Rich In God’s Love

See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For God hears the poor,
and God spurns not those who are in chains.

Psalm 69:33-35

When the media features items regarding the poor, we assume that the term references those with dire material needs and this is often the case. Still, God’s definition of “the poor” is all-inclusive. Whether our needs are material or spiritual, God attends to us. Sometimes, we seem to be doing well in the world’s eyes only to discover the need deep within us where it matters most. Just as the materially poor climb a slippery slope when it comes to establishing a secure life for themselves and their loved ones, others of us sometimes lose our grip on the things which are truly most important to us.

It seems to me that we are all counted among God’s poor at one time or another. This much-loved group includes us whenever this life robs us of the things we need to carry on. Whether we are lacking money enough for a loaf of bread or energy enough to care for our aging parent, God knows our need and shares our concern. Whether we are besought by the enemy before us or by the demons within us, God stands at our sides. Whether a physical or mental or emotional illness plagues us, God understands our predicament. In spite of our many needs, God always provides love enough for us to get by.

Loving God, you recognize our poverty in all of its forms. Thank you for your generous response.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Plan Generously

“…go, sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.”

From Matthew 19:21

I learned about the poor early on. Though my own family could be counted among the working poor, my mom often assured us that there were far needier people in the world. So it was that I took encounters with those needy ones to heart…

Throughout college, I traveled from the West Side to the far northeast of Chicago. I attended Mundelein College located next door to Loyola University. Loyola’s beloved Sister Jean taught me there. That hour commute required a bus ride and then subsequent transfers to the Lake and Howard Street trains.

One January day, a woman wearing only a clear plastic raincoat over her clothing rode with me. She carried two bags which looked more like her belongings than the fruits of a shopping spree. Though the woman didn’t ask, I felt compelled to give her my jacket. At the time, this jacket was my only coat. I was paying my own way through college and really couldn’t afford to replace it. Still… While I closed my eyes to ask for guidance, the train stopped and my raincoat-clad friend stepped off. I felt terribly guilty about this missed opportunity until I shared it with a friend. “You did receive guidance from above.” he said. “The woman got off the train and you kept the coat you needed. God took care of you and God will inspire someone to take care of her.”

I puzzled over this for some time. I also gave to the poor whenever I could. When I graduated and acquired a job, I began to budget for my giving. Finally, there was no question regarding what I could and couldn’t afford. Giving became part of the plan.

Generous God, sometimes, the easiest way to live as you would have us live is to plan. Thank you for taking care of me and the woman in the raincoat.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

We Can Do It!

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus.
They were looking for some heavenly sign from him as a test.

Mark 8:11

It’s never been easy for me to stand by and watch the suffering of those around me. Whether they are my own family members, dear friends, a street person or children brutalized half a world away, I find it impossible to accept that there is nothing I can do to help. It is in the midst of this frustration that I become like the Pharisees of old. They badgered Jesus for signs from above to legitimize his preaching. I find myself groaning as they did: “If only you would show yourself to those in power, they’d do something to fix this mess!” I realize that repairing this world is a multi-leveled task. It seems to me that a change of heart among the higher-ups and the rest of us would certainly help.

After behaving like a Pharisee and demanding God’s intervention, God remains in the quiet of my heart. God needs not to utter a single word because I already know the solution. God leaves it to each one of us to do the best we can as we see it. Whether we are a higher-up or one of the rest of us, each of us is charged with the responsibility to do the best we can to fix things. Each of us is also given the free will to opt in or to opt out of caring for others. God’s assistance comes from within our hearts and in the example of people of good will who urge us to bring love and peace to the moment at hand. Every time we respond, we will transform this world one loving act at a time.

Patient God, forgive my impatience with others and with You. Help me and all of us to do what we can to love those we have been given to love, here and everywhere.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

So Well Taken Care Of…

What you own belongs to the Lord
and is given for the good of all.

Leviticus 25:23

When I was a little girl, I didn’t realize how little we had. In many ways, this was a very good thing. I was rich with family and others in my life who supplied me with everything that I actually needed. It was in high school that I questioned my circumstances. Many of my classmates went shopping with their mothers on a regular basis. They also went out for lunch or dinner just for the fun of it. These girls dressed in the latest clothing as well. I suddenly found myself feeling that I had somehow missed out on something important.

At age sixteen, I secured my first job. This opportunity provided the means for me to pay for my college education and minimal “extras” beforehand. Early into this venture, I set aside a few dollars from each paycheck until I had enough money to go shopping for myself. While I enjoyed selecting my own clothing, my joy was short-lived. I found the prices of some items I liked to be prohibitive. I also found a new appreciation for my parents’ ingenuity in managing to feed and clothe their six children on blue-collar incomes. In the process, I discovered that I hadn’t been deprived of anything that I actually needed after all.

Loving God, you gift us with all that we truly need. Thank you!

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Time To Love? Always!

A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:8

Sometimes, circumstances around us and circumstances within our own hearts evoke feelings far removed from love. When violence and hatred touch those we care for or those who cannot defend themselves, it’s difficult not to feel hatred toward whoever is responsible. At the same time, we’re frequently amazed and inspired by victims who have been ravaged by the evil deeds of others and yet find it in their hearts to forgive. A few weeks ago, I referenced Corrie ten Boom, a Holocaust Survivor who found it in her heart to forgive her captors and to teach others to do the same. Corrie understood quite well that it is always time to love, even when it requires forgiving the seemingly unforgivable.

There is something deep within each of us which calls us to find God’s love in the moments of our lives. Though I cannot explain why some of us experience that love more tangibly than others, I am convinced that God’s love is there just the same.

It is suddenly clear to me that the most important purpose of my writing is to spread the word regarding God’s love for us and God’s presence in each of our lives. I’ve been inspired by the good hearts, words and actions of those around me all of my life. Hopefully, my words do the same for a soul or two who reads them along their way.

Loving God, each of us is called to touch this world with your love. Inspire us with whatever means necessary to do so.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Love One Moment At A Time

“Love your neighbor…”
From Matthew 22:38

This is All Saints Day and my thoughts turn to my favorite souls in the afterlife. I enjoy celebrating these good people who used their ordinary lives to touch the rest of us in truly extraordinary ways. Though they don’t have feast days of their own, they certainly hold a special place in my heart. I’ve counted Mother Teresa of Calcutta among these special people since I’ve known of her. Even when she walked this earth, I knew God would welcome her with open arms at the end of her life here. When Pope Francis declared her a saint, he simply underscored my assessment of her remarkable life.

Though Mother Teresa said many important things, my favorite is this: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love…” It seems to me that she, my own loved ones and all who reside with them did just this. In their own creative ways, each one impacted my life and the lives many others in ways only they could. They understood well that a single moment can make all of the difference in the world. A single moment here and a single moment there are all it takes to mark the time between our births and passing. When we choose to do small things with great love, the significance of a day, an hour and a single moment grows exponentially.

Though you and I will likely never minister as dramatically as Mother Teresa did, we can serve those we meet along the way just the same. The smallest deed done with love will bring something great to someone.

Dear God, thank you for Mother Teresa and those like her who help us to see that every moment offers us an opportunity to love.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved