Transfigure us, oh Lord

The word transfiguration is defined three ways: 1) A complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state. 2) Christ’s appearance in radiant glory to three of His disciples (Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2-3, Luke 9:28-36). 3) The church festival commemorating this.

A few weeks ago, our choir sang a special song for the Feast of Christ’s transfiguration. It’s a pretty song that I can’t get out of my head. It talks about breaking the chains that bind us and following where Christ leads us. This song is appropriate for other days in Lent as well, not just for that feast. Isn’t being transfigured or transformed really what Lent’s all about anyway? I will concentrate this article regarding the first definition above with an emphasis on “a more beautiful or spiritual state.”

Lent gives us a focused opportunity to be transfigured into an improved spiritual state by more prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I like to refer to spiritual improvement as “polishing our halos!” A halo is a disk or circle of light surrounding or above the head of a saint or holy person to represent their holiness. Our light from our halos gets dimmed by our sins, so we have to ‘polish’ ourselves spiritually to let our light of holiness shine. Matthew 5:14-16 states: You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

There are lots of other manners in which we can be transfigured. We can make use of the sacrament of reconciliation. We can break ourselves of some bad spiritual habits. We can read the Bible and listen to what our Lord is trying to say to us through it. We can offer to help someone carry their cross by becoming a prayer partner with them for their intentions, needs, and struggles/difficulties. Maybe you can think of some other ways to be transfigured.

Some questions to ponder: How has my halo gotten dimmed by sin? How am I being transfigured this Lent? How can I let my light shine brighter for others? Have a fruitful Lent!

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

Patience?! What patience?!

Back in the day, I worked at a company with a gift shop on the bottom floor. I saw a poster that, at times, pretty much summed up my feelings about patience. It showed a gorilla with a stern look on its face with the caption: “Patience my (expletive). I’m going to kill something!” I had to chuckle. It was kind of embarrassing that I felt that way some days, but I was honest in acknowledging that impatience is an issue I’ve had for some time.

St. Paul talks about a thorn in the flesh. Impatience is my thorn. In 2 Corinthians 12:7, he states: ‘A thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.’ For Lent, I have tried to work on my impatience, specifically with my fellow motorists. I am reminded of another word that describes the suffering that comes with impatience: Longsuffering is defined as ‘having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people.’ And don’t some people cause us to suffer? They can be a downright pain in the, well, you know.

We all have our thorn in the flesh, whether it’s impatience with things or other people, having to always be right about everything, judging others unjustly or (place your thorn here). Jesus was a pretty patient person. He only got angry a few times in the Bible, when it was justified (like driving out the moneychangers from the temple or calling the Pharisees on their attitudes).

As far as my Lenten practice (patience with my fellow motorists), I have my successful days and not so successful days. Sometimes, I even let the people in who think they always have to be first. You know, the ones who are in such a hurry all the time. They speed to the front of the line, even on the shoulder of the road, and then expect to be let in because they think they shouldn’t have to wait. “Hey buster! I was here first! Who do you think you are trying to speed ahead of everyone else?! Wait your stinking turn!” Now, I have a confession to make. During this time of Lenten ‘longsuffering,’ I think I understand why some of them go to the front of the line: Maybe because no one pays attention that they are trying to get in or simply won’t let them in. ”Hey buster, I want to get there just like you do! Let me in!” (Wow. It’s pretty interesting seeing both sides of that situation!) That said, it’s hard (sometimes) to know who is trying to just take advantage and who really is just frustrated about not being able to get in line like everyone else. Something to think about next time we are on the road. Have a safe day!

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

What the heck is Lent?

In Christianity, Lent is a time of fasting and repentance in the spring, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending several weeks later on Easter. Note: To “give something up for Lent” is to abandon a pleasurable habit as an act of devotion and self-discipline.

Okay, now that we have the technical definition out of the way, let’s get down to business! It’s not too unusual for people to compare notes on what they’re ‘doing for Lent.’ One of my friends related she was giving up sweets because she really enjoys them. When she asked what I am doing, I told her I’m working on more tolerance and less anger with my fellow motorists. I certainly didn’t say this to sound like I was working on something more important than she was. But, at this stage of my life, I realize that it’s more important to work on spiritual things and matters of the heart versus giving up some external food or drink that I like. I figure working on a bad habit is something I should be doing anyway, and when better than during Lent? After I die, I’m pretty certain I’m going to spend a lot of time in Purgatory before I get to the ‘pearly gates’ of heaven! Working on some of my spiritual shortcomings may decrease my time in Purgatory—hey, I can dream can’t I?

Now, what’s Purgatory, you ask. Purgatory, according to Catholic Church doctrine, is an intermediate state after physical death in which those destined for heaven “undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” Now is it clearer why I am working on spiritual things and how I hope it shortens my time in Purgatory? I once heard Purgatory referred to as ‘heaven’s waiting room.’ Sounds promising, but I know I hate to wait; what about you?

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

How do we spend the gift of time?

A young boy was asked by his mother to tell me what he liked (best, I guess) about my book From Agnostic to Deacon, A Story of Hope and Conversion. He said “the words.” I guess the mother either thought he misunderstood the question or wasn’t being very specific; so, she repeated the question. He again said “the words.” I thought to myself, he may become an author one day!

Speaking of words, one that keeps coming back to me lately is ‘time.’ Time is something we can spend, waste or kill. We can’t buy, rent, lease or sell it. It’s precious. We never have enough of it, which we call spare time. Time seems to slip through our fingers. I liken time to the little white highway lane markers. The older we get, the faster those markers seem to go by! If we don’t get around to things, we say we’ll do it sometime.

Now, for purposes of this blog, I’m not going to get too hung up on whether some of these terms should be hyphenated or whether or not they should be two words.

We refer to time in any number of ways from our meals, the military, music or musical terms, seasons, times of day or year, our work, and even entertainment: Meals: lunchtime, dinnertime, suppertime. Military or music: marks time (march in place without moving forward). Musical terms: ragtime, six-eight time, keeps time. Seasons of the year: wintertime, summertime, peak time (for leaves). Times of day: naptime, tea time, nighttime, mealtime, bedtime, daytime, noontime, playtime. Times of year: Daylight Savings Time, Christmastime. Work expressions: straight time (as opposed to overtime), lead time, flextime (to work a flexible schedule), full-time, part-time, break time, drive time. If we work too much, we need some downtime! If you watch the TV show Home Improvement, there’s something known as ‘tool time.’ Some other entertainment terms are: show time, airtime, prime time, (somebody hit the) bigtime. Some other ways we use the word time are: face time, lifetime, meantime, pastime, wartime, peacetime, and many others.

In the Bible in Matthew 10:39 we read: “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” Part of what Jesus is asking us is how we use our time. Let’s think about this for a moment. Do we help others or do we only think of ourselves? We must strike a balance between caring for our own needs and those of others, between work and play/rest. How we spend our time is often an indication of our priorities, and sometimes the priority must be for ourselves. It’s wise to pray and decide how the time God gave us is spent.

From box wrestler to exterminator, I love my job, most of the time!

I love my job, most of the time. Almost daily I am asked for my autograph. FedEx and UPS must think I’m some sort of celebrity or something–NOT!

I have a window where I can see the weather. Most of my co-workers do not have a window and tell me how jealous they are. I see a lot of trees, but not much else. Occasionally, a skink, bird, squirrel or other creature will appear, but most of what I hear is planes from the airport.

A requirement for this job is to wrestle with boxes, breaking them apart for recycling. Sometimes, I think the box gets the better of the fight!

I get to go outside daily (in all kinds of weather) to take out and bring in the mail. It’s a challenge figuring out who gets what, even though I have an extensive list of instructions. Walking to the back of the building and back to the front is what I call the postal service fitness program!

I have to have eyes in the back of my head to see employees coming to the door to get in (without digging out their key).

Sometimes I will rescue a co-worker–at a moment’s panicked notice–from ‘monsters’ in her office. I get to play exterminator by getting rid of hairy things that look like millipedes, only worse. Don’t really know what their insect class is, but I’m the hero of the moment when my co-worker can relax that it’s finally gone and won’t bother her again…until the next one appears!

I have a co-worker who has an ongoing hate relationship with the postage machine, more like intimidation. She tries, but I end up taming the beast.

We have an ice machine that is intent on banging us on the head with its cover. Don’t know how we’ve offended it, but it keeps on with its mischievous behavior.

There are a lot of other things I do at work, too numerous to mention. It helps to have a sense of humor, especially on busy days when my boss and I are frazzled.

Lord, when I’m frazzled and overwhelmed—whether at work or wherever I am–help me to keep my perspective regarding what’s important right now and what can wait until later. Help me to listen to your Holy Spirit whispering amidst the clamor of daily life. Amen!

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

PRAYER FOR DAILY LIFE

Jesus be my friend and

Help me to be a friend.

Guide me when I’m unsure;

Strengthen me against temptation.

Give me courage to shine

Your light within me for all to see.

When I’m afraid and anxious,

Please send Your Spirit to

Calm and comfort me.

I know you would never leave me,

But I am Your child who needs

Loving reassurance at times.

Father, teach me Your ways.

Please be patient.

Sometimes the lessons are not easy.

Help me to be the gift to this world

That You intend me to be.

When my mission is complete,

May this world be better for my having been here. Amen.

Theresa Marie Williams © Copyright1994

Some Modern-Day Beatitudes

Blessed are they who don’t take themselves too seriously, for they shall be free to laugh at their foibles.

Blessed are the compassionate, for the compassion shown will return to them.

Blessed are the politically incorrect, for they shall be free to tell it like it is.

Blessed are the organized, for they shall make better use of their time.

Blessed are they who are not anxious about the future, for they shall be free to enjoy the present moment.

Blessed are they who don’t worry, for they trust God to help them with their challenges.

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams