Posted by: wordofthevine | December 11, 2018

What the Present Moment Offers us as we Approach Christmas!

I have been impressed lately about how we may suffer frustrations when we are trying to respond to God’s will for us. Maybe you’ve noticed that I have not posted anything lately. I have attempted to but somehow logging into my account became very difficult. I work with a partner who also had this blog linked to her account and between us we got passwords messed up. Well, anyway, today I was successful in resetting the password and gaining access. All of this is humbling as I like to think that I am computer savvy.

Let’s move into Advent and preparing for the coming of the infant Jesus. I am once again drawn to the writings of holy lay women like Servant of God, Elisabeth Leseur in her journal, My Spirit Rejoices. More than one hundred years ago, in December 1911, Elisabeth wrote this short prayer, “At the approach of this sweet feast of Christmas, I ask the dear Child Jesus for His most far-reaching blessings upon everyone. To put more supernatural spirit, more of the spirit of prayer, into my life; and through penance of the heart and of action to attain the interior joy that is its fruit.”

What about you? What type of frustrations and set backs are you experiencing today that you can collect with intention as a little offering to pad the manger of baby Jesus this Christmas? Today, I offer up my log in struggles as straw for the manger! Everyday life can be lived in a way that helps enliven prayer in our hearts! ~ Mary Kaufmann

Posted by: wordofthevine | April 5, 2018

Venerable Concepcion’s Practical Desires for the Virgin Mary

If you were raised Catholic or even if you weren’t and wish you could understand a healthy devotion to the Blessed Mother, reading the spirituality of Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, a Mexican Mother and Mystic who lived close to our time, can really bless you. Consider the following words penned by Venerable Concepcion that were include in the book, Priestly People by Richardo Zimbron Levy, M.Sp.S., a member of the order of priests that Venerable Concepcion inspired:

“I want to do everything in union with Mary.That’s why I wonder how she would receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist; how she would pray, how she would offer her divine Son to the heavenly Father; with how much generosity she would sacrifice for Jesus; how she would live in the presence of God; how many times she would chat with Jesus; how organized she would be; how she would eat; how she would rest as she dreamed about her Jesus; how she would offer advice; how meek and how sweet her words must have been. And thus, I want to imitate her more and more. May the Lord deign to help me and may I not live, nor love, nor work by myself, but in union with this Virgin of my soul, this Virgin who is my Blessed Mother (99).”

To order Priestly People by Richardo Zimbron Levy, M.Sp.S. contact the Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 1320 Maze Blvd., Modesto, CA  95351, 1-(209) 526-3524

Posted by: wordofthevine | March 29, 2018

Holy Thursday Reminds Us We Are Baptismal Priests!

I can’t say enough that I have found a resource called Priestly People by Ricardo Zimbron Levy, M.Sp.S. who brings fresh light on our common call to holiness using the Spirituality of the Cross through the life and writings of Venerable Concepcion Cabrera (1862-1937), a Mexican mother, mystic and spiritual writer. “Conchita” as Concepcion was known, was an “ordinary” mother, who God called to bring to light a further development of our Christian calling. Today, as we celebrate the priesthood on Holy Thursday, we come to see that this celebration is not just for ordained priests but is for all of us. Each of us, through Baptism, are priests or people called to let God lead us to offer our lives as a redeeming force for others. The priesthood starts for all of us, ordained and lay alike, from baptism, a call that continues for all of us into heaven.

The Lord gave Concepcion the mission to save souls by teaching her to make her life an offering, that once united to Jesus’ offering, becomes a redeeming force for others. Gradually Jesus showed Concepcion how to focus on Him and offer the present moment as an acceptable sacrifice for others, while she cared for her family and during the Eucharistic offering at Mass. Concepcion came to deeply desire to share in the Passion of Jesus and collaborate with Him in the salvation of the world by genuinely taking up the cross each day.

Father Levy describes Venerable Concepcion as “the perfect secular model” of holiness and says of us in the world, “that just because  they (lay people) are busy does not mean that they are not invited to holiness. It is precisely by offering up their daily work, which is many times painful  and full of suffering, that they progress in holiness (30).”

Think of this the next time you wake up early to go to work to support your family or return tired and still jump up to fix dinner for your loved ones. Now is an acceptable sacrifice where you remember that you are a baptismal priest that can made a spiritual difference for others by uniting the self-rub or sacrifice to Jesus for the good of others! ~ Mary Kaufmann, Director of Incarnate Institute and Word of the Vine Blog

Posted by: wordofthevine | March 27, 2018

Our Calling: Total Surrender to God!

As we near the end of Lent this year, we want to perk our efforts in order to really receive the graces has for us this Holy Week. This is not a selfish thing but something practical if we are growing in humility. It only takes one set back to realize that the good we do for others is possible because we are acting on good graces that God shares with us. Like Jesus, we are to accomplish the Father’s will in us.

As I consider this for myself, I am blessed this year to have read one of the most powerful and impactful books that I have ever read, Priestly People by Richardo Zimbron Levy, M.Sp.S.. The book is available from the Sisters of the Cross in Modesto, CA. This resource is the best book in English that summarizes and then applies the Spirituality of the Cross that God brought to us through the life and writings of Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida.

One thing that jumped out at me with my first reading, among many things, were the words: “God does not ask us for complete perfection, but rather, for a total surrender to him.” Today I can go to work, come home, reach out to friends with the hope that I release control of my life and the moments to God who will make something beautiful.  Today as you go about your day, say a little offering to God…I give this moment to you, Lord, help me. ~ Mary

To contact the Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart to purchase this book:  Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart at 1320 Maze Blvd, Modesto, CA  95351, 1-209-526-3525.

Posted by: wordofthevine | March 8, 2018

Why is Sustainable Living Part of a Plan for Holiness?

When we cultivate a fascination with cultivating health by eating healthy, whole foods that we take part in producing or making, we become more able to integrate all aspects of our life with the fullness of God. God created us for such a worthy purpose. With a modern fast paced lifestyle, many times we have lost sight of our true potential for well-being grounded in creating.

While we all live in different situations and settings and have unique lives and gifts, tapping into the creativity  that is part of our gift of life will look different for each of us. Genesis 1: 26-31 describes that God made human persons in his image and gave them a charge to be fruitful, to multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth and every tree with seeds in its fruit; you shall have them for food…I have given every green plant for food. And, it was so. God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good.”

What are we to do with this? Start taking time to learn how to cook more whole foods and how to cultivate a starter garden. If you don’t live where you have garden space, try a container garden on your patio. Check out farmers markets this Spring where you can purchase organic produce. Let yourself be amazed with the peace that surpasses understanding that comes from gardening and from cooking. In doing so, you become a truer steward of God’s gifts to us on the earth. Holiness is something real that has roots in welcoming all aspects of life, even eating and procuring food, as a gift to us from God. Cultivate this sense of gratitude in living right now! ~ Mary Kaufmann, Director of Incarnate Institute  (Certified Chaplain and Spiritual Director & Registered Dietitian.)

Posted by: wordofthevine | March 4, 2018

Baking Bread: A Spiritual Exercise

I’m so excited to bring together my passion for closeness with God and the priority I feel in living a simple, healthy life. Maybe it’s because, before being a theologian and a spiritual director, I was a dietitian with a degree in Nutrition as well as a mother of six kids and a wife. My family is so important to me.

When we live close to God, we are also close to that life-giving essence of life, maybe as gardeners or wanna be, or as cooks or physically active, healthy people. When we nurture our prayer life, we naturally want to be good stewards of God’s gifts and the fruits of this world. We can learn how to do this practically. It’s fun to try something our grandmothers or great grandmothers did and be successful at it. You can learn how to bake bread even when you are already busy and find it fun. Real bread that is flavorful, crunch and full of nutrition is so much better tasting and satisfying than the fabricated Wonder Bread that we can buy in the store that really doesn’t satisfy our cravings.

To get started, try a simple recipe that’s ready in one hour. Taste and savor it to see if what I’m proposing is true for you. Eating real locally grown or homemade food satisfies us at a deep level and doesn’t have to be time consuming.

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

1 pkg of active dry yeast                         2 1/2 cup lukewarm water

1/4 cup warm water                                1/4 cup margarine or butter or oil

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed                3 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon salt                                      4 cup all-purpose white flour

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside. Use your mixer with a dough hook or in your bread machine (you can often find a bread machine at thrift shops for only a few dollars and use the dough cycle to mix this bread.) Stir the brown sugar and salt into the lukewarm water. Add yeast mixture, oil or butter, whole wheat flour and one cup of white flour, beat with your dough hook for three minutes to develop the structure and then stir in remaining flour until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. Using your dough hook, beat for 3 minutes more.(This dough should have a slightly sticky feel but not stick to your finger.) Place the dough in a warm, not hot, place until it raises about double the size. Punch the dough down by plunging your fist into the dough and folding the sides into the center of the ball of dough. Cut the dough into three pieces, and shape the loaf by flattening the dough into a rectangle and rolling it into a loaf shape. Seal the seam and place seam side down in a greased loaf pan. Let each loaf raise until it doubles in size and bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes. Let the bread cool before cutting for best results if you can.

Blessings, Mary Kaufmann, Director of Incarnate Institute. Making this bread is a spiritual exercise.


Posted by: wordofthevine | March 2, 2018

Sustainable living: a Backbone to Practical Holiness!

You might not know this from my blogs but I am a whole foods, sustainable living guru in addition to being a Catholic chaplain and a spiritual writer. Each week, I bake my own bread after grinding my own organic flour. I prefer to eat low on the food chain focusing what we eat in fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains with some low fat meats. Now don’t get me wrong. I bake cookies on occasion when my kids come home from college but right now I have a green house set up in my basement with new seedlings for my garden. I try to can all my own tomato products and savage from my neighborhood, apples, peaches, pears and berries that my neighbors grow but do not process.

