Tuesday, March 23, 2021



     I sat in mass today and heard "The Beatitudes" being proclaimed as the Gospel.  I tried to count how many times I had heard that reading at mass, read it in the Bible or studied it in a Catechism class or retreat.  I've heard it taught as the "new commandments", the way Christians should live and the "be-attitudes".   Nothing connected for me.  Matthew 5:3-12 eluded my understanding. 

    The Deacon, in his homily, once again patiently explained to the congregation each of the eight characteristics that God wanted us to adopt.  Light bulbs went off in my head...the Deacon was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  All my life, I've been trying to figure out how I'm supposed to live these out, but Jesus was not trying to give us characteristics we need to strive to acquire or to live out.  He was giving the disciples and all of us a different perspective.  A blessed perspective.

    To understand the Beatitudes we have to keep them in the context of the Gospel as Matthew related it.  The disciples had just been called and they had been touring Galilee with Jesus.  They had witnessed him proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom and curing people of every disease and illness.  They had seen the crowds of people beginning to grow and swell in number as people from Galilee, Jerusalem, Judea and from across the Jordan brought the sick, the paralyzed and all those afflicted with pain to Jesus.

    Remember, at this time, the disciples were in training by Jesus. Step one in the training process was to call them to follow him.  Step two was to give them an experience of what it meant to follow him; that is, dealing with crowds of people who were desperate to be made whole.  The disciples had to be a bit overwhelmed at this time.  Jesus, being the ultimate leader, knew that it was time to progress to step three in the training. He took them away from the crowds to a mountain.  His disciples gathered around him and he gave them a way to look at the crowds.  He gave them the approach he wanted the disciples to take as his followers.  He gave them a perspective which was radically different then what was common at the time and even today. 

    In a world where human affliction and sorrow was seen as a punishment by God for personal sin, Jesus proclaimed that human affliction was not a punishment but a blessed moment in someone's life.  He was instructing his disciples on how they were to look at themselves as well as the hoards of people who would be coming to them. Jesus was giving his disciples not only the perspective they needed but also the words to use when they encountered the variety of needs, pains, suffering and desires. 

    In essence, Jesus said to his disciples, I want you to know that people who are poor in spirit, mourning, meek, long for righteousness, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers and persecuted for righteousness are all blessed.  When you encounter them let them know that, even thought it might not feel like it at the time, God is with them in a special way.  Divine favor is upon them. 

    But Jesus did not stop there.  He even gave the disciples and all of the blessing we should look for when we are experiencing any of those "blessed moments".  He painted the picture of what that moment could bring an that through the pain, suffering and persecution we should be mindful of and watchful for the blessing which will come. 

    Renoir, the great painter, suffered painful arthritis in his later years.  A young boy once asked him, "Mr. Renoir, why do you paint when it causes so much pain?"  Renoir answered, "Because the pain passes but the painting remains."  Jesus was saying to his disciples that they and all the people they would encounter are God's masterpieces.  The painful strokes of life as well as the joyful strokes are all part of creating the masterpiece.

    It is our choice as disciples of Jesus, to choose to call the various strokes of life "blessed".  When we do that it gives us the mindset to begin to accept the blessing that will remain.  The blessed moment passes but the blessing remains. 

    Jesus was presenting a radical and difficult walk with God.  When someone has just buried a loved one it is hard to say that person is blessed in their mourning.  But that is exactly what Jesus is saying.  The person who is mourning has God with them in a special way.  Those who mourn can be mindful of and watch for the blessing of being comforted.  It does come.  The experience of being comforted by the community is literally divine if you allow yourself to experience it.  The "blessed moment" passes but the blessing of comfort remains. 

    Rick Velghe, a dear friend, experienced the death of his wife, Patty.  He often spoke of the blessing he received from the community as he and their three children walked in the valley of tears.  Years later when he was dying of cancer he actually was concerned about me and how I was doing.  He told me, " I have now been on both ends of the dying experience.  I am on the easier end - being left behind is so much harder."  

    Each blessed moment that passes has a blessing that will remain:

BLESSED MOMENT.......................BLESSINGS                                                                               Poor in Spirit...................................Theirs is the Kingdom of God                                                        Mourn............................................... Comforted                                                                                   Meek.............................................. Inherit the land                                                                              Hunger & thirst for justice ..............Will be satisfied                                                                     Merciful.........................................Shown mercy                                                                                Clean of heart................................They will see God                                                                  Peacemakers'..................................Called children of God                                                                    Persecuted for the sake of righteousness....Theirs is the Kingdom of God

    Jesus did not mince words at the end of this portion of his teaching.  He clearly defined the distinct possibility of what was to come if his disciples continued to follow him.  What I find fascinating, is Jesus never apologized for how hard it was going to be for those who followed him. Instead, he prepared his followers by stating exactly what could happen.  He said, "let me tell you that when you get insulted and persecuted and people utter every kind of evil and lie against you because of me [then chalk that up as a blessed moment]" Rejoice and be glad because the reward will be great in heaven!  The blessing will remain forever.     

