By Elsa Baughman
PEARL – If you are alive, the Lord has work for you to do, says Celeste Zepponi, Clarksdale St. Elizabeth parishioner. And she means it too. According to this housewife, mom, teacher and self-proclaimed ‘little person with no degree in theology,’ “every one of us, every baptized Christian, has been given a specific ministry, natural and spiritual gifts, whether we know it or not, to build up the Body of Christ, by being messengers,” she said recently at a morning retreat at St. Jude Parish.
Zepponi, who is also a retreat speaker, an artist and singer with two recorded Christian albums, shared some of the songs she has written with the participants who attended her spiritual journey workshop.
The focus of the first of two presentations, “Jesus Waits for You, Holding your Gifts,” emphasized that we can’t do anything except by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Our prayer is for us, as the body of Christ, to be baptized, drenched, immersed, filled in the Holy Spirit because only then are we able to be messengers of the Good News of Jesus Christ,” she explained.” “Jesus wants us to share our ordinary, every day lives with other people,” she said, adding that the little things are really the important ones, they are the ones we minister about. “We all have Jesus in us and we can bring Jesus to other people.” She said for those who can’t get out, they can be calling people, praying or talking with them. “If you hear one word or one sentence I give you today that resonates in you and changes or enriches your life, then you know good and well it didn’t come from me, it came to you by the Holy Spirit.
“I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t believe that so strongly. I feel God has given me the grace to understand that and is what gives me the courage to do this (talk) because otherwise I really don’t have anything to say that could impact your life,” she said.
Zepponi is best known for her angel paintings. Before she started painting angels, Zepponi taught art at an after school program for children. She liked the way the children painted, so freely, so easily, she noted. And she really wanted the talent they have. One day after class, she asked an eight-year-old to teach her to paint like a child. After asking her age, the boy responded, ‘Miss Zepponi, pretend you are eight-years-old and paint what you want.’
“At that moment the Holy Spirit took me out of that room, literally,” she remembers. “I knew in my heart that God talked to me through that child, and I began to paint as an eight-year-old,” she said. “It has brought lots of joy to my life.” Today, she includes the painting of an angel in all her workshops.
Her second talk, “God’s Dream for You,” she used her personal experiences to talk about how Jesus desires to be in relationship with each person and actively participate in our lives. However, she said we often don’t acknowledge this.
She said people are surrounded by gifts, so, she encourages retreatants to become more aware of their surroundings, sounds and smells. “Enjoy more fully God’s gifts moment by moment. Stop and smell the roses, hear the birds sing, feel the cool water run across your hands when you wash them.”
“And how should we do all this,” she pondered? By keeping our prayer life interesting and spending time in prayer. Zepponi mentioned since she started going to Mass daily she has come to know the Lord better. “If you spend time with someone, you get to know that person better,” she said. “The same happens when you spend more time with the Lord.” Set your alarm for a specific time with him, if necessary.
About her music ministry, Zepponi acknowledges she is a lazy singer but enjoys writing songs and singing them.
The workshop included an afternoon art session in which 18 participants painted an angel with guidance from Zepponi.
In a post on her website she notes, “ My ministry is about celebrating our faith and praising God with our creative gifts, and about encountering God’s love in daily, ordinary life.”
To know more about her ministry visit, celestezepponi.com. Her website includes her personal “Prayerful Notes,” her artwork and music profile.