You might not think that you have time for all this but actually it’s easy to work in and really part of a contemplative lifestyle for holiness. I think of this every time I read Genesis that we have been given every kind of vegetation and fruit bearing tree as a gift from God. Modern life has moved us away from a secret to contemplative peacefulness and health. When we are healthy, we pray better and are more charitable. We don’t want to squander God’s gifts to us and short change our well being. It only takes some creativity when you come home tired after a long day at work or with young children.

For the next month, as we approach the growing season, I want to focus my blog on some practical ideas to promote this simple, minimalistic sustainable living for holiness! Believe me, I am practical when I suggest this as I have six kids who were closely spaced by our choice. That’s all for now,for I am going to go shape my bread dough, but stay tuned. You will have a ball with me as we explore these simple healthy ideas for contemplative living and health! ~ Mary Kaufmann, Director of Incarnate Institute.

Posted by: wordofthevine | February 21, 2018

When others slight or hurt us, what’s another way?

Maybe I am too sensitive. I seem to remember hearing that growing up somewhat regularly. Even now, I can’t say that I don’t cherish the times that I am noticed or praised for who I am or for what I’ve done. It feels good.  While this is part of our human nature, in reading the Saints writings, I see that I am invited into new vision and understanding about the “downer moments” of life.

While I’m not talking about staying in an unsafe situation, ordinary humiliations can be extra ordinary teachers for us on the path of holiness and mature living. When grace percolates through us from a real and personal relationship with Jesus, we become capable of beautiful growth. In a certain sense, we can lose a self focus to gain a docility to the Spirit that brings us and others through us, true life.

Venerable Concepcion Cabrera, “Conchita” who I have regularly read and wrote about for the almost twenty years wrote, “Humiliations in the autumn of the soul are indispensable for her to be happy; they constitute her food, her delight and her repose. she feels miserable and hungry when she is not given this bread. The unfavorable judgments of others no longer touch or move her, because she has experienced her deformity, has felt her weakness…she has contemplated herself a great deal through glasses that never lie, those of humility, being happy in her poverty and ever trying to submerge herself in the deepest forgetfulness of self, which is where the Beloved is found!” from Seasons of the Soul, p. 31.

While her language seems to be from another era, I’m not suggesting that we work to hate ourselves. I am inviting us to learn to welcome humiliations as opportunities to mature into fuller self forgetfulness and ability to love others. We always will encounter challenges at the hands of others for we are not in heaven yet. Maybe this Lent, in the course of ordinary living you could grow in real time holiness! ~ Mary Kaufmann, Director of Incarnate Institute.

Posted by: wordofthevine | February 20, 2018

New Habits this Lent that will Transform us!

Consider this Lent if there are practices that really could help you grow and unearth daily habits that might be weakening your spiritual vitality. I have decided that I am going to practice being creative in scheduling more daily Mass. For the last 15 years or so, I have been a daily communicant, most days. I noticed recently, when my schedule became more harried, that I wasn’t attending daily Mass as often as I had in the past.

Part of my changed daily pattern was that I wanted to be making attendance at daily Mass a response of loving God rather than something that comes from my will power. I wanted to want more deeply to be with God in the Mass. I developed a pattern of extended daily personal prayer and daily exercise part of my response to God. As I pulled back from some daily Mass, I noticed my desire to be there growing. I wanted God to help move me from within to worship God at Mass.

What about you? Do you go about your day fulfilling your duties? Or, are you letting yourself be moved by God and by the plight of people around you to alleviate suffering around you? Try today to be cultivated, to feel from within that motivates your devotions and outreach to others. What the world needs is to experience the transformative power that is evident when others truly love us from the inside out! ~ Mary, Director of Incarnate Institute.

Posted by: wordofthevine | February 2, 2018

Living with the Light of Christ: Venerable Concepcion Cabrera

We have to have greater expectations that we, women and men living ordinary lives can experience union with God. God has designed each of us to love him and be united from within with Him. This union is not just for Saint John of the Cross or Saint Teresa of Avila but for all of us if we pursue holiness generously like Venerable Concepcion Cabrera did.

To all who saw her on the street or with her children, Venerable Concepcion Cabrera looked ordinary. Inside she describes a beautiful relationship with Jesus that transformed her and ushered in a wonderful mission for her in the Church. She was the foundress or co-founder of the Five Works of the Cross. In her journal from January 12, 1907 she writes, “It is really difficult to explain what I am feeling precisely. [The union with Jesus] is like one hand is inside the other… I am filled with light inside my soul and body. This light invades me, illuminates me.”

How profound! Jesus wants to be so close to us, to invite us into his thoughts and light. What is one way you could make yourself more available to receive the light of love and faith from God today? ~ Mary Kaufmann, Director of Incarnate Institute.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »