Thursday, August 29, 2013

An Introduction to Lectio Divina

During this Year of Faith, let's resolve to grow closer to Christ -- to know Him, to listen to Him -- through prayer.

One particular form of prayer,  lectio divina, can help. Lectio divina is an ancient way of prayer, a slow, careful reading of the Word of God or other holy writings. Sometimes prayer can seem like a one-way conversation in which we talk to God but He doesn't speak to us. In lectio divina, we patiently, silently listen to Him. The Scriptures truly become a living Word, speaking to our particular circumstances in our individual lives.

Much has been written about lectio divina in books and online. Like a lot of things in the spiritual life, it is simple yet deep. I offer an introduction and invite you to dive further. Investigate, too, how to use lectio divina as a family or group.
  • Start with a simple prayer to Holy Spirit, asking Him to speak to you.
  • Choose a text from Scripture or a spiritual writing. It could be from the daily Mass readings, a random text, or you could work your way through a particular book of the Bible.  I try to use the daily readings and meditations in Magnificat, a monthly prayer publication. When reading the Bible, don't necessarily have a determined amount of text to plow through, one author cautions. Let God determine how much you are to read.
  • Read the passage slowly and leisurely, listening for a word, a phrase that seems to stand out to you, that speaks to you. I keep a prayer journal and begin by writing the words that jump out at me.
  • Be like Mary, ponder God's word. Reread. What is He trying to tell you? This part of the prayer might be awkward at first. When I first tried lectio divina, sometimes I wondered if I was putting my words in God's mouth. I just prayed that I would hear God's voice alone and learned to be at peace with what I thought He was saying to me. With practice it becomes easier to recognize His voice, not just in Scripture but in all aspects of life. Another author on lectio divina offered this additional advice: When praying and listening, distractions might not be distractions. God might be speaking to you about what is weighing on your mind. Let the events and experiences of your life intertwine with Scripture in God's unique message for you.
  • Further the conversation. Speak to God and let Him speak back. Writing everything down somehow helps the words flow for me and keeps me from forgetting my little exchanges with the Almighty.
  • Lastly, prayer isn't meant to be a formula. Keep true to the basic form but tweak it if necessary to fit into your relationship with God. 
We might be tempted to be jealous of the saints who had extraordinary encounters with God. Adam and Eve visited with Him in the Garden of Eden; Moses spoke to Him in the burning bush and on Mount Horeb; Jacob wrestled with Him; the apostles walked the face of the earth with Him, saints like Margaret Mary and Faustina were given His instructions through visions. But we, too, can talk with our God and question Him, wrestle with Him, seek His face and be enlightened and led by Him -- through our attentive prayer.

Inspired by this Year of Faith we will be posting columns like this from Susan Szalewski about exploring and/or deepening our faith. Watch for it on Thursdays and see the Year of Faith Blog here.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Diaconate Anniversaries

Last night the diaconate community of the Omaha Archdiocese celebrated deacons who have hit significant anniversaries of diaconate service. Above is a picture of the attending couples who have served for 30 years (and Archbishop Lucas).
Dcn Frank and Judy Mascarello were on hand as it has been 30 years since Frank's ordination.

It has already been ten years since Dcn Russ Perry's ordination as he and Patty enjoyed the evening.

Dcn Eldon and Judy Lauber were unable to attend last night, but it has now been twenty years since his ordination.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Soccer Tournament

Saturday the Athletic Council Hosted our 
3 on 3 Soccer Tournament as a fundraiser.

It was a fun-raiser as well.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Beauty and Goodness

The Holy Spirit sometimes causes a word or phrase to rattle around in our heads or hearts, hoping to penetrate an inspiration deep into our souls.

Sometimes this word from God can linger for a long time while He patiently waits for us to absorb it. The word may have come from something we read, a priest's homily or even just a casual conversation with an acquaintance or friend.

Suzana Mixan, a faith-filled person whom I consider a friend here at St. Columbkille, uttered some words several years ago that continue to speak to me. When she talked about our Lord, these words of praise flowed from her: "He is so good." When she talked about our Blessed Mother, Suzana would follow with this: "She is so beautiful."

During the month of August, I am being reminded again and again just how good our Lord is and how beautiful our Blessed Mother is. August typically isn't considered a Marian month, but it has become one for me. Last Thursday we celebrated Mary's Assumption, when God took her body and soul into Heaven. Today we celebrate Mary's Queenship there, on earth, and in our own lives.

I have begun an online collection of images of Mary. (Go ahead, call me a Catholic geek.) As I look through them, I cannot help but be astounded by the beautiful images. Whether the work is a Russian or Greek icon, the classic Pieta of Michaelangelo, or even an ordinary person's shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary's beauty and love shine through. Though few of us have actually seen Mary, artists of every culture and time portray something in common in their work. The images speak of her extraordinary beauty and peace, whether in sorrow or joy, that comes from obedience to God's will and unity with the Holy Trinity.

God's beauty is meant for us, too. It's not the superficial thing our secular world seems to adore but a deep and lasting beauty that shines from within. It's the beauty that shines through in photographs of Blessed Mother Teresa's wrinkled, smiling eyes or the benevolent, fatherly gazes of our popes. That beauty also can be found in the uncanonized saints we meet in our day-to-day lives. We might not immediately see it in our fellow mortals. Sometimes God needs to adjust our vision, and slowly we begin to see.

I can see God's beauty in Suzana and many good, holy people at St. Columbkille. I see it in family members and co-workers. Just this week I saw it in the check-out lady at Wal-Mart, who told me about her mother, a mother of 12 whose husband died prematurely. As the Wal-Mart clerk spoke about her mother's faith and hard work (She picked 600 pounds of cotton a day to support her family.), I could see the beauty of both the mother and the clerk. The clerk brought tears to my eyes when she spoke about the prayers God answered when her mother was dying and her belief that God and her mother remain with her, even when she is seemingly alone at her overnight shift.

Our Heavenly Father created us to be beautiful, in His own image. Mary is the ultimate example of our predestination in beauty.

Yes, she is so beautiful! And indeed, He is so good!

Inspired by this Year of Faith we will be posting columns like this from Susan Szalewski about exploring and/or deepening our faith. Watch for it on Thursdays and see the Year of Faith Blog here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

CPR Training

The instructors at Sacred Heart Preschool go through a lot of training. Last week this included being up to date in CPR.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Call him Director Fr. Vogel

Fr. Vogel has written, produced and directed a video to help servers know what to do during Mass. Here it is:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Now it's gone

I lost something precious on Thursday.

I'd managed to treasure this gift for nearly 24 years, though sometimes I didn't appreciate it like I should have. But now it's gone, and I know I'll miss it.

I sent off my youngest child to kindergarten, and I'll no longer spend school days with a small child shadowing me.

The days of being a mom to preschoolers have given me sweet memories, whether from the more hectic days of having several young children around or the more relaxed one-on-one time with my youngest child, David. They were my constant companions at home and church, while shopping and running errands or on excursions to the zoo or museums.

God gave me some hindsight through the gift of older children. With four kids now in college and one of those married, I know how fast they grow. For a long time I've seen this day coming, when child No. 9 would go off to kindergarten, to a full day of school. Perhaps I've even become clingy with my youngest kids, trying to hang on to a moment in time.

When the big day finally arrived and I walked David into his kindergarten classroom, the experience was much less dramatic than what I had imagined it would be. I was so busy, tired and frazzled from getting everyone off to school that I forgot to mourn. I hurried David to his desk just moments before the school bell rang, snapped two photos and ran out the door. Outside the classroom, I talked with two other moms. "How are you doing?" one asked, knowing that I might be melancholy. I was fine, just a little numb from not being fully awake.

It was an hour or so later, when I was pushing a cart through a grocery store, that it hit me. I was alone. And a little lonely.

I have my consolations, though. The house I returned to Thursday morning was quieter but still bustling, with a puppy bouncing around and three college kids coming and going. With one more in high school and three others at St. Columbkille, I'm far from being an empty nester.

I'm just no longer the mother of a preschooler.

Inspired by this Year of Faith we will be posting columns like this from Susan Szalewski about exploring and/or deepening our faith. Watch for it on Thursdays and see the Year of Faith Blog here.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

First Day of School

 Today was the first day  of classes at
 Saint Columbkille Catholic School.

Because today is the Assumption of Mary,
it also included an All-School Mass.
What a great way to start!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rappin' Math

As St. Columbkille Catholic School has it's first day of school tomorrow, we recall how Mr. Cunningham said farewell to his students last year:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Open House

 Families attending the Open House for St Columbkille
 Catholic School began in the church.

Fr. Damian led the prayer service.

There students, parents and teachers pledged
 their commitments during the new year.

In the Education Center, students found their classes.

They also found ice cream.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mary's Assumption

Today the strongest evidence for Mary's Assumption is, ironically, the complete lack of evidence.

No city ever claimed to have Mary's remains and no early Christian ever claimed to have a bodily relic of Mary. This is unlike the early veneration of the tombs of the Apostles and the other saints. Everyone knew that Peter and Paul's graves were in Rome, John and Timothy's graves were at Ephesus, Luke's grave Luke was in Greece, and Mark's grave was in Alexandria, Egypt and later moved to Venice. Furthermore, James' grave was in Jerusalem and Mary Magdalene's was in Marseille. The graves of the Old Testament saints were similarly venerated: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at Hebron; Rachel at Bethlehem (Matt 2:18), and in Jerusalem (Acts 2:29). The most logical reason to explain why NO early Christian ever spoke about a grave of the Virgin Mary was because there wasn't one.

It's also important to note that while Jesus ascended (it was His action) into heaven, Mary was assumed (God's action) into heaven.

Masses for this Holy Day of Obligation are:

5:30 p.m.

6:20, 8:15 a.m., 12:10, 5:30 and 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Faith of our Fathers

In front of the 2nd St. Columbkille church in Papillion.

"Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!

“Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death."

Our faith has been handed down to us from ancient times, through numerous generations. It is amazing to think about how this precious gift was preserved, protected and lovingly given to us. In my case, a long line of Polish and Irish ancestors persevered and sacrificed for this gift of faith.

In their honor, I present a couple of traditional blessings that may have passed through their lips.

A Polish Blessing
May your hand be outstretched to all you meet.
And may all men say 'Brother' when they speak of you.
May the land be fertile beneath your feet.
May your days be gentle as the sun-kissed dew.

St. Patrick's Blessing:
May the strength of God pilot us;
May the wisdom of God instruct us,
May the hand of God protect us,
May the word of God direct us.
Be always ours this day and for evermore.

The faith was lived and remains alive in us. Now it's our turn to fan the flames in our hearts and keep the one, true faith burning for another generation. May this be part of our Lord's blessing for us.

Inspired by this Year of Faith we will be posting columns like this from Susan Szalewski about exploring and/or deepening our faith. Watch for it on Thursdays and see the Year of Faith Blog here.