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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Make A Happily Day

There are so many themes we can tackle in the movie Cinderella.  Today I’d like to focus on just three.  The first is Prince Charming.  I think all of us at one time or another have pictured ourselves married to Prince Charming.  Yet most of us wake up to regular lives and regular guys.  So what happened?  I think we came to the realization that perfect doesn’t exist this side of heaven.  But I bet you are married to someone who at one point was charming.  It may have been decades ago but something drew you to that person.  Things might be so bad that you have difficulty even imagining what drew you to him in the first place.  But for today...try to remember what it was.  Release him from the ideal of Prince Charming and allow him to be who he is.  You don’t need him to be your Prince Charming anyway.  Yours is waiting for you in heaven..white horse and all.

And to all the single readers out there. …. Take it from someone who knows, stop fretting and searching for what you have decided is ideal.  The guy you least expect might have a glass slipper in just your size.  Stop spinning your wheels and allow God to be your prince until an earthly one shows up. 

Speaking of the glass slipper, that brings me to our second topic.  The lengths women go to….. to make it fit.  What are we thinking?  Really?  Sometimes it is painfully clear that our foot is too small or too big to step into a situation, yet we proceed to just keep trying to make it fit.  Sometimes its better to just walk away or never become involved in the first place.  We need to learn to become more introspective and ask ourselves and God if we have any business doing the things we are doing, fighting the wars we are fighting on behalf of ourselves, our spouse,s our children or whatever we decide is our cause.  Should you really being doing what you are doing?  Or are you trying like mad to make something fit that just doesn’t?

Lastly, what is this thing called happily ever after?  Seriously?  I cannot sit here and tell you that if you find the right guy or the right job or the right kids or whatever that life will just be ducky everyday.  We both know that is simply not true.  I can tell you that if you make the best decisions you can and you do it with a heart that longs to be faithful to God, you will have more good days than bad.  When you do what you can to surround yourself with love and joy, you have more “happily” days.  When you concern yourself with others, you have more ups.  Those are things we can all do in some simple way.  Start today!  What is one thing you can do today to have a “happily” day?  Read a book, take a walk, play with your kids, cut your husband a break, call an old friend, book a vacation, take a bubble bath.  Oh right, I said one thing…well, pick one and do it.  Create your own happily day

But what about ever after?  We have been offered the best happily ever after there is with Jesus in heaven.  That’s the only one I know of…I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cinderella's Story

Cinderella Link

Click on the link above to see Cinderella's story.  Check back tomorrow to see what it has to do with the story of your life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

At The Movies.....Cinderella Week

Click on the Gracenotes link above for this week's podcast.  Let's go to the movies!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ask Ellen: Why do Catholics pray to saints? Katie, ME

This is a confusing and frustrating question for many.  Thanks for asking.  I need to say right off the top….Catholics don’t pray TO anyone but God.  And yes, that includes Mary!  Let’s take God out of the equation…..I can’t believe I just said that!...and focus on the others hanging out in heaven.

An important and heady Catholic concept comes into play here…the Communion of Saints.  Let me try to break it down.  The Church is composed of three groups of people: those in heaven, those waiting to be called up (in Purgatory), and those of us down here still fighting the good fight.  The Church teaches that we are all very connected and that this connection doesn’t end in death.  That is what anyone who has lost a love one wants to believe so it would be hard to argue, right?

It is because of this connection that those of us still slugging through life look to those who did it right for help.  And that is all we are asking them to do.  They made it, they are before the Throne and just might hang out with Jesus from time to time.  We, as Catholics, ask them to put in a good word for us.

Think of it this way…you know someone who is a great teacher in a great school.  You want to teach there too.  You have a friend who works there and has earned the respect of the principal.  Wouldn’t you ask him/her to put in a good word for you?

The great news is, we Catholics, have a saint for any situation you find yourself in.  I doesn’t hurt to go ahead!  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Hard Message

Today we look at Sunday’s Gospel from my buddy, John.  It can be found in John 6:51-58.  Take some time to read it now.  I will wait for you.

I like yesterday's passage and today's read together because it clearly paints the picture of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament.  He was the fulfillment of what the manna we read about yesterday pointed to.  We must remember that Jesus is speaking to a Jewish audience who knew their Scriptures.  They were very familiar with yesterday’s story about manna in the desert.  Everything that Jesus says and does here is to show them that he is the answer they have been waiting for.

However, His message isn’t an easy one to hear.  He uses the word flesh six times in this short passage.  He does not say symbol.  He uses the word for flesh.  This was offensive to most people who heard it.  It is believed that many followers walked away because of this very message.  Drinking blood would make a devout Jew swoon, yet Jesus tells them to drink His Blood. What strikes me is that Jesus didn’t run after them saying, “Wait, that word was too harsh,  I didn’t mean it literally.  Its symbolic.”  No, He didn’t.  He delivered a tough message and allowed them to walk away.

As Catholics, we believe in this flesh concept.  This passage is the reason that we believe the Eucharist isn’t just a symbol.  It is actually the Body of Christ.  This is what we celebrate on Sunday.  Why should we celebrate it?  Read on in the passage.

Jesus actually recalls yesterday’s reading and tells the people that when their ancestors ate manna they still died.  But when we eat His Body and drink His Blood we are given eternal life.  That, my friends, is a reason to celebrate.

I ask you to celebrate the gift you’ve been given this Sunday.  You have the opportunity to receive Manna, the Bread from Heaven.  You are able to do what Jesus commands when He said “eat my flesh and drink my blood.”  Eternal life is made available to you each time you receive the Eucharist.  I will celebrate with you, rejoicing in the fact that you haven’t walked away from a hard message, but have stayed to receive Jesus.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Manna With Your Name On It

I love the way the Church connects the Old and New Testaments for us.  It helps us see Jesus as the Fulfillment of the Old Testament and all it predicted.  On Sunday we find ourselves in the Book of Deuteronomy. (meaning the Second Law)  I like to think of the book as everything the people needed explained one more time.

Please take a few minutes to read Deut 8:2-3, 14b-16a

The first thing Moses tells the people is to remember how the Lord led them.  In Hebrew this does not simply mean think about for a while, get a warm and fuzzy feeling and move on.  It means think about it and act.  He is telling them to act like God remembers them.  Do you?

Moses tells them that although the Lord is in charge and is guiding them, He is allowing them to be tested to see if they prove faithful.  Is He doing the same to you?

We then read that God allowed the people to be hungry only to turn around and give them manna from heaven.  To me this shows that we need to feel need before we can be satisfied.  What is God withholding from you now?  Why do you think that is?  Could it be because He wants to give you something better, like Bread from heaven?

The lesson for the people is clear.  They need to move past their earthly need for bread and look to “every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.”  They need to learn to obey.  Do you?  It is important for us to remember as we celebrate the Solemnity of His Body and Blood on Sunday, that in this passage God ordains Bible study. We need to know God’s Word.  It is another way we can be fed….like manna in the desert.

The people are then told not to forget and it lists the many things God has done for them.  Too often we overlook the provisions God gives because we are fixated on what He has withheld.  The passage lists four things God did to provide for the people.  Your homework for tonight is to write a paragraph containing at least four things God has given you.  Tuck it away and read it each day.  In Hebrew you don’t simply remember, you act on it.  Act like God has done great things for you.  Act like you are grateful for what you do have.  He probably has some manna with your name on it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Sense Of Belonging
Today’s song is taken from Sunday’s second reading.  It can be found in 1 Cor 10:16-17.  We become one with each other as we share Jesus’ Body and Blood.  That should give us a sense of belonging not just to Christ but to one another.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Welcome To A Bible Study Week

Click on the Gracenotes link above to hear this week's podcast...and learn about the Feast we celebrate this Sunday and something from my childhood.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sabbath Sayings...

