The last Monday of May marks the celebration of Memorial Day. Originally, it honored people killed during the American Civil War. But, now it has become a day when people honor the dead of all wars and generally all people that families have lost. A lot of special services and ceremonies are held in churches, cemeteries and other public places this day. Increasingly, this day has become ever more important as war and sacrifice continues.

Memorial Day is not just a time for grief; it is a time to celebrate peace and sacrifice.  It is a time to be grateful for our freedom and to pray for peace throughout our world.  The familiar song Let there be peace on earth includes the important phrase:  “and let it begin with me….” St. Francis’s prayer reminds us that WE are called to be peacemakers in our personal worlds as well as in our larger society…and the prayer tells us HOW to do it.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
            Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
            where there is injury, pardon;
            where there is doubt, faith;
            where there is despair, hope;
            where there is darkness, light;
            and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

            to be consoled as to console;
            to be understood as to understand;
            to be loved as to love. 

            For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;            
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen.

-Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

As we enjoy the month of May we look to Mary–we recognize that she gives us the example of how to put our gifts at the service of others:

First we see her as a young woman, using her gift of a listening heart as she hears the call of God to give of herself so that God’s love for humankind could be expressed in a remarkable way.  We then see her as a mother-to-be who could rightly have been focused on herself and her unborn child, sharing instead her gift of helpfulness as she hurries to visit her cousin Elizabeth.

We see her later, giving her gift of compassion as she notices the potential embarrassment at the wedding feast; and we see her gift of motherly insight as she tells the waiters to do whatever her son would tell them.  Throughout her son’s public life, we see her quietly living her gift of self-sacrifice, willingly letting go of her son, empowering him to go about his father’s business.

At the cross, she again shares one of her gifts–the gift of quiet suffering but she doesn’t stop there– from the foot of the cross she makes yet another commitment to give of herself–as our mother.  Mary wasn’t given every gift possible–we don’t hear that she was a good artist, or math scholar, or even a good housekeeper.  What we hear about are the gifts of the heart–one or more of her gifts may be ours as well–or we may have different ones–it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that the gifts we have, we share.  Whatever light God has put into our hearts, we let shine.  Whatever it is that makes us “tick”, we know who our creator is–and we thank him for the gifts he has given us. 

-Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner

A young man was walking with an older, more seasoned friend in the garden one day.  Feeling a bit insecure about what God had for him to do, he was asking the older man for some advice.  The older man walked up to a rose bush and handed the younger man a rosebud and told him to open it without tearing any petals.  The younger man looked in disbelief at his friend and was trying to figure out what a rosebud could possibly have to do with his wanting to know the will of God for his life.  But because of his great respect for the older man, he proceeded to try to unfold the rose, while keeping every petal intact.  It wasn’t long before he realized how impossible this was to do….

Noticing the younger man’s inability to unfold the rosebud without tearing it, the older man began to recite the following poem…………

It is only a tiny rosebud, 
A flower of God’s design;
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.
The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I.
GOD opens this flower so easily,
But in my hands, they die.
If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of God’s design,
Then how can I have the wisdom,
To unfold this life of mine?
So I’ll trust in God for leading
Each moment of my day;
I will look to God for guidance,
In each step along the way. 
The path that lies before me,
Only my Lord knows.
I’ll trust God to unfold the moments,
Just as HE unfolds the rose.

Remember to let go and let God unfold your life.

-Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

Dear God,

Thank you for our Mothers! You have given mothers hearts of unending, inexhaustible love, from the time she awakens at her baby’s first cries to the time she falls asleep after her last child finally comes home! Thank you for our mothers who care for us when we struggle, comfort us when we suffer, and celebrate with us when we succeed. Thank you for their hugs, their encouragement, and their faithful love.  Whether now living or deceased, our mothers have been a treasure in our lives…and we thank you for the goodness you have shown us through them.  And if for some reason, one mother or another has not had the strength to respond to your graces, we pray for them too…that you may touch their heart with newfound understanding of your unconditional love for them.

Thank you, Father, for Mary, our heavenly Mother, who supported your Son in his hopes and dreams, stayed by his side in his devastating death, and rejoiced with him in his triumphant Resurrection! She will not rest until all of us, her children, are safely home forever. Through her intercession, please protect and bless our mothers with your strength, your joy, and your undying love.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss
at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.
~Honoré de Balzac

-Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me—oracle of the LORD—and I will change your lot; I will gather you together from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you—oracle of the LORD—and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you. (Jeremiah 29:11 ff)

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd;

there is nothing I lack

In green pastures he makes me lie down;

to still waters he leads me;

he restores my soul.

He guides me along right paths

for the sake of his name.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff comfort me.

You set a table before me

in front of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me

all the days of my life;

I will dwell in the house of the LORD for endless days.

God, your thoughts are not my thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8)
What you have planned for me is beyond all I can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:19-20)
Yet you have also promised to reveal it to me through your Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:8-10)
So I open my heart, mind, and life to more of you-
to whatever you have for me.

Where there is ongoing fear in my life,
please replace it with faith.
Where there is a desire to hold back,
give me the strength to move forward.
Where there is a desert,
lead me into the Promised Land you have prepared for me.

I embrace that my part is to pray, plan, and most of all seek you.
And yours is to get me where you want me to go. (Proverbs 16:9 and 19:21)
Wherever that is, that’s where I want to be too. Because there’s no better place in this world or the next than with you. (Psalm 84:10)
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth (especially my little corner of it) as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
In Your name, Amen.

-Excerpt by Holley Gerth, from her new devotional Opening Your Door To Your God-Sized Dreams.

Be patient

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart

and try to love the questions themselves,

like locked rooms and like books that are

now written in a very foreign tongue.

Do not now seek the answers,

which cannot be given you

because you would not be able to live them.

And the point is, to live everything.

Live the questions now.

Perhaps you will then gradually,

without noticing it,

live along some distant day into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke