Ready and Unashamed

Gathering my children and cleaning up the spilled popcorn, I was leaving another game when I met another mom from my daughter’s new basketball team. As usual, we compared family notes: what we do, our husbands, how many children we have, et cetera. I stumble a bit with that number. Having lost a son suddenly in 2015, I say “nine” and then add the caveat of having lost our oldest son, Michael.

 Perhaps it’s too much information, requiring the other person to give a response, and it’s sometimes a little awkward–in this case, I could tell she was moved, blinking as her eyes filled up. To ease the feeling, I smiled, reassured her that “it’s all good,” explaining that Michael had a brain malformation and every day was a gift. This eased the tension and we moved on.

Truth is, it is all good and we can smile at his death, but the fact that he had a brain malformation anyway isn’t the reason why it’s okay that he died. We counted every day–even the day he left us a gift not because of that, but because of the hope we have in Christ!

I  memorized it, you probably did, too. “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks for a reason for your hope” (1Peter 3:15). I blew it. Jesus and the promise of resurrection is the reason for my hope. May I not be ashamed of my hope of heaven and the resurrection–yet there I was ashamed to give that reason for my hope.

I profess this belief in the creed and I really do believe it with all my being. Jesus’ victory over sin and death that opened the way to heaven is the reason we can rejoice and claim victory even in what seems like a loss. This is my faith. This is my hope. How hopeless our world can be, but this hope does not disappoint and I should be ready and unashamed to give my reasons for hope.

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Who do you say that I am?

I just read a recent address of Pope Francis to a group of Jesuit seminarians, but one thing he said I can’t get out of my head. It’s from a scripture passage we are familiar with; when Jesus asks his disciples (Matthew 16:15), “but who do you say that I am?” I’ve always read that passage personally with an emphasis on my response to who Jesus is in my life, but Pope Francis turns it for disciples and begs us to listen to what Jesus names us henceforth.

“You are the Christ” – “You are Peter” (Cf. Matthew 16:16.18): as for Simon Peter and the first disciples, the whole vocational journey hinges on a dialogue of love, of friendship in which, while we recognize in Jesus the Messiah, the Lord of our life, he gives us the “new” name, which encloses our vocation, indicates our mission, which the Father has always known and protected. The discovery of our new name, the word that best describes us, the most authentic, passes through our capacity to give little by little a name to the different experiences that animate our humanity. To call things by their name is the first step towards knowledge of oneself and, hence, to know the will of God for our life.

So I ask  Jesus, the Lord, the Christ, the Messiah, Son of the Living God, “who do YOU say that I am?” When I declare the LORD, what new name does he give to me and how does the discovery of that name guide my life’s vocation?  Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God, now I look to Jesus and ask, “Lord, who am I? Who do you say that I am?” He answers and says, “Blessed are you, Alisa, my daughter. And I tell you, you are FAITH and on this faith I will build my Church…”

Faith He called me. He called me Faith. What will he build on my little faith? What does he want me to do in faith, with my weaknesses and flaws, brokenness and sin? But He called me FAITH meaning that He has given me the capacity to trust him for what I don’t have. I can already see the fruits of my new name and wonder how else he wants to build his Church through my little faith.

It’s at once frightening and invigorating!!  Today and every day I’ll ask Jesus how he wants me to build his church on my little faith.

In each aspect of my life as a wife, mother, homemaker, manager and minister, He calls me to dream big and wonder where I can go beyond my fears and failures and simply have and be FAITH.

Prayer for the Group

Prayer for the Group

Our parish has a vibrant group of involved women who have organized under one umbrella we call the Women’s Guild.  It’s only a few years old and we’re still working out a few things. In an effort to keep us focused on our purpose, I volunteered to compose a prayer to start our meetings. My first consideration is how the the mission of the group aligns with the Great Commission to “go make disciples of all nations.” If a disciple is one who never stops knowing, loving and serving God more, then the commission is to a life abiding in Christ and sharing with others how to do the same to become a fruitful disciple wherever your path leads you.women'sretreat

Everything our group does, then, serves this purpose–to know God more, maybe through a Bible study, book club or even a movie group that tries to see where God or his truth, goodness or beauty is present or sorely absent. We love and serve God more by taking care of His creation, His Church, our own bodies and by lovingly offering the works of our hands to those brothers and sisters in Christ who have material needs.

Our mission is to build fellowship and community among the women of the parish through spiritual, social, and charitable activities.

All these things are a part of our life’s mission, but the purpose of the Women’s Guild is to emphasize that we are not alone in these efforts and that God is present as we are present to each other. May all the works of our hands give glory to God!


Women’s Guild Prayer

Leader will divide group into two sides for scriptural reading and invite members of the group to reflect personally on the gifts listed: love, hospitality, gifts, speech, service. Before you begin, invite the group to take a deep breath and know that where two or three are gathered, the Lord is in their midst. Come Holy Spirit, inspire this meeting…

All: In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Leader: Lord Jesus, we thank you for bringing us together today and dwelling among this community of sisters in Christ. We ask you to bless this gathering of the _____________________ Circle of Women’s Guild. Grant, we pray, that filled with the Holy Spirit, we may grow in love and knowledge of You, and with haste, bring your Presence into the world by the works of our hands.

Leader: A reading from the first book of St. Peter (4:8-11)

Side 1: Above all, hold unfailing your love for one another.

Side 2: Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another.

Side 1: As each has received a gift, employ it for one another,

Side 2: as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

Side 1: Whoever speaks,

Side 2: as one who utters oracles of God;

Side 1: whoever renders service,

Side 2: as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies;

ALL: in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

pause for brief silence, ask, “what do I do that gives glory to God?” Thank God for that and share a brief praise report with your Guild sisters.

Leader: Glory be to the Father… (all follow)