“O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!  Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”  2 Samuel 18:33

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Reflections...

How is my relationship with my dad? What can I do to improve it?

Do I allow God to be the Father I always wanted?

What can dads learn from God the Father’s example?

How has St. Joseph modeled the role of adoptive parent?

How does Noah provide hope for dads whose kids are making poor choices?

How does the story of Abraham and Ishmael provide hope for dad who walked out on their kids?

How does Zechariah model faithfulness in waiting to become a father?

How does the story of David and Absalom speak to the heart of those who have lost children?

David’s story shows us that sin always has consequences. What sin am I reaping the consequences of?

How does David have a heart like God’s?

How am I going to show the fathers in my life what they mean to me this weekend?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ask Ellen:I would like to see an explanation on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I get it and make sure my students do, but I think it is one of the most misunderstood feasts on the calendar. Kim, PA

You are right, Kim. This is one of the most misunderstood Catholic feasts. In order to understand it, one must have a firm grasp on the Old Testament. You might be thinking, I don’t know much about the Bible but I am fairly sure that Mary appears in the New Testament. True. But much like everything concerning Mary, we have to understand her Son to understand her.

Think back to the Ark of the Covenant. Yes, it is even OK if all you know about it is from watching, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” In the Old Testament, The Ark was believed to contain the Presence of God. It contained three things symbolizing the early Israelites' faith: The Ten Commandments (representing the Law), Manna (the bread from heaven that God provided) and Aaron’s budding rod (representing priestly authority). The Ark was carried on poles and no one was to touch it. If you don’t believe me look at what happened to Uzziah! There were many rules about who could approach the Ark and the way they were to be purified before they did.

Ok, Ellen, so what does this have to do with Mary? Catholics believe that Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant. Please remember that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the things that were alluded to in the Old Testament. Think about it…He is the New Law (think about the Beatitudes and His “All You Need Is Love” …sorry had to get the Beatles in…messages), He is Bread from heaven (think Eucharist) and He is the High Priest (think of the Church He established). With all of that in mind, we see Mary as the New Ark. Her womb contained the very Presence of God.

That is why the Church teaches that she was born without sin. She had to be pure to contain the fullness of God and the fullness of Man. It makes sense in light of the purity rules of the Old Testament. As Catholics, we read Scripture with the whole Bible in mind. When you do this, you see Mary as the New Ark.

Catholics celebrate the feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception on December 8. We celebrate that Mary was conceived and remained sinless in expectation of the baby she was to carry. It has nothing to do with Jesus’ virgin birth. It has everything to do with Mary. So, do not go chasing after …..rainbows, oops sorry…the lost Ark of the Old Testament when you have the fullness of the New Ark advocating for you in heaven.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Heart Of A Father

Welcome back to Dude’s Week. Admittedly I have no clue what its like to be a father. But I do know what it is like to be surrounded by great ones: my own dad, my husband, my uncle, my business partner, my son’s godfather, my friends’ husbands. Man, as I write this, I see that I like to surround myself with good men. Good move on my part.

Today’s Biblical character study involves my good friend, David. David was a good man but he was far from perfect. Notice I did not say the guys I mentioned above were perfect. David starts off life well. He is chosen to be king but he plays his cards smart while he waits for that to unfold. We are going to fast forward in his life to the point where he is living life large. He is hanging out on the roof of his palace when he should have been in battle like the other kings. He has the best of everything and he is bored….so he takes what isn’t his, Bathsheba. They have a child together who dies. Sin always has consequences. But the consequences don’t end there. For a while it seems they have recovered. They proceed to have a son, Solomon, the Wise One.

We need to look deeper to see what happened because of David’s sin. His family fractured. I’m sure many of us can relate. His children don’t get along with each other. One son actually rapes his daughter. His son Absalom will be our focus today.

Absalom wants his dad’s throne. In fact he gives David quite a run for his money. But David has a father’s heart. He orders his men not to kill his son for any reason. Absalom winds up dead and we have some of the most gut wrenching words of Scripture in the lines that follow. “O my son Absalom, my son, my son, Absalom! Would I have died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” “ 2 Samuel 18:33

As I said before I have no idea how a father loves. But in this brief passage I think I catch a glimpse. I see a powerful man with the world seemingly at his command, reduced to his knees in grief over a child. In his case the child was dead. In yours it might be estranged, in sin, sick or whatever. The pain is real. And David’s pain is raw. In that sentence I can begin to see how a father loves…. mightily yet he cannot fix everything. The King is reduced to his knees on behalf of his son.

Scripture tells us that David had a heart like God’s. To me, that means a father’s heart. In David we see a man who made some pretty bad choices and some great ones. But he never stopped loving God. He loved his children with abandon and they broke his heart. Yep, sounds like a heart like God’s to me.

For all you dads out there…love your children even though they can and will break your heart. When you feel like giving up think of David and his broken heart and love like him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

God Knows Where You Are

I want this week to be the week that we women acknowledge all the great dads in our lives, the ones we have, the ones we married or the ones next door. I know that the site is geared towards women but I am very aware of our male readers. On behalf of the women in your life, now or in the future, thanks for caring enough about your faith to look beyond the pink and hang around.

As I told you yesterday, I have THE best dad. But I am also keenly aware that not everyone does. This took me many years to realize as I was so insulated from the cruel reality by my own father. The reality has even hit close to home, in my own family, that not everyone gets dealt the dad I got. Yet I truly believe that its God’s intention that we do get these wonderful dads to protect us and love us. We are the ones who mess it up one way or another.

The Bible has a story for whatever kind of father you are: a traditional father, an adoptive father, a father of dysfunctional kids, a father who turned away his child, a father who has experienced profound loss or a man who longs to be father.

Certainly we are all aware that the Bible tells the story of God the Father lovingly caring for His children through all of our stubborn rebellion. We see God as the Father who shares in our triumphs and cries at our defeats. We see the picture of what every man is called to be.

If you are an adoptive father, I think you are so special. You have opened yourself up to love in ways that I’m sure you couldn’t even begin to imagine. Today I ask you to think of Saint Joseph. He did the adoption thing well. He raised Jesus in the faith and shared his trade with Him. Your children are begging you for the same. How they benefit from your faith…and how they long to just hang out with you..all kids do.

So what about the father of kids that are really screwing things up? Look to Noah. His sons ridiculed him. They took him at his most vulnerable and exposed him. Talk about shame! Yet we see that even though his own children turned their back on Noah, God never did. Take heart. God loves your children more than you do. He wants them back in His life and in yours. Pray ceaselessly.

Maybe you are a dad who turned your back on your kids. This makes me think of Abraham and Ishmael. We all know God thought Abraham was a pretty righteous dude. But Abe and God both knew he messed up with Ishmael. Decide today to make things better. Thank God that He is the God of Second Chances. Begin to repair the relationship if you can or pray for forgiveness if you can’t.

If you have experienced the loss of a child, my heart breaks for you. I can’t imagine how it feels to be a guy who can’t do anything to “fix” the situation. It makes me think of David and Absolom. If you find yourself here or want to know more about the heart of a father, come back tomorrow as we take this story apart. Also take comfort in the fact that God knows all too well what it is like to lose a child. He offered His to save you. Please know that I in no way want to minimize your pain but want to only offer you the example of those that have gone before you.

What if you are reading this and only long to be a father? In this case I think of Zechariah. He and Elizabeth waited forever for John the Baptist. They were too old to see, let alone have kids. Yet God honored their prayer. He will also honor yours. It may not be the way you think. Somewhere a child needs someone longing to be a father to be theirs…go find him or her.

