good intentions and lots of prayers. I might even throw in some positive responses too. You all might need to remind me. And I’m going to be open to new friends. I’m going to hold tight to the ones that I have, and the ones I love, but I’m not going to dismiss someone because of the way they believe or don’t believe. Maybe they just need someone to open their arms and ears up for them. I am strong in my beliefs.  I have nothing to be afraid of.

And hopefully by the time the Baby Jesus comes into my life, I will be ready for the Risen Christ to come into my heart as well. I will say this though, Advent or not, my tree will not go up before the Feast of St. Nicholas (December 6th) and it won’t come down until after the Feast of the Holy Family. Please don’t take yours down Christmas Day. Oh, and if the Risen Christ shows up before then, hopefully He’ll have his Mother with Him. I love Her so.

Cynthia Elder

Pentecost

I don’t remember when it was that I made up my mind that I really liked the idea of Pentecost.  I’m sure it was as a child but it could have been later in my life.  I mean, I’ve been with a group of people, scared out of my mind, so I can relate to the apostles.  It seemed comforting to me that something came over these guys that gave them the faith, strength and bravery to go out and tell the world all that they knew about this man who had just left them again and told them to tell the world about Him.  Wouldn’t it be so cool if that could happen?

But if you believe in Pentecost, then it really did happen.  And it happens every time that someone is Confirmed.

Cynthia Elder

Being raised in the 1960’s was a weird time to be a Catholic.  Things were changing in the Catholic Church because of the Second Vatican Council.  A lot of people were still old school but there was this new group who wanted to keep up with the changes that the Church was undergoing.  I think I would have held onto the tradition of the Church.  I’m not one for change. But, back then, children were confirmed every three or four years.  Any child who had made their First Communion was eligible to be Confirmed.  I made my First Communion in the second grade and was Confirmed in the third.  I didn’t have a clue about this whole process but I still, to this day, remember three things:  I got to wear this really cool red beanie (I may still have it); that day I put on the Armor of Christ; the Holy Spirit entered my heart.

Here I am, 50 years later, and even though I put on the Armor of Christ back then, there are times that I don’t feel like I have ever got to battle for Him.  I have never stood up in front of a crowd and told the world that I belonged to Him.  Okay, I have, but I was surrounded by others that knew and loved Him so I don’t think that counts.  I like to think that I don’t have to shout to the heavens about Him.  I like to think that the way I live my life shouts to the heavens.  I would rather do that than pound my chest and tell the whole world that I am a Soldier of Christ but not live my life as a Soldier of Christ.

What about the people of this work, and there are a lot of them, who haven’t experienced Christ the way that I have?  What about the people who are walking around like lost lambs?  Isn’t it my responsibility as a Soldier of Christ to round those people up and at least let them see what God has done for me, what God can do for them?  I don’t want to preach, but I want people to know. God has been good to me, and it is only because of Him that I have the life I have.  Don’t I have to be responsible enough to show them?

I think so.  I think that is exactly what we are supposed to do.  And yes, that does require us putting yourselves out there, but we are not out there alone.  Because, at Pentecost, at our Confirmation, the Holy Spirit has entered our heart.  He is right there with us, pushing us to do exactly that.  Sometimes, I get to be the Lector at Mass.  Sometimes I feel that I am not the one reading, I am just the voice of the Holy Spirit.  I know that sounds weird but we all have had times that we have done something extra special and we don’t know how we pulled it off.  I tend to believe that is when the Holy Spirit is at work, and just using me as his instrument.  Sometimes I read my writing and wonder where it came from.  Those are the times that I am sure that someone is telling me which keys to type.  I don’t mind being the instrument of the Holy Spirit because who am I that He blessed with that?  I hate to pull a line from Wayne’s World, but “I am not worthy!”

We all have that call, don’t we?  Sometimes we override that call, our “gut”:  that is going to embarrass me or cause me harm.  Sometimes we give ourselves  excuses as to why we don’t have to do what we are being called to do.  But when we let the Spirit move us then wonderful things happen.  And if we are lucky enough to do what God wants us to do, then we are truly a Soldier of Christ and truly do for Him.  A lot of us wonder how we can improve our faith life, well I think that would be a great start.  Let the Spirit tell you what He wants of you.  Some of us are led to preach, some are to lead by example, some are led to write . . .

If we have the Holy Spirit with us, and Christ behind us, how can we ever conceive of failing?

Easter Sunday and Wildcat Basketball

…today is the greatest day we know as Christians, the Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. Churches will be full and families will gather to have dinner and maybe a Easter egg hunt with the kids. It is a wonderful day to celebrate life. As I write this at 6am, I feel a somewhat different than what I just described. Our beloved CATS lost a tough emotional loss last night which I admit caused me to be up this early. I feel heartbroken for the coaches, players and all of BBN because we all wanted that perfect season and to hang #9 in Rupp. I tried to console Conner last night as he took the loss harder than any of us in the Thomas house. He too is emotionally invested In our CATS (at least Jenn and I are doing something right…lol). But as Jesus teaches us it is through dying that we rise…the Pascal Mystery! Wildcat BB has had its ups and downs in my 40+ years here, but it has never been more alive than it is now. The 2014-15 team would never accomplished what it did if we hadn’t lost to U CONN in the final last year…many would have went to the NBA. So today I choose to not hang my head and sulk in defeat but to live in the Resurrection of our Savior…it is Him who gives life and makes enjoying college BB possible! Thank you Lord for giving us this UK team to enjoy this year and bless each and every player as they ponder their future. Help us all to learn the lessons they taught us about being unselfish, helping your brother and servant leadership…the world would be a better place if we could all do as our Wildcat BB team has done! One final thought: Cal once said, “We are not a college BB team, WE ARE COLLEGE BB!” I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter Sunday! GO CATS and GO JESUS!!!

