H… Holy!

Samuel grew up, and God was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

1 Samuel 3:19

H is for Holy. The dictionary defines holy as belonging to or coming from God; sacred; consecrated. When I was a child, I was convinced that holy was an adjective attributed only to God and to the saints of old who lived perfectly moral and upright lives. Though I hoped to be a saint one day by gaining admittance to heaven, I never expected to be considered holy on any level.

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune of associating with people who understand holiness far more completely than I. They’ve generously shared their conviction that anything and any one “of God” is holy. Since we and all of Creation are God’s handiwork, we are indeed holy. Just as God remained with Samuel and blessed him with a purposeful life, so God blesses you and me.

As I consider my personal bouts with discouragement and guilt, I find that I move beyond these things best when I remember that I am “of God.” I am holy. Remember with me that you are holy, too. No one else’s opinion, no failure, no guilt, nothing you or I can do will ever change this. Yes, you are “of God” and so am I. You and I are holy.

Holy God, how can we thank you for allowing us to share in your holiness? Perhaps we simply need to believe that we are truly holy and to live accordingly.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

H is for…

Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him all the while.
From 1 Samuel 3:19

H is for Holy. The dictionary defines holy as belonging to or coming from God; sacred; consecrated. When I was a child, I was convinced that holy was an adjective attributed to God and the saints of old who lived perfectly moral and upright lives. Though I hoped to be a saint one day by gaining admittance to heaven, I never expected to be considered holy on any level.

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune of associating with people who have understood holiness far more completely than I. They generously shared their conviction that anything and any one “of God” is holy. Since we and all of Creation are God’s handiwork, we are indeed holy. Just as God remained with Samuel and blessed him with a purposeful life, so God remains with and blesses you and me.

As I consider my personal bouts with discouragement and guilt, I find that I move beyond these things best when I remember that I am “of God.” I am holy. You are holy, too. No one else’s opinion, no failure, no guilt -nothing you or I can do- will ever change this. You are “of God” and so am I. We are holy.

Holy God, you have shared your holiness with us. Help each one of us to accept that we are truly holy and to live accordingly.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Every Moment An Opportunity

My husband and I have been in a bit of a frenzy as of late. We’re returning to Israel in a few days and we’re not at all ready. In an effort to prepare, Mike started taking down our Christmas decorations without my assistance. While he worked at stowing away our holiday treasures, I typed at my keyboard for hours on end. I was plugging away non-stop on reflections for our parish bulletin and the daily reflections I’ll need to cover our time away and a few days afterward. In the midst of this frenetic whirlwind, I desperately needed to stop to take a breath. Though writing is my second-favorite activity (time with our kids, kids-in-law and grandkids is #1), I’d had enough. After whispering a prayer that the Spirit would return to inspire me when I started anew, I retreated to my recliner…

Mike had done a superior job. Most of our Christmas decorations had been carefully stowed in the basement. As I sat, I noticed the basket of Christmas cards resting on the hearth. I wondered how Mike managed to take down our Christmas stockings without noticing this bulging basket below the mantel. Though my first inclination was to empty the basket and walk it down to the basement, I thought better of it. Rather, I sat with that basket in my lap and reread all of the Christmas cards and letters we’d received. Though I’d read each one on the day it arrived, I often did so too quickly to fully appreciate its message. This time, I savored each one. As I read, the glow of our Christmas Tree and the lights which were strung about the house returned. Each card’s artwork and greeting revived my Christmas Spirit. The personal messages, letters and signatures before me stirred my affection for each sender. Before long, I’d returned to resounding Christmas Joy. I lost sight of my time crunch. Suddenly, I had all of the time in the world to celebrate Christmas once again.

It was almost two hours later when I carried our empty Christmas card basket to the basement. As I headed back upstairs, it occurred to me that Christmas isn’t meant to be tucked away in our basements or attics. No, Christmas is meant to have a lasting effect which carries us through the months and year ahead. You know, the Sundays after Christmas are numbered until Lent begins. As we tick them off, we use each one to become as familiar as possible with this Jesus whose birth we recalled with such relish. It seems to me that the more we get to know Jesus, the more eager we should be to live as Jesus lived. My short interlude with those Christmas cards provided a poignant reminder to keep all that Jesus has shared in the forefront of my life. Still, doing so throughout the New Year may be challenging.

I find encouragement in the scripture passages we hear this Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. In the first reading (1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19), an unrecognizable call wakens young Samuel several times throughout the night. At first, he assumes that the voice is the elderly Eli who has taken Samuel into his care in the temple. Only after Samuel wakes him three times does Eli explain that it is the Lord who is calling. It is only then that Samuel responds, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” In the second reading (1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20), Paul stresses our need to help one another with the gift of ourselves. Our presence to those who need us is the most precise means we have to bring God to one another. As I consider Paul’s lesson, I recall that Paul had to be struck blind in order for God to get his attention long enough to call him into service. In the gospel (John 1:35-42), John the Baptist sees Jesus and announces, “Behold, the lamb of God.” Two disciples who hear this say nothing, but they follow Jesus closely. So begins the relationship which changed their lives forever.

