“In Between” Time

part-time-vs-full-time-service-repsBetween Christmas and New Years is my favorite time of the year. It’s one of my favorite phrases and its meaning we all love to sometimes hate.  “Inbetween.”  (Although it’s actually two words, as it should be, because it represents the “now” and then, the “then.”)

After December 25, when do we stop saying “Merry Christmas?” Is it the 26 or does the 26 still count but not the 29? When do we begin to say “Happy New Year?” Is December 27 or do we wait until 12:01 a.m. to call all of our friends. (I wouldn’t suggest that, by the way.)

In between:  you find yourself grieving and anxious at the same time when you leave one job and anticipate another. “Maybe I should have stayed on just a few more years,” you think to yourself,  “But this job looks better,” so why not.

If someone says that she is “in between jobs” then it’s an uncomfortable “in between” time. It means that “in between” is tweening waaaay too long.  “In between jobs” is a polite way of saying, “Unemployed.”

You raise a family during this “in between” time, normally lasting around 18 years but find that that time gets longer and longer as you wake your 30-year-old son to get to work on time.

The doctor tells you “two weeks” for those test results and you’ve now created for yourself the space that is one of my favorite phrases.

A spouse or good friend passes away and that dreadful space is again created between the death and cemetery visit.

Our whole lives is an “in-between” time from our birth to our death. We live in this temporary world temporarily with always a Christian eye toward the eternal life that promises not to be “in between” anything, but what it is we hardly have a clue.

Jesus lived “in between” his birth and his resurrection. What comprised his “in between” time is anybody’s guess. For certain, we know very little, but it was truly inspiring and challenging. It’s also lasted the test of time for all of us “in between” folks for countless generations.

Retirement can rightly be called “in between time.”  We’re “in between” whatever we did and what follows the gold watch. What does time mean to a retired person? An extra cup of coffee with a good friend because time moves slower? “Ah, go ahead and finish the movie,” you say to yourself at 11:00 p.m., “I’ll sleep-in tomorrow morning.” “I’d like to volunteer for something, but I’m not sure what, can you help me?”

For those who work, the “in between time” is Friday night to Monday morning. How do we fill those days?

So, do I wish you a “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy New Year?” Or should I say the elusively inclusive, “Happy Holidays?” Or is it both at the same time.

books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS, available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon:
“Soulful Muse”
“Living Faith’s Mysteries”
“Letters From My Cats”
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages”
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings”
Posted in Aging, Spirituality | Leave a comment

“Keep Your Fork,” Christmas Reflection

indexGod sent His Son, His only Son to bring the world redemption through love, mercy, and hope. We acknowledge and honor that great event once again. God did a pretty good job, don’t you think? Jesus did a pretty good job of it, don’t you think? Jesus had but one chance. With Jesus living within us through our baptism, can we do anything less with our one chance?

The evening dinner table is a beautiful display, all at once, of all the food groups facing you, filling nostrils with glorious scents and mouths beginning to water for that first taste. The table is set, and everyone is seated except the oldest who seems to appreciate the bathroom more than the rest of us. I think to myself, it’s okay, it’s a party. We’re in no hurry for it to end. Savor the moment.

When sitting down, I wonder to myself, “When was the last time I had a linen napkin in someone’s home?” If I had this party, I’d have to buy a bunch of them for a group this size. The dishes look as elegant as the napkins, but I’m too shy to turn the plate over to see who’s responsible for creating this fine china. I resign myself to “go with the flow,” as they say and just enjoy the evening as it unfolds. I see lots of spoons in bowls and on platters…but I also surprisingly notice that I have only one fork.

“Ummm. I guess I better take care of this one fork,” I think to myself.

“Family style” is what they call this as you pass dishes to each other amid loud conversations and feeling as though you’re reenacting a scene from “The Waltons.” I see one person holding the bowl making it easier for the older woman who just can’t seem to get that bean she wants onto her plate. Another courteously refrains from the portion he truly desired so that the last person can enjoy some as well.
A perfect meal with delicious tastes at each round. Afterward, the dishes are carefully picked up, and the hostess alerts us to “keep your fork.”

I’m dumbfounded. I think to myself, “That explains the expensive dishes and napkins.” “She couldn’t afford enough forks for us. Poor thing. Surely there must be another set of forks lying around that she could extend to us.” I stare at my one fork, and I’m glad that it’s not as dirty as it could have been. I’m also wondering if I should take the fork home as a souvenir of my “one-forked” evening. I assume she’d miss it since we needed to keep the one already in our possession. She probably counted them all before we arrived.

I play with my one-fork during the lull while I see others moving theirs around as they talk and laugh. We’re all waiting for our one fork’s final use. Something was mentioned about dessert, but the youngest among us dismiss the notion.

There are many courses of food during life. Some include academic lessons that we work through to get to life’s next course but the best and most valuable lessons of life are life-lived. All of it provides food – food for the body, mind, and spirit. But, and please trust me on this, we only get one, single life – one fork.

The most important part of meal is the digestion – a time for simmering and letting rest what has been taken in. We digest a lot about our relationships – good or bad- and about ourselves – good or indifferent – all done daily during this beautiful banquet we call life. Technology today bombards us with a wide array of food groups for us to choose from. Without digestion, especially of the spiritual kind, it just sits in your tummy, and you repeat to others your stomach’s message only without first digesting information and opinions through the heart and mind of Jesus Christ and our beautiful Christian faith.

Through all of life’s entire largess and bountifulness, we keep our fork. We often think there’s another fork waiting for us if we only do “this or that” or if we only think “that or this.” (After all, there are how many forks in the road? I couldn’t resist.) However, there is only the one fork that we think we possess but is totally on loan from our Creator, God whose Son earned it for each of us. So, please hold and cherish it dearly. And, hold your fork for what?

We need it for dessert.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Advent, Christmas, Spirituality | Leave a comment

“Behold,” Fourth Sunday of Advent

behold-the-man-study-jeffrey-samuels“Behold.” The word says what it all. Underused, but colorfully trustworthy. The curtain’s been lifted. There are no strings attached. There is no agenda. The package has arrived. The fat lady just sang. The boat’s docked. The alarm went off. It’s one word that startles you from whatever you were thinking or doing. “Behold.”

It’s a new word in the Catholic Mass that replaces (ready for this!) “This.” Doesn’t that sound like a good change from this unchanging Church? Which word captures and holds your breath, even for a moment – “Behold” or “This”?

“‘This'” is your dinner bill.” Now that usage makes sense. A waiter doesn’t deliver the bill to you saying, “Behold!” unless you’re paying for a party of ten.

“Behold, the Lamb of God…” says the priest now at Mass who once only said, “This is the Lamb of God.” An angel appears in your living room and first says, “Behold!” If I was one of those biblical characters, I’d say, “You can cut the ‘behold’ part – just seeing you got my attention. Typing this I use an exclamation point after that word. That’s redundant.

When the Body of Christ is raised before receiving it, what other word could possibly describe and what other word rightly describes what is shown before you except…you got it, “Behold.”

“Behold…”

  • the wafer that you’ve eaten countless times is new this day because it is a new day
  • a degree of alertness is called for because something extraordinary is happening right before your very eyes
  • in Western movies, they say “beholding” because now there’s a bond between the giver and the receiver

“Behold.” If only we could use that word in the presence of another person like meeting a good friend at the airport and saying, “Behold, it’s wonderful to see you again.” Someone is near death, and you say, “Behold, a new life lies before you.” A youngster earns a gold star on her oddly-shaped elephant drawing, and you say, “Behold, this earns the refrigerator door!” Pilate even unknowingly uses the word to present the savior of the world.

Let’s begin each day, or at least after a couple cups of coffee, with “Behold.” “Behold” what lies before us in both challenges and successes, those who faithfully walk alongside us and what beliefs and principles we allow to live and deepen within us. Because the word “behold” can only begin and end with God.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Advent, Christmas, Spirituality | Leave a comment

“Works of Mercy” from Christ King Grade School

Posted in Spirituality | Leave a comment

“Rejoice,” Third Sunday in Advent

Isaiah, “I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul…”
St. Paul, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Brothers and sisters: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

A simple question is asked with many different many different responses:

“How are you today?”

“I feel fine”… Doesn’t mean it
“I’m Okay”… Be a little more sincere
“I’m all right”… Let’s talk about something else
“Not so good today,”…words said from the heart
“As best as I can under the circumstances”… Situational stuff
“Same old same old”… bored at 20 years old
“Fair to Midland”… Absolutely no idea what that means
“Oh, you know”… No, I don’t know, or I would not have asked you
“I’d be good if only”…Let’s blame everyone else except yourself

Isaiah says, “Rejoice” through all times of life, especially in uncertain and difficult times. St. Paul repeats that rarely used word “Rejoice” twice it’s so important. I add it a third time just to make sure everyone hears, feels and experiences this invisible, enduring, hard-to- define-word that transcends any situation or circumstance.

But you may ask, “How can a word like that have such power and potency?” Because “Rejoice” is from God, it is not provided to us by human, earthly hands. “Rejoice” is the divine assuring us that Advent is more than a mere season – Advent is the everyday encounter with God – full of hope and peace.

David Brooks of “The New York Times” wrote,
“Joy is not produced because others praise you, joy emanates unbidden and unforced. Joy comes as a gift when you least expect it, but in those fleeting moments, you know why you were put here and what truth you serve. You may not feel giddy at those moments, you may not hear the orchestra’s delirious swell or see flashes of crimson and gold, but you will feel a satisfaction, a silence, a peace, a hush. Those moments are the blessings and the signs of a beautiful life.”

Let’s see how receiving God’s “Rejoice” changes our life’s perceptions to those same responses.

I feel fine…“Rejoice,” my husband ‘s been out of work for six months

I’m OK…“Rejoice,” I’m trying my best, but I’m moving tomorrow for a job I’m not sure of but better schools for my children

I’m all right…“Rejoice,” My daughter’s been gone for three years now. I follow her on Facebook

Not so good today…“Rejoice,” My cancer’s returned

As best as I can under the circumstances … “My cable went out.” (That one is mine), I thought this was getting too serious…

Same old same old…“Rejoice,” Go for a walk and count how many new things you can spot

Fair to Midland…“Rejoice,” Take one day at a time and walk with God.

Oh, you know…Yes, I do know, and I wish that you knew too, so I say “Rejoice” once more for effect. It’s God’s Advent gift to each of us; not just for a season but for our whole lives.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Advent, Spirituality | Leave a comment

First Sunday of Advent

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”

(long silence after reading the gospel. I look at my watch and slowly clean my glasses.)

complaining beautiful young blond woman holding a clockI’ll begin in a moment. Or, will I start in a while? Or, how about shortly, That’s it. I’ll start the sermon shortly, or is the word I want, “soon?”

And, how long is a moment?

Or have I begun it already? And, how long is a moment? It’s my favorite word when time suddenly becomes timeless. And, how many moments are there in 60 seconds? (“The doctor will be with you in a moment,” “Your call is very important, that’s why you’re listening to a recording and ‘on hold’ listening to elevator music, but in a moment…,”)

You’ll need to wait a while longer before I make my point to you this afternoon. This may call for some patience on your part. Perhaps. Choose to read the Sunday bulletin before I get to the good spiritual stuff.

“It’ll take two weeks to complete, ma’am.”

The season of Advent is four weeks long, why four I don’t know. Why not two weeks like the carpenter tells you when he appraises your home project. It’s always, “It’ll take two weeks to complete, ma’am.” If you’re in hospice, the magical time frame is six months. If you survive 181 days plus one day, then another six months is added to your lottery-type life expectancy. Medical test results? Medicare response? “Two weeks.

My Sunday point will unfold soon, as in any time now. It’ll be but a brief moment. Why we need an adjective added to “moment?” I have no idea because a moment contains no time.

So, which one is it, Jesus?

Even Jesus says that “I am with you for awhile, but I will return.” He also says, “I am with you always, until the end of time.” So, which one is it?

The word is “today.”

Here’s a word I haven’t used yet, and it’s the point of my painstakingly time-consuming sermon, so please put the bulletin down. The word is “today.” It’s the perfectly timed word because it’s the only day, the only time, we have. We don’t wait for December 25 and Jesus’ birth because Jesus lives within us this very day. We honor December 25 but we live, breath, and move only this day. (I’m discovering that retired people know this better than the rest of us. The “there-so-no-time” executive says, “Let’s have lunch sometime next month,” The retired gal says to her friend, “How about this afternoon?”)

The English Mass is a means to end.
This Mass is not the end.

I was talking to friends about the Latin Mass versus the current English Mass, and it hit me. The Latin Mass was a strictly timed experience and was an end unto itself. You attended, watched, got communion, went home. You didn’t know what was going on, but hoped it would help you in your life. (Why you thought words you didn’t understand somehow helpsed you, is beyond me.) The English Mass, however, is a means to end. This Mass is not the end. Our prayer today is not the “this is it” moment but this Mass today erases easy words like, “tomorrow,” “someday,” “soon,” and “two weeks.” This Mass says “go forth” and duplicate what’s witnessed here – church words like mercy, forgiveness, community, and peace – and make those words your words in your thoughts, words, and deeds – but please, “Don’t delay, do it today. This offer will not last forever.”)

That’s Advent, folks. Advent is telling us to stop waiting and to forget about tomorrow’s promises and yesterday’s regrets. We only have “today,” (as in, “now”) to encourage the lives of others and inspire our own. We only have “now” to know that Jesus is alive and well in this parish community and in our acknowleding and reaching out to those less fortunate than ourselves. We only have this known moment to know of God’s welcoming embrace for us. It’s an embrace that affects not only ourselves but every, single person we meet.

This sermon is about to end – any time now.

Oh, wait! I think I said all the good spiritual stuff. My time is up!

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”

inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Advent, Spirituality | Leave a comment

Where Is “It?”

Lost-Box-300x300“I know it’s around here somewhere, I saw it the other day. Or, was it the day before that; or it doesn’t matter what day, what matters now is to find it.

After all, I have a small apartment. You’d think an apartment is a perfect place for older folks to find compartments to store stuff they may someday need.

It’s not limited to material things but my escaping thought about who played in that 1940 movie that I love. I played the alphabet game, but not a single letter struck me. I could use a computer, but that’s the teenagers way out. I’m determined to earn that lost name after I uncover the it that I need before Noon. Healthcare people talk about losing your car keys. Dumb people. I know exactly where my car keys are, it’s this it that baffles me.

I have my special places for specials items that may need attention in some unforeseen future. I review those items wondering what future I was foreseeing, however, it was not among them. It’s funny how the eye moves to the trash as though I’d throw something valuable away. Why, on earth, would I do such a thing? I remember thinking that I ought to make a copy of it, just in case, but then thought to myself, “Why would I lose something I want to keep?” So, I stored it. I saved it in what has now become a very, very, safe place. It’s not a ‘rainy day, ’ but it’s an it that I need by Noon. I retrace my steps and thoughts over the past two days, but nothing is clicking. I suspect there is no “Ahhh” moment to my search.

Praying to St. Anthony is a Catholic thing, but he must be busy uncovering more important its for other thoughtless Catholics. I was told to think of something else, and then my mind will relax and in my lose it will reappear in my mind. That’s easy to say when you don’t have a deadline. I’m already thinking of another it that I need but can’t find.

“The mind is a terrible thing to waste,” said a wise person who probably find his it with great ease. My mind is fine, I only need to find it, soon. I remember how it looks, how I carefully folded it with the text facing upwards so I’d know its content. Then, I placed it…I placed it…I placed it…somewhere in what has now become a huge building instead of my cozy apartment.

Oh damn. It’s twelve thirty and I’ve forgotten what I was looking for. I think this is a good time for a nap.”

