All posts by Maeve Smith

Incredible India

“Incredible India” is India’s national tourism slogan.   My brother lives there and my parents and I visited him two years ago.

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We traveled in December and as we left the US, I heard, I Want to Wish You a Merry Christmas, playing on the radio.   When we arrived in India, the same song was being broadcast.  Our friend calls those occasions, “hellos from heaven.”  Others call them, “God-incidences,” or “God breaking in.”   Do you have any that you’d like to share?

I used to run a Junior Youth Group at church and one year, I gave the children a handout of how different countries celebrate their Christian holy days.  The picture of the orange, white and green flag indicated the traditions in Goa, India.  The Portuguese brought Christianity to India in the 16th century and faith is expressed in a sweet and simple way.   Micro-buses have signs on the windshield that read…

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The churches are impressive and ornate…

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…and mention of religious celebrations appeared alongside secular stories in the newspaper.

I saw an openness to Christianity, even though only 2.3% of the population (29 million!) is Christian.  One day, we took a swerving taxi ride to St. Francis Xavier’s tomb.   St. Francis was an early Jesuit priest who evangelized India and was en route to China when he died.  His body was later returned to India.  Many people were there  paying honor to a man who cared enough to leave his native Spain and spread the Gospel in India and the Far East.

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India has its problems but it also has a vivacity and joy.  One night, we took a walk after dinner and heard a loud band playing.  I went exploring and found a six piece band, consisting of drums and brass instruments playing.  They encircled a groom and were serenading him.  They were dressed in bright red and yellow costumes and the groom wore a pink headpiece and was sitting atop a white horse.

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The whole party began walking toward the bride.  Additional people joined and there were about twenty five people surrounding the groom.  I had walked ahead and rejoined my family.  My dad enjoyed the procession so much that he joined the dancing and clapping group.  He stayed with them the next few minutes until they reached the awaiting bride.

Menus in India can be comical.  Although many people speak English, there are numerous native dialects.  This shows up in translation.   One menu read; “chili salamander au gratin” and another, “homely chicken.”

In India, I saw the same joy about faith that I’d seen as a lay missionary in Bolivia and on mission in China.  People get excited about their faith: they dance, they sing, they praise and worship God. 

Their enthusiasm for life and God returned home with me.

The joy of the Lord is our strength.”   – Nehemiah 8:11

Finding Joy in Our Crazy World

To begin, we offer a prayer for all those killed or injured in the shooting in Las Vegas, for the grieving families, for the soul of Stephen Paddock, for the peoples of:  Puerto Rico, North Korea, Syria, the Ukraine, Myanmar, the Congo and for all those recovering from hurricanes.

The news is overwhelming.  Maybe it always has been.  I’ve often said to Glenn, “The present seems crazy but the sixties must have felt worse when JFK and other national leaders (Martin Luther King Jr &  RFK) were assassinated.

How do you find joy in your daily life?  I, (Maeve), recently started taking tap dancing lessons and am enjoying them.  I’ve been inspired by the NYC ballets that I’ve attended with my dad in recent summers and by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

For our tenth wedding anniversary last year, I bought Glenn “Bert and Ernie” dolls.   He used to do puppet shows for his younger brother.   Now, he does them for me.

Through working at a school, I’ve rediscovered the simple joys of blowing bubbles…             IMG_2281                    ….and coloring, and have learned about “slime,” water beads and the Tooty-Ta dance….

Dancing with McKenna
Dancing with McKenna
And Dad
…..And Dad

I also enjoy writing whimsical poems, playing games with family and friends, exercising, and travel.  Naturally, you have your own list of things that give you joy.   Feel free to share them in the “Comment” section of our blog!

We also find great joy in God!  He’s the Creator of all the things that give us joy.  October has special significance in the Catholic Church as it’s the month of the Rosary and Respect Life month.   What’s joyful about these, you may ask?

There are four sets of ‘mysteries’ for the Rosary: the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous mysteries.  In the first Joyful mystery, the Annunciation, Mary is frightened when the angel Gabriel appears to her and tells her that she will conceive a child.  Scripture says that she was, “deeply troubled by his words” (Lk. 1:29).  But she still said ‘yes’ to God!

Henry Tanner, a 19th century American artist captures this moment well in his painting, “The Annunciation”;

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In the second Joyful mystery, The Visitation, Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth.   Pregnant with John the Baptist, and “filled with the Holy Spirit,” Elizabeth tells Mary that the moment she heard her greeting..

“The baby leapt in my womb for joy.”  – Lk 1:44 

Elizabeth also affirms Mary’s trust in God…

“Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled”   – 1:45

Mary, having accepted her role as Mother of God, responds in a befitting way.   She exults…..

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior”  – 1:46-47 

Her joy is palpable.  It’s also meant for us…..that joy break into our lives.  Naturally, we’re not ‘up’ all the time.  Some days, it can even be hard to smile.  But we can let Mary’s joy and example of being open to God’s will  break into our lives and lift us up.   Ride the coattails of her joy in the Lord.

What’s joyful about Respect Life month?  When I was a kindergartener at St. Ambrose school in Latham, I had a homework assignment that I completed with my parents.   We made a little booklet about ourselves.  The word, “Celebrate” was written on the front cover.  My parents wrote things like, “Maeve was named after the Irish queen, Maeve.  She likes strawberry ice cream with sprinkles and enjoys making up words to the song, ‘On Top of Old Smokey.'”

Later, I thought this was a quaint assignment and in life’s tougher moments, I wondered where that happy little girl had gone?

Fast forward to 1999, when I taught English in Bolivia for sixteen months.  I came into a new and vibrant relationship with Jesus and started realizing how I am…

“…precious in God’s eyes…”   – Isaiah 43:4 

Eventually, I revisited that “Celebrate” booklet in my mind.  But now, I took the message in!!  God ‘celebrates’ me!   God ‘celebrates’ you!  He ‘celebrates‘ every soul that He has ever allowed to come into being.

Psalm 139 says,

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” 

We know that many circumstances of conception aren’t ideal, but that doesn’t change the fact that God loves us and has willed us into existence.  He asks us to respect, value, cherish and PROTECT life to the best of our ability.   At the beginning of life,  at its’ end, and especially,  in lives that are vulnerable and fragile, He has a purpose.

Glenn writes: 

October 13 is the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun that thousands witnessed in Fatima, Portugal.  This is one of those little-known miracles that nevertheless is absolutely stunning.

St. John Paul II credits Our Lady with saving him, when there was an assassination attempt on his life in St Peter’s square, in 1983.  Why?  The date was May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and the bullet just missed a major organ.

“One hand pulled the trigger, but another hand guided the bullet,” the Pope said.  Later that year, in his visit to the Fatima shrine, he placed that very bullet in the crown of Mary’s statue.

As we fast approach the Centennial of the Blessed Mother’s appearance to the children of Fatima, and as we recall the joy of praying the Rosary, let us also show ourselves to be a people who respect life in all its stages…

“...the new people of the redeemed cannot but respond with songs of joy, praise and thanksgiving for the priceless gift of life…”    

“The Gospel of Life”     — St. John Paul II,  P. 83