Perhaps it was no accident that my husband neglected to pack away our Christmas card basket. Perhaps that call to my recliner was as intentional as the encounters described in today’s scripture passages. The coming days and weeks of Ordinary Time will re-acquaint us with Jesus. This humble tradesman-turned-apprentice-preacher transformed his ordinary life into extraordinary opportunities to care for those he met along the way. It seems to me that this Jesus invites us to acknowledge our own potential to bring the extraordinary to those we have been given to love. When we open ourselves to God’s presence in our own lives, we cannot help sharing what we find. As complicated or mundane as it may be, every moment we’re given provides the setting in which we hear God’s call. It’s up to us to respond as best we can. When in doubt, simply do as Jesus did with love and persistence. Maybe you can also allow yourself a little time off in the recliner to re-energize and to start again!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

H… for Holy

Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

1 Samuel 3:19

H is for Holy. The dictionary defines holy as belonging to or coming from God; sacred; consecrated. When I was a child, I was convinced that holy was an adjective attributed to God and the saints of old who lived perfectly moral and upright lives. Though I hoped to be a saint one day by gaining admittance to heaven, I never expected to be considered holy on any level.

Over the years, I have had the good fortune of associating with people who understand holiness far more completely than I. They generously shared their conviction that anything and any one “of God” is holy. Since we and all of Creation are God’s handiwork, we are indeed holy. Just as God remained with Samuel and blessed him with a purposeful life, so God blesses you and me.

As I consider my personal bouts with discouragement and guilt, I find that I move beyond these things best when I remember that I am “of God.” I am holy. You are holy, too. No one else’s opinion, no failure, no guilt -nothing you or I can do will ever change this. You are “of God” and so am I. We are holy.

Holy God, how can we thank you for allowing us to share in your holiness? Perhaps we simply need to believe that we are truly holy and to live accordingly.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Listen For God’s Call

I walked toward my recliner relieved that the last of our Christmas decorations had finally been stowed in the basement. As I sat, I noticed the basket of Christmas cards resting on the hearth. I wondered how we managed to take down our Christmas stockings without noticing this bulging basket below the mantel. Though my first inclination was to empty the basket and walk it down to the basement, I thought better of it. Rather, I sat with that basket in my lap to reread all of our Christmas cards and letters. Though I had read each one on the day it arrived, I often did so too quickly to fully appreciate its message. This time, I would savor each one.
 
As I read through the cards, the glow of our Christmas Tree and the numerous lights that were strung about the house seemed to return. The cards’ artwork and greetings revived my Christmas Spirit. The personal messages, letters and signatures before me filled me up with affection for each sender. It didn’t take long for me to return to my Christmas mindset and the resounding joy which accompanied it just a few weeks ago. I lost sight of my need to spend only a few minutes in that recliner. Suddenly, I found myself with all of the time in the world to celebrate Christmas once again.
 
Two hours later, I carried our empty Christmas card basket to the basement. On the trip back up the stairs, it occurred to me that Christmas was never meant to be tucked away in our basements, cellars or attics after just a few weeks. No, Christmas is meant to have a lasting effect which carries us through the months and year ahead. The Church helps us in this regard as we enter into Ordinary Time. The Sundays after the Christmas Season are numbered until the Season of Lent begins. It is almost as though we’re ticking off the weeks, using each one to become as familiar as possible with this Jesus whose birth we recalled with such relish. It seems to me that the more we get to know Jesus, the more eager we should become to live as Jesus lived. My short interlude with those Christmas cards gave me a taste of the joy and satisfaction that come with keeping all that Jesus has shared with us in the forefront of my life. Keeping up this momentum throughout the New Year is the challenge.

I find encouragement in the scripture passages for this Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. In the first reading (1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19), an unrecognizable call wakens young Samuel several times throughout the night. At first, he assumes that the strange voice is the elderly Eli who has taken Samuel into his care in the temple. Only after Samuel wakes him three times does Eli explain that it is the Lord who is calling him. Then Samuel responds, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” I realize that I must learn to listen as well. In the second reading (1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20), Paul stresses the importance of helping one another with the gift of ourselves. The gift of our presence to those who need us is the most precise means we have to bring God to one another. As I consider Paul’s lesson, I recall that Paul had to be struck blind in order for God to get his attention long enough to call him into service. I will try hard not to be so stubborn! In the gospel (John 1:35-42), John the Baptist sees Jesus and announces, “Behold, the lamb of God.” Two disciples who hear this say nothing, but they follow Jesus closely. Jesus immediately notices the pair and asks what they are looking for. So begins the relationship which changed their lives. Yes, I need to follow Jesus closely as well.

Perhaps it was no accident that my husband and I neglected to pack away our Christmas card basket with the rest of our holiday decorations. Perhaps that call to my recliner was as intentional as the encounters described in today’s scripture readings. The days and weeks of Ordinary Time re-acquaint us with Jesus who transformed the ordinary days of a humble carpenter-turned-apprentice-preacher into extraordinary opportunities to care for those he met along the way. It seems to me that the message here is to acknowledge our own potential to bring the extraordinary to those we have been given to love. When we open ourselves to Jesus’ presence in our own lives, we cannot help sharing what we have found.

As complicated or mundane as it may be, every moment we are given provides the setting in which we hear God’s call. It is up to us to respond as best we can. When in doubt, do as Jesus did with love, persistence and a little time off in the recliner -with or without a basket of Christmas cards- to re-energize, regroup and start again!

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved