Palm Sunday: Ascending Love

On this Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion there is a great deal to contemplate. Jesus arrives triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey with people singing Hosannas and waving palms. A few Scripture readings later He ends up betrayed, scourged and crucified.

The Cross and love of Jesus Christ is at the center of everything, every nail of suffering He endured that we might know His love and be set free.

At the end of today’s readings the body of Jesus is put into a tomb. But, the good news is He doesn’t stay there. On Easter next Sunday we will celebrate Resurrected Love, Resurrected Light – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

During Holy Week as we walk with Christ on His path of suffering, know that He walks with us in whatever hardships we are facing. He can take what is dragging us down, and turn us around with transformative grace and love.

“Jesus presents to us the great mystery of the descending way. It is the way of suffering, but also the way to healing. It is the way of humiliation, but also the way to resurrection. It is the way of tears, but of tears that turn into tears of joy. The descending way of love becomes the ascending way of love, the way to joy, peace, and new life.  The cross is transformed from a sign of defeat into a sign of victory, from a sign of despair into a sign of hope, from a sign of death into a sign of life.” Henri Nouwen

A blessed Palm Sunday to all!

grace, peace & Ascending Love

Virginia : )

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Difficult Journeys +Persevering Grace+

We are nearing the end of our Lenten journey. Easter is next Sunday! As we prepare to enter Holy Week, the somberness of Lent becomes more sobering as we journey with Jesus to Calvary. As He passed through the valley and shadow of death, so, too, He is with us in our valleys.

Today many folks are journeying through dark valleys of injustice, hurts, health challenges, grief, economic loss, and things that make the toes of our hearts curl up with hopelessness. It’s easy to get stuck in our valleys, to let fear prevent persevering grace from entering our hearts and lives, to stop moving forward.

Jesus could have stopped on the way to Calvary, but he kept on going – for you, for me, for everybody. His persevering grace is available for us today if we plug into Him to keep on going.

“Calm your anxiety and apprehension. Remain at peace, continue to go forward, and don’t let your course be stopped. It is true that this is the darkest hour of the night for you, but may the thought of a bright dawn and more brilliant noontime sustain you and induce you to keep moving forward. Do not doubt that the One Who has sustained you so far will continue with ever greater patience and divine kindness to support you on the remainder of your difficult and trying journey.”  St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

grace, peace & persevering grace

Virginia : )

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On this fifth Friday of Lent (Good Friday is just a week away!) Virginia is sharing one of her favorite quotes for our hearts to contemplate. It may be a bit familiar to faithful readers. (Virginia has shared this before, perhaps more than once. As stated, it is one of her favorites!) It’s a reminder to TRUST GOD when we may not understand what the heck is going on around us.

“Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting God who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either God will shield you from suffering or God will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” Saint Francis de Sales

Here’s to trusting God will provide the grace to get us through this day, the next, and the next one after that. May God’s peace permeate our anxious thoughts and worries with extra doses of hope to cope with whatever is freaking us out right now (there’s plenty!)

grace, peace & HOPE!

Virginia : )

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Today on the Solemnity of the Annunciation we honor Mary’s open heart of faithfulness when Angel Gabriel appeared with the Good News of God’s love for us and of her special role in bearing God’s son Jesus into this world.

Mary took a huge step of faith with her “yes” to God’s request through Angel Gabriel. She risked death (they stoned pregnant-out-of-wedlock women back then) but she said yes to God, anyway. Despite her fears, despite not knowing how her betrothed, Joseph, would take it. She said, “Yes.” Let it be so. Let it be as You have said.

She trusted God, completely, and moved forward with faith letting her yes become Love incarnate within her.

Something to think about! When was the last time you said, “Yes” to something for God? Something hard to do that requires extra doses of faith? Following Jesus is not just singing “Kumbaya” around a campfire, but letting His love flow through us in tough places (even if that means being stuck at home for a year and being nice to those around us!)

Taking Mary’s example to heart, may we offer up our “yes” to God’s nudging in our lives. Somehow, someway, may God’s Light shine through us today.

“Yes. Let it be so. Let it be as You have said.”

grace, peace & willing hearts

Virginia : )

“Mary’s words give us a new outlook of life. The outlook of a persevering faith; a faith which is the light of daily life. Of days sometimes tranquil but often stormy and difficult. A faith, which, finally, lightens up the darkness in each one of us.” Saint Pope John Paul II

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Planting Seeds of Love

On 24 March 1980 Archbishop Óscar Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass at the Divina Providencia Chapel in San Salvador. Working tirelessly on behalf of justice, he planted sacrificial seeds of love in El Salvador that resound around the world.

Today as we remember Saint Óscar Romero’s life of courageous faith and sacrifice, the love of Jesus he shared with so many, here is something for our hearts to contemplate.

“We plant seeds that will one day grow, we water the seeds already planted knowing they hold future promise. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.” Saint Óscar Romero

grace, peace & SEEDS OF LOVE

Virginia : )

p.s. If you would like to learn more about Archbishop Óscar Romero, here’s a post Virginia previously shared: Óscar Romero, A Life of Courageous Faith

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Clay Pots: Masterpieces of Divine Art

“Promise me you’ll never forget that you aren’t an accident or an incident… you are a gift to the world, a divine work of art, signed by God.” Max Lucado

The other day I had a bit of a revelation. Not an earth shattering end of times lightning bolt, but gentle affirmation by way of a resounding still small voice. The kind heard when all the clutter around our hearts is silenced for a few ticks.

