Sunday, April 14, 2019

THE BLUE LAUNDRY BAG - A REFLECTION by JOANNE M. PALMISANO

In my family, the rite of passage for a college age child was to receive a laundry bag from my Mom before one went off to college.  My mom always was one for addressing needs and having a laundry bag was a priority.  In my case, she talked constantly about needing a laundry bag prior to starting college. It was a “must have” item.  Being me, I just listened to her.  Mom bought a blue laundry bag for me.

I really liked my laundry bag which was made of blue cloth with a drawstring. It was durable, easy to use and store.  My trusty laundry bag held up for thirty years.  As I matured, the bag became more than a holder of dirty and clean clothes, it became an all-purpose bag.  It carried Christmas and birthday presents.  It carted housewares, party supplies and various miscellaneous items.  I always remembered who gave me my laundry bag along with love and care attached to it

As each of the two grandchildren went off to college, the importance of a laundry bag arose, well for me.  I did not have to worry about them buying one for themselves because it did not appear to be on their list of “needed” items.  Memories flooded me about my bag.  My approach was different than my Mom’s.  I waited until packing time to give it to each one of them.  Each was given a different color.  One was gray and the other a marble white and green.  Of course, they could have rejected it, but did not.  Yes, they are using their laundry bag.

During this process, it hit me that this simple item meant more to me.  Besides being a tradition, it became a symbol of love and care.  This triggered the idea of passing on other things, such as, values and life skills.  Like my parents had prepared me for the next phase of life, I hoped that my husband and I were doing the same for the grandchildren.  Hopefully, when they see and use the laundry bag, they will be reminded of home along with the love and care attached to it.


THE SEA SHELL COLLECTORS - A REFLECTION by JOANNE M. PALMISANO


Although it has been twenty years, I still remember the incident when ten women were walking on Captiva Island, Florida for about one hour. It was a short stop over until we left for the airport.  We all dashed out of the rental car onto the beach and scattered in the same basic area in search of sea shells.

I searched alone.  Finding small scalloped shape shells with at least one horizontal maroon stripe on the shell, I collected as many as I could.  Once reuniting with the others, I was amazed at all the different types of shells each one of us had gathered.  No one collected the same shell.  Each of us focused on one particular shape and size. I could not get over this.  Although I made a comment about it, we were in a rush so I do not know the reaction of the others.

I had never been on a beach with so many shells of so many varieties. Maybe I was, but never noticed it.  The beauty of nature and God’s creation was right in front of me and I noticed it. I was so lucky to have been a part of that moment. I talked about the sea shell collectors on Captiva Island for months, showing everyone I could my shells.  In my excitement to share the experience, I gave a few shells away.

In retrospect, the shells represented us, all different and unique. Although we were celebrating being forty years old, most of us never met prior to the trip. It was just a “friend connection’ based on our birth year.  We all enjoyed the trip to Sanibel Island for a long weekend with Captiva Island being a side trip. We all respected each other and enjoyed each other company. More importantly, we became sea shell collectors together.

PRACTICE - A REFLECTION by JOANNE M. PALMISANO


It was a crisp clear blue sky morning about fifteen years ago.  As I approached the church stairs, images of going to basketball practice invaded me.  A huge smile overcame me since my favorite memories of practice occurred here at this same parish.  The gym was across the parking lot from the church.  Attending daily Mass became my new practice court. A journal and prayer book replaced the basketball. With God as my coach and the community as my teammates, I prepared for the game of daily life.

Greeting friends, entering into prayer, joining in the Mass, hearing the word of God, seeing the consecration of the host, hearing Eucharist prayers, receiving the Eucharist, receiving the priest’s blessing, alone prayer time and finally talking with various friends was the “practice” routine.  Maybe, I would arrive early before Mass to recite the Rosary or stay later on Wednesdays to recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet. 

Participating in daily Mass prepared me for the upcoming day.  This happy time and place transformed me.  A peace overcame me.  By the time I left the church, I was ready for the day. In addition, I developed strong relationships at both parishes were I attended daily Mass. I maintain those friendships through attendance at Sunday Mass, church events, phone calls, cards, dinner dates and retreats.

I no longer attend daily morning Mass routinely.  Being discussed with God, who fully understands, I have a shorter daily routine of “practice” with daily praying to God through journaling and devotions at home or at work.  Depending on my daily schedule, I tend to switch up “practice” with adoration, and Mass.

Although my daily “practice schedule” has changed, God’s grace and coaching stays with me through my daily living.


Note from Joanne: "Since 2004, this reflection stayed in the writer’s heart.  With renewed writing, this finally popped out."

Sunday, March 10, 2019

THE SIMPLE GOLD WEDDING BAND - A REFLECTION by JOANNE M. PALMISANO

Throughout my life, I always looked for my Mom’s wedding band on her ring finger on her left hand.  It was a simple gold wedding band. She never took it off.  The sacrament of marriage was a vital part of my Mom’s life and the ring symbolized it.

During my Mom’s two year stay at a nursing home, the band possessed a greater significance for me.  For me, it was a sign of normalcy during my Mom’s mental and physical decline. Something so important to her throughout her life was still present.

Despite her weight loss, the ring stayed on her finger. Wearing the ring never irritated her finger or caused her problems. My Mom no longer wore her glasses, watched TV, read books, worked with her hands, but she wore her wedding band.

Fearful that the ring would fall off or bother her, I asked her a few times to take it off. Her immediate reply was always the same “no”.  With other personal items missing from her room, my concern only grew.  I quickly put it in God’s hand to handle this situation. The ring never moved off of her finger until her death. I now possess the simple gold wedding band.

During my visits while watching her during various activities, thoughts overcame me about this simple gold wedding band.  Besides being a reflection of my Mom’s personality, the band represented years of love, care and commitment to not only my Dad but her children, grandchildren and extended family.  Her steadfast presence no matter the circumstance held the family together.  Serving as a witness, her actions spoke volumes on living a Catholic married life.

Despite endless moments of fatigue, doubts and disbelief, these memories fueled my visits to care and advocate for her well-being.  God provided these memories to me as a motivator during my Mom’s final years.  Being there for her wasn’t an option, it was a necessity just as wearing the simple gold wedding band was for my Mom. 

(Editor's Note: Joanne Palmisano has written many thoughtful articles for Trenton Cursillo over the years. The newest one, "The Simple Gold Wedding Band," is a beautiful memory of her mom, Josephine "Josie" Mrazik, and Josie's devotion to her marriage of 64 years to her husband, Joseph "Bud" Mrazik and to their family. Josephine passed away in 2017. Today, March 10th is Josie's birthday.) 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

A WITNESS by JOANNE HENDERSON (From the March Diocesan Mass)

With Lent just around the corner, I’ve been thinking about three things:

HOLDING ON
LETTING GO
OFFERING IT UP

For me, HOLDING ON means holding onto grudges and bad memories, which puts me in a negative state of mind and has a bad effect on my relationships with others. It also means holding on to CONTROL, trying to orchestrate the events and people around me. This comes from a place of fear, I think, believing that if I am not waving the conductor’s baton, the musicians will go off in a dozen directions, and the result will be a screeching mess! I need to remember that I am not the conductor: God is. 

Of course, either kind of holding on is contrary to how Jesus wants me to be, forgiving past hurts and trusting Him with the people and events in my life. The trouble is, when I am stuck in either kind of holding on, I have trouble with prayer. And prayer, and God’s grace, is essential to getting unstuck, isn’t it?

LETTING GO reminds me of all the times I let go of, or temporarily abstained from, something during Lent like chocolate or diet soda. There was always some level of difficulty, and letting go of that item might have been good for my health, but what did it really accomplish spiritually? What I ask to see is the habits I need to let go of and the things to which I am too attached. My sister Shelly once said, “JoAnne, there’s nothing you ever let go of that didn’t have your claw marks on it first!” It’s true. I’m slowly getting better at it, but letting go is not easy for me.

When I think about HOLDING ON and LETTING GO, I’m reminded of an experience I once had during meditation. I could see myself holding on for dear life to a pole with water beneath it. I was afraid, thinking that if I lost my grip, I’d fall into deep water and drown. I’d been holding on to that pole for a long time and my arms were very tired. Suddenly I saw Jesus standing next to me at the pole. He said, “Take my hand.” I cautiously gave him one hand, but I kept holding tight to that pole. The water below appeared so deep and frightening. Jesus said, “Trust me. You are safe with me.” I reluctantly let go of the pole while Jesus held onto me. Then, still holding my hand, he slowly lowered me into the water. I was astounded to realize that it only reached my ankles. “Do you see?” Jesus said. “The water wasn’t as deep or threatening as you perceived it to be. You never had to hold on so tight.” I realize now that even when I tie myself to poles of my own making, Jesus is always there, ready to help me down.

