Our Lady, Undoer of Knots – A Living Novena and Guided Meditation from the Holy Land

Knots. Bumps in the road. Thorns in the side. Rough edges. Call them what you will, but we all have them: those difficulties in life that make life knotty, bumpy, thorny or rough. Some of them are, unfortunately, of our own creation – we make bad choices and things get complicated. Others come of the craziness that is life – illness, misunderstandings, unforeseen situations. While I certainly couldn’t begin to explain the reasons or solutions for the many knots in life, I can say with 100 percent certainty that we all have them.

This book offers a unique kind of prayer experience, a “living novena” or a kind of extended guided meditation. By reading one chapter of the book each day, you will be able to experience a kind of “armchair pilgrimage,” following the journeys of Pope Francis and Ms. Fenelon and listening to the Holy Father’s words as a starting point for your own reflection. Each day, as we examine one of these holy places, the physical landscape of the Holy Land and the historical and scriptural accounts of the life of Jesus and Mary will guide you to think about the “knots” of your interior landscape. Then we will petition Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, together to undo the knots in our lives – injustice, separation, confusion, hopelessness, grief and sorrow, discord, betrayal, envy and pride and affliction. By releasing these knots into her hands, we’ll begin working toward the peace for which we all long, in our own lives and in the world.

The HOPE Project (Holy Land Outreach to Promoting Education) in cooperation with St. Andrew, the Apostle Catholic Church in Milford, Ohio invites you to an evening with Marge Fenelon the author of the above quoted award-winning book.

Please join us on October 5, 2016 from 7-9 PM in the Parish Center of St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Milford for an evening discussion on the Holy Land and the knots that each of us encounters daily, as well as prayer and meditation. Ms. Fenelon will have her book for sale following the presentation and she will be happy to autograph it for you.

Marge Fenelon is an award-winning, down-to-earth speaker and has presenteddpp_0003-2 to audiences throughout the United States. She has spoken in a variety of settings, from retreats and parish events to workshops and conferences and before audiences made up of young adults, mixed groups, women, and married couples. Her favorite topics are Mary, family, women’s issues, and simple holiness, and prayer.  She is known for her warmth, ability to reach people where they’re at, and gift for balancing humor and seriousness in order to move hearts.

VIDEO: Jerusalem – A Day in the Holy Land

**Video courtesy of America Media**

 

The HOPE Project (Holy Land Outreach Promoting  Education) in cooperation with St. Andrew invites you to an evening with Marge Fenelon, author of the award-winning book, Our Lady, Undoer of Knots – A Living Novena and Guided Meditation from the Holy Land. 

Please join us on October 5, 2016 from 7-9pm in the Parish Center across from the church for an evening discussion on the Holy Land and the knots that each of us encounters daily, as well as prayer and meditation.

Every Perfect Gift is From Above

mass-in-the-cremisanIn June 2014 we joined Catholics from Bethlehem to celebrate mass in the Cremisan Valley.  The view from the Cremisan Valley is beautiful and was a rare remaining green space for the Christian community. In summer 2015 the trees were bulldozed and a separation wall is now under construction.

 

From this hillside dotted with olive trees and dried brush, I tried to focus on the beautiful liturgy; yet my eyes were drawn to these two precious girls, who drifted from the two-girls-in-the-hlcongregation.

They carefully picked a few unripe olives from a nearby tree before perching themselves on a low stone wall. The girls sat facing each other. The older girl showed the younger how to scrape an olive on the stone to extract oil and pulp to use as “ink” to draw on the stones. I watched for quite a while, as the girls also created a game with the olives. Their innocent play took me back to the years of my childhood, half way around the world and many years ago.

I used to delight in picking crab apples from the trees and “drawing” on the sidewalk with the juice oozing from the berries, crushed between my fingertips. I delighted in nature that God provided for my personal amusement. While “playing” with the stuff of God’s creation, I lost track of time and space; nothing mattered but the exploration at my fingertips. The gift of wonder and awe comes to children through the unstructured, accidental exploration of God’s creation.

Those girls had a holy encounter with the Living God, right alongside His True Presence being made known in the breaking of the bread. I love it how God touches each child throughout the world. All are precious in His sight.

All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.”  James 1:17

Dear Lord, help us to see that all children around the world, born and unborn, are precious in your sight. Help us to be good stewards of these little ones.

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Sharon Bohlen

I Am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE

Mass in the Holy Land was deeply spiritual. Since I could not understand the words, I focused totally on music, gestures, and ritual of the Mass; the familiarity and consistency was present throughout the liturgy.

church-in-hl1The structure of the Mass is uniform throughout the world.  I knew where we were at every point, because of the gestures that are so habitual and natural.  From the Introductory Rite to the Closing Prayer, I intuitively knew every word said because they are written on my heart.

There are some traditions in the Latin Patriarchate Mass that are different than our liturgy.   Incense is used each Sunday, and the ambo and Gospel book are incensed before the Gospel reading.  My favorite variation is at communion.  When young children approach the priest (no lay Eucharistic Ministers are used), he places the chalice on top of their heads for a blessing.  How beautifully this communicates that, although you are too young to receive the body of Christ on the tongue, Christ is fully present in you and over your entire being.

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There are many differences within the American and the Christian Arab cultures, from what we eat and the music and dance we enjoy to how we drive, grocery shop, smoke tobacco, apply make-up, etc.  But, one thing is the same: our faith.  We are exactly the same in our understanding of the mercy and love and salvation that we receive through Jesus Christ.  Seeing how united we are in the common beliefs of the Catholic Church was made more powerful in relation to our different life experiences.  Praise the Lord that we share the knowledge revealed in the scripture verse carved into the ambo at Annunciation Church in Beit Jala, Palestine:

                         “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE” John 14:6.