Whatever kind of dad you are or want to be begin today to be even better. The women in your life are counting on you. Aren’t we, Ladies?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday- A Love Without End <> 

I wish all of you had a father like the one I have.  I have been so blessed to have him in my life.  I adore him and have always been “Daddy’s little girl.” If you have had that kind of dad, thank God for Him today.  He was what God calls every father to be.  If you didn’t have that kind of dad in your life, I am sorry that your dad failed you in some way.  Please know that you also have the Father you’ve always dreamed of having and He’s just a prayer away.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fathers' Week

Click on the Gracenotes link above to hear this week's podcast.  It has come to my attention that we have some dudes who are hanging around here.  We welcome you.  Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sabbath Sayings...

“One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus' side.”  John 13:23

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday Reflections...

What do I love most about my pet?  Why?

Why don’t I like pets?

What image is conveyed in puppy love?

How is the unconditional love of a puppy similar to my love of God?

Do I use the leash of faith to stay on course?

Do I spread joy?

What can I learn from John?

Am I Jesus’ lap dog?

Do I hesitate when he calls?

Do I obey His commands?

Do I share times of intimacy with Jesus?

Do I sit with Him and allow Him to teach me?

Do I unite my suffering to His?

Do I run like mad at any chance to be with Him?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ask Ellen: I'm interested in being a saint, what's the application process? Paul, DE

Congratulations on setting the bar high.  I commend your aspiration.  Let’s see…the application process is quite lengthy, your whole life in fact.  Your resume would need to include faith and good deeds.  Your educational experience should probably include studying the Bible as well as many other good reads like the lives of the saints and such.

Your application will come under review shortly after your expiration.  You will probably have to sit in the waiting room until Saint Peter calls you for your interview.  An important thing to remember is there won’t be any call backs or second interviews here.  Peter will review your resume and decide if you are in, if you have to sweat it out for a while until you make the cut (kinda like the minor leagues) or if you’re fired..literally.  If you find yourself in the waiting room, know that generations of Catholics have been praying for your release.  If you’re fired then I guess you should have changed the font on your resume or had better references.  If you’re in, then congratulations you’ve achieved your goal of sainthood.  Please pay it forward by putting in a good word for the rest of us.

As for me, I really hope St. Peter is in a good mood and doesn’t check all my references.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

John, Jesus' Lap Dog

I love John.  Mostly because of how he loved Jesus.  John was one of the twelve men Jesus chose to hang out with.  He got to spend some serious quality time with Jesus, walking all over Israel, hearing Him teach, watching Him heal and just growing to love Him with what I like to think of as puppy love.  We can learn some important things about John by studying the Gospels.  Today I will highlight just a few.

{You should be warned that I just started a class on John so you might be hearing a lot about him!}

Just as any good dog follows his owner, John does not hesitate to follow Jesus when He is called.  In fact John left everything behind to become a loyal follower of Jesus.  John got to spend intimate times with Jesus, watching Jesus pray.  Sure sounds like my dog, Pinot who curls up next to me as I work. 

The key lap dog moment for John can be found in John 13:23

I love this verse for a couple of reasons.  The first being that John actually describes himself as the one Jesus loved.  I love that he thought it.  I love that he wrote it.  Isn’t it just like us to think, yeah but He loves me best?  Now, where was I?  Oh, yes, the other reason I like this verse is because I think it was true….I believe Jesus did have a heart for John.  I believe He has that same heart for each of us as well.  It is believed that John was younger than the others, kind of like a puppy I’d say.  I think Jesus loved his enthusiasm and playful side.  I like to think that John entertained Jesus in a way the others might not have.

Jesus took John into the Garden on the eve of His death.  I cannot imagine what our playful puppy, John, experienced that night.  I shared yesterday that our puppy, Pinot tries to lick our tears away.  What must John have sought to do as he watched Jesus’ Agony in the Garden?  I tremble to think of it. 

The image of Jesus’ faithful lap dog is conveyed in John 19:26-27

John again wants us to know that He is loved by Jesus.  I think he is reminding himself of it as he watches this horrific scene unfold.  Yet, as a faithful guard dog he stands at the foot of the Cross when all the others have scattered.  His Master needs him and he is right there.  Jesus knows what a great guard dog John is and entrusts His Mother to John’s care.  I know he took care of her the way my puppy takes care of my kids.

The final scene I offer you today is one where I playful puppy returns.  We find it in  John 20:3-4.

Can you just see our puppy, John, running to the tomb on the off chance that his Master is alive?  I see the look on my dog’s face when I come home and she looks like, “I can’t believe you came back.”  Can you imagine John’s “I can’t believe you came back” moment?  I picture him running with reckless abandon to find his best friend…alive!

What can we learn from John?  We can learn to be Jesus’ lap dogs.  We can learn not to hesitate when Jesus calls.  We can learn to obey the commands of our Master.  We can search out times of intimacy with Jesus when we are completely alone with Him.  We can learn to recline with Jesus and allow Him to teach us.  We can unite our suffering to His.  We can stand by Him when no one else does.  We can faithfully care for those He has given us.  And finally we can run like mad to meet Him whenever He comes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Heart Pinot

Why do I like puppies?  I can only speak for why I love my puppy.  If you have been following the site from the beginning you know that our first “I Like” week was about how much I like wine.  Well this week, two of my “likes” combine as I introduce you to my puppy, Pinot.  Yes, I named my dog after wine.  And yes some people have been offended by my choice.  But she is simply Pinot.  She is the combination of many things that I enjoy and I love her.

Why?  She is totally devoted to our family and seeks to please us.  She wants us home with her, where she can keep an eye on us.  She runs right over if one of our kids is crying and tries to lick away their tears.  When she knows that you are speaking to her, she cocks her head ever so slightly and hangs on your every word.  In essence, she is totally devoted to our family.  In fact, as I write this she is curled up right next to me…afraid to be apart from me.

The nice part about dogs is there are no expectations on their owners.  We are judged by how our children and marriages turn out.  Society judges us quite harshly.  But no one cares if my dog won’t go down the stairs by herself.  It doesn’t make me a bad person.  She is not expected to graduate in 18 years, go to Harvard and be a doctor.  She is just expected to love us and give us joy.

What does this mean spiritually?  I think we are called to be God’s puppies.  We should seek to love and please Him.  We should feel better when we are around Him. We should curl up at His feet and allow Him to pet us.  We should stay tethered to our leash of faith as we venture into the big wide world.  We should embrace our silly sides and just seek to bring people joy…simply because Jesus has given that joy to us.

I don’t want to think about the end of Pinot’s life.  But most dogs go with their owners to that last vet appointment with the utmost trust.  They do not fear the future because they trust the ones they love.  Shouldn’t we?  Shouldn’t we live lives surrounded by those we love?  When the end comes, shouldn’t we hop in the car and let those we love walk us to the other side? Because waiting for us on the other side is the biggest backyard, where the Son is shining and we can play for eternity…with the best owner we could ever have.  We can call THAT puppy love.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Puppy Love

Cut and paste today's link to see the video:

What do you like best about puppies?  And puppy love?

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Like....Puppies!

Welcome to our second "I Like" week.  Click the Gracenotes link above to hear this week's podcast.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sabbath Sayings...

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I rejected him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Reflections...

What do my favorite songs say about me?

What types of songs speak to me?

Have I ever thought of God when listening to popular music?

Or do I leave Him in the hymns at Church?

Would my taste in music change if I let God in?

Do I let God drive?

Do I surrender control to God?

Am I thankful for the people and places that God has brought into my life?

Do I put Him at the top of my list?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ask Ellen: Who do you like better Matthew, Mark, Luke and John or John, Paul George and Ringo? JG, PA

What a fun question for me! This obviously comes from someone who knows me very well. I am a huge Beatles fan and a Bible nerd so this is tough. Let me see…

Both groups of men have written things that have touched my heart. Both have some profound things to say.

Luke is my favorite Gospel. Although that may change in a few weeks when I start my next class on John. Who am I kidding? John will be my favorite then because I always like whatever I’m studying. I bet John was the cute Gospel writer too.