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Danny Thomas

How’s Your Lent Going?

If you have been going to St. Jerome Church in Fancy Farm during Lent, Fr. Darrell Venters asks you during his sermon “How’s Your Lent Going”.  We go to early Mass so when he asks the congregation is not necessarily enthusiastic.  We remember that we are supposed to be excited about our response and say it with conviction but usually there’s a whole lot of “uh, yeah, okay, I guess”.  Why Fr. Darrell puts up with us is beyond me, sometimes.

So, I’ll tell you how my Lent’s going.  I wish, better.  But I will tell you that there is not a day that goes by that anyone in my family doesn’t know that it’s Lent.  We know.  Trust me, we know.
Usually, we all do the same thing year after year.  We give up something.  We try to pray more.  We go through the different services out at church.  Yeah, we participate in Lent.
But this year has been different, and it has been harder.
Lent is to remind us about the life, death and resurrection of Christ.  It portrays Christ’s journey into the desert, his journey out of the desert, the passion of his death and then the resurrection.  This is one of the most important spiritual journeys for Christians throughout the year.  It prepares you for the most holy of days, Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Christ.
Raising my family Catholic has been a joy for me.  But there’s no room for slacking as the mother.  It doesn’t matter how bad you feel, you have to go to Mass on Sunday.  You have to get the family up and ready.  And during Lent, if you’ve given up something then you can’t cheat.  If you don’t want to go to Stations of the Cross, you have to go.  Sometime during that season you have to make sure that everyone gets to confession.
And you can’t give in.  Most years we will travel during Lent one weekend.  That means that we’re out on the road on a Friday.  My dear, sweet husband always makes an excuse that we can eat meat because we’re traveling.  Well, I’m sure there’s a way around it but I force him to eat fish.  Not that that is a sacrifice for him.  Normally Fish Fry Friday is one of the best meals we eat throughout the week.  So there’s not much suffering there.
And when everyone whines and says it’s really okay for us to come off our fast on Sunday or at another time I have to remind them that Jesus didn’t come out of the desert on a Sunday.   I tell them that He did so much for us and asks only so little of us in return.
But getting through the fast seems to be the hardest part of Lent during the first part of Lent.  But if you are truly engaged in the season then the second half of Lent can be the hardest.  That is the time that you prepare for the journey of Christ coming out of the desert and the path to His death.
During Lent we are fortunate to have the opportunity to follow the Stations of the Cross
weekly as a community.  And different versions are presented each week.  Of course the story never changes.  The story is that Christ is condemned to death and then crucified on the cross.  The path of His journey never changes but hopefully our hearts change throughout the season of Lent to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Resurrection.
I have always fussed at myself that I concentrate too much on the Passion and crucifixion.  Every year I find myself wishing and hoping that this is the year that someone stands up and saves Him.  We all know the story but there’s this little bit within me that wishes that He didn’t have to suffer as He did, and die.
Sometimes it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the passion of the Passion that it’s hard to see past it to the glory of Easter Sunday.  Usually I berate myself for a week or two and insist that the whole thing is how it has to be in order for the scriptures to be fulfilled and (here’s the big thing here) for my sins to be forgiven.  I know that it’s only through the death and resurrection that I am saved into eternal life.  I know this.  But oh, I wish that someone would have stood up for Him.  Of course, then you have to consider that we all probably would not be following Him over 2000 years later if someone had stood up and kept Christ from being crucified.  Because it is only through the crucifixion and Resurrection that we have salvation.  I know that.  I truly know that.
So this year, I have vowed to follow Christ’s journey out of the desert to Golgotha, and beyond.  But my emphasis now is Easter Sunday morning and let me tell you, I cannot wait.  If you were to tell me that I was anxious for peanut M&Ms, Dove chocolates and malted milk balls, I would tell you that you know me well.  But I cannot wait for the Resurrection.  I cannot wait for the Acts of the Apostles and those guys trying to figure out what they are supposed to do now.  Because I am just like that in my faith journey.  I’m great when someone tells me what I need to be doing.  But give me a little bit of free will and woosh, there goes my good intentions.  I cannot wait for the promise of Pentecost and the hope of the Holy Spirit.  I cannot wait for the mysteries of the Risen Christ and all that He accomplished after the Resurrection.  And I cannot wait for His Ascension into heaven and the promise of His second coming.
So, looking past Lent, and the Passion, and the Crucifixion and the Resurrection offers so much promise for all of us.  All we have to do is be open to it and keep our eyes open.  We need to always be ready.
Cynthia Elder