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

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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.

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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

 

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Serve

I love the readings after Easter.  I love hearing how bumbling the Apostles are.  I love how they are just trying to understand.  I am reminded that most of the time the Apostles didn’t have a clue.  I love how Jesus just shows up in their midst.

And I love how Fr. Darrell talks about these things during the homily at Mass.  Talking about Jesus showing up, Fr. Darrell reminds us just how human Jesus is.  After he got past the Apostles’ shock at him showing up he asked if they had anything to eat.  They did.  Baked fish.  So he sat down and ate.

Fr. Darrell likes to talk about normal stuff.  He brought up how we can say so many stupid things at the most inopportune times.  He brought up how we feel like we have to say something, anything, to a daily who is experiencing a death or a tragedy.  He told us that we don’t really need to say anything.  Sometimes we just have to be there.  Sometimes we need to bring a casserole.   Sometimes we need to go get a glass of water.  All we have to do is serve.

That brought back something my nephew said recently.  We were talking about the Picnic that we have in August every year.  We talked about all the people who come to the picnic and what that all means to our community, and to our church.  I asked him if he head ever invited anyone to the picnic.  He responded “of course”.  But he went on to talk about how the picnic is a wonderful place to invite people into our community, so that we can serve them.  That as a Christian, it is our responsibility to serve.

Which brings me back to Jesus’ ministry.  Throughout his entire ministry he served.  He did for other people time and time again.  And when his Apostles didn’t want him to serve them then he made sure they were aware that if he didn’t serve them then they could not enter the kingdom of heaven.  They changed their tune pretty quick.  But it wasn’t just them letting him serve them.  It was them serving others as well.

If you follow the life of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta you find that all she did was to serve.  She didn’t care who you were, she would serve you.  And she expected that of her followers.  Some couldn’t do it.  They couldn’t deny themselves in order to serve others.  But those that did follow her learned to live as Christ taught.

I’m one of those who say stupid things when someone dies or tragedy strikes.  I feel like I need to say something, anything.  But the times that I feel that I’ve been the most helpful have been the times that I have just been there.  When Jimmy’s mother died I had never seen anyone with that much grief.  And I came to realize quickly that all I could do was to be there with him.  All I could do was to sit beside him and let him cry.  I had never been around anyone like that and I didn’t know what to say, or do.  It turned out I didn’t have to say a thing.  I didn’t have to do anything other than be there.  And even though it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done I came to realize that was all I had to do.

The same thing happened when my older children’s grandparents died.  I knew that it would hard.  But I also knew that I had to be there for them.  When I heard their sobs I knew that all I could do for them was allow them to cry.  I could do that for them.

So a lot of times it’s not what you say but what you do that lets people know who you are.  It’s the action, not the words that allow others to recognize your Christianity, even if it’s uncomfortable to you.  After all, that’s what Jesus would do.

Cynthia Elder

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