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My Cup Runneth Over Blog

Living Lent: How will I refocus my life on God this Lent?

February 20, 2020
By Jodie Rubenzer, Spiritual Growth and Discipleship
Living Lent:  How will I re-focus my life on God this Lent?
 
We take time to prepare for things in our lives.  During Lent, we prepare for the greatest celebration of the church year – Easter.
Every day, we are formed by our decisions.  Situations, jobs, fears and desires shape us.  Conversations, mundane daily tasks, our vocations as married, single, religious and the relationships we have because of these choices form us day in and day out. 
 
We are all however given opportunities to include choices and influences that draw us closer to God and to becoming the person God intended us to be.  We have the opportunity to choose daily to pray, to enter conversations that encourage, to serve others and the greater community and to allow positive instead of negative influences in our lives. 
Lent is a wonderful time to re-set; to ask ourselves these questions:
 
What do I need to be happy?
How do I spend my time, energy and money?  What does this say about my priorities?
Do I have unhealthy habits that pull me away from God?
 
Here at St. Bridget we have many opportunities to draw closer to Jesus during Lent.  There are the ARISE together in Christ small groups that meet one time per week for 6 weeks, there are the Stations of the Cross, Weekly Centering Prayer, daily Mass or Scripture Communion, to name a few.  However, if this doesn’t call out to you I am inviting you to consider the following two opportunities that can be done individually or with your family – the domestic Church. 
 
Unplug During Lent
Consider these questions.  Does social media have the potential to lead us closer to God or will the constant companionship of devices drive a wedge between families and our communities?  How much time do I spend with my devices? (Lent Unplugged, Michael T. Best)
As we enter into Lent maybe we could consider one or all of the following:
Set the standard to turn off the TV during your family mealtime; add computers to this list and keep phones off and away from the table.
Instead of video games or TV, embrace the outdoors, immersing yourself in God’s creation by taking a hike, looking for birds, enjoying a sunset.
There are 960 hours in Lent if unplugging totally is not possible, how about an hour a day for 40 days.
 Keep a log of the activities you’ve tried instead of technology.  How has it changed you or your relationships?
 
The 1% Challenge
This is a challenge that was shared with me.  It is a tool to invite people to encounter Jesus in the Scriptures through prayer.  The 1% Challenge is a registered trademark of the Evangelical Catholic (EC). 
There is a difference between knowing about Jesus vs. knowing Jesus.
   
 Strive to spend 1% of each day alone with God.  This amounts to 15 minutes a day in quiet prayer.  How would this look?  Here are 3 possible tips:
 
Talk to God like you would a friend.
There is no right or wrong way to talk to God.  Share with God your struggles and joys.   Keep it real; even asking God to help you to pray, is a prayer.  A great outline for prayer is to start by thanking God, then seeking forgiveness and then asking God for what you need. 
 
Listening to God
St. John of the Cross said “Silence is God’s first language”.  Use “The little Black Book” made available to us here at St. B’s, or the readings of the day (these can be found listed in the bulletin or on the USCCB website) and read a small part of each day’s message.  Listen for words that bring comfort or challenge, healing or joy and sit in the silence with God receiving whatever message God might be sharing with you.
 
Being with God
Just simply start and end each prayer time with a minute of silence.   Maybe you will have the luxury of sitting in the silence of your own home waiting for your household to wake up.  Smell the coffee, hear the cat purr…. whatever it is simply rest in God and lean into Him.
 
Fifteen minutes over 40 days’ amount to 600 minutes of prayer time.  Isn’t that awesome!
 
A few important footnotes:
 
Try to be intentional about your time.  Try not to pray while driving.  Strive to give God your full attention.  Do what works best for you.
If possible avoid devotions such as the rosary; even though this is good, let this time be more of an intentional time of conversation or silence with God.
Name a particular time of day to pray if possible.  This helps to develop a habit of prayer. 
Make note of changes you notice within yourself. 
Our Lenten practices help us to grow closer to Jesus and respond “yes” when he calls out to us.  This Lent how will we respond? 
1 % Challenge - Evangelical Catholic. (n.d.).
Lent Unplugged, Michael T. Best. (n.d.). Liguorian.

Did you Get it?

October 29, 2019
By Jodie Rubenzer, Spiritual Director

Ignatian spirituality is constantly calling out to me to notice the presence of God in everything and to seek the face of Jesus in each person I meet. I am able to begin my day in this mode and as the day progresses it can be a waning thought.   Today I opened a notebook where I jot down things I want to remember (if I can remember where I placed the notebook) and low and behold I find that I’d written that “presence” is defined as all three centers awake at the same time: heart open, mind receptive and body aware.  How absolutely true.  But sometimes I’m not firing in all three centers. 

So just how “awake” am I?  Awake enough to know that in the last 2 days I’ve been bombarded with the following questions:  “Where did you find Christ today, Where did you hear Christ’s call, How will you respond? “  And if that wasn’t enough there was Monday’s gospel of the calling of the 12 Disciples.  Okay, I think I’m supposed to learn something. 

Reading Monday’s gospel revealed a couple of thoughts I’ve continued to ponder.  First Jesus went away to pray.  Good for Jesus!   I have a “to do list” of things to accomplish, but then I guess so did Jesus.  After all there were people to heal and forgive and miracles to perform.  So what does Jesus reveal to us in this act of taking time to pray?  It’s his need as well as ours to remain connected to God.  Where does our ability come from?  Okay point taken.

Then there is the calling of the 12 disciples.  This was a rather motley crew to say the least.  The number 12 can represent the whole church when it is used in scripture.  So Jesus isn’t just calling a selected few, he’s calling all of us.  However, he didn’t wait to call them until they had their acts together he “called” them with their faults and failings and unchecked to do lists.   He called these people from their boats, their fishing nets, their tax booths. So it is with us. What might Jesus be calling us from - to do?  Their formation and transformation began because they lived “with” Jesus.  They learned what it meant to live in love and service to and with one another.  They learned what it meant to trust God and rely on God instead of just knowing about God.   He’s vying for our attention now.  Maybe they were searching or restless or were finally firing in all three centers.  Whatever the case, they listened, heard and responded.  Can we?   

Coming together in community reveals Christ present in our midst and helps us to live with Jesus instead of just learning about Jesus.    I hear wonderful examples through the ARISE Together in Christ small groups, of members from our parish becoming Christ present to one another by sharing hope when another expresses doubt; of compassion being shared when hurts are revealed.  Recently when I was struggling to pray, a young man simply reminded me to invite God to this space and then invited me to pray aloud with him “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end”.  Wow!…such a wonderful reminder.   And, gathering together this past weekend with couples from our parish to honor and enrich our marriages blessed me in knowing that we are united in our joys and struggles and strengthened in our relationships with one another. 

So as it says in Ephesians,

 “Awake O Sleeper”….. And we might add, “that I might fire in all three centers”. 

Witnesses and Workers in the Kingdom

September 01, 2019
By Jodie Rubenzer, Spiritual Growth

Witnesses and Workers in the Kingdom

What does it mean to be a witness?  Miriam Webster defines it as “testimony: one that gives evidence specifically.”

To be called upon as a witness results often times in a conviction of sorts.  Well in the past days and weeks what I have witnessed challenges and hopefully convicts me to live more like a disciple than a bystander.  

I have been witness to complete and unceasing service and compassion.  How does this look?  It’s in the moments of observing Tessa with awe, in her ability to communicate with a Venezuelan family, becoming part of our parish community.  Language may have its barriers, but love sure doesn’t. 

Then there is Diane, who has reached out in care by giving generously of her time to make Adoration time a possibility for a friend unable to get here on her own.  Each week she sets aside the time so that a “Jesus date” can be kept. 

Tammy is our hub, she keeps us all connected internally and externally.  Her finger is always on the pulse of what’s happening and because of that continues to challenge us to extend our ministries beyond the walls of the Church.  Tammy extends kindness to everyone who walks into the office. 

And each Tuesday Pat lovingly prepares the chapel for Adoration.  She works quietly replacing and cleaning the votive candles to assure a “holy space” for which we are all invited to come and to spend some quiet time with Jesus. 

Now in fairness I need to be clear that these are only a few of the examples that I’ve been witness to; we all have opportunities to be Witnesses and Workers in the Kingdom.  I know that there are many things that happen in a day when we are in the midst of God’s handiwork and pray that awareness leads us to recognize these moments. 

So my invitation to you is this….in the next few days or weeks, ask God to make you aware of  God’s work being accomplished through others; making you a witness to the workers in the kingdom.  And as this happens, drop a note or text or a comment to the person, letting them know you’ve observed their kindness.    In doing this we become a Eucharistic people, joined together as the mystical Body of Christ. 

And we can be pleased in knowing it is then that we will hear our pastor say:  “They got it right, they got it right!”

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Connect the Dots

June 14, 2019
By Jodie Rubenzer, Spiritual Director

Connect the Dots!

Do you remember as a kid the “connect the dot” color books and worksheets, you might have worked on in school or at home?  It was so much fun to see what image would appear as you connected the lines to the dots.   However, sometimes making a “wrong” connection would result in a not so recognizable image, resulting in eraser marks, crossed out lines and even sometimes ripped paper. 

I imagine all of us as part of a “connect the dot” image formed by the Divine Author of Creation.  I even permit myself to engage in this masterpiece as a co-creator.  Awaking each morning I pray to be mindful of the situations where I might become a line or the dot. Will I turn out to be the connecting point or the resting spot?   What prompted me to think about this is that recently there have been just too many occurrences of being in the “right place at the right time”.  Like walking into a place and unexpectedly running into someone I’ve been thinking about but hadn’t reached out too, and there they are.  As  I  walk away from an encounter like this,  feeling “heart full” and knowing I couldn’t have planned it any better if I’d have tried, I’m moved to the possibility that I’ve been in the midst of a Divine encounter.    We’ve all been given these moments; sometimes recognizing them on the spot, or after we’ve taken the time to look back and reflect. 

The take-away from all of this for me is a continued prayer for awareness.  I want to be ready and open to receive these moments with gratitude and assuredness.    I read once somewhere that we are all part of this great tapestry of life.  God sees the whole image; the finished product.  We see only the underside with knots and thread and color changes, giving us a faint depiction of this masterpiece.  However each line and stitch and dot, helps to reveal the full image, and no matter what, there are no slip ups when we (as Saint Mother Theresa so humbly prayed) “to become a pencil in God’s hand”.     

                  

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