Tag Archives: peace

God’s Yeast–blog


This blog was inspired by Genesis 29:15-28 and Matthew 13:31-52

The stories of the Bible teach us so much about human nature.

Jacob was a quiet lad like his mother-he preferred cooking and staying indoors. Jung the eminent therapist might have said, even though he wasn’t a girl, that Jacob displayed anima energy, the feminine aspect of being human. Whereas, his brother Esau was fierce, hairy, a hunter, a provider, who displayed animus energy, the masculine aspect of being human.

So here they were, these too, typifying different ways to be human. Who would inherit the wealth and the blessing of the father and the family fortune? It should have gone by birthright to Esau, but he could’ve cared less about it, and Jacob, influenced by his mother, lusted after the birthright. I can’t help but wonder when people are rendered powerless with little opportunity, how they might respond.

Jacob with the help of his mother cheats Esau of his blessing from their father, but then he runs away to make his life elsewhere. But his past catches up with him, at least spiritually.

Jacob even after he puts in seven years of honest labor is cheated out of what he most desires.

Just like he cheated his brother Esau out of the rightful blessing of the inheritance from their blind father, now he loses the blessing of his life, the one person he wants to be his wife, Rachel. She is so beautiful. So fresh, so perfect, so desirable.


Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about 60 pounds of flour. Leaven, yeast was considered undesirable to the people of Israel. They ate unleavened bread.

Jesus was telling his people something they didn’t understand, to them yeast bread was nasty. They wanted flat bread. Yet yeast symbolized God’s Kingdom–something unfathomable, something growthful, something not normal, something wayward, something marvelously contradictory, something new.

God’s yeast signifies heaven and it is not about the power and the might of men, nor is it about the good baking of women.

Yet it is a woman who demonstrates the kingdom of heaven–she represents the ordinary, the comfortable, the good aromas in the kitchen.

Perhaps Jesus intends to balance masculine power hierarchy with feminine care and spirituality.

The woman, Jesus says, is doing something new, and it is important. She is making yeast-bread, a food unlike the flat bread people were accustomed to.

For people who’ve never eaten yeast bread, it would probably smell horrible and taste terrible in their mouths. And in their minds.

Change shakes us up. We don’t like it.


My husband cooks a Brazilian dish called Feshada. It’s a dish of black beans with a few select spices. It was made by slaves who used to throw in leftover meat, and serve it over rice.

It looks like tar. Philip always laughs and says it could be used to fill in potholes. Nasty. But it tastes like, well, like heaven. And it is good for one’s health–beans and rice combination is considered one of the best food groups.

God’s yeast is like that–something that might at first glance be confounding and yet is the source of good food, good spiritual nourishment, personal growth.

– Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, says: Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Do we not all hope to be instruments of peace?

How are we to be transformed from ordinary flour into extraordinary yeasty bread? Have you smelled bread baking in the kitchen? Doesn’t it make your mouth water? God’s yeast does that only spiritually.God’s yeast grows us into better, stronger, more selfless people?

Selflessness, by the way,  is not the same as being a door mat or a martyr. Selflessness is acting out of freedom for the greater good of others. You aren’t free until you’re free. First,  prepare the mix. Don’t expect immediate results. Yeast takes a while to multiply and raise the bread. The temperature of the hot water has to be just right too, or the yeast will die. So we must prepare the mix, we must prepare ourselves.

We do that through worship, through prayer, through study of Scripture, through loving our neighbors, through our witness of love in the world.

Churches  provide opportunities to be in community, to learn about Christ, to practice prayer, to be deeply centered in meaningful life.

God’s yeast grows us from the inside out.

God is love. We are love.

How come we don’t see it and act it all the time?

The Christian journey is a process of becoming, a means to become transformed from fear to love, form imprisonment to freedom.

God transforms Jacob, through his hard work and ultimately self-awareness into a new being. He is still Jacob but God calls him Israel, a new flesh–a fountain of abundance.

Jacob’s bride, Rachel, the blessing he really wanted, did not come for free.

Does anything?

Yes. God’s love is free.

Jesus comes to save us not because we are good, but because God is good.

God loves us so much he sent his child, Jesus, who transforms the world, and us, into better versions of ourselves.

Heaven is about growing, becoming, through our development, a rich food for others . We become bigger people not in size but in what matters most.

In the church, we are Jacobs who through God’s grace will become Israels.


Pray the timeless Prayer For Peace of St. Francis of Assisi–and repeat it daily.  It might just transform your understanding..

Prayer of St. Francis,(Make Me A Channel of Your Peace) sung by Angelina, EWTN https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZI1Gst7pEqc

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon, Where there is doubt, faith, Where there is despair, hope, Where there is darkness, light, and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Blessing: May your heart and mind be enriched with fresh awareness and energy from God’s yeast that gently grows you and the people you love.





Advent Contemplations from West Virginia Institute for Spirituality–Nineteen

December 19, 2013 – Third Thursday in Advent

Pope Francis

“Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! May the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.” Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?”     Pope Francis

How I long for silence and peaceful calm as I await in six days the coming of Christ among us. The commercialism of the season distracts me from the real meaning of Christmas, and yet as I yearn for an inner peace, the true gift of Christ among us, I think of those whose surroundings exude violence and oppression. How important it is for me to live as Christ, in the present moment, as I reflect on the lack of peace in so many people surrounded by violent forces beyond their control. I pray I walk with my brothers and sisters whose external peace is so nonexistent. May I be one with them in hope, in love, in true concern and prayer.


Today I will expand my vision, and pray especially for my brothers and sisters living in war torn and violent areas in our world for whom peace is only a dream.

Sr. Ritamary Schulz ASCJ, WVIS Associate Spiritual Director: wvsrritamary@aol.com

Link to West Virginia Institute for Spirituality to download all of the Advent contemplations: http://wvis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Advent-Reflections-2013.pdf

Advent Contemplations from West Virginia Institute for Spirituality–Seventeen

December 17, 2013 – Third Tuesday in Advent


There is no peace more wonderful than the peace we enjoy when faith shows us God in all created things.                                                                                                           Jean-Pierre de Caussade

The author of the above quote, a Jesuit Priest, wrote about the Sacrament of the Present Moment. What greater creation has the Lord given us than the moment in which we live. It is both freeing and challenging to live in the present moment. Free of moments that are gone forever, we are free to co-create with the Lord who dwells within us, NEW moments, FRESH experiences, DIFFERENT beginnings. We have more control/power over our own lives and schedules than we sometimes realize. We have the opportunity to choose to create moments that will be long-cherished; memories that will cause us to look back and say, ‘Surely God was in that moment!” One of my favorite translations of the scriptures is Eugene Peterson’s, The Message. His translation of Psalm 5: 3 is how we can begin each day as peaceful partners with the Lord: ‘Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend.’ Does this not call us to appeal to the Lord to show us the way, to accept the challenge of the moment, to be a part of God’s good created order? According to de Caussade, that is precisely what will bring us to peace.

Prayer Practice for Today: Write a cinquain! Here is an adventure in prayer for you. When finished, your prayer/poem will resemble the shape of a Christmas tree.

1st line – One word (Title – what you call God) 2nd line – Two words that describe the title 3rd line – Three action words about the title 4th line – Four words that express a thought or feeling about the title 5th line – One word that means the same thing as the title

Example (by C. Hill, a student in my New Testament class at Waynesburg University):


Loving, Caring

Healing, Loving, Accepting

The Creator of All


Rev. Barbara M. Bailey, NBCC WVIS Associate Spiritual Director; bbaileywick@suddenlink.net

Link to West Virginia Institute for Spirituality to download all of the Advent contemplations: http://wvis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Advent-Reflections-2013.pdf

Advent Contemplations from West Virginia Institute for Spirituality–Fourteen

December 14, 2013 – Second Saturday of Advent


Nothing is so characteristically Christian as being a peacemaker. St Basil the Great, Letter 114

“Blest are the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God.” Nelson Mandela is a peacemaker who challenges us by his words and actions to be faithful to the Glory of God that is within each of us. In one of his powerful poems he says: “We are all meant to shine as children do.” That caused a rush of hope in me the first time I read these words. The picture of Jesus embracing little children came immediately to mind, then a relief followed. I sat with this gift of relief and came to realize that all of us have a restlessness within us, a yearning deep inside to find peace and acceptance – to know the embrace of our God in Christ Jesus, our relief!

For Jesus as he walked among us, peace was a life style. He opened his arms to caress the world and loved everyone without distinction. He saw each person as a child of the light, and his disarming love for them, if accepted, caused them to see their own beauty and to find the peace that was already deep within themselves.

Jesus invites us in our “waiting time” this Advent to look within our own hearts and find the peace that is already there. Can we wait patiently, in faith, to give birth to something immensely beautiful to happen within our hearts? As we come to embrace our own light and share it with our brothers and sisters, we will recognize the peace that it gives us – peace that is freedom , a witness to others that following Jesus frees us to be completely who we really are. May we rush into the arms of Jesus and be more deeply transformed into his love!

Prayer Practice: “I want to be a child of the light. I want to follow Jesus.”

Sr. Diane McCalley, CSJ. WVIS Associate Spiritual Director; dmccalle@frontier.com

Link to West Virginia Institute for Spirituality to download all of the Advent contemplations: http://wvis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Advent-Reflections-2013.pdf

Advent Contemplations from West Virginia Institute for Spirituality–One

December 1, 2013 First Sunday of Advent


“Peace begins with a smile.” Mother Teresa

Let us prepare for the birth of Jesus, the “Prince of Peace”, with a smile. Then I ask, what do I have to smile about for the world I live in today is anything but peaceful? The media continually reminds me of the violence, greed, injustice, inhumanity going on around me. How can a smile make my world more peaceful?

When Blessed Mother Teresa said “Peace begins with a smile.”, what did she mean? Perhaps she meant that peace begins with a kind gesture toward others. Certainly, a smile is a kind gesture. It costs nothing – there are those who say it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown. For sure, to smile makes me feel better than to frown. However, when I smile I should really mean it. A genuine smile will show not only on my mouth, but my eyes, my whole body – my heart!

In addition, I can make my world more peaceful by following the example set by Jesus during his public ministry. He made time for quiet and prayer. By taking time for quiet and prayer in my busy life, I will be more at peace. I will be better able to share peace with others.

Today, as we begin this Advent Season, let us take more time for peace in our lives and to share that peace.

Suggested Practice (s) of the Day: 

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It may be the only sunshine he sees all day. (H. Jackson Brown, Jr.) 

Pray for peace. 

Do an act of kindness for someone in need – ‘Pay It Forward’.

Margaret (Susie) Pace, WVIS Associate Spiritual Director; topsy@suddenlink.net


You can access all of the Advent devotions at http://wvis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Advent-Reflections-2013.pdf


Love Meditation Using a Breath Prayer and Mantra

Jesus said, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matthew 28:20 (NIV)

What a wonderful expression of love from someone who knows he is going to die unjustly at the hands of people who are threatened by him.

A breath prayer I use accompanied by the mantra breathing in Grace, breathing out Love has recently grown in scope. In the past, it was a simple meditation to help empty my mind of random thoughts with the goal of allowing God to focus and inform my being.

Pema Chodrin, renowned Buddhist nun, instructs people in a meditative practice where we are to first remember a moment of love in our lives and dwell in that moment while sitting in meditation. After following this practice for a while, we begin sending love out to the people we love (family, friends, pets, neighbors…), and eventually we begin to encompass those we do not love (Jesus would call them our enemies) in our feeling of love.

I chose an experience of profound love that changed my life. When I was first attending church, I saw what I can only call a vision of Jesus on the chancel. He was tall and thin, standing in the traditional stance with his arms outstretched. At first, I thought I must be crazy, but what I saw mattered less than what I experienced: I felt a deep sense of love and believed I had been invited into the love of Christ. I accepted the invitation and was baptized and became a Christian.

Remembering this moment warms my heart and enables me to bless others not so much by saying words but by including them in my experience of love.

Take twenty minutes daily and sit quietly with your hands laid gently in your lap. Close your eyes. When you breathe in, silently say the word Grace, imagining you are breathing in God’s grace, and when you breathe out, silently say the word Love, remembering a special moment of love you have experienced. At first, allow this love to be just for you warming you, but then remember friends and family and include them in your warm feeling. Eventually, remember those who have caused you harm and surround them with this love. Finally, remember all the travails and struggles of the world and allow your love to spread.


May this experience bring you peace.

Images are from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation