This I Can Do!

Why must I go about mourning
with the enemy oppressing me?.

From Psalm 42:2

Once again, I allowed circumstances over which I have little or no control to upset me. A newscast fueled my frustration with the powers-that-be in this world of ours. “Do they really believe that this sort of posturing helps any of us?” I asked the television. A phone call from someone with a “church question” prompted me to voice my impatience regarding the many rules which fail to serve God’s people. “Is this what God wants?” I asked myself. Then I reviewed my to-do list which included far more than I could ever accomplish in a single day. “Now what?” I asked.

Before I edited my to-do list, a chirping chorus drew me to the window. Five robins had gathered at the foot of our bird house. They seemed to be hashing out just how to proceed in settling into this spring’s home. The robins ignored several squirrels who chased one another through the trees. They also ignored the rabbit who nibbled at seeds just a few feet away. Eventually, the robins seemed to have finalized their plan because they flew away, each in a different direction.

My feathered friends hinted a bit of wisdom regarding what I should do about the tasks at hand. I’ll always be concerned about the affairs of this world and I’ll pray fervently regarding them. I’ll even write letters to those who might listen. In the mean time, I will tend to the work at hand by setting aside the things over which I have no control. Then I’ll be free to embrace the opportunities to actually do something about the tasks close at hand. This I can do.

Loving God, thank you for directing my efforts through your creatures great and small.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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An Inspiring Rebel

“How is it that you are angry with me
for curing a man on the sabbath?.”

John 7:23

The 20th anniversary of a dear friend’s passing looms. We met when I was just four years old and our friendship endured until he passed away decades later. Weeks ago, I referenced the abuse of children within the church. After sharing my heartbreak and anger, I acknowledged the many good priests who share these sentiments. I also shared my hope in the good religious and lay people who would band together to prevent this from ever happening again. This friend about whom I write is Father O’Connell, a good priest who generously shared his time with me while offering no threat to my childhood innocence. Now let me tell you about this rebel of a priest who inspired my own sometimes rebellious ways…

Father always took the time to talk to me. He was the first person I told when my dad passed away. Even at the ripe young age of 8, I sensed that Father was a bit of a rebel. Though he respected the letter of the law, he had great compassion for those in need. He locked horns with the housekeepers of our parish rectory when they complained that he’d “cluttered up” the basement with clothing he collected for the poor. Some time later, Father locked horns with a local mayor because he’d hired some striking city workers to do odd jobs around the church so they could put food on their tables.

Perhaps it is because Father had such a generous heart that nothing came of the murmurs against him. In each instance, someone came to bat for him, perhaps out of fear that Father was a little too close to God to mess with.So it is that, like Father, I never challenge the rules for my own sake. However, I habitually set them aside in the interest of love, God’s love, to be precise.

Dear God, be with us as we strive to live in accord with your love.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Loving Rebel

“How is it that you are angry with me
for curing a whole man on the sabbath?.”

John 7:23

The anniversary of a dear friend’s passing nudged numerous memories from my mental archives. I laughed as I considered this rebel who was like a dad to me…

I met Father O’Connell when he was a newly ordained priest assigned to my childhood parish. Our friendship took root immediately. Father always took the time to talk with me. He was the first person I told when my dad passed away. Father was also a bit of a rebel. Though he respected the letter of the law, he had great compassion for those in need. I remember his locking horns with the rectory housekeepers because he had “cluttered up” the basement with clothing which he’d collected for the poor. Eventually, the ladies relented and he was able to continue this charitable endeavor.

Years later, Father locked horns with a local mayor because he hired some striking city workers to do odd jobs around the church so they could put food on their tables. Perhaps it was because Father had such a good and generous heart that nothing ever came of the murmurs against him. Perhaps that mayor felt that Father was a little too close to God to mess with. In the end, the city rehired those workers and the parish church was in good repair.