Now my favorite Beatle hands down is Paul. In fact, I have had a huge crush on him for decades. After all, he is the cute Beatle. I have to say that I have a new appreciation for John these days too. He had a way of bringing out the best in my man, Paul.

I can’t choose…so let’s just…Let it Be!

**Author's Note: I am in the midst of my class on John's Gospel and just as I predicted, he is my new favorite.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Esther: Girlie But Not A Girlie Girl

So far this week we have met two types of women: girlie women and girlie girls. The video at the start of the week gave us a great example of what I call girlie girls. These are women who like to play stupid. They do the coy dumb blonde thing. They make people think that girls really are the weaker sex.

I blogged about being girlie, which I see as accepting your feminine side. It is the pretty side of you. It in no way means you need to play stupid. In fact, it means quite the opposite.

We see these two types of women in the story of Esther. She is so cool she has her own book! Esther was girlie! She was beautiful and loved girlie things. Her girlie side won her the heart of a king. The Bible tells us that she was lovely. That word is girlie! I want to be lovely, don’t you? Sorry I got carried away there. Esther spent 12 months having beauty treatments to prepare her to meet the king. Can you get more girlie? Her girliness “won the favor of everyone who saw her.” (Esther 2:15)

But Esther was also smart. A smart girlie, just like you! Her guardian, Mordecai, instructed her not to tell anyone that she was a Jew. Esther was smart enough to keep that secret. Esther quickly became an invaluable advisor to her husband. Unfortunately, the king was tricked into signing an order to kill all the Jews in the land. This put Esther in a very difficult predicament. The king didn’t know that he signed his wife’s death warrant. Could Esther “have come to a royal position for a time such as this?” (Esther 4:14) Our smart girlie, Esther, did a very smart thing. She asked her fellow Jews to pray and fast for her BEFORE she went to the king. Oh, if I only remembered to pray BEFORE I did something!

Esther resolved to approach the king. “And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16) That doesn’t sound like a damsel in distress, girlie girl to me. She convinced the king to not only save her and Mordecai but also all the Jews in the kingdom. Our girlie, Esther, has a Jewish feast in her honor to this day, Purim. Purim is meant to celebrate the day when the Jews “sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.” (Esther 9:22)

Esther made girlie work. I want to too. How about you?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"The Best Of...." Italian Families Have Got It Right

I have given a lot of thought to why I like wine. In fact, the homework I had to do for this week was the most fun yet. You can’t think about wine without partaking in some of it…right? Anyway I know that I like wine but I have never asked myself why. I know when I’ve liked wine too much. And if I don’t the hang-over reminds me. But why do I like it? Hummmm….

I like the feeling of connection it brings. I love to sit with a girlfriend and share wine..and ourselves. Somehow it makes me feel closer to her. We not only share the drink, we share each other.

As I was pondering why I like wine so much I pictured the big Italian family who gathers every Sunday for food, conversation and of course WINE. The feelings that this image evokes are the feelings I have about wine. Wine is a great enhancement to any meal and when we share a meal we share something intimate. Wine can induce some great conversation. It can make you more friendly. It is hard to share a glass of wine with someone and not feel like friends. Wine means sharing and intimacy to me.

I think Jesus knew this. Wine was part of His life. He shared many meals and wine with His closest disciples. One evening meal stands out in my mind, The Last Supper. He had all the aspects of a big Italian dinner at that meal. There was food, it was Passover after all. There was some pretty serious conversation going on. And there was wine. In fact Jesus chose wine to transform into the most precious part of Him, His Blood. As the apostles shared in this cup that night, they were no doubt as close to Jesus as anyone could be. They certainly felt intimate and connected.

That same cup is offered to me at Mass each week. In it I share the intimate connection with Christ. Jesus must have known that wine has the ability to connect people and that is why He revealed Himself so beautifully through it.

Don’t take the cup for granted. Embrace the closeness it brings with family and friends. And rejoice in the way it connects you with Christ.