I mentioned thinking about OFFERING IT UP. I used to think that was only possible for heroic people like Sr Faustina Kowalska. Then occasionally, I would hear about a “normal” person offering up their chronic pain for the souls in Purgatory, so I knew that we mere mortals could do it too. But I didn’t know how it was done, and besides, I didn’t have a debilitating disease. Then something amazing happened two years ago that changed my thinking. I had recently come home after major surgery, and I had some bleeding that didn’t seem normal. I called 9-1-1, and by the time the ambulance arrived, I was shaking uncontrollably, probably from anxiety. I must compliment the EMT who started an IV in spite of my jerking arm. As we made our way to the ER, I continued to shake badly. Then it occurred to me: Offer this up. I prayed, “God, I don’t know how to do this, I’ve never done it before. But, if I may, I give this shaking to you. Use it for some poor soul who needs it.” I immediately felt calm, and the shaking stopped completely.

I no longer think of OFFERING IT UP as something for extraordinary people or tragic health conditions. Now I will offer up financial problems and difficult personal relationships, for example, and I don’t worry about doing it right. I know that it changes my attitude, and I trust that somebody somewhere is helped by it.

These last thoughts are inspired by a Father Mike Schmidt video that I saw this morning. Today I know that I need to continue repenting and changing. I need to love things that I should love and to stop loving things I shouldn’t love. I am not as I should be but, because He offered up his whole being to the Father, Jesus claims me as his.

I pray that God will show me what I need to let go of and what I need to offer up. Most of all, I pray for the grace to hold on tight -- to Jesus.

De Colores!  

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

MORE PICTURES FROM SCHOOL OF LEADERS HONORING SISTER CLARA

Celebrating with Sister Clara


Sister Clara holding her new Meditation Stick


Sister Clara with John Carlucci who carved the Meditation Stick with love and prayer.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

FROM SISTER CLARA TO COMMUNITY

Beloved Cursillistas!

How can I thank you for ALL the LOVE you GAVE me at last Saturday’s School of Leaders? I knew there was going to be a celebration for me, BUT not to the unbelievable extent that you did!  


I just have one REGRET!  I WISHED that I had GONE AROUND to EACH OF YOU and THANKED YOU PERSONALLY for being there!  However, I was UNABLE because I was TOO OVERWHELMED!!!  So KINDLY ACCEPT MY THANKS AND GRATITUDE NOW TO EACH OF YOU FOR YOUR PRESENCE THERE as well as the fantastic decor, food, gifts AND HILARIOUS ENTERTAINMENT!!!  

O course, having Sisters Mindy and Chris from my Order there to celebrate with me was the “Delicious Icing on the cake!”  

MANY, MANY BLESSINGS OF PEACE TO EACH OF YOU!

Lovingly, Sister Clara 



Community gathers to honor Sister Clara at School Of Leaders 2.16.19

Monday, February 4, 2019

AN INVITATION FROM KATHY TUCKER

School of Leaders February 16, 2019 Saturday after the 9 AM Mass will be hosting a  celebration in honor of Sister Clara for all her hard work and dedication to the Cursillo Movement. Sister said she may be heading up to Englewood Cliffs for her retirement sometime in March or beginning of April.

Please come and wish her well! We will be having a toast/roast for fun. Refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome to wish Sister well by cards, donations or to share 
a story.

Please pass this invite to all the Ultreya members who do not have access to the computer and e-mail.

Please coordinate ride share opportunities.

DeColores, Kathy Tucker

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

HAPPINESS AND HOLINESS by DEACON JOHN CLYMORE, DEACON SPIRITUAL ADVISOR


HAPPY NEW YEAR

The key to happiness is climbing the ladder of the Beatitudes. Each rung is a closer encounter in our relationship with our lord, JESUS CHRIST our light. The more we climb the closer we are to surrender. While we read down the beatitudes one through eight we realize how happy we have become and our personal relationship with the Lord has become greater. 