I’m happy to share that a bit of my friend’s rebellious nature lives on in me. Though I rarely challenge the rules for my own sake, I habitually set them aside in the interest of love, God’s love, to be precise.

Dear God, be with us as we strive to live in accord with your love.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Do What You Can

As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.

Psalm 42:2

Once again, I allowed circumstances over which I have little or no control to annoy me. A newscast fueled my frustration with the powers-that-be in this world of ours. “Do they really believe that this sort of posturing helps any of us?” I asked the television. A phone call from someone with a “church question” prompted me to voice my impatience regarding rules which fail to serve God’s people. “Is this what God wants?” I asked myself. Then I reviewed my to-do list which included far more than I could ever accomplish in a single day. “Now what?” I asked myself.

Before I edited my to-do list, a chirping chorus drew me to the window. Five robins had gathered at the foot of our birdhouse. They seemed to be hashing out just how to proceed in settling into their home. The robins ignored the squirrels who chased one another through the trees. They also ignored the rabbit who nibbled at seeds just a few feet away. Eventually, the robins seemed to have finalized their plan because they flew away, each in a different direction.

My feathered friends hinted at what I should do about the tasks at hand. I will always be concerned about the affairs of this world and I will pray fervently regarding them. I will also write letters to those who might listen. In the mean time, I will tend to the work at hand by setting aside the things over which I have no control and embracing the opportunities before me. This I can do.

Loving God, thank you for directing my efforts through your creatures great and small.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Just Do Your Best

The Church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. She was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit she grew in numbers.
Acts 9:31

When I read passages such as this, I can’t help thinking that the early church must have been an exciting place to be. Jesus’ teachings and miracles were fresh memories which eye witnesses shared with awestruck pride. The apostles had moved beyond their shame and fear over the events that lead to Calvary and the days afterward. Finally, they preached and worked wonders on their own all in Jesus’ name.

Still, when I consider the scriptures, I acknowledge the difficulties which arose within this fledgling faith community. When Paul brought Gentiles into the fold, there were those who expected these new believers to succumb to many Jewish rites which included circumcision. Paul immediately took up this cause with Peter. After consulting with other of the apostles, Peter responded that only what was necessary would be expected. These necessities included ones best attempt to live a moral life aligned with the teachings of Jesus and nothing more.

Today, Pope Francis approaches his flock with much the same issues. There are those who insist upon holding God’s people to every point of church law. Francis, on the other hand, argues with Paul that only what is necessary should be expected. In Francis’ view, this requires living a moral life aligned with the teachings of Jesus and with our own consciences as best we can. As you can see, this is nothing new.

Loving God, help us all to be a good stewards of your teaching. Help us not to hold others to standards which you would never impose and help us all to make an honest effort to be good.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Living God’s Love

“How is it that you are angry with me
for curing a whole man on the sabbath?.”

John 7:23

I lost a dear friend in September, 1998. The anniversary of his passing nudged numerous memories from my mental archives. I laughed as I considered this rebel who was like a dad to me…

I met Father O’Connell when he was a newly ordained priest assigned to my childhood parish. Our friendship took root immediately. Father always took the time to talk to me. He was the first person I told when my dad passed away. Father was also a bit of a rebel. Though he respected the letter of the law, he had great compassion for those in need. I remember his locking horns with the housekeepers of the rectory because he had “cluttered up” the basement with clothing which he collected for the poor. Years later, Father locked horns with a local mayor because he had hired some striking city workers to do odd jobs around the church so they could put food on their tables.

Perhaps it is because Father had such a good and generous heart that nothing ever came of the murmurs against him. In each instance, someone came to bat for him, perhaps out of fear that Father was a little too close to God to mess with. Though these words pale in the shadow of Father’s legacy, I am happy to share that a bit of his rebellious nature lives on in me. Though I never challenge the rules for my own sake, I habitually set them aside in the interest of love -God’s love, to be precise.

Dear God, be with us as we strive to live in accord with your love.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved