Hope & a Cup of Coffee

Every morning the first thing I do is get myself a cup of coffee and sit and read the Bible. I do this before I do anything else because this is where my hope comes from. 

Last Sunday morning, after my cup of coffee, I went over to a friend’s house for a Pilates class. My friend is in the process of getting her certification to become a Pilates instructor and I am one of her students. I am getting free classes so she can earn her practice hours toward certification. 

cup of coffeeAfter the class, we chatted a while and then I left and knew I needed to run by the grocery store. I couldn’t decide which grocery store to go to but decided on the one closest to my house. As I took in the freshness of the Sunday morning drive and enjoyed the scenery with few cars on the road — it suddenly all ended. Right next to me one car over sat my ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Ugh!

Really, Lord? You allowed this to happen? You allowed me to see the man I was married to for 20 years cheerfully smile with his (much younger) new girlfriend sitting next to him? Where were they going at 10:30 on Sunday morning? Had she slept over at his apartment? All these thoughts ruined what I had just had my mind on — the beauty of the scenery and nature on this street. 

Was this coincidental or had God placed them there just at this perfect moment for me to encounter? What was on God’s heart that he wanted me to know? I was sad because since the divorce I have concentrated on getting my career re-started, I’ve spent almost 2 years getting over breast cancer and I’ve raised two daughters. I have not had time to develop a relationship with a boyfriend — nor has God brought anyone into my life. 

How I wish I could turn back the hands of time by 6 years. How I wish I could go back to being innocent and naive before the affair, the cancer and the death of my mother. But I can’t. 

The next morning, I got up and fixed myself a cup of coffee. I knew I had to read my Bible because without that, all would be lost. I follow the daily readings from the Catholic calendar and here is what I read on Monday morning: 

“Jesus answered them and said, Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” John 6:26-28

That was my message. God wanted me to know that I am to know him and that he will never perish. He is eternal life. All the things of this world will end but he will remain. I am to set my sights on him.

And this is where my hope comes from … hope and a cup of coffee. 

Learning About “Sacramental” Living

Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT*,  came to Holy Trinity recently and was the guest speaker for the annual woman’s retreat put on by The Daughters of Isabella. The topic for the retreat was Having a Sacramental Vision of the World.

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I wasn’t sure what to make of this topic. Somewhat recalling the definition of a sacrament from the Baltimore Catechism (clear back in the 70s), I briefly thought this topic didn’t make sense. I was taught that a Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. A “sacramental” is a sacred sign which bears a certain resemblance to the sacraments.

I still wasn’t convinced I understood the subject.

Sister eloquently began her talk by explaining that everything in life has meaning and can be related to Christ.

I agreed.

She said she would provide 7 aspects of sacramental living to convey her point. I was good with that because anything that can be explained with 7 bullet points seemed organized and easy for me to understand. I hope you agree!

Sr. Anne Marie’s first point was that everything in life has meaning. St. Ignatius of Loyola described it this way:  “All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know Him better, love Him more surely, and serve Him more faithfully.”

St. John Paul believed that every encounter was providential. He stated, “As soon as I meet people, I pray for them.” The outward sign of me praying for those God puts in my path is sacramental. That made sense.

Sister’s second point was that Christ is at the heart of the sacramental life. Is Christ our measure of reality or is Reality TV our measure of reality? I love this example because many years ago The Bachelor used to be my measure of falling in love. I’m so glad I can now say “used to be” as in the past tense.

The third point is that our bodies are sacramental. What our body does affects our soul. Are we using our bodies as temples unto the Lord or are we carelessly giving away our love and affections to whoever comes our way? Do we believe that deliberately getting drunk or eating too much is fun or is it an abuse of the body we were given?

Her fourth point — meals are sacramental. Mealtime is an icon, or a sign, of nourishment. Earthly bread nourishes and sustains our bodies. Christ, the heavenly bread, nourishes and sustains our souls. How can we make our meals more meaningful? Simply praying a blessing before a meal can call us into communion with Christ.

The fifth point: the poor among us are sacramentals. Many, many times throughout the Bible, Jesus teaches us that it is our responsibility to take care of the poor. Can we find a family living in a Third World Country who needs as little as $30 a month from us or is that not even on our radar?

Time is sacramental. This was her sixth point. Is the time we have on earth “our time” or God’s time? Do we care? Is the way we spend our time on earth important to the life we will live in heaven? Do we fully understand when we hear “God’s timing is not our timing”? Does it effect the way we react to our situations in life?

The final point was that the world is an enchanted place because of this reality of sacramental living. Typically, we think of an enchanted place as only being found in Disneyland; however, with the eyes of Christ, we can see our own world sacramentally.

The world of Christ is captivating when we realize simple things like the power of prayer, our Guardian Angels, the Trinity, the Eucharist and all that our faith has to offer. When we put on this vision, and think about The Mystery, we can begin to see the miracles.

It makes sense. Having a sacramental vision of the world creates in me a heart of love and a heart of thankfulness. Knowing and accepting that everything has meaning — even my heartaches in life — helps me to know God is in control.

 

Help me, O Lord, to have a sacramental vision of Your world. Please give me the graces I need to see Your place in my life. Show me Your Son in the people I meet. Help me to care for Your poor —even when I see myself as poor. Teach me to make good use of my time. Make known to me the enchantment of this life when all I see is boredom in the day-to-day tasks of living. I ask all these things through Christ Our Lord. Amen. 

* Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity