Saturday, February 11, 2023
Saturday, December 3, 2022
SUICIDE OF A VETERAN
Dedicated to Sean Leahy, my nephew
Strong, outer presence
Moments of clarity
Authenticity with self and others
Is interior strength possible?
Tearing at the insight
Breaking down strength within
Crumbling inside seeps outward
The strong outer presence begins to crumble
“You would be better off without me…”
Offering the ultimate sacrifice,
The battle ends with gunfire.
December 3, 2022
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
SARA FONTANA presents an ARMOR OF GOD Family Challenge....
Take up the Armor of God challenge in your family.
- Print out this blog and use it for Faith Conversations and discussion during the month.
- Discuss one piece of armor during dinner and use the Faith Conversation questions & tips listed below to have a discussion on how you, your child and your family can put on and use that part of the armor of God.
- Watch the Armor of God YouTube video with your children https://youtu.be/KxBHEkEzT3M Armor of God Song by BearHug band
- Faith Conversation questions: What is the Truth we believe in our family? How can we place that Truth around us every day? How can we know God, love God and serve God every day?
- Discussion Points: The Truth is God loves you! You are loved! You are made in the image of God. As the Bible says, "Male and female God created them. God blessed them..." Each family is filled with unique persons. Each person in the family is called to know God, to love God and serve God every day. God placed each of us in this family for a purpose.
- Faith Conversation questions: What does a Breastplate protect? What is the Greatest Commandment and how can we protect our heart by embracing what God commands us to do? How will living out the Greatest Commandment every day help build my confidence in knowing I am right with God? What is one thing that I can do for myself today that is loving? What is one thing I can do that is loving for my closest neighbor - one of my family members? What is the difference between "righteous" and "self-righteous"?
- Discussion points: The Greatest Commandment is to love God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. When you embrace the greatest commandment as your breastplate you live with the confidence knowing your are right with God. Not self-righteous where you think I am better than others but righteous that is confident in God's love and truly desiring others to have that same confidence and knowledge.
- Activity: Have everyone in the family make a breastplate, or draw a breastplate and write in the Greatest Commandment on the front of it.
- Faith Conversation questions: What happens when our shoes don't fit well? Do they hurt? When your feet hurt, or some part of the body hurts, is it harder for us to be kind and thoughtful to others? What happens when our shoes fit well? Can we keep them on longer?
- hat will be the fruit of our life and our family's life if we are fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace? The Gospel means 'good news'. What is Jesus telling us about the Good News of peace in the Gospel John 14:17? John 16:33? John 20:21?
- Discussion points: The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such there is no law. When you put on the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness then your life is fitted to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit and be witness to God's love to all those you meet. Your family can change the world one person at a time and one family at a time by living the Good News every day and sharing why you live the way you do with all those who ask.
- Faith Conversation questions: What is a shield used for? What is our Faith? Roman soldiers would put their shields up as they walked together. They could form a protective wall above them and all around them when they used their shields together. How can we as a family walk together in faith?
- Jesus is always with us. How can putting up the shield of faith be used when I open the internet, or look at my -phone, or listen to music? How can I use my shield of faith when someone is trying to show me something or have me do something that will not produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit?
- Discussion points: News and daily happenings in the world can bring fear into our hearts and uncertainty about God's prevailing love and the Salvation given by Jesus Christ. It is important to keep our shoes fitted with the Gospel of Peace - beyond all understanding - and take up our shields of faith as a family to protect us from the flaming arrows of the evil one that will constantly try to tear our families apart. Stand fast together and raise up your shields of faith not against one another but against the evil one that might have seeped into our homes.
- Faith Conversation questions: What is helmet used for? What is Salvation? How can we be mindful and keep our thoughts centered on what Jesus Christ did for us?
- (Faith Conversation with older students and parents) Sara Fontana has a phrase that she lives by, "The eternal perspective should govern the temporal perspective." How could that phrase be part of putting on the helmet of salvation?
- Discussion points: GOOD PICTURES, BAD PICTURES https://www.defendyoungminds.com/ is an excellent book I use to teach children about what to do if they see pornography and to help them to be able to navigate in a world where they will see or hear things that are not of God. In the book Kristen Jenson explains to the children that we have two brains. A thinking brain and a feeling brain. A good concept to teach children because things might feel good that lead to addictions. How can we strengthen the thinking brain to be in charge and put on our Helmet of Salvation to think before we do.
- Faith Conversation questions & Discussion items: What is the Sword of the Spirit referenced in Ephesians? ("which is the word of God") What is the word of God? (the Bible)
- Roman soldiers would need to practice sword fighting on a regular basis in order to be ready for battle. What can we do to practice with the "Sword of the Spirit"? Would it be good to read the Bible individually and as a family? How can we make that happen? Could we have a quote that we memorize each week together? Could we read a Gospel verse every day together?