(Three o’clock, that very afternoon, the actor’s name pops into my head without requesting it. “Charles Boyer,” “Gaslight.” But where is it?)

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | Leave a comment

Feast of “Christ the King”

disneyland-resort-anaheim-sleeping-beauty-castle-walt-mickey-mouse-600x338It’s good you’re sitting down. Since I don’t have kids, I was floored by the Disney Kingdom’s ticket price for three days. Two adults (over 10-years-old, parents are getting younger every day) along with two children under ten years costs – ready for this? $1056.00. Now remember that you haven’t flown there yet, you have eaten yet and you haven’t slept yet.

“Wow, what a great vacation, Dad,” says the 9-year-old kid to his 10-year-old father. (Dads: you’d have to be 10 to fork out that amount!)

“But it’s magical,” says the kid who’s paying $20.00 less than the parents.

Ezekiel writes, “I will resume them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. (Like writing a check for close to $4,000.00 for three days to see a castle lit at night.) He continues, “I will pasture my sheep; I will give them rest, says the Lord God. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy shepherding them rightly.”

Magic, Mystery, and Myth

On Thanksgiving Day at Christ King parish, I used a nice alteration, “magic, mystery, and myth.” It sums up our Christian faith on this ending Church season with “Christ as King” and the advent of his new life beginning next week.

If you want those three M’s to grow and mature in your life, then skip that Florida trip and immerse yourself in our incredible Christian faith. There’s no mercy or forgiveness at Disneyland, only tears at the end of the month when you see the bill and your two kids who forgot about the trip.

St. Paul gives us faith’s progression, “Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

I attended a Disney seminar years ago about how “Disney does it.” The employees aren’t called that but are called “cast members.” Everything you see, feel and hear has been carefully crafted for your $1,056.00 enjoyment. What I’ll never forget is the plan for your second visit. First time around, you’re overwhelmed by everything you see. Your second visit (probably increased from $1,056.00) is programmed. The speaker said, “You’ve seen the magic castle, but you didn’t see its decorated sides or looked down to see the additional trimmings a first timer would miss. Your third visit to Disneyland is built in as well with new surprises and excitements to make a fourth visit possible.

Match that with the Church’s 2,000-year-old ritual that invites us to see and hear, touch and embrace new messages from ancient messages each time at Mass. (So, who’s copying whom?)

Magic, myth and mystery, we’ve got it all folks, hands down.

Matthew writes to us about those plaguing times of human life that call for a response from us. It’s an endearing smile to a naked person who lost her husband or a child, a friend who thirsts for more knowledge of God, that hungry person who wants to eat the good out of good people, the ill who need a visit and a prayer and those people imprisoned by their own selfishness, addiction or not knowing how to love.

Jesus says, “He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Let’s see Walt top that one?!

Disneyland will take you for a ride
but the Catholic Church invites you to enjoy the ride of your life

Disneyland will take you for a ride but the Catholic Church invites you to enjoy the ride of your life, because it is your life’s ride. (Oh, come on, you knew I was going to include that!) The 23rd Psalm saves us, “Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord, for years to come.”

The Kingdom of God with Christ as King is gathered here today. The Disney kingdom is thousands of miles away and also that amount in dollars.

$1,056.00? You’ve got to be kidding. God wants and demands of us the whole amount, our complete lives. Try putting a price tag on that!

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | 1 Comment

A “Thanksgiving” Sermon

“It is commonly said that the domesticated turkey is the dumbest animal on the planet. This unofficial designation has resulted not only from the turkey’s widely spaced eyes and clumsy walking style that suggest it is dim-witted but from its supposed propensity for behavior that can be fatal. This refers to its propensity to stare at the sky for more than half a minute at a time, even when it is pouring, an act that could, potentially, lead to drowning. As it turns out, that is an inherited condition, not an act of stupidity, and no, turkeys don’t really drown from it.”

ncXkEBRcBSt. Paul says followers of our Savior are, “fools for Christ.” So, who’s the turkey this family day, is it the main course or is it us, its faithful people? We say “Virgin Birth” as though we say, “Please pass the salt.” Virgin Birth! How about serving the best wine last instead of the cheap stuff at the end of a party? How about giving your youngest half of the inheritance which he was never entitled to in the first place? Talk about “widely space eyes.” Or how about that runt with a slingshot who writes over 200 songs and has his best friend killed so he can marry the dead man’s wife! (That’s a hard act to follow, folks.)

