"We are the Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!"

HOMILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, May 1, 2011:
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A priest was shaking hands with the people as they left after Mass on Easter Sunday morning. As Joe tried to pass by, the priest pulled him aside as said, “Joe, you need to join the Army of the Lord.” Joe replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord, Father.” “Well, then how come I only see you in church on Christmas and Easter?” the priest asked. Joe whispered back, “I’m in the Secret Service.”

In his book Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright takes a look at the life-changing and even world-changing power of the Resurrection of Jesus and makes the case that Christians could do a better job of celebrating Easter properly. If you think about it, here we are just a week after Easter – still in the Octave of Easter – and the world has moved on. We’re focused on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, First Communions, summer vacations and the like – it wouldn’t surprise me if we started seeing Fall clothing in the stores soon.

Lent is a different story. We marked our 40 day journey of Lent with fasting, self-denial and special liturgies and times of prayer. There were ashes at the beginning and palms near the end. The Triduum gathered us with Jesus at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday and at the foot of His cross on Good Friday. All of Lent embodies the way of the cross as the way of life and salvation. But, once Lent is over; as soon as the Easter Vigil and the festivity of Easter Sunday are done, resurrection joy seems to fade as fast as the Easter lilies wilt. The celebration of Easter seems to fade into the secret service.

But, as our beloved former Pope John Paul II, who will be beatified today, reminded us so well, “We are the Easter people and alleluia is our song.” Easter isn’t merely an historical commemoration – it is and should be for us – a way of life. The resurrection of Jesus is the most central reality in our faith. As St. Paul says in First Corinthians, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.” Resurrection changes everything. In his book, Wright suggests that “if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up.” He suggests finding the opportunities to be more social with family and friends and faith community – to enjoy one another and celebrate our common bonds as sons and daughters of God. He recommends that we joyfully remember our own baptism – when we died with Christ so that we might live with Him forever – by splashing water joyfully. He recommends that we go around town engaging in surprise acts of generosity and kindness and goodness; that we become the embodiment of Christ’s new life that fills our world. That our Easter candle not be a mere light in our Church building, but that we become that bright light for all the world to see.

If people noticed our ashes and our fasting and abstinence during Lent; they should also now notice our joy and happiness in the reality of the resurrection. We should embrace Easter so fully that those around us might ask, “What is the meaning of all of this?”

If the assertion is correct that we have forgotten how to celebrate Easter properly; we see evidence of it even in our Gospel passage today. Certainly for the frightened disciples locked in the Upper Room, resurrection joy has faded. On the evening of Easter day, instead of celebrating, that have withdrawn into hiding and locked themselves away.

It isn’t difficult to imagine why. A coalition of secular and religious authorities has conspired to crucify Jesus. Perhaps the disciples feared that the people who had come for Jesus might now come for them. Along with that, you can’t help but wonder if the disciples were hiding in shame over personal failure, too. They had let Jesus down, failed Him in so many ways. Earlier in the Gospel of John, Thomas suggested that if the disciples were going to follow Jesus to Jerusalem, they might as well die with Him. They didn’t. At the Last Supper, Peter said to Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you.” He didn’t. In fact, just a few hours later, he denied Jesus.

This must be the reason that the first words Jesus speaks to His disciples are, “Peace be with you.” It is an astonishing gift, this gift of peace, for the people who had denied, betrayed and abandoned Jesus. It is an astonishing gift that Jesus extends to us as well – we who know how we have failed Him by what we have done and what we have left undone. To us all – those disciples in the Upper Room and you and I in this Church – God’s love comes in person. The Risen Christ shows the disciples His hands and side as signs of divine mercy and love for the world. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” Jesus said the night before His death. To understand that you and I remain friends of Jesus, even after betrayal and denial is astonishing. To find in Him reconciliation and not revenge or punishment is in itself new life. “Peace be with you,” Jesus says to the disciples, and even to Thomas in his doubt. He says it to us as well. And with those simple words, resurrection joy is restored. Easter goes on.

Jesus doesn’t leave the disciples, or us, where He finds us – tucked away in fear, failure, and seclusion. And He doesn’t let us hold tight to His forgiveness and peace as a private possession. Jesus moves quickly from love’s evidence to love’s mission, from Easter’s declaration to Easter’s celebration. He says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

That’s our mission – to go out in Jesus’ name as Jesus had been sent. Our task and our calling is to embody our Lord’s life in and for the world. As the Easter people we are called to share God’s abundance to people in need; to speak love in a world bruised by violence and consumed with anger; to show reconciliation to people whose lives are broken; or offer hope to someone who aches under failure. We are called not to be Christians in the Secret Service; but the Easter people who cry out alleluia to the world around us. We know that the disciples withdrawal in the Upper Room was temporary; that Thomas went from doubting to proclaiming, “My Lord and My God!” Let us be a people markedly different for the 50 days of Easter and beyond because He has truly risen, as He said!!

Let us make St. Peter’s words today our own, “Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Happy Easter and may the Lord give you peace.

Every wedding is a royal wedding

NOTE: Wonderful homily today by the Bishop of London Richard Chartres for the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.  If you didn't have a chance to hear/read it, here it is:


“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.

Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.

In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.

William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.

A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.

It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.

You have both made your decision today – “I will” – and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.

We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.

Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:

“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon,

Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.”

As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.

As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.

I pray that all of us present and the many millions watching this ceremony and sharing in your joy today, will do everything in our power to support and uphold you in your new life. And I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day:

God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Utensil Organizer

Have you ever had every single night you go to cook dinner one of those days where you want to throw every kitchen utensil you own in the TRASH because they're all jammed so tightly into one drawer you can only HOPE that you'll be able to find the potato masher and that it won't be impossibly intertwined with the wisk, a mixer blade and the pizza cutter? AND that once you do in fact remove the potato masher from said interferences you then must repeatedly SLAM the drawer close over and over and over while praying to the utensil gods that whatever unknown instrument is JAMMING itself into the top of the drawer keeping you-in what I can only assume to be a mocking jester to rock your INSANITY-from closing it, will somehow magically SHRINK in size the harder you slam the drawer? And then once you finally manage to show that drawer who's BOSS you sigh a triumphant and satisfying sigh of RELIEF like you just overcame climbing Mount Timpanogos and then totally forget about the whole ordeal until you go to cook dinner the next night where you DANCE the same charade all over? Ya I know...me to. Well my bruised hip finally got fed up with my nightly dance so I did my body a favor and came up with a solution! I PRESENT to you the:

Counter Top Utensil Organizer
! -I know, super cool name right:)



First find some sort of plastic box. I found these clear, plastic, bins at our thrift store (DI) and picked up 3.


They have these little separators in them which works out perfect to keep everything a little more up-right since my boxes are shorter and wider...versus taller and skinnier.


And they were just .50 each! Yippee!


Next paint them whatever color you want!! I gave mine a nice coat of white spray paint (after first spraying on a plastic primer).


I wanted to "cute" them up a bit so I dug out some green polka dotty fabric and first cut strips the size of the perimeter of the box's and about 2 inches wide. I then folded it in half and put a drip of hot glue every couple inches or so down the length of the fabric to close it. (looking back it would have been MUCH simpler to just sew a straight 1/4 inch seam than glue it-oh well)


Then I hot glued the folded fabric around each box like so...


I liked the way that looked but I thought it would add a nice touch to tie a simple strand of jute around the fabric and end it with a bow!


Next, add a few utensilish words to the outside of your boxes. I LOVE me some some labels! (mine is black vinyl cut from my cricut, but you could use stickers as well)


And ta-da! You've got a totally unique, totally adorable set of utensil organizers!


Now fill those beauties up with all your thing-a-ma-gigs and smile down upon the Sweet Love you just gave your kitchen!


Up next...fun subway art for the kitchen!!!


Thanks for stopping by, I LOVE having you here!!!

Linking this up to the parties listed in my linky party tab above as well as:
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Advice for a Happy Life!

Health:

  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
  3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
  4. Live with the 3 E’s - Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
  5. Play more games.
  6. Read more books than you did in 2010.
  7. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
  8. Sleep for 7 hours.
  9. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

Personality:

  1. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  2. Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  3. Don’t over do. Keep your limits.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
  6. Dream more while you are awake.
  7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  8. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind others of their mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
  9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
  10. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
  11. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  12. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  13. Smile and laugh more.
  14. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

Society:

  1. Call your family often.
  2. Each day give something good to others.
  3. Forgive everyone for everything.
  4. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
  5. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  6. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  7. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

Life:

  1. Do the right thing!
  2. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  3. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  4. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  5. The best is yet to come.

Welcome Home!

This beautiful girl is my sister. She just returned home from Paraguay after serving for 18 mo. as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.


We had a blast spending the week together eating LOTS of food, getting pedicures, swimming, celebrating a birthday and having some Easter fun!


The four of us sisters are finally back together again-just missing a brother who is still out serving a mission! (that's me there with the whitest legs ever!)