Giants and Children, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Photography © Angela Roesler

Guess what!  Giants are fantasy and children are real!

Saint Augustine was a giant in his day and still is today: brilliant, scholarly, and very wise.  Yet, his mother, Saint Monica, prayed for this child of hers because he could not believe what he could not take apart and prove.  He lacked the trust and faith of a child.  Once Augustine opened the door to truths he could not prove, he found joy.

His faith, newly found, filled his heart and life with childlike joy.  His acknowledgement is summed up in these words of his: “Late have I loved you, oh Beauty ever ancient, ever new.  Late have I loved you!”  The giant had given away to the child within.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was certainly not a giant.  Her life on earth ended after just 24 years.  But she, unlike Augustine, had the trust and faith of a child.  In fact, her entire plan of life was based on things a child could do.  She called it her Little Way.  Things that popped up during an ordinary day became offerings to God.  Just as a child will offer Mother a dropping dandelion with so much love that the simple “weed” is treasured as much as the gift of a dozen red roses, Thérese offered God very little things.

What kind of things did she give God?  Well, when the person behind her in church made a habit of dangling her rosary beads against the bench, Thérèse refrained from giving her a glance of annoyance.  Instead, she offered the clicking of those beads as a musical gift to God.  Tiny penance, you say?  Well, it probably happened three times a day 365 days a year!  She did not have any idea how widespread her influence would be.  To her, that would be a giant thing.  But it was not fantasy.

A reporter who was following Mother Teresa of Calcutta in India as she worked remarked, “I would not do what you are doing for a million dollars.”  Mother Teresa replied, “Neither would I.”  And she frequently told her Sisters, “Do little things with great love.”  That is what children do.  They are real.  The giants you may know are usually fantasy!

What little things could you do for God and your neighbor during Lent?  Try this.  On February 19, 2012, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, make a list of all the little things that annoy you.  Then pick out ONE, only one.  (That will be hard enough to keep!)  Decide how you are going to handle that annoyance in a positive manner, for the love of God and your neighbor, or spouse, or child, or parent or co-worker.

Forget about giving up candy, or beer, or TV, or potato ships.  This will be much harder and much more beneficial to you AND much more pleasing to God.  Notice that the “how” phrase is printed in green above.  It is like a seed planted, and during Lent (40+ days and Sundays), you will have come close to forming a habit of handling that annoyance so that it annoys you less!  It will take root and blossom.  But you have to keep working at it for the 40+ days.  No days off!

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.   Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” ~ Matthew 18:3-5

So, what, on Earth, are you doing for heaven’s sake?

Peace, joy, and everything good,

S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

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Looking for a way to share Lenten resolutions with your children or grandchildren?  Check out this brief article on catholicculture.org – it shares more on St. Thérèse’s Little Way and how to make “sacrifice beads” for children.

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Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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Take a Lenten Journey with Us!

Join us for one of our upcoming programs at our Oldenburg Franciscan Center:

March 3 (Saturday) 9-11am
What Does it Mean to Be Salt of Earth?

With Sr. Karla Barker, OSF

Scripture tells us “We are the salt of Earth.”  How do we savor and at the same time add zest and excitement to the life we’ve been given?  Do we share our distinctive flavor so that others may relish our gentleness, creativity, and love of Earth?  Come learn to recognize and share more of your ‘saltiness’!

$25 for the morning (includes coffee/tea & danishes). 
RSVP to Annette at center@oldenburgosf.com or 812-933-6437.

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March 1, 8, 15, 22 (Thursdays) 6:30-8pm
Lenten Series: Four Contemporary Stories of Discovering One’s Way
with Sr. Barbara Leonhard, OSF.

Re-discover your call to discipleship!  During this Lenten series, we will look to four very real people who were drawn to discover and re-discover what discipleship was calling them to do.  Hearing their stories and the questions that would not let them go can prompt us to listen more closely to the call of discipleship in our own lives.  We will focus on one example per week:

March 1: Howard Thurman – a black minister, teacher, and mystic who established the first radically integrated intercultural church in the United States.

March 8: Edith Stein – a Jewish teacher, scholar, and mystic who became a Catholic and entered a Carmelite monastery.  She died in Auschwitz in 1942.

March 15: Thomas Kelly
– a Quaker teacher and seeker who discovered a mystical depth within himself and set about drawing others to their spiritual depths.

March 22: Jean Vanier
– Canadian founder of L’Arche Communities who has dedicated his life energies to creating homes and sharing life with those with developmental disabilities.

$15/session or $50 for the complete Lenten series. 
Or, come one evening and bring a friend, 2 for $25.
RSVP to Annette at center@oldenburgosf.com or 812-933-6437.

We hope to see you soon!

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