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

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

Mountains and Sands

“Show us the way that leads to your side, over the mountains and sands of the soul.”


This line, from the song, “Change Our Hearts” by Rory Cooney, really spoke to me this week at Mass.  I’ve always liked the song but I caught site of that line and it made me think of the peaks and valleys of my soul.  I never think of my soul as having peaks and valleys.

But that would make sense, wouldn’t it?  There are times when my soul soars but then there are times when my soul is in the doldrums.

We were talking about that very thing in our PRE class this week.  We’ve been talking about prayer and this week we were talking about personal prayer.  I let the 11th graders know that there would be times they really needed to take a break in their prayer life and that would be fine.  But that their relationship to prayer was just like a good friend and it needed to be cultivated to grow.  You’re not going to go a week without talking with your best friend, why would you go a week without praying?

But the thing about this line in the song, mountains are glorious, if you’re on top.  But they are very intimidating at their base.  And if you have to climb that mountain that’s a lot of worry and work.

But then the sand part.  I love sand.  I love the beach.  But walking on sand is so hard to do.  First, it’s hot.  Then, if it’s loose, you early have to go barefoot, sort of like walking in mud.  And if you walk out in the water then the sand slips out from beneath your feet.  It is so easy to lose your footing.  Isn’t that the same in prayer?  There are times that you are not sure footed and some times the bottom falls out and you have to scramble to keep your footing.

I guess the point is that no matter how hard we try there will still be things that force you to climb or that cause you to lose your footing.  I guess we always have to be at the ready for that, and for the bridegroom.

Cynthia Elder

Vision Board

Vision Board

I am a firm believer in using a vision board.  Mine is so full.  I have my dream car, my vacation requests, jewelry that I love.  I believe that if you can see it, you can achieve it.

At Mass a few weeks ago one of the readings was from St. James.  James 3:16-4:3 “You covet but you do not possess.  You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war.  You do not possess because you do not ask.  You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”


That hit home.

You see, I pray.  I pray a lot.  I ask the good Lord to take care of me.  I ask the Lord to guide me.  But, wait.  Am I really asking for what I need or what I want?  And in asking, am I asking for the right reasons?  No, all of that stuff on my vision board is for me.  I’m not asking for the things that matter.

I guess I could argue that the things on my vision board are not prayer requests.  But, if I’m asking the Lord to take care of me then I think I’m asking him to enable me to buy that swanky new car.  Do I really need a new car?  No.  Do I really need that particular new car?  Of course not.  So why am I asking?

All that other stuff, do I need it?

Cynthia Elder

St. Jerome and Prayer

St. Jerome at St. Jerome Church

There are times that I pray and then there are times that I truly pray.  Right now is a time of true prayer.

During those times I am touched by the scripture.  It might be a line or two or sometimes I feel as though I have to dig and dig.  But usually I can mine a gem out of what I am reading.
Also during that time my prayer is to someone in particular.  On Wednesdays we pray the rosary.  When I am truly praying the rosary and meditating on the mysteries of the rosary I physically change.  I feel the blood right under my skin.  I get a nervous energy.  My breathing becomes rapid.  It is at that time that something is being said to me.  And it is at that time when I am at the height of understanding and overly anxious to share the insight of my prayer.
These are the times that I truly believe that God has something he wants me to know but also he has something that he wants me to share.
Tonight is the Feast of St. Jerome.  He is the patron saint of our church, so therefore our town.  And it’s strange that he would be the one who protected our small rural town, this man of the world.  But maybe we need the influence of someone like him.  Maybe we need to hear the words frequently that he so masterfully brought together. And then, maybe we need to be able to live those words.
Cynthia Elder

Litany of Saints

In the Catholic Church there are numerous saints.  If you are looking for a saint for any occasion or event you can find them in the Catholic Church.  And these are holy people who have gone through a long, drawn out process and have been ordained by the Church. So, if you can’t find someone to pray to you’re not trying too hard.
But, are these the only ones we pray to?  I like to think not.
I was always taught to pray to the saints, to pray to the Blessed Mother to intercede for me.  I asked them to ask the Lord to grant my prayer.  I asked them ask the Lord to watch over me and guide me.  
But through the years, as I lost the saints in my life, my loved ones, I started asking them to ask the Lord to answer my prayer and to watch over and guide me.  It comforted me that they were still with me.  And since they had all eternity, I figured I could give them some projects.
So I do.  I have my litany of saints.  There are the obvious ones and then the totally obscure ones.  I pray to them every day, after I pray the rosary.  I’d like to share them with you.
Mother Teresa 
Well, technically she is Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.  But, I knew her as the world knew her, as Mother Teresa.  I ask her to pray for me each day.  I mean, seriously, if her prayers are not heard, who’s are?
Again, he is truly Saint John Paul II.  But I knew him as Pope John Paul.  And the youth of the world knew him as JPII.  I like that.  I ask him to be with me every day.  That’s my way of asking for some of his guidance.  I know he can’t really do a lot but maybe he nudges me a little bit here and there to stay on a Christian path.
Mom and Daddy
I pray every day to my mom and dad.  I tell them that I hope I make them proud of me today.  That’s just a little reminder to me to do what I need to do each and every day to make them proud.  I know that they are proud of me because I work hard for that.  When I get to heaven I want that to be the first thing to say to me, “we are proud of you and all that you have done in your life.”
My parents died young.  I was 19 when my dad died and 26 when Mom did.  You know, at that age, you still need guidance, you still need reinforcement.  So a lot of my life I questioned every decision that I made, the life I was living.  You know since I have been praying to them I have never questioned the way I have lived my life.
Danny and Linda Mae
I ask every day for Danny and Linda Mae to help me be the wife and mother I need to be.  I ask them that because they know what type of wife and mother I need to be.  They were raised in the house that I live in.  And in those walls they know what kind of life is expected of me.
I pray to them because I love their brother.  I ask for their help in providing the home that they knew.  I ask for their help in raising my children as they were raised.
I ask my friend Debbie to help me to be the friend that she needed me to be.  I do that to remind myself that I need to be a good friend to those that need it.
My friend Debbie needed me to be a friend.  She had developed terminal breast cancer.  At first I was.  At first I was a great friend.  But when she recovered from surgery and started her chemo treatments I got busy.  And it seemed as though I stayed busy.  I checked in with her at church but really wasn’t there for her.
When she went through two more surgeries and countless chemo and radiation treatments I fell off even further.  Then we ended up switching churches so I wasn’t even able to keep up with her on a weekly basis.
I don’t know what possessed me to reconnect with her.  But I did.  And I felt so bad.  She never mentioned it.  It was like I was an angel who came to console her and it didn’t matter that I had not been there for awhile.  And it didn’t.  I remained a friend to her until she died.  And then some.
I pray every day to Johnny to help me be nice.
Johnny was one of the nicest people I ever met.
Johnny is the oldest grandson in our family.  And when he died in his sleep several years ago the entire family couldn’t believe it.  He had lived most of his adult life in California.  So we had not been around him an awful lot.  But with the advent of Facebook we got to see his life and just how nice he was day in and day out.  And I came to know that there wasn’t another guy out there that was as nice as he was.
It seems easy to be nice.  But I do have such a hard time being nice.  I get busy and lost in my own little world and I forget.  Asking for Johnny’s help reminds me that I do need help and it’s something that I can do, easily.  If I only will.
Mary Ruth
Mary Ruth is the newest saint in my litany.  She recently passed away.  It was so sad to see her go.  But it was so nice to know that she was where she could help so many.
Mary Ruth was the matriarch of a large family.  She was mother, sister, wife, grandmother, aunt, great-grandmother to so many.  She would treat those who were not even related as family.  If she felt you needed her, she was there.
And she valued her family so much.  She was so proud of them and had so much love for them.  
I have always valued family but I’m pretty picky about who I worry about or so for.  With the help of Mary Ruth I’m reminded that it doesn’t matter who they are or what they’ve done, if they’re family then you do for them.
There was a guy in our town who was such a huge flirt.  He loved women and women loved him.  He was a devoted husband and father.  He was a beloved brother and loyal friend.  But above all Benny loved to have fun.
When Benny died he had a request.  As the congregation processed out of church to his burial spot he wanted the women to process first, right behind his casket.  The church was full of women.  So as we all stood around his grave we all wondered where the family was.  They were the last to arrive, with the men following them.
Every morning I finish my litany of saints by singing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” in memory of Benny.