Wednesday, April 24, 2019

ACTION by RICK AND LISA KLARMANN

In Piety, our whole life is directed to God; study helps up establish a better relationship with God, and to come to know His will for us.  Action is the exercising of our mind, will and senses—basically doing something.  However, in the life of the Christian, our action has Jesus Christ as the focus or reason we do a thing—the things we do and say—our actions are a consequence of being Christian.

Apostolic Action takes Christian action a step further.  Apostolic Action is exercising the power of Love; love of God and love of neighbor to bring them closer to Christ.  Apostolic Action is important to us.  James reminds us that faith without works is dead.  

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?  So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  [James 2:15-16]

• On Ash Wednesday, in the Best Lent Ever, Matthew Kelly reminds us that as Christians we are called to act in the world; not to be spectators.  We are called to take action—to take bold action—to be involved, to be engaged in the life of our culture and our country.

• Matthew reminds us that it is easy to get distracted by all of the things that we have little to no control over and that we can’t influence.  When we get caught up or discouraged by the things that are outside of our control or influence, we often wander away from what Matthew calls our ‘sweet spot.’  That place in our lives where we can have the most impact.  

How often have you heard the phrase, “Walk the talk and not merely talk the talk?” Apostolic action or to be apostles means living in Grace so that God can work through us to bring others to Himself.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear much fruit.” [John 15:16]

Finally, Apostolic Action is essential to the Church

If we don’t act, the Church is not able to carry out its mission to, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” [Mark 16:15]  

How do we participate in the Church’s mission to ‘proclaim the Gospel to every creature’?  Does that scare you?  

It’s hard for me to recognize my Action.  I believe my action is something that just flows from who I am. For me, I can see moments when I have been Christlike in my actions, attitudes, and thoughts.  But until they become intentional, I’m not sure they are necessarily apostolic in nature.  

On the weekend, we learned that for our action to be apostolic it needs to be more than just being kind or considerate towards our neighbors.  A non-Christian and non-believer can perform good deeds.  To clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick or in prison are all good things, but if we fail to introduce them to Jesus, we have missed the punch line.  Remember, “The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today” ― St. Francis Of Assisi.

On the weekend we learned about the qualities of Action:

• Rational – we need to employ our mind.  We need to have a plan of action.

• Resolute – our apostolic action needs to be bold, decisive, intentional.

Part of our Lent, we are praying for the conversion of poor sinners. I believe we need to go after the most influential who are doing the most damage. First, what comes to mind are those who lead Catholics in the wrong direction. Especially, but not limited to, those who are in positions of power and profess to be Catholic, while advocating falsehoods and immorality, leading Catholics to believe this is somehow the "New Catholicism."  "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES LENT" goes for 40 days, starting on Ash Wednesday and going until April 15 (Day 54). We will name a person each day and keep a running list. I encourage you to keep a notebook, and record each name, and pray over that notebook each day.  Let's ask God to convert these poor sinners!!!  

• Enthusiastic – our apostolic action needs to be enthusiastic.

• Constant – it is ongoing.  We need to look for opportunities.  We must avoid discouragement. 

I can read or hear about the laws being proposed or signed into law that are anti-life.  Laws that promote the killing of unborn children and even infanticide.

After attending the March for Life in Washington DC, we woke to the news about the law being proposed in New York that was to make New York the abortion capital.  It was disheartening to hear about the law being voted on in New York that would expand the killing of infants and the planned celebration by the supposedly Catholic Governor.  

It was a cold morning, but we knew that no matter how cold it was we had to attend the NJ Right to Life Rally in Trenton.  We couldn’t tell the legislators of New York how we stood on abortion but by attending the NJ Right to Life rally we could show our support to any NJ Legislators that happened to walk by.

After hearing about the bill in New York state, I was a little discouraged and had to be reminded that the final battle is already won—Jesus wins.  

• Supernatural – trust in God

It is His Grace, living in us, that helps us live out our Baptism; which in turn, helps to nurture the seed planted in their soul.  People want to see it in you before they will want to hear it from you.  

We know that our Apostolic Action is accomplished with Christ because our life in Grace and our prayer help us to trust that He is beside us.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.” [Psalm 23:4]   

• Apostolic – everything we do, we do for the Lord, not for our own glory.
Jesus sent His Apostles, now He sends you and me to love and serve our neighbor through our Apostolic Action.  As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” [John 20:21]

From the Cursillo perspective we all know the answer; we are called to proclaim the Gospel to those we meet in our moveable square meter by making a friend, becoming friends, and making them friends with Jesus.

