Maria’s Sunday Paper is back after her spiritual break

I’VE BEEN THINKING

Good Sunday morning to you!

I’m writing this as I would write a note to a friend who I haven’t spoken to in awhile. I’m back from my self-imposed spiritual break and wanted to check in. How are you? How is your world? How are you feeling on this day about our larger world?

I know I don’t have to ask that question of Mother Earth. She feels as angry as she’s ever been. But, I hope those living directly in her path feel supported by the outpouring of love, unity and assistance that is coming their way.

At a time like this, it almost feels mundane for me to talk about my time away this past month. But, The Sunday Paper is dedicated to trying to provide a sanctuary and a moment of reprieve from the storms that surround us — be they climate-related, political, or otherwise. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll bring you up to date on my last few weeks.

My time away in August was wonderful and productive. Before I left, I wrote down a list of intentions for my break. I wanted to step back from the noise of our world so that I could reflect, reconnect and approach my life and work with a renewed sense of passion and purpose.

There were so many times along the way that I wanted to jump back into the world of social media to comment on this or that (North Korea, Charlottesville, Heather Heyer and her inspiring mom, Houston and Hurricane Harvey, etc…) So many times that I wanted to drive my car back into the office so that I could feel plugged in, connected and purposeful. But, I didn’t.

I had challenged myself to take time. Time away from the virtual world. Time to focus on my family—immediate and extended. I challenged myself to have at least one deep meaningful conversation with each of my four brothers. (Gotta give me credit: Trying to get grown men to have deep, meaningful conversations is no easy task. I did it with all four, and then we had a group conversation.) I also did the same with each of my four children. (The conversation I had with my son as I moved him back to college and into a frat house was eye-opening.)

I challenged myself to begin each day in silence—which allowed me to focus more on the love in my life…not the lack of love in my life. That enabled me to focus more on the joy in my life and less on the struggles. It also helped me focus on my good health (fretting less about small issues like my frozen shoulder and instead feeling grateful that I don’t have a debilitating disease!). It also helped me focus more on my relationship with God and my faith in myself.

Since I had already applied the lessons of Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” to clearing out my physical space, I figured I would apply it to my internal space as well. I looked within and asked myself if the feelings I was holding inside were really bringing me joy.

What did I learn? Well, during this period of reflection, I realized that I was carrying some beliefs that no longer served me and, for sure, weren’t bringing me joy. I also looked hard at some opinions that I came to discover weren’t my own. Then, in Kondo style, I trashed them. Yup, I put those beliefs and/or opinions in a folder and got them out of my mental space.

I cleared out the self-defeating language, negative beliefs and harsh judgments that had been my companions for too long. They pushed me for a long time, but they no longer served me. Lo and behold, when I cleared them all away, I found my joy. I also strengthened my relationship with my faith and with my God. I threw out old beliefs that made me think of God as a punishing, mean, and shaming power. I replaced them with the image and belief of a non-judgmental, forgiving, caring, and loving God—one who accepts me and others as we are and who guides us to a better place.

I also challenged myself to go through my days with a different perspective about work and its larger-than-life role in my life. These intentions may not have brought about any dramatic changes that are visible to someone else’s eye, but they did bring about small ones that I can feel, and that’s big to me. I learned that I could step away from social media for awhile and, lo and behold, it would keep going on without me. That’s important to remember the next time you think you have to stop whatever you’re doing and comment online. You don’t.

As I watched the news in our world unfold (OMG), there were so many moments that reminded me how blessed I am. That, in turn, reminded me of the importance of reaching out to be of service. It also reiterated to me that small acts done privately can often bring more joy than the larger, more public moves.

I know that in the past if I had three weeks off, I would have planned some big trip. But going nowhere allowed me to go everywhere that my mind and my thoughts wanted to take me. Now that I’m back, I feel I have a better and more hopeful perspective.

I know I’m here (as I believe we all are) to be of service. For me, that’s in the women and Alzheimer’s space through the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. It’s also wherever else I can be of assistance, like now with the hurricane relief efforts. (Please join me Tuesday night for Hand In Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief. I’ll be answering phones, along with others, for the telethon that’s airing at 8pm ET on multiple networks, including NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, HBO and Bravo.)

I also believe that I am here to be a light in the world, as I believe we all are. I also believe that we’re here to use our voices, our hearts and our minds to Move Humanity Forward—personally professionally, and politically. That’s exactly what I intend to do, and I hope you’ll join me.

I also invite you to share with me what you’ve been up to lately. To paraphrase my friend Mary Oliver, I ask you: What have you been doing with your one wild and precious life?

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To see differently

To see differently

Feast of Saint Benedict, March 21
Of all the stories told about Benedict of Nursia, this one may be the most impacting of all on our lives. Most of us will never work miracles or found monasteries, but one thing we can all learn to do is to see. This story is about a special kind of seeing.

Benedict left the company of a neighboring abbot after an evening’s conversation about the spiritual life. The period predates both universities and books, remember, let alone televisions and computers. Personal conversation was the key to learning then—a factor that may well explain the popularity of gurus and spiritual masters in that culture. At any rate, people came in droves to talk to Benedict about their spiritual questions, the great no less than the simple.