Many of you are probably familiar with 2 Corinthians 4, the “jars of clay” verses. I must confess I memorized them as a child and put them on my office wall in the Middle East as a reminder “to be perplexed (and vexed over injustices) but not in despair.”

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

I have always viewed myself as a “clay pot.” As life happened I included “cracked clay pot” in that moniker. “Isn’t it grand as our cracks get wider there’s more room for the Light of Christ to shine through?” A sentiment Virginia has shared on many occasions.

The cracked clay pot in my mind is broken down, plain earthen pottery. Basic and serviceable, no frills or decorations of any sort.

While on a week-long silent retreat years ago (written about previously here) I discerned the “treasure” inside burned out clay pot me at that time was indeed valuable – filled with diamonds, emeralds and rubies of God’s kingdom – and “diamonds are hard to crush.

But, the outer image of a cracked earthen clay pot persisted. Until the other day as I emptied out the constant clutter of voices widening the cracks in my clay pot. Clear as a bell, that still small voice said:

“You are not a broken down clay pot, but a masterpiece from the Master Potter, Your Creator. An artisan’s showcase of healed beauty is what you are to Me. Precious in My sight, precious, precious, precious! Don’t forget My Love lives in you.”

As an appreciator of fine pottery it’s a paradigm shift to envision myself as a beautiful artisan work of art, a “showcase of healed beauty.” What an image to treasure as I look at special pottery pieces brought back from Bethlehem, from Africa, from artists all over.

I am God’s masterpiece! You are God’s masterpiece! That is something to rejoice over.

In these disparaging times when so much seeks to puts us down, to widen the cracks in our clay pots, don’t forget that we are Masterpieces of Divine Art.


grace, peace & Divine Masterpieces

Virginia : )

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So many things can wreck our inner peace these days. Just turn on the news! Or check your social media feeds (either way downers abound.)

The tricky part about trying to get our peace grooves on is letting God have a bit more of our heart’s real estate. When we’re freaking out inside it’s easier to turn over our worries and fears if God has the right-of-way. To this point, here are bits of wisdom from one of my favorite saints to contemplate on this Lenten Monday…

“Peace is simplicity of heart, serenity of mind, tranquility of soul, the bond of love. Peace means order, harmony in our whole being… It is the holy joy of a heart in which God reigns.” St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

“Be courageous, my daughter. There are both spiritual and bodily rose bushes. In the latter the thorns are constantly present and the roses wither, but in the former, the thorns pass but the roses persist…Jesus calls all of us with divine inspirations, and He communicates Himself to us with His grace.” St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

grace, peace & divine inspirations

Virginia  : )

Photos: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Richmond, Virginia)

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On this Fifth Sunday of Lent here are words from a beloved old hymn for our minds and hearts to contemplate, written by deeply spiritual Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) who is now a saint!

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path, Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith, home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

As we trod the paths of loss or gloom, allow the kindly Light of Jesus Christ to restore and renew our hearts with the warmth of His love and lead us ever on…

grace, peace & Kindly Light

Virginia : )

p.s. Here’s a beautiful rendition of the song by favorite artist Audrey Assad from her “Fortunate Fall” compilation. (Email readers you know the drill, click to the Roses website to view the YouTube for a listen.)

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Today is the first day of Spring but it’s FREEEEEZING OUTSIDE. We had a few warm days last week, then wham! A huge storm hit Thursday night dropping balmy temps from the 60s to the 30s (18°C to 1°C.) Yesterday snowflakes appeared amidst a deluge of sleety rain. Unusual (to say the least) for the month of March in Williamsburg, Virginia!

Obviously the weather here did not get the March memo. Things may be cold and dreary, but spring will come. The challenge is to hold on until then.

Hold on to hope. The sun may not come out today or even tomorrow…

… but it will shine again.

As for spring? Walking around town Virginia (the person) has seen a few daffodils and redbuds peeking out. Not much in the way of leafy green trees, but there was one in downtown Williamsburg appropriately Instagramed for posterity (and hope’s) sake.

Spring has not sprung in its flowery grandeur, but it’s OTW. Today here are a few quotes and pics to get our spring vibes going…

“And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Hold fast to hope, the fragile flowers shout.” Mary Lou Kownacki

“Luminous is the light of spring. Luminous is the light of Christ. Let us enter into this light of the Lord, who brings us the spring of hope, eternally renewed. He brings us the gift of faith that can grow by leaps and bounds. He brings us the love that can change the world if we incarnate it as He wishes us to.” Catherine Doherty

grace, peace & springy HOPE!

Virginia : )

Flower photos: Colonial Williamsburg (March, 2020)

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Protecting Others (you, me, everybody!)

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of Mary. In one of his homilies, Pope Francis spoke of St. Joseph’s role as protector of Mary and Jesus (especially fleeing from Herod to Egypt) but also taking his example to heart as inspiration for us to consider what needs protecting around us.

“The vocation of being a “protector” is not just something involving Christians alone; it also has a dimension involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families… It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it.

Be protectors of God’s gifts!” Pope Francis (19 March 2013)

Protecting all creation means protecting the trees…

…protecting the oceans…

…protecting our furry friends (my niece’s dog BB)

…protecting our environment…

…and protecting all people, especially children!

As we honor St. Joseph’s role protecting Mary and Jesus in perilous times, let’s learn from his example and become better protectors of God’s gifts in our uncertain times!

grace, peace & protectors

Virginia : )

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