My Friend Therese

“If God grants my desires… I will spend my Heaven doing good on earth…”
Saint Therese of Lisieux

This is the feast day of Saint Therese of Lisieux. I’ve felt great affection for Therese since fifth grade when I read her autobiography. I identified with this young saint because her circumstances reflected my own. Therese and I share our French heritage. Therese grew up with several sisters as I did. She wanted to become a nun from very early on. I wanted to become a nun for as long as I can remember. Most importantly, Therese spoke her mind to God probably from the day she learned to pray. So have I. Therese never doubted God’s love for her and she felt free to share everything with God. I grew up feeling the same.

Years later, when I revisited Therese’s autobiography, I appreciated Therese’s approach to this life more fully. Within the seemingly mundane experiences, frustrations and worries of her young life, Therese found small ways to do good. When she left home in her teens to join the Carmelite Nuns, Therese quickly discovered that she would spend her short life perfecting what she called “The little way.” Therese realized that the best opportunity to do good is in the everyday circumstances of our lives. Indeed, Therese perfected her little way by the time she passed away at age twenty-four.

As for me, my circumstances are ordinary as well. I plan to celebrate Therese’s feast by taking full advantage of this ordinary day. Today, I will transform every ordinary moment into an opportunity to do good.

Loving God, thank you for Therese and for all of the wise souls who lead us closer to you.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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By Peaceful Means…

The Lord’s fire came down and consumed the holocaust…”
From 1 Kings 18:38

After leaving Caesarea and our stop at the Baha’i Gardens, we drove to Mount Carmel. Our guide explained that the word “Carmel” comes from two Hebrew words for “vineyard” and “God”. This mountain’s plush greenery had earned it the title of God’s vineyard. Though people had lived in the mount’s caves in prehistoric times, my knowledge of Mount Carmel begins with the Prophet Elijah.

The scriptures tell us Elijah had become impatient with Israel. Their king had married a Phoenician. The people’s religious practices and ties to the God of Israel weakened as they turned their attention to the queen’s idol Baal. Elijah responded by challenging the priests of Baal. They were to build an altar, place a sacrifice upon it and ask Baal to provide the fire to burn this offering. Though 450 priests prayed fervently, their sacrifice remained unlit. Elijah built an altar as well. He prayed that the God of Israel would set his sacrifice afire. Though Elijah had doused everything with water to make his point, a bolt of lightning ignited it. Elijah ended this encounter by slaughtering all of Baal’s priests.

Though he shared this story during my last visit to the Holy Land, our guide didn’t do so this time. Perhaps the unrest in nearby countries inspired this omission. Yossi is no fan of bloodshed; nor am I. Scripture writers sometimes adjusted settings or numbers or events to illustrate a point and this account seems to be no exception. In the end, Elijah did what he felt he needed to do to turn his people back to their Lord. Unfortunately, today’s world is unsettled by many who claim to do the same in God’s name.

I need to reveal God’s presence among us more peacefully. When I live with compassion and generosity, love my neighbors, care for them and respect them, I say best what needs to be said about our Beloved Creator.

Loving and Patient God, help us to love you and to love one another as best we can and help us to promote peace all the while.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Little Way

“If God grants my desires… I will spend my Heaven doing good on earth…”
Saint Therese of Lisieux

October 1 is the feast of Saint Therese of Lisieux. Because tomorrow is Sunday, I’ll honor Therese with today’s reflection…

I’ve felt great affection for Therese since fifth grade when I read her autobiography. I identified with this young saint because her circumstances reflected my own. Therese and I share our French heritage. Therese grew up with several sisters as I did. She wanted to become a nun from very early on. I wanted to become a nun for as long as I can remember. Most importantly, Therese spoke her mind to God probably from the day she learned to pray and so have I. Therese never doubted God’s love for her and she felt free to share everything with God. I grew up feeling the same.

Years later, when I revisited Therese’s autobiography, I appreciated Therese’s approach to this life more fully. Within the seemingly mundane experiences, frustrations and worries of her young life, Therese found small ways to do good. When she left home in her teens to join the Carmelite Nuns, Therese quickly discovered that she would spend her short life perfecting what she called “The Little Way.” Therese realized that the best opportunity to do good is found the each of the everyday circumstances of our lives. Indeed, Therese perfected her little way by the time she passed away at age twenty-four.

As for me, my circumstances are fairly ordinary as well. So it is that I’ll celebrate Therese’s feast by taking full advantage of an ordinary day. I’ll begin on this eve of her feast day to transform every ordinary moment into an opportunity to love.

Loving God, thank you for Therese and for all of the wise souls who lead us closer to you.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

In God’s Name

The Lord’s fire came down and consumed the holocaust…”
From 1 Kings 18:38

Our visit to Mount Carmel illustrated just how far into the past our trek to Israel was taking us. People had lived in its caves since prehistoric times. It has been considered a sacred place for what seems like forever. My knowledge of Mount Carmel begins with the Prophet Elijah.

The scriptures tell us that Elijah had become impatient with Israel’s leadership. King Ahab married Jezebel, a Phoenician princess who introduced Ahab and his people to her god Baal. Jezebel also saw to the murders of several prophets. Ahab and his people’s religious practices and their ties to the God of Israel faded quickly. After much reflection and prayer, Elijah responded. He challenged the priests of Baal to build an altar and to place a sacrifice upon it. These priests were to ask Baal to light the fire to burn their offerings. Though 450 priests prayed fervently, their sacrifice remained unlit. Elijah also built an altar and prayed that the God of Israel would set his sacrifice afire. Though Elijah had doused everything with water several times to prove his point, a bolt of lightning lit Elijah’s sacrifice. Elijah ended this encounter by slaughtering all of Baal’s priests.

When our guide pointed out the statue of Elijah on Mount Carmel, he added that this account is found in the Book of Kings. He offered no opinion of its authenticity as our guide is an archaeologist, not a scripture scholar. As for me, I’m no fan of bloodshed and no fan of religious intolerance. However, I do understand Elijah’s devotion to God. Scripture writers often adjusted settings or numbers or events to illustrate a point and this account seems to be no exception. Elijah did what he needed to do to turn his people back to their Lord.

Unlike poor Elijah, you and I need only to live with compassion and generosity to reveal God to others. When we love one another and behave like one family, we say all that needs to be said about God.

Loving God, help us to love one another and to allow one another to see you each in his or her own way.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Little Flower

“If God grants my desires… I will spend my Heaven doing good on earth…”
Saint Therese of Lisieux

This is the feast day of Saint Therese of Lisieux. I have felt great affection for Therese since fifth grade when I read her autobiography. I identified with this young saint because her circumstances reflected my own. Therese and I share our French heritage. Therese grew up with several sisters as I did. She wanted to become a nun from very early on. I wanted to become a nun for as long as I can remember. Most importantly, Therese spoke her mind to God probably from the day she learned to pray and so have I. Therese never doubted God’s love for her and she felt free to share everything with God. I grew up feeling the same.

Years later, when I revisited Therese’s autobiography, I appreciated Therese’s approach to this life more fully. Within the seemingly mundane experiences, frustrations and worries of her young life, Therese found small ways to do good. When she left home in her teens to join the Carmelite Nuns, Therese quickly discovered that she would spend her short life perfecting what she called “The little way.” Therese realized that the best opportunity to do good is in the everyday circumstances of our lives. Indeed, Therese perfected her little way by the time she passed away at age twenty-four. As for me, my circumstances are ordinary as well. I will celebrate Therese’s feast by taking full advantage of this ordinary day. Today, I will transform every ordinary moment into an opportunity to do good.

Loving God, thank you for Therese and for all of the wise souls who lead us closer to you.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Bless You, Father Farrell

I have just received the news that my friend Father Farrell Kane is going home…

My husband and I met Father Farrell shortly after he was appointed pastor of our village’s first Catholic Church. My husband and I were thrilled with this news, and Mike contacted Father Farrell immediately to offer his services. I’m happy to share that we became fast friends. By February 1992, Father Farrell had gathered a handful of potential parishioners who assisted with the groundwork of building the parish. Father managed the preparations for our first Mass and then scrambled to assemble our first Sunday bulletin. After Father listed the standard parish information and described potential ministries, a good deal of white space remained. Because Father Farrell believed that teachers are masters of the spoken and written word, he relinquished his responsibility for that white space. Father knew that I was a teacher, so he simply suggested that I come up with “…something inspirational to fill a column or so.”

Since March 7, 1992, I have written Something To Think About for our parish bulletin each week. As the parish and the bulletin grew, Father Farrell asked that I increase my reflection from a single column to a full page. It has been with great pleasure and gratitude that I have continued this ministry for the past twenty-four years. The encouragement I received from Father Farrell nudged me further. I went on to write three seasonal devotionals and to create this blog. The faith Father Farrell invested in me back in 1992 is the source of everything that I have written since.

Father Farrell, on this day that you take your leave, I offer my heartfelt prayers that your expectations regarding God’s love for you are exceeded exponentially. I pray that the new life you embrace reaches far beyond anything you dared to hope for. I pray that those who mourn your loss as I do will also celebrate the many good things you have brought to each of us.

Thank you, Farrell! Once you are settled in, please pray for us!