Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Blessings

Morning mass time had changed, at the church I usually attend while on vacation here in Arizona.  I arise early and so sought an earlier mass than the 8AM one at the local church.  Most other churches offered nothing earlier, but one I had never visited offered a 6:30A, and so I went there.
As I arrived at 6, a group was already saying a rosary, and nearly 100 showed up for the weekday mass.  I thought I might also visit this church’s adoration chapel, and so asked someone after mass for the passcode to enter.  At first no one did, but finally someone knew it, but then we realized we had no pencil, so stopped someone else to borrow that.  Then I went to my car and back to the hotel for the complementary (included in the outrageous price) breakfast.
That night I went to the beautiful adoration chapel I usually attended when visiting, but realized I had forgotten my prayer book in the car.  I did without it that night, said my prayers, and again went back to the hotel.
The next morning, arriving for the 6:30A mass, I realized I didn’t have my brievary prayer book.  I searched the car thoroughly.  So, when I went into the church I thought I might find it laying on the table where we had been exchanging info the day before.  It was not.  After mass I found the lost and found table; it was not there, either.  So, I went back to the hotel, expecting a call after someone found the book and my address and phone number inside.  No one called.
Time spent here with my nieces was delightful, as always.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family.  We played cards each night, and sampled the wine I had sent. 
The next morning there was still no prayer book at the church, and I again searched my car, to no avail.  That night --- last night --- more relatives were over, and the card games got bigger and louder.  And fun.  And late.  So, heading back to my hotel I decided to skip my evening prayers, saying a shorter version in the car as I drove back.
This Thanksgiving morning, I intended to visit the usual church I visit when down here for Thanksgiving Day mass.  But my rental car had other ideas --- or rather my senility put me into an automatic mode, heading for the church where I had attended the 6:30A masses.  Oh well, I thought, maybe God wants me to find my prayer book there this day, so I continued on my way.  Once there, I decided to search the car again --- and there, under the passenger seat found my lost prayer book.  But I KNOW I had searched there twice before.  So, I asked: “Lord, what is it You would have me do?”
I enjoyed my morning prayers, and gave sincere thanks, to God and St. Anthony and all the saints I had appealed to.  My prayer book is over 25 years old, and has many personal notations and prayers in it.  And I read some of the prayers I had not said last night, when I skipped my evening prayers.  And then I felt an urge to give one of the prayer books to one of the visiting relatives I had played cards with last night.  I don’t know why God seemed to be asking me this; she did not seem a particularly religious woman.  But before I could think or pray on it much, I noticed the title of the book again.  The first letters of the title words spelled out the woman’s name.  So, I’ll give it to her this afternoon.  And I WILL stop for night prayers on the way back to the hotel tonight.
Tomorrow I head back home.  It has been a pleasant time here (although it is supposed to be 90 degrees today!!).  I am so blessed.  Even when bad things seem to happen to me; I see good.  I guess that is a side benefit of trusting in God.  I know my prayer was that if I had truly lost my prayer book, never to be returned, then I trusted that God had a better use for it.  I know I can always trust Him to find a better way than my way.  And that makes thanksgiving come easier.
I pray your Thanksgiving Day is a blessing for you also.  We have so much to be thankful for, and we don’t do it nearly enough.  And I think God misses that from His children.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Review: A Season of Grace

The subtitle of this book is:  Embracing God’s Gifts in the Autumn of Our Lives.
This is Carolyn Bassett’s first book.  It’s timing is perfect for me, and many in my life.  The book consists of 75 short meditations --- 2 pages each --- and closing prayers.  The meditations are on the life experiences of herself or those she met, and the meaning of those experiences, the deep meaning.  Unlike other books of this ilk, almost every one of her meditations evokes memories in me, which causes the prayers to be read with deep sincerity.  She writes of God’s love, family, celebrations, and life’s sharing of experiences and memories.  And she addresses sadness, loneliness, suffering and dying.  Her positive meditations on all these situations end with confident prayers to God.
·         Father, regardless of what trials I may endure, you promise that you will never leave me or forsake me.  I embrace your love ...

·         Father, your faithfulness toward me brings me joy and peace.  Help me be faithful in turn to the people in my life.

·         Father, your mercy knows no limits.  Help me to grow in mercy and to be more effective in supporting others close to me.

·         Father, thank you for all the people in my life.  Help me to stay engaged, even when I am not feeling well.

·         Lord, you know what concerns I have about the future.  Help me to work through them with great hope, no matter what the circumstances may be.

This is a book for anyone over the age of 60, for caregivers, and for those despairing of any age.  In every life there is hope, there is reason, there is value.  These meditations open your heart to the fact that you are not walking alone.  Many will receive this book for Christmas from me, and copies will always be on my bookshelf for those in need.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Doorman or Doormat

In recent months God has helped me perceive a better look in the mirror, to see myself as He sees me, not as I wish or delude myself into thinking who I am, or what I can do.
Even as my spiritual growth seems to make progress, my physical being is aging.  When I was young I was taught that whatever I want I can work for and get --- and I did, get material things, that is.  And that work ethic carried over into the solving of material problems for my employer; I worked and enabled my employer to achieve greater profits.  I was in control of my life.  But now my aging body is weakening, physically and mentally.  I can’t do what I once did, can’t remember as well as I had, and solutions to problems seem harder to arrive at --- and even if I perceive solutions, even spiritual ones, I find them harder to remember, or to make them become instinctive.  And, in a great blessing, God has shown me that all this is okay; He will implement part of the solution; He will put others into my life to share the work.
If I can get past my ego and let them.
I pray to Fr. Solanus Casey daily; his picture hangs over my bed’s headboard.  He will be beatified this Saturday.  He was such a holy man.  He was a model of how to live a saintly life.
He was a doorman.
Fr. Solanus was not one of the wisest of men.  Ordained a priest, his duties were limited.  He could not even hear confessions.  And so, when he was appointed to the home office of his order, in Detroit, he was made a doorman.  All the other priests would meet with people to help solve their problems.  They were the “important” men, doing the important work.  All Solanus could do was answer the door, and while people waited, pray for them.  And miracles and miracles and miracles happened.  He had a little role in his priestly life, and he did it well and with confidence that God would do His larger role.
He was a doorman, but no doormat in the eyes of God.  He was a faithful, loyal, trusting servant, doing his little part.
I think I need to acquire the heart of Fr. Solanus as I age.  I can’t do big important things alone, or hand out orders as I once did.  At parties, I once was a center of attention; last night I sat alone at a party.  On spiritual matters, once I perceived God’s will and acted, now I often see it and pray: “What should I do?”  And I perceive Him putting other people in my path, to do solutions which I didn’t plan.  It seems that I can hear His knock more easily, but others are to fix the problems He brings to me.
It’s a hard adjustment to make, to step down into the role of a doorman, while not perceiving myself as a doormat.  But if I could be honest with myself, I’d admit that even a doormat has what could be an important function, a role to play, perhaps ensuring those working don’t slip up.  But more importantly, a doorman (or a doormat) only has a physical role to play.  Saints, true friends of God, have a higher spiritual role to play, and one that grows as they age, for they continue to grow in holiness, grow closer to God, to not only hear Him, but to be heard by Him.
And that is a most important role.  And the over 5,000 people who attended Fr. Solanus Casey’s, a doorman’s, funeral knew it.
Like the Doorman, I can’t do everything.  I should gratefully trust others to do their part.  And I should pray and act out my life with love.  No more earthly awards or honors will be coming my way, but I have my eyes set on a bigger award.  I need to work towards it, doing my role.