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Dear Lord, help us comfortable American Catholics reach out to the world-wide Church. Help us see our neighbor in spite of different languages, skin tone, social structures, and regional hardships. Let us respond “How can I help?” Not, “Someone else will help.”

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Sharon Bohlen

VIDEO: Bethlehem – A Day in the Holy Land

**Video courtesy of America Media**

 

The HOPE Project (Holy Land Outreach Promoting Education) in cooperation with St. Andrew invites you to an evening with Marge Fenelon, author of the award-winning book, Our Lady, Undoer of Knots – A Living Novena and Guided Meditation from the Holy Land. 

Please join us on October 5, 2016 from 7-9pm in the Parish Center across from the church for an evening discussion on the Holy Land and the knots that each of us encounters daily, as well as prayer and meditation.

VIDEO: Sea of Galilee – A Day in the Holy Land

**Video courtesy of America Media**

 

The HOPE Project (Holy Land Outreach Promoting Education) in cooperation with St. Andrew invites you to an evening with Marge Fenelon, author of the award-winning book, Our Lady, Undoer of Knots – A Living Novena and Guided Meditation from the Holy Land. 

Please join us on October 5, 2016 from 7-9pm in the Parish Center across from the church for an evening discussion on the Holy Land and the knots that each of us encounters daily, as well as prayer and meditation.

Let the Poor Hear and Be Glad. Ps. 34

On our way to the Church of the Nativity, we walked through Bethlehem Square.  My friend and I were lagging a bit behind the group and saw this mother and son, pushing a goat in a grocery cart. My friend snapped this picture.  As the pair drew closer, I asked if I could take a photo, and the mother responded with an indignant ‘no.’ I did not know Muslims forbid photos. Besides, it was a sad day for this family. This goat was on its way to be sold.  goat-in-cart

Later we came upon them pushing a now empty grocery cart.  Rationally, I know this goat was not this boy’s pet.  Yet, I imagine this young lad raising the goat from a kid, tending to its needs, shepherding it through small fields sparsely peppered with grasses, and growing familiar with the goat’s personal likes, dislikes, and independent will.  Even though this goat was merely livestock, I imagine it was a bit of a loss to part with it.

It struck me how differently children in the West Bank live from American children.  Many Palestinian children must work and help support their families from a very young age.  They learn the value of hard work.  They learn that life is tough, but they learn never to give up.  Do what is necessary; don’t dwell on the hardships.  No whiny children in Bethlehem!

I hope and pray these children also know the joy of shared friendship, feel the peace of a sunset over the desert hills, take pride in the satisfaction of a job well done, and most importantly, know they are loved by a good and gracious God.  My prayer for this shepherd boy is that he will also feel the same joy and awe of the shepherds from a nearby pasture who, 2,000 years ago, rejoiced with the angels over the newborn king!

“My soul will glory in the Lord. Let the poor hear and be glad.” Psalm 34:3

Lord, help us to be grateful for pets and plenty of food to eat, and help us detach from our unnecessary “stuff.”

sharon-bohlen-new Sharon Bohlen has been a teacher at St. Andrew School for 12 years.  She has made 2 previous pilgrimages to the Holy Land and is preparing for yet another one in November with other Archdiocesan teachers through the HOPE Project (Holy Land Outreach Promoting Education).

Jesus, Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom. Lk. 23:42

Today, many of us will stop for a moment to remember the events of September 11, 2001. People may ask, “Where were when you heard the news?” The day’s events may come over us again in a wave; the shock and disbelief, the horror of watching the never-ending events over several hours that stretched into days and the helplessness and pain of it all. It is hard to believe that it was 15 years ago since it is still so clear in our minds. I remember how grateful I was that our Pastor at the time, Fr. Rob Waller had parishioners called to invite them to come to the Church that evening to pray for our country. It was very comforting in the midst of such confusion and sorrow.

This past December, I had the privilege to go the 9/11 Museum on the lower East Side of New York City. I walked around the fountains on outside of the museum built in the footprint of the two fallen towers. I was reading the names of all those killed in the two buildings and I was emotionally drained by the sheer magnitude of this killing field.

Then I spotted a name that stopped me in my tracks and brought me to tears, Vanessa Lang Langer and Her Unborn Child. I thought of this young woman who was so excited about giving birth soon and preparing for the day when she would be a mother. Her joy was palpable and my sorrow for her was overwhelming. Those words staring at me, “Unborn Child” made me think of how so many babies are killed each day but no memorials or jubilant mothers celebrate them. That day Vanessa’s family’s sorrow became mine.  I will forever remember and pray for her and her child on September 11.

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This post is a bit different from our usual posts but today is a remembrance of a day that was anything but a usual day. We came together in prayer on September 11, 2001.  Please join us today in praying for our country yet again. And, remember in your prayers Vanessa Lang Langer and her unborn child and all the lost babies and mothers.

And his heart goes out to you all the more, as he remembers the obedience of all of you, when you received him with fear and trembling. 2 Cor: 7-15

Cathy O’Toole

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VIDEO: Capernaum – A Day in the Holy Land

 

 

**Video courtesy of America Media**

 

The HOPE Project (Holy Land Outreach to Palestinian Educators) in cooperation with St. Andrew invites you to an evening with Marge Fenelon, author of the award-winning book, Our Lady, Undoer of Knots – A Living Novena and Guided Meditation from the Holy Land. 

Please join us on October 5, 2016 from 7-9pm in the Parish Center across from the church for an evening discussion on the Holy Land and the knots that each of us encounters daily, as well as prayer and meditation.