In fact, the Discovery Channel defends the turkey in this passage: “Due to an inherited condition” that I can’t pronounce, “they are spasms – turkeys often stare at the sky for 30 seconds or more, even if it’s raining giving the impression that they are “dumb.” Also, turkeys often tilt their heads because they have monocular vision. Their eyes are placed far apart so they cannot focus both eyes on one image like humans can. To compensate, they tilt their heads to the side to get a better view. Turkeys are not dumb — instead, they’re very social with each other and with humans.”ncXkEBRcB

That is unless a human welds an ax the Monday before Thanksgiving.

How about picturing the Son of God as a German as most of our homes boast of instead of the Jew portrayal that he was, along with the nose. And what about his dizzy dozen followers he tells a dozen times that he’s about to be killed and rise from the dead in three days and then they’re all amazed when it really happens? (He told them it was going to happen!)

Animal Planet isn’t so kind, calling turkeys “confused,” but Benjamin Franklin called them “birds of courage” and thought the wild turkey should be the official animal of the United States. Turkey enthusiasts say that all turkeys are curious animals with individual personalities.

What about our Bible’s famous three’s? The guy tells his friend that he loves him three times after being tested three times by his friend and later on denies that he knows his friend. Guess how many times? Yep, three times. And now the pope sits a chair named after the guy, and we even call the Vatican basilica after the guy. And what about our faith contradictions, “An eye for an eye” to kill someone we don’t like, like in 33 U.S. states, instead of the potent phrase “turn the other cheek” from the same Hebrew scripture book.

Thanksgiving is obviously about what the word means assembling that cousin who doesn’t like your conservative politics, that aunt who can’t seem to get enough wine into her body, the in-law who thinks he’s too smart for the ten jobs he’s had in ten years, the spouse who retells his one heroic story twice a year (now and Christmas); and there’s always that quiet nephew who sits in the corner. I choose to visit the nephew each time, hands down. But we love them all, as best we can.

“There is a broad and growing field of study — animal cognition — that researches all aspects of animal cognition from different disciplines, including behavior, cognitive sciences. In what Scientific American called “a new frontier” in animal intelligence, researchers are finding some evidence that “some animals are capable of ‘mental time travel,’” suggesting that “they have a deeper understanding of the world around them” than humans give them credit for.”ncXkEBRcB

“…suggesting that ‘they have a deeper understanding
of the world around them’”

How about the Hebrew Scriptures 80-year-old woman who gives birth and the Christian Scripture presents the exact, same story to a woman? Or, how about living inside a whale for three days (without cable or internet), or becoming mute because you want to name your son after yourself? There are more stories I can give you, but I think you get the idea.

Is it magic, myth or mystery? Or is it all three?

Fanciful or faith, we are entirely captured by stories handed down to us that influence and inform our lives. Our Christian faith has our total attention. Fact or fiction, we have absolutely no idea. “Fact or fiction” is what the mind keeps asking again and again without any satisfaction when it is our heart and soul that calls it to life and lives it in faith; not for its validity but for its message for each of us at each interval, at every corner of our lives.

Are we “fools for Christ,” as St. Paul claims or are we, “turkeys for Christ” with a single vision and a desire to humbly stand in the rain and drown ourselves in God’s forgiveness and mercy? The final lyrics from the song, “The Fruits of This Creation” sing it best for us on this turkey day.

But first I share with you what I told the Christ King grade school children during our Tuesday prayer service.

“You combine all the ingredients of your life and mix it in a bowl that is you, your life. Cook it for 450 degrees for five hours and then see if your peaceful, content-full feeling is the same as God’s mercy and grace. To us today, I can say as adults, if that first taste is not God-worthy, then continue to bake, it’s probably the stuffing that’s stuffed us with abit too much of ourselves. Keep baking until you can truly offer a “Thanksgiving” worthy of God’s appetite.”

The song’s lyrics conclude, “for the wonders that surround us, for the truths that will find us, most of all, {it’s} that love has found us.” Do you know how that song ends? It ends with, “Thanks be to God.”

Key
Mary, Wedding at Cana, Prodigal Son, David, Apostles, Peter, Sarah, Elizabeth, Jonah and Zechariah

(red means excerpts from The Washington Post, please don’t sue me.)

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | Leave a comment

“Thanksgiving Day” Prayers for Grade Schoolers

Opening Prayer

thDear Father,
We pray our school will be filled with a love only You can give,
We pray our learning will be full of questioning and still more questions until we discover Your truth,
We pray our playground will be full of joy,
We pray our friendships will be full of forgiveness,
We pray and are thankful for our teachers who are full of wisdom and share that wisdom with us every day,
We pray and are thankful for all the volunteers who help make Christ King a great school,
We pray and are thankful for our two wonderful priests who teach us how to pray and love God,
We pray and are thankful for our parent or parents who dedicate their lives to make our lives healthy to grow and blossom,
We pray and are thankful for our two wonderful priests…(Oh, did I say that one already?!)
We pray and are thankful for our parish community who fill us full of hope and who show us who we can grow up to be.
May you run with the love of God always at your back,
Build on God’s truth that guides you throughout your lives,
Play with your joy for joy is the foundation of youth never to be lost in adulthood,
Share your forgiveness, constantly forgive each other even more than they forgive you,
Rest in God’s wisdom, trust in God’s wisdom, hold tightly to God’s wisdom for it is better than any church could ever imagine.

For the Thanksgiving dinner of your whole life, mix these ingredients together within the bowl of life that is you, then bake yourself at 450 degrees for five hours and you will be the good person God created you to be, every single day. We offer this prayer through Christ our Lord.

Reflection

We say, “Thank you” without thinking just as our next breath leaves us. The salt is passed, “Thank you,” the door is opened, “Thank you,” papers passed forward, “Thank you.”

Without thinking those two words automatically come out of our mouths. However, we seem to fail to thank our parents for a punishment or a time out. “Gee, Mom, thank you for punishing me! I needed that.” It may be true but whoever thanks mom or dad for teaching us an important lesson?

Thanksgiving is our country’s one-time event to be reminded of all the good in our lives. In the Church, though, it’s every day that thanksgiving is offered up to our Creator God. The Mass, the Eucharist is totally all about giving thanks – thanks for life, thanks for this day, thanks for a hopeful tomorrow. Whether you’re in first or eighth grade, we know what “giving thanks” means.

Yet, here’s our problem. How can our “Thank you” about passing the salt or the open door be compared to thanking our Creator? That’s a hard one. “Thank you God” just doesn’t equal papers passed forward. The first is powerful and the second is said without thinking.

I think I found a solution to our problem. Keep saying, “Thank you” for those simple, ordinary things of daily life. But when it comes to God, let’s forget the words. There are no words to “Thank God.” Did you hear what I just said? There are truly no words to “Thank God.”

We thank God by the way we treat others and ourselves. We thank God without words, only by our thoughts and actions. That simple smile, that hug, that helping hand when the backpack gets too heavy, helping those who need our help, assisting those who have much less than we do. Without words but within our hearts, we are telling God that we recognize that He’s living and breathing within us.

Put the Trinity together and what’ve you got? You got God-Creator, Jesus who shows us how to do it and the Holy Spirit that sparks us to keep going. That’s a Thanksgiving meal you’re able to enjoy and share with others not only once a year but every, single day.

Closing Prayer

Dear Father,
We pray our school will be filled with love
We pray our learning will be full of truth
We pray our playground will be full of joy
We pray our friendships will be full of forgiveness

We pray our teachers will be full of wisdom
We pray our community will be full of hope

May we run with your love
Build on your truth
Play with your joy
Share your forgiveness
Rest in your wisdom
Every day. Amen.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | Leave a comment