Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

I was very pleased to find this blog and particularly this article! I had written about the Holy Week traditions in Mallorca where my father lives, and how sad it is that in our “land of liberty” we are not allowed to openly celebrate our religion. I hope you enjoy this reblog!

Peace be with you, Olive

The Mallorca Photo Blog

Today, Mallorca celebrates Diumenge des Ram (Palm Sunday), the first day of the dramatic and rather compelling Easter processions, commemorating the entering of Jesus in Jerusalem. Traditionally, on this day, blessed olive branches or dried palm leaves are handed out to the church goers attending the morning mass. This evening, the first of the Easter processions will be held in Palma with the attendance of all the Confrarias (confraternities, or brotherhoods). Last Friday, all of Palma’s Confrarias held their first procession of this year’s Easter proceedings (see photo below), simply manifesting their attendance this year.

Easter processions in Mallorca usually involve hooded cloaks whilst some involve chains, mock flagellation and bare feet. This week, there are also Vía Crucis or Vía Dolorosa (The Bearing of the Cross) processions and theatrical Passion Play performances, Davallaments, Enterraments and vigils.

One of the more vivid Easter processions is the Processó del Silenci

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I know an elder who used to tell me that thoughts are like birds that fly over your head.  You have no control over them, but you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair.  I always liked that analogy, and I seem to have more birds fly over than I can handle.  They come when I least expect them, sometimes in flocks and sometimes one at a time. So I just write about them.  Today this silly little bird flew over and reminded me about the nondenominational cookies.

English: Plateful of Christmas CookiesWhen I was employed at a bank some time ago, I had co-workers of many different beliefs. One of them did not believe in celebrating holidays.  So another young lady from a Baptist church came in one day with fancy home-baked Christmas cookies to give to everyone.  When she approached the woman who didn’t celebrate such occasions, she set the little plate of cookies down politely in her window.  She said with a smile “I know you don’t celebrate Christmas, but these cookies are nondenominational.”  The two women smiled and spoke politely to each other  and I enjoyed watching the meekness and affection between them.

I wish more people had that recipe and baked those nondenominational cookies.  They look prettier on the plate because they are not all the same kind. They taste better because they are seasoned to perfection, they are softer, and they don’t bite back.

~♥~

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English: hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com Good_ki...

Some of my happiest Christmas memories are of times spent Christmas caroling with the Quakers.  I remember one chilly December night when a group of Friends gathered at the meetinghouse in San Jose, California before getting bundled up  in coats and scarves and mittens, then we all stepped out  to sing carols to people in several neighborhoods.

We walked merrily down the sidewalk house-to-house and stopped in front of each doorstep to sing, and many people opened their doors gratefully to listen and smile. I remember the blinking Christmas lights in the windows and the cold breeze on my cheeks and the glowing lamp posts along our path. It was invigorating and peaceful as we went a-wassailing.  In our group of carolers, we took turns letting people pick out their favorite songs.  I always loved “Good King Wenceslas” and “Here We Come A-Wassailing” and “I Saw Three Ships.”

After we had caroled outside for some time, we drove to a nearby care home for the elderly and walked through the hallways. We joined up in a social hall full of residents and continued to sing happily.

One elderly gentleman wearing his pajamas and sitting in a wheelchair seemed especially moved by the music and soon wheeled over to a kind Quaker man named Larry Wolfe, who without hesitation invited the man to join us for a Christmas party at the home of another Quaker fellow.  The resident asked Larry to approach a nurse, who helped sign him out for the evening, and Larry brought him to our post-caroling celebration.  The old man was teary-eyed with joy for the entire evening eating holiday food and sipping spiced cider while someone played the piano and friends laughed and talked.  Because I was familiar with the compassion of Larry, I’m sure it was not the last time he and the old man spent together.

I wonder if caroling is illegal by now, like so many of our former religious freedoms. I have tried for several years now to find a church that still practices the tradition of Christmas caroling in public, and have even tried unsuccessfully to coordinate a group of carolers. People make all kinds of excuses such as they can’t sing in tune or they’re too busy with their family or whatever. But the truth is that we are so self-absorbed these days, trapped in our computers and technology and our own individual versions of the American dream, that we have no time for such things anymore.

Whenever I cut on the TV and see carolers on a Christmas special, I long for those days when real people did things together face-to-face and not through digital devices such as the one I am communicating through right now.

I wish we could all coordinate non-digital days to encourage more real human socialization, so that everything meaningful in our culture is not sacrificed upon the altar of technology.

Peace and Grace,

Sister Olive

~♥~

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The more I think about the film Diary of a Country Priest the more amazed I am about the little spiritual principles that popped up throughout the film, many of them that I had not considered before. Here are a few examples:

A cold heart is a sin.  In one scene the priest ministers to a countess who has suffered tremendous loss and injustice in her life. She has developed an icy heart towards everyone because she is trying to protect herself from more pain. She keeps telling the young priest that she has done nothing wrong, but he points out that her hardness of heart is a sin because it grows out of bitterness and prevents her from being sensitive to others. We must allow our hearts to be broken for the sake of others who may need us. It is impossible to serve God or people with a cold heart.

