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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas is Hope

Christmas is a time of hope. It may be hard to remember that this year in the aftermath of the shooting in the Connecticut school. Too many young, innocent and heroic lives were taken just days before Christmas. We see devastation, sorrow and pain all over the nation. We feel for the families who lost their children, sisters, brothers, and cousins. How will any of them ever get through this?

But...just as in Jesus' ultimate suffering - this is not the end of the story. First, these children are probably spending their Christmas with our Lord Himself. Are they huddled by the manger? Are they telling Him all about their families on Earth? Are they celebrating at the ultimate feast where there are no kiddie tables - just one big table?

 Meanwhile, back here, in the aftermath of the shooting, people are bringing a part of Heaven back to Earth. In Heaven there is love. Lots of love. As I read the news, peruse Facebook, and talk with friends and family, I hear stories of people banding together to "do something" to ease the people's suffering in CT.
                                                        ©2012 Jacqueline Gladen

I know a preschool family gathering hearts with messages of love to send to CT. I learned of a project being done to create glittery snowflakes to decorate the CT kids' new school. There are prayers and Masses, being said. There are laws being looked at. There are children creating art and writing poems for these families. There are groups protecting the funerals.  Everyone is pulling together and showing love.

This, my friends, is Hope. This is what Jesus brought into the world 2,000 years ago. This is real compassion to help those who need it most. When these families feel so alone, the country is showing them they are not. Jesus feels our pain. He knows what the suffering of the innocent is like. He shared His sacrificial cup with them, but now they are sharing in His glorifying feast.

Jesus came here to bring hope to us all. And after seeing the country coming together to ease the pain in CT, I still see Christmas Hope amidst all the suffering going on.  God bless the families in CT. God bless His helpers easing the suffering. And  "God bless us, everyone!"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Little Perspective

Before this week, this tragic event that happened in CT would have depressed me more and make me wonder how our society can be so crazy. "What is the world coming to," would be my question. 

However, last week, after being stressed about insurance issues for my ill children, someone (you know who you are) offered to help us in everyway possible. For the first time in a month and a half I felt hope. 

I think God allows everything for a reason. If it were not for my own stresses about my children and then experiencing people's love and eagerness to relieve our stress, I might be tempted to lose hope in humanity again after hearing about the shooting in Connecticut. It is so easy to slip into thoughts such as "People today are crazy." Or "The world is gone insane." But don't despair, because there are good people in the world. In fact, despite what we see, there is still much more good than evil in the world. Remember - God created the world and called it "Good". 

So - a little bit of Thanks goes out to all the good people in the world. And thank you to that person who put things in perspective with out even knowing it! God Bless you all and have a WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS SEASON.

PS - Looking for something to do for the victims and help relieve your anxiety about the situation? Offer a Rosary or a Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the victims. Offer the prayer that they all may be celebrating Christmas with our Savior in person this year.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Catholic Book Review: My First Prayers for Christmas

My First Prayers for Christmas by Maite Roche is a beautiful board book fillled with heartwarming Christmas prayers for children. The illustrations are colorful and inspiring. The book was originally publishd in French and was translated by Carie Akoun
There are seven simple prayers in this book which  all children can enjoy. They are short enough to hold the attention of infants and toddlers for a combination of bedtime prayers and a bedtime story, yet hold the attention of older readers who are reading and internalizing the sweet prayers. The language in the prayers offer concrete words, which allow the reader to visualize the concepts in the prayers. 
I love how each prayer begins with "In the name of the Father, and of the Son..." and ends with "Amen", just as all our prayers do in the Catholic faith. This consistancy reinforces what the children are learning about prayer in their religious classes and at church.
"Soon it will be Christmas Day." The prayer book starts out from the perspective of anxious children awaiting the birth of our Savior. "With the angels I sing your wonders." The next prayer joins the angels on this most holy night.  Each prayer through the book follows along in succession the events of the Christmas Miracle. As we follow along the journey of Christmas, we pray along with prayers of joy, wonder, praise  and thanksgiving.
This book was a fun book to read with the lively illustrations jumping off the page. With each turn of the page, there was colorful words and pictuers which shared the joy of the prayers. As I read this to young children, they, too were enticed by the language and colors used in the book. They reached out and wanted to touch the angels or the baby Jesus. This book is sure to be a great start to a lifetime of prayer.
I highly recommend this book for a child's first collection of Christmas prayers. 

I wrote this review of My First Prayers for Christmas for the free Catholic book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. Aquinas and More is the largest on-line Catholic bookstoreI receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Jesus King of Peace

"Let God deal with the things they do. Because hate in your heart will consume you too." ~~Will Smith

This quote from Will Smith has been on my mind lately. You see, ever since my husband and I got married and moved into our home, our next door neighbor has caused a ton of pain and heartache for our family. For thirteen years every run in with them consists of a negative comment, complaint, anger or threat. We only got a little relief when new neighbors on our other side moved in. At least now we had someone to be bullied with. As the years went on, and our family began and grew, we learned to avoid our grumpy neighbor. It was the easiest way to keep the peace. Though it didn't help really. Because when you bottle things up, an explosion occurs eventually. 

At times we remained prisoners in our home. It would be time to take out the trash. I peek outside and see the neighbor sitting on the step. The trash bag waits by the door until the neighbor goes in. 

Then the unthinkable happens. My two youngest children are diagnosed with serious, possibly life threatening illnesses. Of course our top priorities are keeping the children alive, healthy and safe. And yet, you could always count on that neighbor to catch you on the way to the hospital, complaining that the grass is 2 1/2 inches long. Only "slobs" let the grass get that "bad". What she didn't know or chose to ignore was the fact that my 3 year old was in the hospital every month for at least 10 days. By the time life got back to normal, we were back in the hospital. 