On this particular night, it is Abbot Severanus, a deeply prayerful person himself, with whom Benedict has been talking. But then, returning to his own room, alone and filled with ideas on the spiritual life, Benedict suddenly began to see what he had never seen before: the sky filled with light “more brilliant than the sun, and with it every trace of darkness cleared away.” Then according to his biographer, Benedict “saw the whole world as a single ray of light.” Benedict had developed sight and insight.  Benedict had begun to see things differently.

The implications for us and our own lives abound.

•What Benedict saw outside of himself is what he already had inside of himself—breadth of soul, compassion and openheartedness.
•The spiritual life enlarges a person’s vision.
•When we begin to see as God sees, we see far beyond ourselves.
The Radical Christian Life by Joan Chittister•When we fail “to see the whole world in one ray of light,” we imprison ourselves inside our own small selves without ideas, without experiences, without love.
•Remember that it was after they had been discussing spiritual things that Benedict’s vision was enlarged to include the whole world. It takes a spiritual sensitivity to hold the whole globe and all its needs in our heart. Any spirituality that makes our hearts narrower than the globe is a bogus spirituality for sure.

—from The Radical Christian Life by Joan Chittister (Liturgical Press)

 

 

Women of the Well-St John the Baptist-Essex, MA

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Women of the Well

 A gathering of women — usually from 8 to 12 in number — who meet each Saturday morning at St. John the Baptist Parish Hall from 7:30 AM to approximately 9:00 AM.  “Leadership” rotates among the women as they choose and they are free to select their own topic and begin the sharing with their personal reflection.  There is no cross-talk, giving of advice or interruptions of anyone who has chosen to speak.  Confidentiality is honored and a safe and welcoming atmosphere is paramount.  We welcome any and all women — of whatever faith or spiritual practice — who may be interested in sharing their faith journey with us. Would love to have you. Please join us!

 

A United State

African-American and white men embrace after taking part in a prayer circle July 10 following a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas. Theologians and justice advocates have called upon the church to better address racism as a life issue and see it as an “intrinsic evil.” (CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters)

At the end of 2016, the nation continues to grapple with police violence toward unarmed black men, unprovoked attacks on police officers, the threat of mass deportations and the re-emergence of white nationalism as a political force. Tensions are high across the country, but many Americans, the U.S. bishops included, are eager to work against racial injustice and inequality and toward healing and reconciliation.
Continue Reading Click Here

New book documents Shriver’s search for the ‘Real Pope Francis’

The Pilot

BOSTON — “Intrigued.” That is how Mark K. Shriver, president of the Save the Children Action Network, said he felt as he watched Jorge Mario Bergoglio become Pope Francis in March 2013.

“His first couple of actions — from asking for blessings from the people before he blessed them as the new pope, to paying for his hotel bill, to washing the feet of those young juvenile delinquents at the Casa del Marmo — really caught my eye,” he recalled.

“Seeing all these early actions of his made me question, ‘Is he for real, or is this some kind of public relations stunt?'” Shriver said.

Click here for full article

 

Tidings of Great Joy

America magazine online
How ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ defies common sense

When “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted on Dec. 9, 1965, CBS executives were so sure it would fail they informed its executive producer, Lee Mendelson, they were showing it only because they had already announced it in TV Guide. “Maybe it’s better suited to the comic page,” they told him after an advance showing.

Despite six months working on the show, the animation director, Bill Melendez, felt much the same. “By golly, we’ve killed it,” he recalls telling Mendelson after a screening.

The American public disagreed. In fact, 45 percent of Americans with a television set watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” that night, making it the second highest rated show of the week (behind “Bonanza”). The program would go on to win an Emmy and a Peabody, and it has been broadcast every Christmas season since.

Continue article click here

 

Seeing God through the eyes of a wild creature

Naturalist Joe Hutto strokes the neck of a mule deer in the Riverton area of Wyoming. The PBS documentary “Touching the Wild” features Hutto’s six-year stint with a mule deer herd in Wyoming’s mountainous wilderness. (©THIRTEEN Productions LLC)

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Soul Seeing: Nature documentaries on TV jump-start my religious imagination with startling images of God’s saving side.  Read Article Here

Source: Seeing God through the eyes of a wild creature – National Catholic Reporter

Women of the Well-St John the Baptist-Essex, MA

DSCN2625.JPG

Women of the Well

 A gathering of women — usually from 8 to 12 in number — who meet each Saturday morning at St. John the Baptist Parish Hall from 7:30 AM to approximately 9:00 AM.  “Leadership” rotates among the women as they choose and they are free to select their own topic and begin the sharing with their personal reflection.  There is no cross-talk, giving of advice or interruptions of anyone who has chosen to speak.  Confidentiality is honored and a safe and welcoming atmosphere is paramount.  We welcome any and all women — of whatever faith or spiritual practice — who may be interested in sharing their faith journey with us. Would love to have you. Please join us!