We can channel God’s strength to others in our weakest moments. In one scene in the film, the priest blesses a woman and she makes her peace with God, while the priest admits in his journals he has no peace within himself at the time. He is amazed that he can  “give to others the very thing he does not possess.” This is a great mystery of faith, that we can channel the strength of God for others even during our weakest moments. I am thankful for this, because if we relied on our own strength, many people would have been left without hope when they needed it most.

The intent to pray is a prayer in itself.  The young priest finds at times that he cannot pray at all, but God knows he intends to and grants his requests anyway. This one I had heard before from an elderly deacon who told me God could honor the prayer we forgot to pray after we promised someone we would, and He could even go back in time and grant the request retroactively! This comes in handy when someone asked you to pray about their surgery yesterday, and you forget until tomorrow. He knows my intent and that I am going to remember tomorrow, and He controls time and space, so why is that so surprising?

It’s all grace anyway. While living in a little village, the priest suffers spiritually, mentally, and physically and often feels that his work is more than he can possibly handle. But he realizes that it’s all God’s grace anyway, and that He works through our frailties to bless others. The Spirit is willing even when the flesh is weak.

Peace be with you,

Olive Twist

~♥~

 

 

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My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” Matthew 27: 46

Diary of a Country Priest

Diary of a Country Priest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night I watched the French film, Diary of a Country Priest, and though it was pretty dreary and dark for the most part, there were moments that held great meaning for me. To provide you with a brief summary, the story is of a young priest who moves into a village where he is not well-received and he experiences poor health and many spiritual battles. From the beginning, he is told by an older priest that a true  priest does not expect to be loved, and also understands that all of his agonizing labors during the day are undone during the night. The young priest experiences alienation from the people he wants to bless and minister to.

As a believer, I was able to immediately identify with this young priest and his inner battles. The most powerful moment for me is after the priest concludes that God has left him and that he can no longer pray because everything in his being is fighting it, and he is thoroughly disillusioned and weary. The older priest comes to him and says that if the soul could possibly drag the body back two thousand years to be with Christ for a moment, it would carry him to one place- the olive grove. At that moment, the younger priest began to weep as he felt God’s grace fall upon him. He realized that Christ was sharing His Gethsemane experience with him- he called it “holy agony.”

That resonated with me very deeply because it is our human nature to want all of the good things but no unpleasantries- no sweat, tears, or anguish. As a believer, I would like to always be ministering and blessing people and experiencing God’s presence near me. But even Christ had to experience isolation, abandonment, and dreadful loneliness.

It made me wonder if I have been merely a “fair weather friend” to Christ or a sincere disciple. With an acquaintance, I can only share the surface of my life. But with my closest friends, I can reveal the deepest joys and agonies of my soul. So shouldn’t I feel privileged that Christ should share His deepest torments with me?

He wants us to heal and minister and share the gospel and be bold in our spiritual walk. But He also calls us to hunger and the temptation in the desert, rejection by people we love, and even the cross. The early disciples understood this and rejoiced when they were able to partake in Christ’s mental and physical suffering.

I am thankful that I have a whole new perspective today!

Peace be with you,

Sister Olive

~♥~

 

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Before I say too much on the subject of prayer, let me state that I don’t feel that I am anyone special and I have no special powers. Jesus said that some people have much more to be forgiven than others, and I consider myself to be one of that kind. I have always felt a bit like Mary Magdalene must have felt in the presence of Christ.

~

In spite of my failures God has been kind to me, and I love a song that people used to sing at the church I attended for many years. The words to that song are:

It is no secret what God can do.
What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you.
With arms wide open, He’ll welcome you.
It is no secret what God can do.

So what has He done for me and my friends when we have prayed? I will recount a few instances where prayer changed the whole landscape of a serious problem.

~

I once worked with a lady at a school for the deaf and blind, and her name was Roberta. She came to work one day very distraught, and I asked her what was the matter. She said that her daughter-in-law Cynthia had just left her son and had taken their child with her. Roberta said that cruel heartless words had been spoken to her son by Cynthia before she left. Her son was grieving and any mother can relate to that helpless feeling when her children are in pain and she can’t do anything to help.

So Roberta asked me to pray for her son and Cynthia. I suggested that we pray together and separately about the matter, because Christ said that if two people who believe agree upon something, there is great power in that prayer. I recommended that we meditate upon the verse in Ezekiel in which God promises to take out a heart made of stone and replace it with a heart made of flesh. We agreed to pray that Cynthia’s stony heart would be softened towards her husband and that she would come home. We wrote two copies of that scripture on slips of paper to take home and promised to pray earnestly about the matter. I reminded Roberta that God doesn’t always act quickly upon our requests, but that it is an exercise of our faith when we have to wait.

Then two or three days later, I drove up to the school just as Roberta was parking in the lot. As I turned my car off, I looked up and saw her running towards me. Her face was glowing with excitement, and I knew this was going to be amazing. I opened the door and stepped out and she said, “Olive, you will never believe what has happened!” She told me that she had been praying with many tears before God, and that Cynthia had called her son that morning, weeping and begging his forgiveness and said she wanted to come home. We were so happy and our faith was increased because of what occurred- in only a few days the whole situation was turned around!

~

Another time, I was having severe financial problems and I am the kind that hates to pray about money. It really bothers me because so many people pray for things they don’t really need. But I was really in trouble. So while I was in church for a Wednesday night prayer meeting, I decided to pray silently for God’s help. I have learned to wait for the Spirit to begin to move in the congregation before offering up my prayers. The House of God is a very powerful place during these times. It was a little after 8 o’clock in the evening in Florida when I began praying and I said, “Lord, I never come to you about money as you know, but we are really in a mess and we need your help so that we can meet our needs. If it is your will, please help us in your own way.” After prayer meeting had ended, I returned home and called the bank because I was afraid of getting an overdraft. But I noticed that my account had increased by several hundred dollars since earlier that day! I was very confused so I called the twenty-four-hour customer service line to find out what had happened. As it turned out, someone in Oregon who had owed me money for quite some time had made a deposit right after they got off work at 5 o’clock that evening. It dawned on me that there was a three-hour time difference between Florida and Oregon, and that just as I had started praying on the east coast, money was being deposited on the west coast! I would never make something like this up to impress people. This really happened!

Okay, here is one more incident: about three months ago, I had a mammogram. Normally if you don’t hear anything about it within two or three days, you know that everything is okay. So I thought I was cleared. I had planned a trip out of state about two weeks later. But two weeks later on a Friday afternoon, I received a very disturbing call about my results. A woman on the phone said the radiologist had spotted something and wanted more tests as soon as possible. I was shocked that it had taken so long for them to contact me. I asked if I could come in that day and they said it was too late and the doctor was gone for the weekend. I am a terrible worrier and I knew I had to go the whole weekend without knowing what was happening, and my imagination always runs wild in situations like this. Also, I was supposed to leave early Monday morning on my trip. So I decided I would leave later on Monday than planned. I called every praying person that I knew and requested their prayers. I asked them to pray that nothing serious was happening and that I would be able to go on my planned journey after my appointment.

My loved ones and I were sweating all weekend over this, and I was talking to people about what to do if something happened to me. Well, Monday morning came and I was a nervous wreck. I went in to the breast center and put on the little white waffle knit robe and waited, and the technician called me in. Usually I can remember faces, but I couldn’t see her through the fog of uncertainty that day. She took a series of pictures and sent me back to the waiting room. A wonderful sweet lady was waiting there too and I felt an immediate connection with her and we talked as if we had been close friends for years. It was so surreal in that room. Then the technician called me a second time and I broke into another sweat as she took more pictures. She sent me back to wait and the sweet lady was gone. A few minutes later the technician walked in and said, “The radiologist wanted me to check you thoroughly a second time because what he saw in the previous series two weeks ago seems to have vanished completely. There is nothing there now.” I don’t have to tell you how I felt or how my loved ones reacted. I even thought that God had placed that angel in the waiting room. All of the people who prayed for me were rejoicing because it increased their faith and I felt honored to be part of that.

~

I could tell you other stories and I will write them in the future, but the point is that God is really listening to all of us at the same time- and He doesn’t even get confused. He is truly amazing, and I am so glad to be His child by faith.

Shalom,

Olive Twist

~♥~

 

 

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I know that I have been neglecting my writing for some time for a variety of reasons, but I hope to get busy again before long. I have continued looking in on your blogs and have not forgotten you.

I know it sounds cliche to say that trials and temptations are always along my path, but if you are a spiritual wayfarer, you know how it is. Sometimes we create our own woes by trying to be tough and manage our own affairs without God and sometimes our character is being put to the test, but I have learned that it’s all right as long as I don’t forget who I belong to.

I watched a film about Martin Luther recently, and how he was plagued with fears over his soul while he was young. A certain priest told him that he should hold on to Christ with all of his might and pray continually “I am yours. Save me.” This is a beautiful prayer for a child of God, because we are so helpless without our Father.

I have realized a few scary new things about my damaged heart during the past year or so.  I have discovered that many of my relationships in life- friends, sweethearts, even spiritual leaders- have been part of my subliminal search for parents. I have sought unconsciously for people to take care of me and comfort me and I have never been as responsible and self-sufficient as many adults, because there is still a frightened child living inside my body.

Fortunately God has dispatched many human angels to me over the years, who have carried my burdens with great love. But since I’ve had this epiphany, I want to rise above these fears that have troubled me for so long. I think about the words Christ spoke after He healed a certain woman. He said, “Be of good cheer. Thy faith has made thee whole.” Only Christ has the power to repair all of my damage, and no human being can ever be as trustworthy as He is.

I have loved Christ for most of my life, so pray that I might truly find my peace in Him. The scriptures say that “perfect love casts out fear.”

Shalom,

“Sister Olive”

~♥~

 

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