As more years went on, the children's health stabilized. The children grew older and loved to play outside. However, every time they are out there, the grumpy neighbor is yelling about something. Even though the children are following my strict rules of staying in my driveway. There just seems to be no win. 

Finally, just recently, I couldn't take it anymore and yelled back. My children just wanted to play. That was it. The neighbor called us all nasty names and ran inside. Many many times I play the scene back in my head. "I should have said this. That would get back at her." "Next time I'll say..." As I played the scenes in my head I hoped I'd feel better. But I didn't. It made me feel worse. As I laid in bed that night I realized the only way I could "let go" of the situation was to do what Jesus told us to do so long ago. Give it to Him.

My heart wanted to hang on to the anger and despair. By sheer will,I turned it over to God. I was too upset to say too much. So I just prayed:

Jesus, King of Peace, fill my heart.
Jesus, King of Peace, fill my heart.
Jesus, King of Peace, fill my heart.

And guess what happened. Suddenly, I was able to let go of the situation. Of course the situation makes me sad at times, but it doesn't have a hold on me. I was able to fall asleep peacefully that night.

And so, just as the song goes, "Let God deal with the things they do. Because hate in your heart will consume you too."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blessed by Holy Priests

A few years ago when our parish said good bye to a great priest, (he was called to help another parish ), I wondered if God would bless us again with another great priest (after all, we already have a great pastor.) Would our parish even get a second priest due to the shortage of priests?

Not long after Father left, our parish was blessed once again with a holy, enthusiastic priest. From the first Mass he said for our parish, I knew God blessed us once again. He has been with us for a little over a year now and I've seen how much he loves our God and our Lady. We still have a winning team of priests at our parish. With the world as tough and depressing as it is, every time I go to Mass, my hope is renewed. God is reminding me that He is with us and He has many faithful shepherds ready to guide us to Him. Isn't God amazing?  

Our "new" priest said many Masses and homilies over the year and, just like with our pastor, I've learned something from each one. Sometimes he reinforces the teachings we grew up with. In this world that tells you    the church is wrong and unfair, it's nice to come "home" and be reassured. Other times we hear some tough teachings, just as Jesus gave to His disciples. Another time I've seen him completely humbled and literally on his knees in reparation for the priest scandals. Finally, there are the times I've seen him be brave and talk about things that might make him unpopular in this secular world.

I've also learned so much from the priests we've had in our parish. One thing I'm learning here is that when God takes something precious from us, he doesn't leave us stranded. He bestows greater blessings on us which often fulfills a need we never even knew we had. I've learned our priests have the toughest job in the world. They will often be unpopular, ridiculed, and called discriminatory. Not only is there a potential for them to be attacked by the secular world, but if they do their job well, there is potential for them to be attacked by the devil and his temptations. Yet they still do their job. I've learned that more than anything, our priests need our prayers. After all they give us with Mass and of course bringing us Jesus every week (and even every day), offering prayers for them is the least we can do for them.

So here is my personal prayer for not just my parish priests, but for priests worldwide:

Dear Jesus, the Good Shephard
Thank you for giving us our holy priests.
May your Spirit of Truth and Wisdom inspire their hearts
And their words be Your words, King of Peace.
Guide them with your Providence
and Protect them from harm.
May they always be faithful to You
in doing your Will.
Bless them with courage for their tough job ahead
Shield them from the temptations of the evil one
and Surround them with your holy angels. 


Copyright Jennifer Gladen 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Few Good Priests

I firmly believe we are in a time where great saints will be made. And not just a few known around the world, but possibly in your own parish right now. We are at a time when we either stick with the church or turn from it. It takes courage to stand with the Church now.

But we can't do it without our priests. Yes, a few have given the church and the priesthood a bad name. And as our priest said in today's homily - those priests deserve justice. Without a doubt.

 But there are so many unsung heroes in the Church - much more than the few who hurt the Church and its members. Our parish has been blessed with great priest after great priest. For me just their dedication, humility and faithfulness speaks the truth about what our Church is and what it stands for.

When you go to Church today - or any Sunday, listen to what your priest is saying to you. What message is he delivering to you in the Homily? What is Jesus saying to you in the Eucharist?  Yes, there are some "bad priests" out there and they will be held liable - to society and worse - to God.

However, there are many more here serving God justly and faithfully. Yes, there are more than just a "Few Good Priests" out there. They will lead us through the tough times which are imminent. They will help carve the great saints of our time.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Posting for God

In Mark 16:15-16  we read ,"And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." These are the words of Jesus just before He ascended into Heaven.

Today, in light of the New Evangelization started by Pope John Paul II, we have more access and more ways to spread the good news. On platforms such as Facebook and Twitter I have seen many positive examples of  spreading the "Good News".  Unfortunately, I also see examples of people posting things contradictory of God's laws.

How we spend our days here on Earth directly affects how we will spend eternity.  Are we continuing Jesus' mission or are we sabotaging it?  We should ask ourselves and answer honestly, "Would God approve?" When we advocate for things such as abortion, contraception, and gay marriage, who's mission are we promoting? God's? Or the Enemy's? Our personal beliefs do not compare to the laws of God. His ways are far above our ways.

So when you see a Facebook or Twitter post, think before sharing. Is this in line with God's teachings? Or is this furthering an agenda contradictory to God? Will we be building up God's Kingdom? Or attempting to tear it down? We are here to serve God. Will that post serve God?

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Mother's Prayer

Thank you God for giving me the gift of motherhood.
That I may do the best job possible, I ask:

God please grant me....

The heart of the saints.

The forgiveness of  Jesus 

The kindness of the Father

The wisdom of the Holy Spirit

And the patience of Mother Mary.