• Make a friend.  Probably the easiest step.  All it takes is the will to take the first step; to introduce yourself.  It is important that we are looking for them, don’t expect them to be looking for you. 

• Becoming a friend.  Live a true, Christlike life.  Be interested in knowing them—what they believe and what they are interested in.

• Making them a friend of Jesus.  This final step is not accomplished unless it is done for Christ, with Christ, in Christ and like Christ.  Our Apostolic Action must be focused on Jesus; we desire that others love Jesus, and we are not worried whether or not they love us.    

We need to be open to and look for opportunities.

Recently, on our flight to California, I was sitting next to a gentleman that appeared Asian.  I noticed the book he was reading and writing in looked like a bible.  When the opportunity presented itself, I introduced myself to him and asked him if the book was a bible.  It was a bible, in Korean and English.  We talked for a few minutes.  I learned that he was returning home to California.  He had been teaching bible studies to Spanish-speaking people in north Jersey.  He said that he goes to New Jersey several times a year to teach.  When I told him that I was Catholic, he shared that his parents were Catholic, and he was raised Catholic, until in his words, “I got saved.”  

I wasn’t ready for the “Catholic until I got saved” comment.  I spoke with him a little more sharing my faith but felt insecure and inadequate to ask why left his Catholic faith.  After landing we both wished each other a safe trip and a blessed day.  But I felt like I missed an opportunity to share deeper.

As a couple, we complement one another.  We need each other’s support to get out of our own way.

Recently, after the birth of their second daughter, our son let us know that he might need some financial help.  Richard’s response was, “If he needed help, he would ask”.  Similarly, our niece who has asked for financial help in the past, indicated that they were having financial issues.  When we hadn’t heard from her for several weeks, Richard felt we should reach out to her.  For my part, I wanted Richard to reach out to our son and see if he needed help.  I was more willing to help our son than our niece, while Richard was more willing to reach out to our niece.

Sometimes our feelings and attitudes can get in the way; but together we can be open to all the opportunities that present themselves in our lives.  Maybe that’s why Jesus sent the disciples out in twos—to support each other; to be strength to the other when they are tired or worn down; and in our case, to reveal the attitudes that may get in the way of our being Christ to someone else.  

We also need to be prepared for successes as well as failures; sometimes people will be open for the message of the Gospel and there will be times that people are not willing to hear the Good News.  There will be times that you may see success in your apostolic action but there are times you may not.  As St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta said, “God does not call us to be successful; He calls us to be faithful.”

Our oldest son grew up Catholic, and got married in the Catholic Church, but ever since he and his wife have not had anything to do with God or the church.  When asked about Baptizing their first daughter, they said that they would let her choose.   Now, they have two daughters and all we can do is love them and pray that God works in their lives.  I’m sure there were things we could have said or done differently, but you can’t worry about what was, only what happens from now on.  We pray and hope and try to be an example of Jesus Christ in the world.  

Sometimes that is all you can do.  Remember, you may be the only bible that someone ever reads or hears.  Let me leave you with one last thought from Matthew Kelly:

“Go out tomorrow and create one Holy Moment.  Just one Holy Moment.  Not a holy day, not a holy hour, not a holy fifteen minutes, just one single Holy Moment.”  

A holy moment is a moment where you set aside self-interest, you set aside self-will, you set aside what you want to do and you just do exactly what you feel God calling you to do in that moment.

JESUS IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE by FATHER ED BLANCHETT

Let’s begin praying with a reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew. Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.” The Gospel of the Lord.

During this season of Lent, when praying the Sorrowful Mysteries, I’ve been thinking about the first Mystery: Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he died. It struck me that he must have been feeling weighed down by three strong emotions that all of us experience at times in our lives; maybe even more so now in this time of crisis in our Church: fear, loneliness, and a sense of failure.

So powerful were those feelings that, as the Gospel of Luke tells us, “His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground” (Lk 22:44).

That’s not a figurative description, it’s actually a medical condition: Under severe emotional stress, the small capillaries can become so filled with blood that they burst, allowing blood to seep into the sweat glands. Knowing what was ahead of him, it’s understandable that Jesus – in his human nature – would be overwhelmed by his emotions. Luke’s description of this scene, by placing us in the middle of this most private time of Jesus, invites us to engage in deeper reflection and consider times when we, too, have given in to our feelings.

When Matthew describes this scene as was just read, he says that Jesus “began to feel sorrow and distress” (26:37). But I think that, even before those, his first emotion would have been fear. Like all Jews at that time, Jesus was all too familiar with the very public Roman way of execution: death by crucifixion.

It was an incredibly cruel and brutal manner of putting someone to death. First, there was the scourging of the body with whips that tore the flesh and weakened the victim, then forcing the criminal to carry his own cross through the streets of the city, despite the loss of blood. Finally, the criminal was fastened to that cross, forced to hang there until his legs could no longer hold him up. Unable to breathe, the victim slowly died of asphyxiation. The soul of Jesus must have been shrinking with fear as he thought of facing those terrible physical tortures.

But Jesus didn’t allow his fear to turn him from his mission, which included his passion and death. Instead, he made the decision with seven simple words: “Not my will, but yours be done!”

We’ve all experienced fear and anxiety: taking a wrong road at night and losing our way; worrying when we or our loved ones have a serious illness or accident; feeling anxious about losing our job; fearing not being accepted by our peers. But the word of God constantly challenges us to look beyond our fear and anxiety. I once heard a Scripture scholar say that the words “fear not” or “do not be afraid” appear in the Bible 365 times—once for each day of the year!

But that doesn’t mean that we won’t experience these emotions or that we should run away from them: Because we are fragile human beings, because of the many dangers in the world around us, because of all the uncertainty, it’s just impossible to be free of all fear and anxiety. Both are normal and natural responses to threats or danger and, under many conditions, they’re there to protect us from harm, the classic “fight or flight” impulse.

Instead, we should understand “do not be afraid” to mean, “do not let fear determine your choices.” I’m going to say something that may surprise you: many sins, I believe, are driven more by fear than by a desire to do evil. For example, people often tell lies because of the fear of looking bad or being criticized rather than with the intent to harm others. Or they insult or ridicule other people out of fear, of not being accepted by those around them. Even sexual sins are often driven more by the fear of not being loved than by lust.

Returning to Jesus’ agony in the garden, the Gospels describe Jesus who is so overcome with fear that it actually causes a bloody sweat. But, despite that, Jesus didn’t allow his fears to turn him away from his mission, his passion and death. Instead, he made the decision with seven simple words: “Not my will, but yours be done!”

The second strong emotion Jesus experienced in his agony was a profound loneliness. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all state that Jesus asked Peter, James, and John – his three closest friends, ones whom he had taken in a very special and personal way to the major events of his public life; we’ll hear about one of those in this weekend’s Gospel, in fact – to accompany him into the Garden and to keep watch and pray with him. But each time he rose from prayer and went to them, he found them sleeping. His disappointment was obvious: “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” Then, in the compassion that only Jesus is capable, he adds, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt 26:40–41).

But it was obvious: Jesus couldn’t count on the emotional and spiritual support of even his best friends. He would have to face his sufferings alone.

Isn’t that something that we see all around us today? All over the news we have how large numbers of people in our nation experience strong feelings of loneliness—this coming at a time when communication through social media, opportunities for travel, or connecting with people on the Internet have been more abundant than ever. I once heard someone put it like this: “We’re now so well connected, but we’ve never before been so alone.”

Adult children so often leave their families to find jobs in places far from home. I know that I, and many of you, can recall so many friendships formed in high school or college that didn’t survive the many moves that we or they have made. Romantic relationships can be strained or broken when new jobs require cross-country transfers. And hearts are broken when those dreaded words are spoken: “I just don’t think we are a good fit. But we can still be friends, right?” Add to this the huge numbers of people whose marriages have been broken by separation or divorce.

So it can be very spiritually helpful to reflect on the loneliness of Jesus, during his agony in the garden, and how he dealt with such feelings. As he became aware that he couldn’t rely on human support, he turned to his Father in heaven. Without doubt, he thought about those two powerful moments in his life—his baptism and his transfiguration on the mountain— when he heard the voice of his Father: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17). He was strengthened by the comforting message: “I love you. I am with you. I will never abandon you.”
The Church teaches us that God has spoken the same words and made the same promise to each of us at our own Baptism: You are my beloved son/daughter. In you I take delight. “I will never forsake you or abandon you” (Heb 13:5). Loneliness isn’t a disease. It’s a painful situation that may just have to be endured. That doesn’t mean that we’re powerless at such times: sometimes it can be ended when we try to reach out and make connections with others. But, in the meantime, we can try to find comfort in the fact that Jesus, our savior, has shared—that he understands—our pain. During this Lenten season, we can draw spiritual strength and inspiration from walking with Jesus during his agony in the garden.

The third source of suffering for Jesus in his agony, I think it’s not unreasonable to consider, was a sense of failure. With a few exceptions such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, he hadn’t been able to convince any Jewish religious leaders that he was the long-awaited Messiah, the Meschiach, the Christos, the Christ, the Anointed One in whom God’s promises would be fulfilled. And, being one who could read hearts, he knew that even the common people who had welcomed his teachings, who were thrilled at his healings and other miracles would soon join the crowd calling for his death. And, maybe worst of all, even his chosen apostles and friends would abandon him in the end.

Again, isn’t that often our own experience? We work so hard and put our best efforts into some important project, only to see it fail or be rejected. Or we try to reach a certain goal or dream in our lives, only to see ourselves fall short. Parents can feel a deep sense of failure when one or more of their children get into trouble with the law, become addicted to drugs or alcohol, get divorced, drift away from the practice of their faith. Most of the time, parents have no reason to blame themselves for these problems, but they may feel responsible—along with a deep sadness and a sense of helplessness. So it can be helpful for any of us who experience failure to recall that Jesus, our Savior, truly understands what we are going through.

But there’s hope. In the midst of his feelings of fear, loneliness and failure, Jesus is given consolation: As we hear in the Gospel according to Luke: “To strengthen [Jesus], an angel from heaven appeared to him” (Lk 22:43). What comfort did this messenger from heaven provide? I’d like to think that the angel revealed to Jesus the billions of people who would come to believe in him, who would receive Baptism and the other sacraments, and live faithful lives of love and service, many even to the point of sharing in his sufferings through their own martyrdom. Not that such consolation would help much in the immediate situation, but that – in the very long run – it was worth it.

During this Lenten season, we can draw spiritual strength and inspiration from thinking about Jesus’ agony in the garden. Maybe we can learn to embrace our own times of agony together with him, so that those times can be sources of spiritual growth for ourselves and for the people the Lord brings into our lives. Who knows, it’s even possible that our prayer on this mystery will inspire us to act as comforting angels to people around us who are hurting or bearing heavy burdens in their own lives?

My dear brothers and sisters, my fellow Cursillistas, you may have heard the saying that there’s no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. We couldn’t celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection if He hadn’t given up His life for us! That might be something to remember as we continue to go through such difficult times in this period of history and the Church. I’d like to close with a Prayer to Agonizing Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, taken from a Eucharistic Vigil Guide that was published several years ago:

O Jesus, Who in the excess of Your love to win hearts, do give abundant graces to those who meditate on your holy passion in Gethsemane, I pray You to lead my heart and soul to think often of the most bitter agony You suffered in the Garden, to pity You and to join with You completely.

O most Holy Jesus, Who bore during that night the weight of all our sins and paid for them, please grant me the great gift of contrition for my many sins which caused You to sweat blood.

Most Holy Jesus, by virtue of the terrible struggle You endured in Gethsemane, give me the power of complete and final victory in the temptations that beset me, especially those to which I am most often subject.

O my Jesus, by virtue of the anxieties, fears and the unknown but intense pain which You suffered on the night in which You suffered on the night in which You were betrayed, give me the light to follow Your holy will and to think upon and to understand the enormous effort and formidable struggle You endured victoriously in fulfilling not your will, but the will of the Father.

Praise to You, O Jesus, for the agony and the tears poured out during the Holy Night, for the sweat of blood and the deadly distress You endured, that solitude more frightful than man can imagine.

Praise to You, most sweet but vastly sorrowful Jesus, for the prayer at once human and divine which poured forth from Your agonized heart during that night of ingratitude and of treason.

Eternal Father, I offer to You all the Holy Masses of this moment, of the past, and of the future, united with Jesus in agony in the Garden of Olives.

O Most Holy Trinity, cause the knowledge and love of the Sacred Passion of Gethsemane to be diffused in the world.

And, O my Jesus, may those who love You and look upon the crucifix remember Your incredible pain in the Garden, and may they follow Your example, learn to pray well, to fight and overcome so they may eternally glorify You in heaven.
Amen.

De Colores! Father Ed

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