All posts by Peggy Epley

Everyday Stewardship ~ Recognize God in Your Ordinary Moments

In the Unexpected

“What could happen next?” How many times have you asked yourself that question in the past year? Though we most often use that expression when things don’t seem to be going our way, this year it has been an expression of the constant changes to our world which the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought. But we might use the same expression to explain our feelings of being overwhelmed by blessings and good things, when the stars seem to align just right.

No matter what, we can say with certainty that tomorrow will not go exactly as we envisioned. Our lives are influenced by so many factors and the world around us is increasingly complex. Rather than be surprised by the unexpected, maybe we should expect the unexpected.

Living in this manner causes us to cherish more deeply the gifts we have been given. It helps us to live in the present and become mindful of those around us. Our relationships deepen. Our sense of responsibility builds. Our stewardship way of life finds new meaning and purpose.

This Advent will not be the same experience as last Advent. It remains to be seen what the coming days and weeks have in store for each of us. However, no matter what happens, Jesus Christ is there to welcome us to the unexpected. He will celebrate with us in joy and he will even feel our pain. You can count on the unexpected, but you can also count on Him to be there with you. He is now and forever, Emmanuel, “God with us.” He is the expected in all things unexpected.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

©LPi

LA CORRESPONSABILIDAD DIARIA ~ RECONOCER A DIOS EN LOS MOMENTOS ORDINARIOS (Everyday Stewardship)

En lo Inesperado

“¿Qué podría pasar después?” ¿Cuántas veces te has hecho esa pregunta en el último año? Aunque con mayor frecuencia usamos esa expresión cuando las cosas no parecen irnos bien, este año ha sido una expresión de los constantes cambios en nuestro mundo que la pandemia de COVID-19 ha provocado. Pero podríamos usar la misma expresión para explicar nuestros sentimientos de estar abrumados por las bendiciones y las cosas buenas, cuando las estrellas parecen alinearse a la perfección.

Pase lo que pase, podemos decir con certeza que mañana no irá exactamente como lo imaginamos. Nuestras vidas están influenciadas por muchos factores y el mundo que nos rodea es cada vez más complejo. En lugar de sorprenderse por lo inesperado, tal vez deberíamos esperar lo inesperado.

Vivir de esta manera nos hace apreciar más profundamente los dones que se nos han dado. Nos ayuda a vivir en el presente y ser conscientes de quienes nos rodean. Nuestras relaciones se profundizan. Nuestro sentido de responsabilidad se construye. Nuestra forma de vida de corresponsabilidad encuentra un nuevo significado y propósito.

Este Adviento no será la misma experiencia que el último Adviento. Queda por ver qué nos deparan los próximos días y semanas. Sin embargo, pase lo que pase, Jesucristo está allí para darnos la bienvenida a lo inesperado. Él celebrará con nosotros en alegría e incluso sentirá nuestro dolor. Puedes contar con lo inesperado, pero también puedes contar con que Él esté allí contigo. Él es ahora y para siempre, Emmanuel, “Dios con nosotros.” Él es el esperado en todas las cosas inesperadas.

Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

©LPi

Live the Liturgy ~ Inspiration for the Week

Be watchful! Be alert! The core message of Advent cannot be more direct or simple. As those who are postured in a spirit of readiness and anticipation, we must always be attentive and vigilant. We have to be ready not only for the anticipated arrival of our Lord, but watchful and attentive to the unexpected visit as well. While we know that the Christ is coming, we also do not know the exact time. Cultivating this expectant attitude is the purpose of this season. It is easy to grow slack, inattentive, and too self-assured. We can easily deaden ourselves to the wonder and surprise of God’s presence. We get so absorbed in so many other distractions that it can seem like Christ’s second coming, and even Christ’s coming in time are of lesser importance. When it finally dawns on us that we have wandered far away from where we need to be, and lost our attentiveness and focus, we will wonder how this all happened. We may even try to put the onus on God and blame God for a lack of involvement or presence. We are the ones, who through our own choice, put the distance in our relationship and lost touch. Now it’s time to come back and perk ourselves up a bit!

©LPi

VIVIR LA LITURGIA ~ INSPIRACIÓN DE LA SEMANA (Live the Liturgy)

¡Sé vigilante! ¡Estar alerta! El mensaje central de Adviento no puede ser más directo o simple. Como aquellos que se postulan en un espíritu de preparación y anticipación, siempre debemos estar atentos y vigilantes. Tenemos que estar preparados no solo para la llegada anticipada de nuestro Señor, sino también vigilantes y atentos a la visita inesperada. Si bien sabemos que Cristo viene, tampoco sabemos la hora exacta. Cultivar esta actitud expectante es el propósito de esta temporada. Es fácil volverse flojo, desatendido y demasiado seguro de sí mismo. Podemos amortiguar fácilmente la maravilla y la sorpresa de la presencia de Dios. Estamos tan absortos en tantas otras distracciones que puede parecer que la segunda venida de Cristo, e incluso la venida de Cristo a tiempo es de menor importancia. Cuando finalmente nos demos cuenta de que nos hemos alejado mucho de donde necesitamos estar y hemos perdido nuestra atención y concentración, nos preguntaremos cómo sucedió todo esto. Incluso podemos tratar de cargarle a Dios la responsabilidad y culpar a Dios por la falta de participación o presencia. Somos nosotros quienes, por nuestra propia elección, ponemos la distancia en nuestra relación y perdemos contacto. ¡Ahora es el momento de regresar y animarnos un poco!

©LPi

Gospel Meditation

November 29, 2020
1st Sunday of Advent

You are at the eye doctor and it’s time for the peripheral vision test. You know the one. It’s where you put your head up to a contraption and have to click a switch every time you see a squiggly line. If you don’t concentrate and maintain optimal focus, you will miss them and skew the outcome of the test. You can easily find yourself with a diagnosis that really isn’t accurate! Concentration and focus are key to succeeding with this evaluation. They are also key to developing a healthy, vibrant spiritual life. If we do not bring our full consciousness to the task, concentrate with all our might, be watchful and vigilant, we are not going to see God’s loving presence flashing before our eyes!

That’s why we need Advent. Let’s face it. We can easily get distracted, focus on nonessential and superficial things and lose touch with what really matters. Our attentions wander. We daydream and even become a bit overwhelmed and tired. All of the stresses and demands of life consume us and we find ourselves constantly trying to play catch up rather than relishing the moment of the now. “Now” moments are so fleeting. They flash before us like those squiggly lines on a screen. Present moments go as quickly as they come but it is important to discover them and rest in them as often as we can. Though gone in a flash, these now moments of encounter with God teach powerful lessons and offer a grounding in truth that can be found nowhere else. It’s the grace of Advent to become watchful and attentive because we are never sure when God will surprise us.

God loves surprises and love thrives on them! God’s now moments of surprises come as tender instants of intimate connection where I find profound peace, experience joy, and rest in love. These are Advent times reflective of the now moments when Christ first was born, when God surprises us during every time we care to watch and when the great surprise of Christ’s second coming dawns upon us all. But, to discover the grandeur and experience the awe of these now times, we have to be ready. We have to want to be there. We have to believe. And, we have to have the desire to soak in as much as we can in the time we have before us.

©LPi

MEDITACIÓN EVANGÉLICO

29 de noviembre de 2020
1er Domingo de Adviento

¡Adviento es estar preparados! Hoy damos comienzo a un nuevo año litúrgico. Cabe, pues, decir a todos ustedes, ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Si, ojalá sea nuevo en nuestra forma de vivir y de esperar. Todo ha cambiado en este 2020. Nada es igual en la familia y en la sociedad. Ahora debemos cuidarnos más, y estar listos para tanto cambio lleva tiempo, pero es bueno prevenir para no enfermarnos. El virus tomó a muchos desprevenidos, su sufrimiento y muerte ayudó a otros a prepararse, a poner cuidado. Usar la mascarilla, lavarse las manos, tomar precauciones de distancia es vivir este Adviento vigilando y manteniendo la esperanza.

Damos comienzo al Evangelio de Marcos, comienza el ciclo “B”. Nos habla de un hombre que se va al extranjero y deja instrucciones y diferentes responsabilidades a sus sirvientes. Marcos, en este ciclo y Mateo, en el año que termina, hablan de velar porque no se sabe cuándo llegará el momento. Sin embargo, Marcos sitúa el retorno del Señor durante la noche. Recordemos que parte de la audiencia de Marcos eran los romanos. Por eso menciona cuatro vigilias—al atardecer, a media noche, al canto del gallo, o de madrugada. Esto quiere decir, estar despiertos siempre sin bajar la guardia, velando. Velar, quiere decir estar despierto mientras otros duermen. Ojalá, que al encender la corona de Adviento en la parroquia y en casa, nos esforcemos por tener presente el deseo de que brille la luz del Señor y nos salve.  Que crezca en nosotros la actitud de vigilancia por el hermano y hermana que sufre. ¿Qué haré en este Adviento para estar atento a lo que Dios me pide?

©LPi

Stay Awake! The Best Is Yet to Come!

For Sunday, November 29, 2020
1st Sunday of Advent

A Great Treasure

Isaiah 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:33-37

As we close one liturgical year and begin another, many of us are physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired. 2020 has been quite a year. While our liturgical year may have come to an end, our calendar year still has some time left before the numbers change again. It has been a year of upheaval, surprise, change, turmoil, anxiety, fear, confusion, disappointment, disillusionment, and detachment. We have been forced to “die” to so many things these past several months: expectations, routines, celebrations, institutions, and most importantly, treasured relationships. We have been asked to leave the familiarity and security of the past we hold dear and embark upon a journey into the unknown.

Surrounded by so much uncertainty and doubt, it is hard to have hope and stay alert and focused. We need to recharge our batteries. People of faith may find themselves murmuring a poignant question, “why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways?” Wandering is exactly what we are doing. We are like the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years, wondering where they will eventually find peace and a place to permanently call home. We ultimately want God to restore peace in our time, as if the fullness of peace was ever ours to enjoy in the first place. But we can hope. We know one thing for certain by now. This mess we are in is not something we can fix on our own. None of our problems ever are. It takes us a while to realize that, and some really struggle learning that lesson.

When we are tired, it is hard to do even the simple tasks, tend to daily business, interact in the community, nurture relationships, and pray. When out in public, one can almost hear a constant hum of anxiety. It’s always there. People are scared. Yet, this new brightly shining liturgical year bids us to stand erect, stay awake and watch! What are we waiting for? The current pandemic, political struggles, and Church concerns all find us waiting for solutions to problems, resolutions to conflicts, vaccines for disease, and leadership that can truly be effective and trusted. Even though all of these are worthy pursuits and necessary, they are all worldly. Real hope is found somewhere else.

Do we believe that God is faithful, and that God will keep us firm to the end? Sometimes, we live life as if we are somehow going to fall apart if things don’t go a certain way. We don’t like times of disarray and turmoil. Knowing what we had, the discomfort and unsettledness of where we are and the uncertainty and unknowns of where we will end, make being present to the moments of life and finding joy a difficult enterprise. We need real hope. These days it can be challenging even to pray. We may ask, are we being led through some kind of “dark night of the soul” or wonder if God has just moved on to someone else. Knowing that the latter is most likely not true, we can find themselves living with a spiritual and even emotional malaise.

Keep it simple these days. Remember what Jesus told his disciples when they asked him how to pray. Go to your room, close the door, speak to your Father (Dad) in private, and use the words found in the Lord’s Prayer. Often, when life is derailed and we are experiencing loss, discomfort or confusion, a simple “Ave” or time spent with a brief, humble prayer is all we can do. It’s a loving gesture that connects us with our source. It allows us to remember that God is the potter and we the clay. Even when nothing makes any sense, God still has our back. Moments of prayer, regardless of how deep or profound, allow us to see God’s creative and restorative will at work. The often-difficult journey to God’s Kingdom, paved with the virtues of faith, hope, and love is steadfast and eternal. The Divine Light that burns within every soul cannot be extinguished.

So, what is the real hope to which we are called? Hope is nothing other than having faith that by Love’s power we will be led to discover something that will make sense. Real hope rests in the certainty that we are hard-wired for union with God and that God’s Will is ultimately the creative, sustaining force behind all that we do. Walking with this hopeful certainty is the only way we can see light in those dark moments when what we really may want to do is give up and walk away. It is this joyful hope, rooted in God’s promise that allows us to be vigilant, watchful, and awake. It gives us reason to stay the course, even when we may want to just close our eyes and get some sleep.

We have many examples of people throughout history who stand as witnesses to this wisdom. Even when brought to their lowest point and facing despair, they always found their way back to hope and followed the impulse to love. After all, didn’t St. Paul tell us that in the end there are three things that last, faith, hope, and love? They are three intimate companions on the journey, a trinity of virtues that need each other in order to most perfectly radiate the joy that flows from God’s tender loving face. They are the gifts, given to us who believe, that help us stay strong, simple, and focused when everything else seems lost and spiraling out of control. It is true that we do not know the time when Christ will come again. It’s not for us to know.

The journey still requires patient and joyful watching, all while keeping a vigilant, alert eye and heart on what is right and true. Generation to generation God’s power remains constant. It was this very power that brought Israel out of the land of Egypt, inspired prophets to speak challenging words of truth, raised Jesus from dead, and sent the Gospel message to a weary world. Do we think that we are any less important than the countless others who have gone before us? Now is the time for patient endurance and joyful hope. A weary world is still waiting to receive its Savior and rejoice.

Fr. Mark Suslenko

November 29 ~ 1st Sunday of Advent

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
We will celebrate this solemnity on Tuesday, December 8th at our 9 am Mass at St. Anthony Church.
As with Sunday’s, Holy Days are part of our current dispensation, so there is no obligation to attend.