Saturday, February 28, 2009


It has been said that one of the greatest mistakes in our Christian life is to polarize what we believe about God from the reality of our everyday lives. We compartmentalize our faith, isolating it from the nitty-gritty of life. That seems to be our personal application of separating CHURCH and STATE—the state of keeping our secular life separate from our spiritual life.

Writing four-and-a-half centuries ago, Saint Francis de Sales pointed out that mistake. The crux of his teaching was to integrate our faith life with our workaday world. He said that it was not merely an error but a heresy to suppose that “a devout life is necessarily banished from the soldier’s camp, the merchant’s shop, the prince’s court, or the domestic hearth.” He did not write for those in the walled spirituality of the cloister but for men and women busy in the everyday workplace, at home or in the public arena.

De Sales explained his practical spirituality simply and beautifully in the following excerpt from his most famous book, AN INTRODUCTION TO A DEVOUT LIFE:

“If you hope to succeed in whatever you do,
place your trust totally in God’s providence.
Cooperate with Him, then rest secure
that whatever happens, will be best for you.

Think of a little child
walking with her father:
One hand clings tightly to his
but with the other
she gathers fruit from trees along the way.

Imitate the child.
With one hand go ahead and gather
what you need of the world’s good things,
but with the other hold on to your Heavenly Father,
checking regularly whether or not
He approves of what you are doing with your life.

Above all, beware of letting go of your Father
to free up both your hands
to gather more of the world’s goods.
You will find that by yourself
you will stumble and fall.

And when your gathering does not require
all your attention,
turn your mind to God as often as you can.
Like a sailor returning to port, look to the sky
and not just to the waves that carry you.”


Friday, February 27, 2009


(Copyright: PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM by Leona Choy)

The rumor had been circulating around Kiln Kingdom for several weeks. MASTER POTTER would be coming soon to pick out one of His finished vessels for an especially honored purpose. It was whispered that The Treasure Itself would be put into one of their containers. Heated discussion and speculation went on among the vessels as to the nature of The Treasure Itself. Would it be gold nuggets? Fine wine? Precious jewels?

Pot Shelf in Finishing Hall was bustling with activity. Vessels were stored there awaiting job allocation. Each vessel was busy polishing itself to mirror shine and buffing its colors to brilliance.

Tall Jardinière drew himself up to his exalted utmost and looked down on the rest of the vessels on the shelf. "You all don't stand a chance to be chosen. Everyone looks up to me. My stature alone would enhance The Treasure Itself, whatever it is."

Michael Milkglass rocked back and forth on the shelf for attention. "I'm more suitable. You can't see through me like you can through Carl Clearglass. One glance at him and you can tell whether he's full or empty. I like to keep people guessing."

Aggressive Crystal Cutglass, who loved to nudge her sharp points against her neighbors just to hear and admire her melodious "ping" on contact, put in with "I'm far out of everyone's class. Just think of all the skilled craftsmanship that went into my appearance. Besides, it’s who you know that counts. I'm related to the Park Avenue debutante, Sylvia Stemware. Surely I'm more worthy of being selected than you all.”

“You talk about class,” sniffed Victoria Vaase, “the charm of my oriental carvings and delicate colors make me the most esteemed container for The Treasure Itself. My ancestry will stand me in good stead. The famous Cathay Cloisonné was my maternal grandmother, and her line goes back to the emperors of China.”

"None of you has a handle like me," bragged Peter Pitcher. “And I have such a beautiful full lip. I'm sure to be picked."

Styro Foamcup shuffled back into a corner, not wanting to be noticed in such elegant company. His comment was hardly audible. "I know I'm just a nobody. I'm even disposable and wouldn't be worthy to carry The Treasure Itself.

Plastic Measuringcup standing next to him, shrugged his shoulders. "I feel that way too. People always think I'm comparing them against myself, so they shy away from me."

Pop Bottle, one of the oldsters, who insisted on wearing his cap all the time, was preoccupied with polishing his trademark. "Actually, I'm already full of ‘The Real Thing’ so I'm not interested."

Cracked Pot and Leaky Coffeecup both declined to engage in the vanity discussion and declared self-consciously, "Obviously we aren't in the running. We couldn't even hold The Treasure Itself very long if we were chosen. Why did MASTER POTTER make us less than perfect?” There was a hint of grumble in their mumbles.

Genuine Antique, also known as Aunt Gennie, kept aloof from the rest of the vessels in her exclusive corner. She regarded herself as too valuable to get near the others lest she be nicked or scratched. "Just wait and see," she murmured to anyone within earshot. "I'll be chosen for my seniority."

Everyday Earthenvessel looked thoughtfully from one to the other of the contestants engaged in ego debate. What was the point of joining such a discussion? There was nothing special about him to brag about. He was perfectly common, ordinary, and plain. Dozens of his kind of vessel stocked The Shop. MASTER POTTER would have no reason to give him a second glance.

The controversy came to a sudden halt at the sound of a key being turned in the lock. The door swung open and a blaze of Light nearly blinded the vessels. They had not realized how dark it had been in The Shop until the door opened. A figure was barely visible in the diffusion of Light. But all knew it was MASTER POTTER, whom none had ever seen distinctly, but whose hand had fashioned them all. Although they couldn't see His eyes, they knew He was scanning the shelf to observe and inspect them. MASTER POTTER stood silently for what seemed to all to be a very long time.

The suspense was unbearable. Had He heard their pompous boasting? Under His gaze, the vessels stood embarrassed and silent on the shelves, no longer daring to commend themselves or brag about their distinctive properties. They felt somehow leveled to a common denominator: things created, standing before their Creator. None dared either to complain about his own nothingness or flaunt his supposed somethingness. He had made them all as He saw fit and they were suitable for their unique functions.
As the blaze of Light receded somewhat, they could see that MASTER POTTER held in His hand a rugged, wooden bucket filled with Something. Instinctively they knew that, whatever it was like, this was The Treasure Itself!

They had supposed IT would be carried in some splendid expensive container. As a matter of fact, the wood from which the bucket was fashioned seemed to be from a stable for housing animals, roughly hewn.

MASTER POTTER spoke, His voice low but strong, gentle yet commanding. "All of you are my precious handiwork, whether vessels unto honor or dishonor. My House is large and various vessels are needed. Vessels are made to receive and then to give forth to others. I never make vessels only to be on display as ornaments.

“There is only one qualification for receiving The Treasure Itself." He paused, as all the vessels held their breaths and listened intently.

"To be useful to Me and prepared for every good work, and to receive The Treasure Itself, your vessel must be clean."

Upon hearing that, each of the vessels from Gary Goldgoblet, the most valuable, to the cheapest, Styro Foamcup, felt utterly contaminated. All believed themselves to be completely unworthy to receive The Treasure Itself and were ashamed of their bragging and bravado.

Not leaving them in the morass of their hopelessness, MASTER POTTER continued, "None of you is unsoiled, no, not one. Nor can you cleanse yourselves. So I have provided for your cleansing. The One Called Alongside To Help is here with Me to cleanse the vessel chosen to receive The Treasure Itself."

The vessels all jiggled and quivered with anticipation now, waiting for the grand announcement of the one chosen.

His declaration was clear and simple. "You are ALL chosen! Each of you will receive IT! And the greatest among you will be the one who serves others."

Stunned silence gave way to joyful, jingling, tingling excitement at the startling news.

"The Treasure Itself is The Water of Life. I will give it first to Everyday Earthenvessel as a symbol that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of Me and not from you." A gasp followed His announcement. All eyes turned toward lowly, humble Earthenvessel.

"After Earthenvessel receives, he shall immediately share The Treasure Itself with Pitcher, who will share IT with Crystal, who will share IT with Michael, who will pass IT on to Measuringcup, on and on until all of you on every shelf in every room of every house in Kiln Kingdom shall be full to overflowing with The Treasure Itself."

"But won't The Treasure Itself run out before we have all received? If we share with the others, we won't have anything left for ourselves?" blurted Victoria Vaase.

"The Treasure Itself, The Living Water that I give you, shall never run out. It shall become in each of you a well of water springing up. The more you overflow to other vessels, the fuller you will become. By sharing, you lose nothing--you continue in your own fullness," MASTER POTTER explained.

"It's a miracle!" gasped Pop Bottle.

MASTER POTTER turned toward him. "Of course it is." Then, looking squarely at Pop, he cautioned, "Be sure you first empty yourself of what you mistakenly thought was ‘the real thing’ before you receive The Living Water."

Then, addressing Cracked Pot and Leaky Coffeecup, "Hurry and share your Living Water that none be lost. And in receiving and sharing, you yourselves will be sealed and healed and made whole."

As MASTER POTTER concluded, He began generously to pour The Treasure Itself, The Living Water, into Earthenvessel from the humble but holy wooden bucket.

Earthenvessel had to bow to pour IT into Peter Pitcher, who bowed to let IT overflow to Crystal Cutglass and on into the other vessels who pressed around eagerly, inviting "Fill me, fill me that I may overflow!"

And so it was that Kiln Kingdom received The Treasure Itself and supplied all the vessels, great and small, costly and common, those newly made and those that had been in storage for some time, with The Living Water forevermore.


1 Cor. 1:27-29; 2 Cor. 4:7; John 4:10, 14; Rom. 12:3, 4; Matt. 20:20-28



gray: a color between white and black; having a neutral hue; dark, dismal, gloomy; indeterminate, intermediate in character


By Leona Choy

Gray days, uninvited, slip in
between winter and spring
and bring gray moods
and mental monotones.
Snow birds chirp in muted notes.
The season seems suspended
with winter open-ended.

Drab days endured
with passive acceptance
will always pass. I know
the cycle is ordained:
gray, in-between days are always
followed by The Grand Spectacle of spring
when the somber draperies of the sky
are suddenly drawn back
and songbirds warble cheerily
heralding the splendid season
and the inevitable renewal
of every living thing.

My soul, too, passes through
gray times, waiting times
shrouding me in melancholy and
a certain sadness
fogging my thoughts
tempting me to despair.

But shall I not embrace
transient testing times
and welcome them, assured
that my soul is being fortified
by gray days uninvited?
Mellowed and molded
my spirit patiently awaits the time
when the dismal winteriness of my soul
is dispelled again
by sunshine!

Copyright: CELEBRATE THIS MOMENT: Prime Time is NOW!
A Trilogy of Inspirational Poetry by Leona Choy


Thursday, February 26, 2009


“LENT IS LIKE A STIMULUS PACKAGE suggested our priest in his Ash Wednesday homily.

I tried to wrap my understanding around that. Yes, LENT provides me with a 40 day stimulus toward a closer relationship with God. I have a set period of time to make a new start—to work on areas in which I have grown lax. I can examine my conscience and take a hard look at my spiritual progress or lack of it.

LENT is a time for me to pull back out from under the bed the things that I have shoved “out of sight, out of mind,” which I think the world can’t see. It is a time to confess, to “come clean” about how I got myself into some mess, like the financial CEOs have had to do, and I must have a firm desire for amendment. God always offers His loving and ultra-generous “rescue package” when I come to Him with a humble and contrite heart.

LENT can be a “bail out” time for me to empty my leaky boat of all the dirty water that has seeped into it during the rough and tumble workaday routine of my life and set it spiritually afloat again.

Reminded of the brevity of life and its inevitable termination by the ashes on my forehead and the pronouncement “Remember, man, you are dust, and to dust you will return,” LENT is a time to take inventory of my life spending habits. What are my priorities in view of the temporary nature of my limited days and years? LENT can become my “spending stimulus” as I am determined to spend more time in the presence of God listening to His voice, receiving His directions—perhaps not being so concerned about listing all my petitions and monopolize our conversation together. Have I been too busy to pull back and quietly sit and adore the Lord, to contemplate His holiness, His mercy, His love?

I tend to think about things that I should give up or sacrifice for LENT. There is a place for that, since most of us are far too attached to the world and things of the world, pursuing primarily what pleases us. Often, however, the things I think of giving up are trivial and I could well do without them anytime. Are they really worthy sacrifices or are they only trite, unfit tokens of my love for God? At one point in the life of David the king, when told he didn’t have to pay for a certain piece of land on which he planned to build an altar for the Lord, he refused the offer and said, “Shall I offer to God that which cost me nothing?” Do I sacrifice to the Lord that which costs me nothing?

Should I not rather concentrate on forming positive spiritual habits that I can continue after the 40 days of LENT are over? Some of the habits and “the sins that so easily beset us” may also have to do with the discipline of my body. God is not only interested in my soul’s welfare; my body is important to Him because He created it and, as the apostle Paul reminds me, my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. And again, “Now brothers, I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) LENT is a time to shape up both spiritually and as concerns my body and its disciplines. I must be careful about my motivation, however,—I shouldn’t engage in fasting with the objective of a diet to lose weight! If there is a fringe benefit, so be it, but the aim is for my spiritual benefit.