The world promises happiness in what we want success in, “money new cars etc”…. 

Most philosophers think it is a state of mind: happiness is much more; it is a state of being. It is derived from being in communion with God. This communion I speak of is given through the sacraments: My focus is the sacrament of reconciliation with the priest in the confessional. This brings the soul and the heart to peace. This peace is true happiness for it brings light to our soul. Being happy all the time is virtuously not to be in this life but is eternal in heaven. In Mt. Jesus says repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. Take notice Jesus says REPENT for the Kingdom of God is at hand. To achieve happiness is to have peace to have peace is to have been in communion with God. To deepen this peace we can receive Eucharist with a clean heart. And even in pain we can   be happy, for the love of God is within and we know this because the Spirit reveals this in our mind. 

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5)

1 When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 
2 He began to teach them, saying: The Beatitudes
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman & she becomes happy!!!!!!! (John 4)

1 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John — 
2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.
So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

After the encounter with the Lord; the woman is transformed: she becomes excited, happy and wants to shout from the rooftops what Jesus has told her about herself. The woman can’t wait to get back to town to tell all she encountered & the truth Jesus revealed to her.

Now, remember the woman came to Jacobs well at the hottest part of the day when there is no one else at the well. The woman didn’t want to be around the town people, for she was ashamed of herself. Instead she found Jesus and climbed the first rung of the ladder truly happy she is on the way to holiness.

What truth has Jesus revealed to us, that we encountered a transformation that set us on the road to happiness and the first rung of holiness? It is in holiness that we find humility, and become humble in realizing how poor we are and that there is a great wealth in the people we encounter for we are truly less. 

At this point share on a holy person that we love! I shared about Marilyn my wife.

These are the steps of the ladder for there is great wealth in the climb; the gifts of the spirit are above us; the fruits of the spirit are above. Our Lady Wisdom is life. 

(Matthew 5: 4 - 11)

4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,*for they will be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,*for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. 

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

Deacon John Clymore
-

RESISTING HAPPINESS - A TALK BY ANNA MARIA AND TONY KINIFIC


Prayer: I put my trust in you oh Lord help me to do your will. Thy will be done. Amen.

For a while now I have been asking God Why am I here? Praying over it and thinking heavily about it, wondering if I would ever get an answer.

Last October I went to a talk at our Church and the guest speaker was Colleen Rayner, the subject of her talk was “The Power of Yes”.  During her talk she spoke about the Bible passage Jeremiah 29:11  “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope”.  I began to notice a connection to my prayers. 

Then Kathy asked me with Tony to read this book “Resisting Happiness” by Matthew Kelly. I began to think and realize these are messengers from God.  God IS talking to me.

The Title intrigued me but I was apprehensive because I had a fear to give a talk, however I did say Yes.  Thinking back on the talk ”The Power of Yes”. 

First thing  “Seek his will in all things this is the road that leads to Happiness”. Then here comes the Resistance, my fear of the challenge, it would just be easier not to do it BUT God was challenging me. 

Resistance takes many forms: procrastination, laziness, fear, doubt, instant gratification, self-loathing, indecision, escapism, pride, self-deception, tension, self-sabotage.

Here are some points in the book that is helping me to make a-better-version-of-myself.

“Reflect on my image of God and trace back to its roots. My image of God: Gentle, kind, loving, very patient.  Wants me to see what he has in store for me.  I think back when I was 13, I remember how I wanted a sister. I would go to Church for 10 minutes or so everyday after school and pray for a sister.  Months later I remember my mother coming to me and told me that she would be having a baby!  I said “I know”!  She was taken aback, but I got my sister.  As I grew I wanted a loving husband and children.  I made pilgrimages to churches and I was Blessed with all these things, God was there for me every  time.   Life was not perfect, life was messy. 

Tony speaks:

"We lived with my parents in Manhattan in a room and we had 3 children we needed to move to our own house everything was so expensive here on the east coast my friends in California wanted us to move out to them the houses where so much cheaper $24,000 compared to here $50,000.  We packed every thing with a U Haul and ready to leave for California but we ended up in New Jersey.  It was too difficult on my parents and with some help from them we were able to settle closer.  Everything was ok for a while. 

Our decision to move our business from NY to NJ was based on trust in God, we were scared, needed to educate our children, they were in High School and College was in the future for 3 boys in the next few years, it was truly scary.  Money was plentiful in Manhattan but  a toxic environment, a small town in Cresskill, NJ was a step down but healthier for the family.  We did well, we worked hard, less money but happier.  We worked together, our boys had to help at work. 
 
We got involved with marriage Encounter, Cursillo. 

Helped to bring my parents to our home.  God sent us a great health aide  Barbara, a Jamaican  women who stayed with us for twelve years.  We are still friends with her today.  I was there when my Mom and Dad passed. Thinking back God was always there in the center of our life.  I have a great devotion to Our lady I have consecrated myself to her as I remember being taught “To Jesus through Mary”. 

Anna Maria speaks:

"When we married we were married in Germany and during those years it was difficult for Tony’s family to come to our wedding because of the political climate in Yugoslavia. His parents were not at our wedding.  Through the years we would take many summer trips to visit Tony’s family, important for our children and Tony’s family.

We were able to have our 50th wedding Anniversary in Slovenia with many of Tony’s relatives and our children and their families. We celebrated our Mass at the Church of the Annunciation in Thanksgiving for all these gifts from God. 

This book helped me to go back our life together and see how God is answering four questions:  Who am I?  What am I here for? What matters most? What matters least?

It has given me a perspective and put things in place so I can make sense of it all and where I am called to go next. 

I believe that God has asked me to read this book not Kathy."

Important parts from the book: 

  • Pay attention to your spiritual life.  Here is where Cursillo has played the biggest roll in our spiritual life and now I can see it. How fabulous is that!
  • Present moment awareness.  Learn to find God in ordinary activities of daily life.  He wants you to be aware of things while they are actually happening.  At the end of the day write down three times when you were fully aware of God in your day”.  In the smile of your little grandchild or your old friend.
  • God invites you/me to change and grow every day.  It is an on going journey.  God invited me to collaborate with him in my daily conversion.  But I am still resistant. I know the next step will bring as much if not more happiness than the last step he beckoned me to take, but I am resistant. I hope I can break through the resistance today”.
  • As Christians we are called to transform every activity in our lives into prayer.  This is how we become the-best-version-of-ourselves and live holy lives”. I remember when I was in grammar school the Nuns would always tell us “offer it up” whenever we had a task that we did not like.  It was always easier to do the job with the prayer in mind. 
  • “Everything can be transformed into prayer”. Cooking, cleaning, daily chores, etc.  
  • “Visit the lonely. Somewhere not too far from where you live, someone’s saying a prayer. He is asking God to send someone to visit him and lift him up out of the depths of his loneliness.  God wants you to help him answer that prayer”.
  • Read the Bible regularly the Bible gives us incredible insight into the mind of God. People who read the Bible make better decisions
  • From time to time it is good for us all to learn to listen again.  Listen to those you love.  Listen to your body.  Listen to your conscience and soul.  Listen to God.
  • “Prayer and fasting” it can be as simple as ordering a glass of water instead of a coke.
  • In order to consistently overcome resistance we need to give truth a place of honor I our lives.
  • “Our culture is trying to murder truth and it is important to note that you cannot murder truth without first murdering the Catholic Church. So in a culture that hates truth, the Catholic Church is public enemy number one”.
  • “You cannot be happy focused on yourself. You were made for mission.  It’s deep within you.  Only by serving others in a meaningful way do we truly discover the happiness we yearn for so unrelentingly”
  • "This world we live in is not our destination we are only passing through."
  • Lastly, Have you ever wondered what God Looks for on a resume?  Only one thing! He asks only one thing of us.  He can take care of the rest.  The one thing God needs from you in order to launch you into mission is availability.  Make yourself available to God and Incredible things will happen.
This book is very powerful I just skimmed over some points that seemed to resonate with me but it is a must read book and a must do book. 

Prayer:

Loving Father, I come to you today to make myself 100 percent available to you.
I lay everything I have and everything I am at your feet.
Take what you want to take, and give what you want to give.
Command me in all things. I will do whatever you ask me to do.
Transform me and transform my life, so that I may become the-very-best-version-of-myself
and lead others to you with my life and my love! Amen   
(Pray this prayer for nine days)

DeColores, Anna Maria and Tony Kinific