Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday - Father Forgive Them

Good Friday - the day of Our Lord's Crucifixion - but what is Good about such a terrible death? What is Good about such suffering? What is Good about betrayal and torture and death?

"For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16

Good Friday - The Legend of the Dogwood

Two thousand years ago, few trees in the Middle East were large enough to use for building. However, one tree was valued for its thick trunk and fine, strong wood. When the Romans came to rule over Jerusalem, their government used this same wood to construct crosses for executing criminals.

One day, an officer of the Roman court came and said, "The King of Jews is to be put to death. Deliver an extra-large cross made from your finest wood." A fresh tree was cut from the forest of the trees with thick trunks and fine, strong wood. An extra-tall cross was quickly made and delivered.

The tree was distressed at being used in such a cruel manner. Sensing this, Jesus - with gentle pity - said to it:

"Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will your kind grow large enough to be used as a gibbet. Henceforth all will be slender, bent and twisted - and the blossoms will be in the form of a cross, two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember."

Three days after the death of Jesus of Nazareth, the chief wood gatherer received alarming news.

"All of our finest trees are withering," the messenger whispered. The wood gatherer hurried to the forest and saw that it was true.

Several years later, the old wood gatherer heard that every spring people visited the forest that had once made his job so easy. Despite his advancing years, he set out to discover why. He saw the remains of forest, now like a wilderness, with only a few trees still standing tall - baked, lifeless and rotting.

But what was this? As he drew closer, his feeble eyes could make out the people walking among thousands of beautiful, flowering bushes. Seeing one of his own workers there, the old man said, "No one could ever make a cross out of this twisted wood. Our finest tree has gone to the dogs!"

And then he noticed the beautiful white flowers, each blossom looking as if it had been burned from the touch of a miniature cross...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Maundy Thursday - Mass of the Lord's Supper

Maundy Thursday - the Mass of the Lord's Supper - the beginning of the High Triduum of Easter. But what does it all mean? Why is Pope Francis washing feet? What is so special about this day?

"If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."

Before the Passover Supper began, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples - the seeds of the clergy. He humbled Himself to serve, and to teach an important lesson about service. That is why the priest will wash the feet of his fellow priests, or others symbolizing various services within the Church, But Maundy Thursday is not really about foot washing - and even the foot washing is not really about foot washing...

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Holy Week - Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday - we rejoice - Jesus is coming!

"For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” - Matthew 23:39

On Palm Sunday, we are reminded that we - you and me - we sent Jesus to His cross. On Palm Sunday, we shout "Crucify Him!" - not some shadowy people from long ago...

When I was a child, this was the moment I found the most convicting, the moment that always and still brings tears to my eyes - the moment the parish cried out in one mighty voice, "Crucify Him!"

Monday, February 23, 2015

What is Repentance? Not what you might think!

During Lent, we are called to repent - but what is repentance?


When we repent, we LOOK at what we have done or said or allowed, we accept responsibility, and we CHANGE. We STOP the grievous behavior. 

There is no REPENTANCE without CHANGE.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The NKJV Study Bible: Full Color Edition - Book Review

It always seems funny to be reviewing a Bible...but as I told my husband, I am reviewing the features of this new Study Bible, not the actual content of God's Word. And the features, in my opinion, deliver.

I was quite excited when the package containing The NKJV Study Bible: Full Color Edition arrived - I was really looking forward to diving right into the resources this Study Bible offers. I was not disappointed - color maps, articles bringing context and understanding of Biblical-era culture and times, word studies, annotations, timelines, essays, and more... 

Weekend Reading, Feb 20 15

This week, I compiled a short Lenten list for Weekend Reading - sites I visit and that always leave me feeling nourished or convicted or thoughtful.

Ann Voskamp writes a compelling Call for the Next 40 Days: To the Nations and People of the Cross. Ann calls us to examine our place in this broken world, and to examine the Cross' place in this broken world. A must-read.

Catholic Relief Services has an app! They also have a great selection of videos that explain what Lent really is.  One year - many years ago - my mom encouraged us to do extra chores during Lent, and the money we earned would be placed in our CRS Rice Bowl. We were so excited to see how the money added up - and its a wonderful way for children to learn to ACT for the Body of Christ (as opposed to resenting giving up candy)!

Father Robert Barron shares daily inspiration with his Word on Fire program - sign up for free daily Lent emails in English or Spanish. Father Barron calls us to return to the basics, and fires me up with his emails.

And this is where you can Pope Francis' message to the faithful for Lent 2015 - an inspiring message of Holy Love overcoming Worldly Indifference. Many media outlets intentionally misrepresent the Pope - weaving their own narrative into their translations of his words - so I prefer to go to the source, which is often far more inspiring!

I hope you are as inspired as I was from these stories. Have a prayerful and fruitful weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

3 Questions for Lenten Self-Reflection

Lent - that holy time of repentance, self-reflection, mourning, penitence. We look at our lives, our actions, our thoughts - we see where we fall short. We take the time to REPENT, to TURN AWAY from evil thought, evil deeds.

Oh, my thoughts and deeds aren't really evil and sinful, right?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday 2015

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of a season of reflection, abstinence and penitence - the beginning of Lent, the holiest season in the Church.

Today I reflect upon my sins, I examine my life - and I am overcome with gratitude to my Father who will wash away my sins and imperfections.

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Big Changes for 2015!

I have big changes in store for 2015. 

Changes that impact this space.

I am reorganizing Blooming in Suburbia, refocusing on its original mission - which was to be inspirational, focusing on faith and wonder and beauty.

I am launching Books,Writers and More with a group of friends - so that we can share our love of the written word.

I am launching Happy Homemaking - which is where all the homemaking content that originally posted here will go, along with new articles and recipes and goodies!

Its a busy time right now - moving and revising and updating posts, designing the new sites, trimming down and refocusing Blooming in Suburbia. Its also an exciting time!

All three sites should be ready for prime time on JANUARY 1, 2015!