What each of us commits himself or herself to do during LENT is ultimately a private matter between himself and God. We may share our “list” with others to help in our accountability or to encourage one another. Or not. Jesus’ spiritual direction about such things is clearly spelled out in Matthew 6 with cautions against blowing trumpets and looking gloomy and telling the whole street when “performing righteous deeds.” If I do, not only may I be prideful, but I am in danger of not receiving my reward from my Heavenly Father. Only when He sees in secret, does He promise repayment!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday comes with its somber reminder of our mortality, “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) But that isn’t the last word….


Leona Choy

No life structures last, for all will pass.
Adjustments and change
transitions and turning points
crossroads and crises—
nothing stays the same.

As soon as I’m serene God shifts the scene.
He kaleidoscopes my life
and my settled world
shattering and fragmenting it
into a totally new pattern.

God quicksilvers my human securities
not in caprice
but with Divine purpose.
He is in pursuit
of my transition
from temporal roots
to a heavenly climate.

Then I shall embrace that which deviates
from my comfortable place!
I will ride the wave
and joyfully let Him
rearrange my life
and not estrange
myself from change:
It is my angelic friend
conducting me
along the road
of transformation
and sandpapering me
abrasing my inclination
to petrifaction.

God is intentionally keeping me in motion
preparing me
for The Great Change:
my transfiguration
into the person I shall be
when I exchange my mortality
for His image
in Eternity!

Prime Time is NOW.
A Trilogy of Inspirational Poetry
by Leona Choy




“Grandma, what’s that black smudge on your forehead?”

“It is a small cross that our priest, Father Krempa, put on everyone’s forehead at Church this morning. Today is ‘Ash Wednesday,’ a special day once a year when we start counting 40 more days until Easter Sunday.”

“Did Father use a magic marker? Will it ever wash off?”

“He used a mixture of ashes and holy water. Yes, I will be able to wash it off, but it is good to leave it on all day to remind me of what it means. And when people ask about it, I can tell them.”

“What does it mean?”

“When Father Krempa made that sign on our foreheads, he said to each person, “You are dust, and to dust you will return.” That is what God said to Adam after Adam and Eve sinned for the first time. God created man from the dust of the earth and He was letting Adam know that some day he would die because he had sinned and be put back into the earth. Before that, Adam didn’t know about death. And since then, everyone’s body has to die, but our souls will live forever. We can read all about that in the first book of the Bible….”

“…which is called Genesis, right?”

“Good, you remembered that, Jeffrey!”

“Well, where did Father get the ashes?”

“The ashes are from the burning of the dried up palm leaves that we were given at Church last year on the Sunday before Easter which we call ‘Palm Sunday.’ That was the day all the people who followed Jesus were happy and sang and shouted to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem by waving palm branches. It was sort of like waving flags to welcome someone special, like a king or a president.”

”Like thousands of people waved flags in Washington, D.C. at the Inauguration? I saw that on TV. But why do we count 40 days until Easter?”

“We call those 40 days ‘Lent’ from an old English word ‘lencten’, which means spring. Easter is always celebrated in the springtime. Jesus did many miracles and taught important things during that period before He sacrificed His life on the cross for us. Forty is kind of an important number in Christian teaching. After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, He went alone into the wilderness to pray and prepare for what God, His Father, wanted Him to do.”

“What are we supposed to do during Lent?”

“It is a time for us to think seriously about our Christian lives and what is really important. We should try to pray more and read books about God and ask God to forgive us for the things we have done wrong and ask God to help us do better. Our Church helps us to do that. It is also a time when many Christians decide to give up certain things during those 40 days. These are things that are good in themselves, but we want to let Jesus know that He is more important to us than foods we like and favorite things we do.”

“I had to go to school today so I couldn’t go to Mass with you, Grandma. If I did go, would Father Krempa have put the ashes sign on my forehead too even though I am not Confirmed yet, and I can’t take the bread and wine that is Christ’s Body?”

“Sure, Father would have put the ashes sign on your forehead too. The children who attend our Church’s Academy were all there, and Father put the sign on their foreheads. Even on the foreheads of some little children who were carried in their parents’ arms. SACRED HEART is your Church, Jeffrey. You were baptized there.”

“Could I think about something that I especially like and give it up for Lent too, so I could let Jesus know I love Him? But…what if I forget what I promised and kind of slip up…?”

“Not to worry. Jesus knows your heart, Jeffrey. He knows what you want to do for Him, and always lets you start over again. We don’t give up things because of some kind of list of rules, but because we want to come closer to God by learning what pleases Him and what is important in life.”