    I sat in mass today and heard the Gospel reading of the Beatitudes being proclaimed and a lightbulb went off in my head.  What I love about insights is that it doesn't matter how many years it takes for them to surface because when the lightbulb comes it illuminates a new approach that can be wrestled with and lived and worked on until the next insight illuminates the next part of the path.  For now I will walk with the understanding that in Matthew 5:3-12,  Jesus was not trying to give us characteristics we need to acquire or live out.  He was giving the disciples and all of us a different perspective.  A blessed perspective. 

Sara Fontana    Original article written 1/31/2005   Revised 3/22/2021

Monday, August 26, 2019


God through...

God through me 
       is all the other prepositions 
           whirling around within me

God with me
God for me
God above me
God beside me
God in me 
             then bursting forth out of me....

God through me
      into the lives of others
God’s love through me to others 
God’s love through others to me. 

God through...

Friday, October 6, 2017


GOD HUGS                               
 “Mommy, I hurt myself.”  With tears streaming down her face, my daughter comes running to me, pointing to her skinned elbow.  I bend down, pick her up in my arms and give her a hug.  I carry her into the house and bandage the elbow.  Afterwards, we sit in the rocking chair and I let her rest in my arms a bit as we rock.  Then she’s off and running again, knowing that I’m nearby. 
            “Hugging” moments are special for parents. Cuddling up with the kids for a bedtime story, or back-from-school hugs or morning hugs or even spontaneous hugs are all treasured moments. As our children move into adolescent years, the open arm affection often is replaced by a  “leaning into” hug. (When my oldest daughter was 12 she would do a type of sideway lean when I asked for a hug.)  As they move through the teen years and into adulthood the hugs between parent and child may return but they are fewer and farther between then the early childhood years. 
            As my children have moved into the teen years, I have come to realize that those “hugs” were more than just treasured moments.  Each time I was available for a hug or asked for a hug, I was unintentionally teaching about God.  Wordlessly, I was planting the seed of faith and teaching about a God who constantly waits nearby to envelope us in hugs.    
            God’s hugs are bigger than any parents’ hugs.  They can hug the inside of a person when the hurt goes deeper than a skinned elbow. It is important that as parents we become intentional about giving our children opportunities to experience God’s hugs.  As parents, we are the first evangelizers of our children.  By bringing our children into the waiting arms of God we answer Jesus’ great commission to “go and make disciples of all the nations”. 
We disciple our children and bring them into God’s waiting arms when we establish God-centered rituals in our home.  Rituals like praying before meals, praying before bedtime, praying for others and giving thanks for the experience of God in our lives. We bring them into God’s waiting arms when we bring them for Baptism, or to church.  We can even disciple our children through simple moments like the spontaneous applause and shout of “Yeah God!” after observing a gorgeous sunset together. 
            God has designed families to be a school of evangelization.  The goal is to bring the children to God’s waiting arms.  As our children experience the warmth and comfort of God’s arms they no longer need to be brought, they notice and slip into God’s waiting arms on their own.  The cycle continues when and if God calls them into marriage and family, they then begin to bring their children to God’s waiting arms. 
            The key element here is the experience of God’s loving arms.  Unless I can name a time when I have felt God’s loving arms around me, I cannot bring others into God’s arms. I have met people who could not name a time when they experienced God’s arms around them until they were an adult.  Once they experienced God’s arms they became the greatest evangelizers, going out of their way to encourage others to develop a relationship with God.  It would seem that along with the experience of God’s arms around us comes the desire to invite others to that wonderful place.  Sometimes we bring others to that experience just by living a faithful life.
            My good friend, Patty Velghe, was a wonderful witness of God’s love.  As I watched her with her children, I could see God’s love shining forth.  It was a delight to share parenting tips with her and I learned to be a better parent by watching her simple gestures of love for her children.  When she died, her husband had engraved on her tombstone, “Her love was God’s music.” I know, through Patty’s witness, that the love of every parent is God’s music playfully, solemnly encircling our children and others into the waiting arms of God.  
By Sara Fontana (written 15 years ago but still pertinent today!)
God waits.
I walk.
God waits.
I talk.
God waits.
I play.
God waits.
I move.
 God waits.
I run.
God waits.
I stop.
God waits.
I notice.
God waits.

I run into God’s arms.
God hugs.

God waits.
I rest in God’s arms.
God waits.
I rest.
God waits. I wait.

God waits.
I notice.
God waits.

I go and bring someone else into God’s arms.
God hugs.



By Sara Fontana

Definition of evangelization: Bringing others into the waiting arms of God.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016



I woke up at 4am with my friend who is battling leukemia on my mind.  Yes, another friend who has cancer. This horrible disease which ravages peoples bodies.  Some battle it and continue living here on earth while some battle it and it leads them into the next stage of eternal life. 

I just lay in bed with my eyes closed, present to the thoughts racing through my brain.  How do I pray?   Do I ask for what I want? … I want her to be 100% healed of the cancer right now and keep on living here on earth!   Then my mind moves to the pious thought  "not my will but yours be done, Lord.” But don’t I want what God wants?  Does God want Donna to suffer and die?  Why do we even have suffering on earth?   My mind races and races through all these questions. 

Then an image of our dog, Mac, comes to mind.  Mac is a medium sized terrier who enthusiastically wakes up every morning.  He literally jumps up and down excited about the possibilities of going for a walk or someone petting him.  Then I have an image of our cat, Fiona.  She greets the day with calm expectation and acceptance of whatever comes her way.  So is that the way I should pray, with the enthusiasm of Mac and the calm expectation and acceptance of Fiona?

Okay, here goes...
                  A MAC/FIONA STYLE OF PRAYER.....
I pray for healing for Donna.  I know what I want.  I enthusiastically petition and thank God for the healing that is taking place. I have calm expectation and acceptance that God knows the big plan and is working miracles in the midst of pain and suffering. 

I want no pain and suffering in the world. 
I want people to not get sick.
I want people to care for themselves in mind, body and spirit and care for others as themselves.
I want everyone to recognize God in their lives and the tools God has in place to strengthen and assist them in being the best version of themselves.
 I want people to feel God’s love and live out that love in their lives.
 I want parents to accept and love their children.  I want parents to be intentional about raising each of  their children to be the best version of themselves in mind, body and spirit.
 I want people to communicate honestly, mindful of being loving in that honesty.
 I want people to feel so empowered and loved within their own skin and in their own mind that they do not have to kill others or hurt others with words or actions in order to feel empowered             themselves.
 I want people to love God with their whole heart, whole mind, whole soul and with all their strength and to love their neighbor as they love themselves. 
I want them to love themselves so much that love spills out in kind, caring actions to themselves and others. 

 I want people to look at their own bodies and the bodies of others as God’s gift.  Not objects for their own pleasure but marvelous dwelling places for their spirit to live within here on earth.  I want people to see their bodies as wonderful, intricate, special systems created in God’s image.

 I believe if we saw ourselves in this way there would be an end to pornography, an end to abortion, an end to sexual abuse, drug abuse and abuse of any kind.  We would live authentically, not changing who we are but embracing who we are called to be.  We would live out our ultimate purpose for being which is to know, love and serve God.  We would enthusiastically thank God for loving us into creation and calmly expect and accept great things in our lives. 

Just as I do not need my children to love me for me to love them, God does not need my love for God to love me.  God created me.  I was birthed into this life because of God’s love.  Just as there is nothing that my children could do to make me stop loving them, so also there is nothing that I can do that will make God stop loving me. 

As a parent of adult children I now connect to God from a different perspective.  I recognize how much I appreciate and enjoy it when my children say they love me, give me hugs, spend time with me, take time to have conversations with me, go out of their way to assist me or give me thoughtful gifts.  It is heartwarming for me to see them living out and embracing much of what my husband and I intentionally taught them when we were raising them.  The way they have chosen to live their adult lives is the absolute greatest gift and way of showing us how much they appreciate and love us.   I believe that what I just wrote is a metaphor for why it is important for us to praise God, speak words of love to God, spend time with God and be of service to all of God’s creation.  Being the best version of ourselves is the absolute greatest gift and way of showing God how much we love God. 

So, now that I’ve taken the time to write down all the things that I want others to do I recognize I
can’t control others.  I can only work on myself, speaking and acting in the world as the best version of myself.  I pray that my thoughts, my words and my actions reveal God’s love to my self, my family and everyone I meet.

Thank you, God, for one more day! I greet this day with the enthusiasm of Mac and the calm expectation and acceptance of Fiona.

God, I love you! Please heal Donna.

June 28, 2016

Saturday, January 24, 2015


I am ‘Mom’

Called out by my children in their need, in their joy, in their suffering

From their little voices calling out endlessly,
I hear them and wrap them in the cocoon of my love:

“Mom, look at me!” “Mom, I need you!” “Mom, I love you!” “Mom…..”

To teen anguish and enthusiasm,
I watch as their wings break through the cocoon:

“Mom, I need a hug.” “Mom, I can do it on my own.”
“Mom, can you please go away?”
“Mom, can you help me?” “Mom, can you take me to….”
“Mom, can I go…..” “Mom, let me show you this…” “Mom…….”

To mature voices, calling out to me as they use their wings to fly:

“Mom, I’ve been accepted at…” “Mom, I’m going to….”
“Mom, I’m getting married….” “Mom, we’re having a baby!” “Mom…..”

The intentional evolution completed

I joyfully watch my children fly on their own and

every now and then our wings touch…

Monday, October 6, 2014

God - Parent, Sibling and Friend

I believe in a loving God. A God who is parent, sibling and friend – Father, Son & Holy Spirit - rolled into one. In an imperfect way my relationship with my own adult children is a metaphor for my relationship with God.

GOD THE PARENT. In my children’s life experience, I am the one who gave birth to them. When I held each one of them for the first time, I loved them completely. They did nothing to earn that love, my love was freely given to them. Like God, the parent, I rejoiced in their birth. I have been there holding them, caring for them, loving them, disciplining them, guiding them, listening to them, waiting for them to come home, delighting in time spent together. When they were children, my primary role was as mother. There were times when they were angry with me because, out of love, I disciplined them working to instill an internal discipline that they would be able to tap into when they were adults. At times they came to me because they were hurt and needed a kiss. Sometimes they came to me because they needed to climb into my lap for a hug and just a quiet moment with my arms around them. Sometimes they just wanted me to watch them. As they accomplished something, they would shout out the name they called me, “MOM”, to make sure I saw them. As adults they still call me and need me as mother. They will always be my children, but they are now adults. As adults, sometimes they don’t need a mother as much as a sister-in-Christ.

GOD THE SIBLING. I believe that God has no grandchildren. We are all sons and daughters of God. Therefore when God grants us the privilege of having a child we have the responsibility and honor of raising a sibling to be part of the Kingdom of God. Consequently, when each of my children turned 18, I began to think of them and walk with them as a “sister-in-Christ”. I now conclude all letters I write to them with “love, Mom, your sister-in-Christ”. Seeing those words written on paper helps me to also work on living it out in life. I am an older sister who has life experiences they can tap into. Often as adults, they need me, not as parent, but as an older sibling. Someone who will listen to them, care for them, talk through ideas, directions and possibilities and wants what is best for them but does not tell them what to do. They can turn to me as someone who has walked the walk, knows the feeling and can relate to them because of my life experience and because I have known them and loved them all of their life. But then there are those times when my children call and they just need a friend.

GOD THE FRIEND. My good friends are those people I’ve laughed with, cried with and walked with through various adventures, fun times and tough times in life. They’re the people who know my good side but also challenge me out of love to be the best I can be. They are the ones I can sit in silence with admiring an amazing sunrise or contemplating the flames in a campfire. They are the ones that even when I have not spoken to them for a while, I know they are there for me if needed just to listen or come over for a game night or assist in a project or situation. All I have to do is call. I am blessed with a husband whom I consider my best friend. Together we had the privilege of raising 4 children into adults with whom we now enjoy spending time. I love it when they call just to talk or ask to spend time with me, not as mom, but as friend. Just to be together and make another memory that solidifies our friendship.

My children call on me as Mother or Sister or Friend depending on the circumstance and their need. I’m still the same person but my role changes depending on that need. In the same way I call on God the Father, God the Son or God the Holy Spirit depending on the circumstance and my need. God is God but there are times when I call upon God in the role of Jesus Christ. Someone who has walked the walk here on earth and I believe can relate and shed light on what I am going through at the moment. Sometimes I call on God in the role of the Holy Spirit. I need a listening ear or a push in my life towards new circumstances or I just need a sense of a loving presence guiding me. Then there are times when I call out to God as Father wanting Him to be part of what is going on in my life or just because I need to crawl into His lap and feel His arms wrap around me in a warm, loving embrace.

I believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - three in one - parent, sibling and friend.