- (Faith Conversation with older students and parents) Jesus had a 'Sword of the Spirit' fight with Satan in Matthew 4:1-11. Have a discussion about how Satan used scripture and how Jesus refuted what Satan quoted.
Repeat each year to see how everyone is doing in putting on their Armor of God each day.
Monday, September 5, 2022
St. Patrick used Celtic symbols like a Celtic knot to explain God’s love. In the same way Christians today can take secular love songs and use them to remind us of God’s love. I have done just that throughout my ministry with teens and families and even for myself personally. I have taken songs that are heard on secular radio stations and placed a Christian thought on the words of the song. That happened to me when I heard DON’T GIVE UP ON ME by Andrew Gramer.
Not soon after the Uvalde shooting a friend of mine sent me the YouTube video of Gramer singing the song with students. I cried as I watched it. I found a YouTube with the words of the song and watched that one and cried again as I imagined Jesus stepping into my great grief and sadness saying to me, and to all of us…
Jesus waits and invites us to reach out our hands to His. He will pull us out of the deep watersNo matter what this world will throw. It won’t shake me [Jesus] loose. I’ll reach myhands out in the dark and wait for yours to interlock. I’ll wait for you.
and into His arms as he says to us…
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son who says to us….Cause I’m not giving up, I’m not giving up not yet,Even when I’m down to my last breath. Even when they say there’s nothing left.So don’t give up on….I’m not giving up, I’m not giving up, no not me.Even when nobody else believes. I’m not going down that easily.So don’t give up on me.
I’ll fight for you. I always will until my heart is black and blue.I’ll stay with you. We’ll make it through the other side as lovers do.
I recently read a prayer by Henri Nowen on https://henrinouwen.org which explains the imagery of lover:
Dear Lord, Today I thought of the words of Vincent van Gogh: “It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.” You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. Out of your love I came to life, by your love I am sustained, and to your love I am always called back. There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love. . . . O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know there is ebb and flow but the sea remains the sea. Amen.
I love the imagery of God's love is the same; "Not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. Out of your love I came to life, by your love I am sustained, and to your love I am always called back." In our Sacramental Marriage of over 40 years my husband and I have had ebbs and flows. There have been days of sadness and days of joy; there have been feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there have been moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them have been embraced by God's unwavering love of us and is at the center of our love for one another. Francis and my love is just an imagery of God's love.
Our love is not perfect, like God's love is perfect. But we strive to live out the mystery of being one flesh. We pray that we "mirror" God's love to one another. The days we do we celebrate as "Bullseye days". Some times we even have Bullseye weeks! Hitting the Bullseye is not easy. It requires diligent prayer, time together and intention. I can honestly say as we enter our 40th decade of marriage it gets easier to hit the Bullseye on a more regular basis. Maybe because I am less focused on trying to change Francis to be more like me ☺and more focused, noticing and naming how he lives out his life striving to be who God is calling him to be each day. I pray that peace beyond all understanding and many bullseyes moments for all those who are married!
Saturday, February 12, 2022
On August 8, 1981 we exchanged our marriage vows at St. Edmonds Catholic Church in Lafayette, Louisiana. We asked Fr. Fred Reynolds, S.J., the main presider at our wedding, to choose the Gospel reading for the mass. He chose St. Luke’s story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem and people laying palms before him. He shared, in his homily, that that is a strange reading for a wedding, but not a Christian wedding where a man and woman stand before witnesses and die to themselves in order to be resurrected as a couple set apart for the service and worship of God. Together they take up their cross of living out the Sacramental mystery. The Icon Fr. Fred gave us to commemorate our wedding is a constant reminder of that celebration and his words to us. Through the cross is new life and joy in marriage. There have been temptations, distractions and incredibly hard times. We have gotten through these times by following Fr. Fred’s encouragement to recognize the mystical presence of Jesus in each other and bow to that presence especially in the midst of arguments and hard times.
There is a centuries old tradition that is linked back to a small town in Bosnia-Herzegovina called Siroki-Brijeg, which reportedly remains the only place in the world with a 0% divorce rate. When the couple approaches the altar the priest says: “You have found your cross. And it is a cross to be loved, to be carried, a cross not to be thrown away, but to be cherished." He then blesses the Crucifix. During the exchange of vows, the groom holds the Crucifix in his right hand and the bride places her right hand on the top of the Crucifix uniting their hands together. The couple unites themselves on the Cross, and they recite their vows over this visceral image of Love Himself. Before they kiss one another, the couple first kisses the figure of Christ, the source of their love. This tradition is called the Marriage Crucifix, rather than the Wedding Crucifix because it was meant to remind the couple of the covenant they entered into, not only during the wedding but throughout the rest of their time on earth.
The Marriage Crucifix ritual is a beautiful way for us to commemorate 40 years of intentionally targeting a Bullseye Marriage. In our book we used archery as a metaphor to daily shoot for a Sacramental relationship. The action of putting our hands together on the cross adds a new dimension to the metaphor by providing a “Cross-bow” to assist us in hitting the bullseye!
We recognize that there will continue to be major distractions and temptations to take our hands off of the Cross-bow. But the crucifix reminds us that the journey through the pain and hard times leads to resurrection. Temptation enters into every marriage in one way or another. It is during those times spent deep in the valley that it takes heroic efforts by both to stay the course. Those who are experiencing this or have in the past can fully appreciate the grace that is necessary to hold on through the storm or the silence. There might be days when it all seems hopeless. Then a moment of true grace can bring a flood of renewed love and vitality back to the relationship to renew the sacramental bond. It is during these times of intense difficulty that spouses can experience what is truly meant by those seemingly prophetic words in the Marriage Crucifix Ritual “You may kiss the Cross.”
We found much joy in raising our 4 children and we also found that distraction, temptations and tough times were greatest during that time. When there were so many needs to be met it was difficult to stay focused and there were days when we were just grateful to have survived one more day. Our Fontana family prayer grew out of that time, “May God grant us the wisdom to discover the right, the will to choose it and the strength to make it endure. Thank you God for one more day. Yay God!”
We now get to witness our children raising their children and passing on the light of our Catholic faith to them. We pray for them and their spouses on a regular basis. We pray that they will keep their hands on the Cross-bow as they shoot for a Bullseye Marriage. We pray for the protection of Mary’s mantle over them each day. We are grateful beyond words for this journey we have walked together for these last 40 years and the honor of getting to know our grandchildren in the years to come! We praise God every day for each day on earth to know, love and serve God. We pray that our thoughts, our words and our actions, show God’s love to ourselves, our family and everyone we meet today!
AMEN! AMEN! WE SAY TO YOU, MARRIAGE IS WORTH THE EFFORT!
Keep your hands on the Cross-bow and as you shoot for a Sacramental relationship
may you have many Bullseye Moments!
Sunday, January 30, 2022
A prayer chain.
A chain that captures a person, persons or event in thoughts and words lifted to God.
A prayer chain.
Intended to surround a person, persons or event with intense love.
A prayer chain.
Pleading words that God's love be manifested in the world and true freedom be realized within the person, persons or event that the prayer chain captures.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
A BLESSED PERSPECTIVE
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 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 us 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:
Poor in Spirit...................................Theirs is the Kingdom of God
Meek.............................................. Inherit the land
Hunger & thirst for justice ..............Will be satisfied
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 Church 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
Friday, October 6, 2017
I run into God’s arms.
I rest in God’s arms.
God waits. I wait.
I go and bring someone else into God’s arms.
By Sara Fontana
Definition of evangelization: Bringing others into the waiting arms of God.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
WHAT I WANT.....
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.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Monday, October 6, 2014
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.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
A Day of Desperation
Desperate hate so deep someone is willing to die for it
A hate so deep that someone is willing
To take those that he hates and kill them as he dies
A desperate hate and conviction so strong
That the action of that day changed the world
I am overwhelmed at the power that can be wielded
When one hates so much
I am struck with the immense desperation that must be felt that leads to
Desperate hate which causes planning and plotting to
Destroy the object of that hatred.
I turn to my faith
Another Day of Desperation
Desperate love so deep someone is willing to die for it
A love so deep that someone is willing to take those that He loves and
Give them life as He dies
A desperate love and conviction so strong
That the action of that day changed the world
I am in awe at the power that can be wielded
When one loves so much
I am struck with the immense desperation that leads to
Desperate love that causes planning and plotting to
Bring life to the object of that love
On this day, September 11th
I turn to my faith
I am the hands and feet now of He who loved so much
He gave His life that I might live
Can I be so desperately in love that
I plan and plot to bring life to God’s people?
Can I too be so convicted and so desperate in that love that
I change the world through my actions of love?
The change begins in my family
It starts with daily expressions of appreciation and encouragement
Commitment to one another
Taking time to be together for fun, for work and service to others
Talking and listening to one another
Coping with our family crises and changes by reaching out to others
And our shared spiritual life
A spiritual life that gives meaning and purpose to our life together
The change continues in my church
Where I can join with others to plot and plan
To bring life to worship and programs that will inspire
Desperate actions of love
That will change the world
One person at a time
One family at a time
The change begins with me
Being so convicted in my faith that I take action that brings
The Greatest Commandment to life
Actions that reveal
My love of God, my love of others and my love of self
My response to desperate hate is
September 11, 2004