Modesty….. More Than What You Think

August 27, 2016

There was a young man stands in the midst of a crowd of people, takes a gun from his pocket and proceeds to point it straight up into the air and fires it. He does not hit anyone, near him, and says nothing, and does nothing else.

This caused some problems, as you might imagine.

Lets examine the issue a bit more closely. The story above does not really tell us too much about anything other than their factual occurrences. First, lets examine some possibilities about what occurred with those who were standing around. First, the people who were in the crowd.

What was going through the minds of those people who were standing around the young man who fired the gun ? We do not know for sure, but we can imagine. They heard a loud noise, and initially they might have been frightened, scared, shocked, or maybe disoriented. A few moments later for those who were closest, possibly the those feelings and emotions might have evolved into different feelings..

If they were really close and knew where the noise came from, if might have caused people to try and neutralize what they might perceive as the physical threat. Depending on where they were in the world, they might construe as celebration, or possibly think nothing at all about it.

Then we come to the question of the person who made the decision to fire the gun. There is really only 1 question that lingers. WHY ? Why did they do that ? What brought them to that decision ? What were they wanting to accomplish ? Did they accomplish the result they desired ? In the end, was it good for them ? OK, possibly more than one question !

So we have an entire process. We question the impetus, thought or inspiration for the action, followed by the act itself, and then the resultant of the action.

I know, at this point your probably asking yourself what does this have to do with Modesty ? Be patient, anyone who knows me, knows there is always a story to tell and its a process.

Let’s take a look at Modesty and what is really is, and how we address it.

Modesty is not just about your clothing choices. Modesty consists of humility, poverty, relationships, respect, and dignity.

Modesty as with all things has its root planted firmly in God. It is our relationship with God that brings us to the understanding that life is sacred at each point, and at every age, from conception to natural death. If you truly understand that the life of every person is sacred, and a gift from God, then we can also understand everything we do from the time of our birth, until the time of our death, is directly connected to our

relationship with God.

This relationship consists of a spiritual poverty. The we give up attachments, and allurements of this world in favor of a life based in faith. We save certain parts of our selves only for God, to live, and to love as Jesus taught. This modesty is counter cultural in today’s society.

Modesty is humility in the giving up of desires, whether they are fashion, or lifestyle or pleasures of other sorts. It is accepting that we give those things up because they are not pleasing to God, and are detrimental to our relationship with Him, and our own spiritual growth.

Modesty is also about our relationship, with other people.

I read an article from a theologian who said that modesty had absolutely nothing to do with others. ( Here is where the story comes in.) Like the man in the story, his actions had a direct and effective reaction, or response, to those around him. At the same time it also had an effect on him personally.

As Christians, our first and best testament, our best witness, comes from the example of how we live our lives. A person who not only dresses modestly, and has a respect for life, that includes their own bodies, and desires spiritual growth for themselves and others, will have a life that is testament to the beauty of a life lived for God.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Faithfulness…

August 19, 2016

Faithfulness…

Normally we consider faithfulness something that belongs to our spouses, or a particular person… and it is , but it is also a great deal more.

Faithfulness is all about relationships and ideas. It has to do with faith, loyalty, trust, standards, assurances and truth.

Faithfulness in our relationships should have their beginnings and entire journey, as with all things, seated firmly with God. For God is the hallmark of faithfulness. He is the standard of faithfulness. Our relationships with our spouses, our family, our friends, in fact all of our relationships have a certain bond of faithfulness in how we carry out that relationship.

In marriage, family and friendship, our relationship of faithfulness is born forth from the love we carry in our hearts for the other. It is the an abiding, and enduring relationship that withstands the tests of hardships, time, distance, injury, or dryness.
The marriage relationship in particular, carries with it a faithfulness that reaches beyond those of friendship and other relationships because of the nature of the relationship, Marriage is the bonding of hearts, souls, and flesh into one. That bonding is accomplished through God, so there is a three fold relationship of this faithfulness, between the Husband, the wife, and God.

Faithfulness also is present in our relationships in our public life. We are faithful in our relationships in business. To be honest about our relationship with others, in whatever our relationship is, with our company, with our customers, with co-workers.
Our faithfulness in our business relationships means that we are worthy of trust and that faithfulness, again, springs forth from our relationship with God.

Faithfulness is not just about loyalties. It more about a living truth, and an abiding covenant relationship with God and with others. Holding yourself to a standard. That standard can be a number of things. It is a standard of living a good and moral life.
It is trying to be a good and faithful, Christian. For those who are part of an order, or who have taken Holy Orders, it is about living the rule that we profess.

Faithfulness is about being genuine. You hold yourself in a place where you try to be true to your faith, to promises made, to the relationships you have entered into. It is about making difficult decisions that are held to the measure of those ideals. At times it may be not only holding ourselves to those standards, but reminding others of those standards.

It is not always easy by human standards to be faithful, but with the grace of God and assistance of the Holy Spirit, We ascend the heights of faithfulness. Faithfulness is the reason why it is that the martyrs were able to give their lives in testament to the faith. It is the reason why when we in our human-ness fail, that we can pick ourselves up and move onward.

Finally faithfulness does not mean we will not fail. It also does not mean that there will not be trials and hardships, pain or sorrows. It means that we will however have the tools we need to overcome those issues. It means that we will be given the grace to know that what we do in our efforts to be faithful to those relationships will bear fruit in our lives.

Faithfulness is a gift, a grace, it can be the source of trials,yes, but those trials are also a grace, and a blessing. It is through those challenges we face that God works with us, and we are able to grow in our faith. It also gives us the opportunity to share, and to minister to others who may also be struggling.


Though all the peoples walk, each in the name of its god, We will walk in the name of the LORD, our God, forever and ever” (Micah 4:5

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Gentleness…

August 12, 2016

Gentleness…

“ I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love.”
(Ephesians 4:2)

Paul wrote the epistles to the Ephesians during the time he was in prison in Rome. During Paul’s time in Rome he was imprisoned not once but twice, and at the end of the second occurrence he was martyred.

Paul for a long time had not lived what would be considered an easy life after his conversion. I think some times we tend to romanticize the life of the Apostles. We somehow confuse the life they lived because of their proximity to Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The apostles lead the same life the Jesus lived during his earthly ministry ( save for the passion and various other divine aspects). Basically the lives of homeless nomadic people who were not particularly liked in the places they visited or preached in.

Paul, who was about the business of converting souls and spreading the Gospel news, was imprisoned in Rome and his captives and persecutors were not kind if anything they were abusive and hateful, distrustful, hateful of him and this new religion that he was busy trying to spread about. He did not belong in polite Roman society, and did not think that Caesar was a god to be worshiped and since he basically had no home, no income, no assets to speak of he was of little use to them as a whole because he had nothing to contribute in their view.

Does this in any way sound familiar ?

Consider for a moment that in the world climate the view of Christians as a whole has suffered, and
the world even in countries and regions where the church has been deeply embedded for centuries have people who no longer believe in God, or who despise any sort of faith life, whether its their own or others. There are places in the world where people who are of different faiths are persecuting
Christians for the faith that they profess and love. Has history really changed ? No, not really.

Like some, we have people who profess one thing however, what they do in the lives is totally different. That also has not changed.

Just as in Jesus time we have those who would try to persecute us, and make it legal to do so.
We have those who would try to separate parts of our lives from other parts in order to extricate the influence of God from within the gates of our hearts and lives, both public and private.

The times have not changed at all, only the people in the story have changed.

Paul, along with the other disciples, had to endure all manner of hatred, violence, persecution not to mention the human experience of living homeless in the world.

Remember that Paul, although an Apostle, was very much just a human. He has the same feelings, the same issues, the same challenges as all of the other people of his time. In the view of the world, he had gone from the very peak of his professional life, a pharisee , and one favored by society , to the very bottom of society. He went from worldly riches, to worldly poverty.

“He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness ” (Hebrews 5:2)

In our daily lives, we also face challenges to our efforts towards gentleness. Those usually occur in the course of encounters with other people. When we encounter the basic human-ness that is the nasty hectic, feral, emotional, psychological, socialistic, sorts of failings not only in others, but in ourselves.

We fail at gentleness in the same breath, if you will, that we fail in forgiveness. They are in a way like box cars. the failure at gentless comes..
then the failure in forgiveness follows.

We as brothers and sisters, suffer from our humanity, and all our faults that come along with them. Lets say that we are at work and we engage
or get engaged in a conversation which becomes emotionally charged. It hits some nerve in one or the other. One person gets upset.. then another gets upset. Both feeling that they are in the right.

Maybe once we are out of the heat of the moment, we realize, that we were not as gentle with the other person as we could have been. We sit with God and we pray about it.. and resolved to do better at being gentle and loving and kind.

The next thing you know, another encounter, and maybe you know it in the moment, or maybe even after the next encounter now you not only feel bad that you were maybe not as gentle as you could have been in the moment, but on top of that you FAILED … AGAIN ! It’s frustrating and now you feel twice as bad since you are aware of it and your human failings are sitting there staring you in the face.

Our walk through faith and ALL the failings could be very disheartening, IF it were not for the fact that these times when we are aware of those failings and we try , and we work on our spiritual lives and strain and struggle through all these emotional traumas, are exactly the times when
we can rejoice ! We can rejoice in our trails and sufferings because these are exactly the times that God is close, and the spirit is working with us.

The mere fact that we realize that we failed means that God also knows and loves us and loves the fact that we struggle so with our spiritual lives. We struggle because we love Him. Because we want to be closer to God, because we want what ever is His will for us.

God knows…and loves you for the struggles you carry. So, carry your struggle forward. Work on the failings you have. Do not be disheartened when you fail, just acknowledge them, make amends where you can, and understand that some struggles will be with you for life… and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Failure is only a bad thing if we know we have failed, and do nothing about it.

“Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near”
(Philippians 4:5)

Onward… upward… Homeward !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Generosity…

August 6, 2016

Generosity…

Merriam-Webster says that the definition of “Generosity” is :
“the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish : the quality of being generous; especially : willingness to give… valuable things to others” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/generosity)

The part of this definition that caught my eye was at the end.. a willingness to give valualble things to others.

As with the other fruits of the Holy Spirit, generosity emminates from love. The love of God for us, and the love we are to share with our brothers and sisters.

The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are not things that emminate from us as brothers and sisters, it is love we receive from God, and is diffused the church, through the brothers and sisters, in love and in generosity.

We are called to perform these spiritual and corporal works of mercy, not because they are works that we originate and offer up, quite the contrary. These actions have their origin in God. Our brothers and sisters in an act of free will give ascent to Gods command to share His love and His graces with all people.

Primary amongst these calls is what is called the “Great Commision”, that we are to go forth and share our faith with ALL people and ALL nations. This command is supreme in our human acts of love and generosity.

Consider how great a gift your faith is for you, for your family, for friends and neighbors. Consider the graces and blessings that have flowed forth in acts of love, kindness, and generosity.

Greatly you have received, and therefore great things are expected of you. You received the great gift of your faith, “the pearl of great price” and then Jesus said to take this great gift and share it with the world.

You were given the gift of the greatest love possible, the love of God. God in His mercy
only asks of us to share that love, not only with Him, but to be the channel of that love and mercy and blessing.

The sin of greed is great, but it is not insurmountable. For God has blessed us and crowned us with with kingship, he has blessed us as priests to go out and carry His message.

You do not have to be a great orator, or preacher, or even do grand acts on the greatest of scales.. The only thing God asks is that you do even little things with great love.

The greatest love is that of loving and serving God, and fulfilling God’s will for us
in the service of Him towards our brothers and sisters.

Saint Francis said ” Preach at all times, and when necessary use words”. Notice that the words come AFTER action. Our service towards our brothers and sisters is always first in order, if our actions fail to suffice, or once the work has been done, speak with the words of God.

May God give you the gift of His peace… and generosity !

Goodness.. (gracious !)

July 29, 2016

Goodness.. (gracious !)

The subject of this point of reflection is goodness. Goodness is part of fruits of the Holy Spirit. Goodness is something that could in some circles be thought of not to much unlike niceness. This, however, is not quite like that. Goodness has to do with those
things are in the realm of morality.

First, was the idea that mankind was created by God, In Genesis 1:27

“God created mankind in his image;
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.

God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;

and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened.

God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day ”

So, we know that man was created “good”, and we also know that through the course of salvation history mankind fell from grace, and to spite everything we still suffer from
the stain of sin. So there is always some work to do in this area..

So how is it that we know if our actions are “good” or not ?

Lets take a look at what the Catechism teaches us :

“A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end , and of the circumstances together. An evil end, corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself ( such as praying and fasting ” in order to be seen by men”)

The object of the choice can by itself vitiate an act in its entirety. There are some concrete acts – such as fornication – that it is always wrong to choose , because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is , a moral evil.

It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances ( environment, social pressure, duress, or emergency, etc) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independent of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object ; such as blasphemy, and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.” ( CCC 1755-56).

Basically, any action that contains a component that is evil or illicit is in and of itself morally corrupt, regardless of the circumstance, or method.

Now consider what this means in light of the current world view…

Currently we live in a culture of death. It is currently acceptable from a worldly point of view to take the life of another human being, with the exception of a few circumstances.

Abortion, Euthanasia, Right to die, Assisted suicide, illness of various sorts are all perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the world as a reason to take life. This view is distorted and contrary to Moral theology.

For instance, it is not morally acceptable to kill one child, so that another child might have a heart transplant, so the other child will live.

Abortion is not morally acceptable, first because the taking of a life is not ever acceptable, but for the sake of this discussion, having an abortion because you fear that it would keep you from attending college is not morally acceptable because in your view, the “good” of having an easier life after attending school, does not negate the evil of taking a life.

In the same way.. Just because something is “legal” does not make it “moral” or good. ergo, whether in its object, or in its circumstance, regardless of intent, it is still evil.

Man was given the gift of free will, so that although we have been given the gift of salvation, it still is a choice left to each person to make.

Do good to your brothers and sisters, love your neighbor, all of these admonitions point the way for us to know what is good. TO know what is just and to know what is right.

Jesus made it so painfully simple, and even whittled it down to only 2 commandments.
To love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

All of the other fruits of “GOOD” are able to be extrapolated from these two commandments.

As Franciscans, the other part of the greeting ” Peace and all Good” , is born out in our mission to not only to be peacemakers, but to DO good, and to bless others, and to carry all the blessings we can forward for the “good” of others..

May God give you the gift of his Peace !….. and Good !

Your Abundance to Supply Their Needs…

July 23, 2016

Your Abundance to Supply Their Needs…

“Brothers and sisters:
As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse,
knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you,
may you excel in this gracious act also.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Not that others should have relief while you are burdened,
but that as a matter of equality
your abundance at the present time should supply their needs,
so that their abundance may also supply your needs,
that there may be equality.
As it is written:
Whoever had much did not have more,
and whoever had little did not have less.” ( 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 )

We as Franciscans, follow the evangelical counsels of Spiritual poverty, Chastity, and Obedience according to our state of life.

The idea of spiritual poverty is encapsulated well in this reading. This type of poverty is not an oppressive type of poverty that is a suffering of many in the world today. It is not the type of poverty where because of greed, or power that is forced upon the weak or forgotten of our society.

Instead, this type of poverty is based on the idea that we are stewards of the blessings we have received for the benefit of our brothers and sisters.

Many times I hear people say.. ” They deserve what they get ” or ” I worked hard to get the nice things I have …” , ” It’s not my fault they did not do what was necessary to get where I am, they reap what they sew”…

First, we don’t always know what goes on below the surface and what their journey has been to bring them to this point. In my older years I can not tell you how many of my friends and classmates I went to school with, every day, and who have later shared some of the challenges they were living through that no one ever knew. Life happens to everyone and everyone grows at different times in life. No one is born or lives perfectly.

Secondly, no one progresses in life, without benefit of brothers and sisters, family and friends who help them along the way.

God provides blessings to all. In some cases he blesses people with abundance in order to give them the opportunity, to be a good and faithful steward of those, NOT so they can hoard these blessings, but so that they can care for their own needs, and to help to provide for the needs of those who were blessed differently.

It provides those who were given much materially, to have the chance to examine their lives, and they hearts, and give them the opportunity to be a conduit for the blessings to those in need.

On the other side of the coin, those who were not blessed with an excess of material blessings were blessed differently. Let me explain. Many years ago, I purchased a book,
solely based on its title.. ” All you need to know about prayer, you can from the poor”. The book is about the experiences of missionaries in the poorest of the Caribbean Islands, and their spiritual lessons gained there working with them.

The point is that those who are poor, or marginalized are not “less”. They are not lesser people, or less blessed by God in their lives. They are blessed differently, than the materially well to do. In some ways the poor tend to be close to God because they have a dependency on God for the necessities of life.

In the poor, who are a blessing to the materially blessed, provide a way for those who are to be the stewards of material blessings, not only a channel to complete the mission of being that steward, but also to receive in return the Love of God through those they share with.

The love of God is the equalizer of all each brother and sister has a part, a blessing to give to a brother or sister that needs it. Each brother and sister has something to both give AND to receive no matter what your worldly position is.

It is only left to you to understand that you are blessed greatly in one way or another, and that you are charged with sharing that blessing with your brothers and sisters who are in some kind of need of the additional blessings you have received.

May God give you the gift of His peace….. and Share that blessing with your brothers and sisters !

Patience is a Virtue…

July 16, 2016

Patience..

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered* for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” 1 Peter 2:21

I begin with the confession that, patience has been a lifelong challenge. It always seemed that the more that I sought after peace, quiet and tranquility, and the times when I desired it most, that was when the greatest challenges to that peace would come about.

In my younger years I did not suffer fools lightly, and I had a rather short length of patience which means that this particular cross, and blessing, is a journey I am painfully aware of, and painfully close to.

You may ask why is this a blessing as well as a cross. I grew up in a very “black and white world”. This meaning that things were either right or they were not right. Yes, was yes… No was no. Your word was your bond, and that word was held against your personal honor and the honor of your family name.

Growing up, these were the things that were important. God, family, friends, honor, and grace. These ideas, as we got older were weighed against the hardships of life, and of a world who increasingly did not hold these same ideas in as high regard.

This was where the journey began.. or was it ?

As Franciscans we love our Lord, and we love Him, in many ways. Some of those are germain to this discussion. We love Jesus and we praise Him poor and crucified.

Jesus was, and is, the very model of patience. Think of Him… Jesus, who us bore every measure of patience for you and for I.

Jesus, who is the Son of the Living God, who is the King of Heaven, who for love of you and I came to earth, not as a King, or a royal of any sort. He came to Earth as a slave, a slave to poverty and to a human existance. He came to Earth not in luxury, but in complete poverty. He had no home, and no warm bed to be layed in. He came not into royal robes to wrap Him and keep him warm. He came to a barn, born with the lowest ,born with animals.

He was wrapped in those wretched rags, instead of the finery He deserved. He CHOSE to come humbly… patiently. He suffered this confined, lowly human existance. Even when he first arrived humanity was already trying to kill Him. Already despised.

Jesus almost from birth lived his life with no stable home. He was moved from place to place, to avoid the hatred of the world. Jesus, King of the Universe, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, had to bear with the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph and earthly parents who did not always understand that He ” had to be about His fathers work”.

When he went about His Earthly preaching ministry, He was insulted, and people tried to lay traps for Him to try and discredit Him. The world hated Him for the message he was bringing.

Jesus suffered in His holy passion. When He labored with a heavy heart knowing that His time was near. He suffered when His friend betrayed Him. He suffered when He was taken away in ropes. He suffered being slapped. He suffered being spit upon. He suffered the taunts and jeers of the people who turned on Him. He suffered then He was scourged , whipped and beaten unto the point where He barely resembled His human self.

Jesus suffered when they tortured every part of His body, and then He suffered forcing Him to carry the burden of the instrument of His own execution… His cross. He suffered carrying that cross through the streets.. He suffered while these people tore off His clothes. He suffered when they put thorns on His head… He suffered when they drove iron nails into His body and into the wood.. He suffered when they drove the lance through His holy side.

Jesus suffered every moment of agony until His body could no longer contain the soul of this King.

Jesus suffered through a death reserved for the very worst criminals. He suffered this agonizing death in a place reserved for the most despised with the bones of others who had died there laying around.

Jesus did all of this for you and for me, for love of you and for love of me.

Jesus loves us without measure, so much that He suffered, died and rose again.
Jesus suffered all this and yet He STILL carrys us patiently. Forgiveness for the sin of the world. Your sin and mine. Jesus suffers, and yet He still loves us without end.

Jesus loves us so much that He shares Himself in the sacrifice of Holy Mass. Giving of HImself to us… through us…. with us… in us.. for us.

Jesus showed us how to be patient, and how to live a holy life. Jesus gave us the sacrament of reconcilliation to forgive our sins anew, AND still teaching us how to be patient.

One final admonition, brothers and sisters, Do not allow yourselves to be deluded, or misled. The sin of pride, is often covered in the illusion of patience.

When we are injured, hurt, suffering, we must ask ourselves why we hurt, and what is the root of the matter. We must search our very deepest hearts, and
go into deep upon deep. We must know that “we are what we are before God, and nothing else”, and then relate that knowledge to the point of our patience.

We have trials, and tribulation in our lives as a way to teach us.. Like sandpaper is used to bring out beauty in wood, our trials, if we are wise, are used to teach us to be
more patient. Patient with others, and patient with ourselves, and to teach others.

For the gifts you are given… even patience… is not yours ! You were given that gift as well, as a steward, to be used and shared for the benefit of your brothers and sisters..

May God give you the gift of His peace…. and patience !

Peace and All Good !

July 8, 2016

Peace and All Good !
This is a greeting we Franciscans use quite regularly in our daily lives.
But do we really consider what it is that we are saying, or what it is that we mean when we say it ?

What exactly is peace after all ?  Is there really peace at all ?  ever ?

The worldly view of peace, is when there is no war, no fighting, no clash of people from a diverse background.  but is that really peace ?

In our humanity, we might consider that peace comes about during those infinitely short periods of time, when we are not feeling the pressures of work, or our relationships, or getting from one place to another or any of a whole host of other issues what plague our daily life.

But is it really peace ?…. really ?

During those times when the quite invades, and we are given some relief from the pressures and sufferings or trappings of our world, Do we not spend time worrying about
how we are to spend that time ?  Where we are to go, or what we are to do, in order to try to extract the maximum possible enjoyment or relaxation out of that little bit of time we have ?

Do we not worry or think on the amount of time we have left, what we can do in it, or avoid in it to the best of our abilities ?

In the times when there is absolute quiet and we have time to quite the mind, is it not
some of the other problems of the world that creep in and beckon us to sort through it to find resolution that is best over the circumstances ?

John 14- 27  “Peace, I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, the peace the world can not give , this is my gift to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.  ”

To spite these things that push in on us, and even in the most quiet of times, God beckons us.. He calls us to come to the quiet of peace.

It is not that we will not be standing in the storm of life and remain untouched.  It is not that things will not happen to us that will effect us.. or touch us deeply.   It is not that we will be free from pain or sorrow at all.    Quite the opposite.

It is more that we will experience these things even more greatly, and within that experience, we will come to the knowledge that we have faith in a loving, caring God who
has our best interests at heart, and who will see us safely through the storms of life,
what ever those might be.

It is because we already know that God has won the victory of the things of this earth, and so its only left to us to walk confidently through the storm knowing that everything will be fine, and we will be better and stronger for it all.

It is because God will use us, and we will be a possibly unknowing example to others and a testimony to our own faith in God.  Each and every person, each with their own story, their own crosses, their own journey, will be further testimony to the truth…
Just because you falter, or stumble, or fail is not a failure, it is the mark of learning, it is the spiritual battle scar, that tells of your journey in your very human existence.  We all fall.. the question is what is it that you will do next.

In order to stand tall, you get your bearings, to get to your knees in prayer, and then you stand up tall knowing that you are a child of God, and you walk, to carry on with the mission that we all have.

What is that mission ?  To know God… To love God… To serve God.. in holiness and peace, and to bring our brothers and sisters with us until the day comes when we can stand before God, in His heavenly kingdom and hear those words ” Well done, good and faithful servant..”

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Joy…

July 1, 2016

Joy !…

“With creation, God dos not abandon his creatures to themselves.  He not only gives them geing and existance, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains then in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end.  Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence…” (CCC# 301)

Joy is one of the marks of faith.  Does that mean we go around singing and dancing at every moment of every day ?  No… what it does mean is that we have reason to be joyful, to have hope and consolation.

This very human life we live, is full of challenges, difficulties, obsticles, frustrations, and pain.


Seventy is the sum of our years,

or eighty, if we are strong;

Most of them are toil and sorrow;

they pass quickly, and we are gone.”  ( PSalm 90:10)

So, if this is the case what is it that we have to be joyful about ?

Because we also know that God provides us with Joys to balance against those afflictions and pains.

Mostly, we have Joy because of one thing…. because Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has already won the battle for us.  He loves us.. He died for us… and resurrected and defeated death for us, all because He loves us !

The battle, brothers and sisters, has already been fought and won.  So what is left for us is nothing more than to complete those simple truths that give clarity and insite to the daily work of our hands and souls.

Yes, you say “I know.. but, I hate my job”, “my boss is not nice”, “I don’t have money, and I barely subsist on what is there” or “I don’t have a high position, or a place where I can really make any difference” or ” They didnt accept me, so there is nothing I can do”.

I tell you truly that NONE of that matters.  Remember Jesus told the disciples, ““Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man* has nowhere to rest his head.” ( Matthew 8:20)

Like many of us were told about what a ruff childhood our parents had, when they had to walk to and from school…. uphill …. both ways… in the snow… while living in a cardboard box … in the middle of the street..   ( paraphrased from a Monty Python Skit)

But the challenge comes when you come in contact with a brother or sister who is having a much harder time of it than you are.

I spent 4 years as a chaplain at a local cancer hospital.  That was a journey I was unprepared for, and so very blessed to have been given.  In the service of God through those souls, I was taught more than I will ever teach.  I was given way more than in much greater abundance than I ever gave.  I saw the very face of the living God in those brothers and sisters, and I was the one who received the blessing.

It was difficult.  It was working long hours.  It was being hated, and loved, and misunderstood.  I loved every single minute of it !

God gives us challenges, to teach us.  Like Paul had the thorn in his flesh, Jesus wanted Paul to understand that it was in our weakness, in our pains, and in our very human failings and struggles it is THEN, that we are spiritually the closest to God.

We are given Joy.. in our sorrows, even when death comes near, because we know that God is working with us, and through us to bring about not only our own sanctification, but His most Holy will.

May God give you the gift of His joy.. and peace !

Charity… It’s Not About the Money

June 25, 2016

Charity… It’s not about the money !

Charity is an interesting subject.  In todays work, we will look at charity and what is

means to us, and how it is that it’s really not so much about the money at all !

Charity is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. These fruits or gifts of the Spirit are

given to us in order to open our hearts and minds to the leadings of God.

Charity is not from us.  Charity is from God.  We are but channels of the gifts we have

received.  It is only left to us, to be open to the opportunity, to serve as the

messengers of the gifts we are given.

Lets look at what scripture has to say to us on this point..

In Genesis, Cain, who had already slew Able, replies when the Lord asks where Able is,
” Am I my brothers guardian ( Keeper)” ( Gen 4:9)

Of course, God, who is God, already knew the answer to this question. The intent here is

clear.  It outraged God, that Cain killed Abel because Abel was his brother, and belonged

to God.  Cain was responsible for Abel, as much as we are responsible for the care of our

brothers and sisters today.

” As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love…” ( John 15:9)

” This is my commandment : Love one another as I have loved you.  A man can have not

greater love than to lay down his life for his friends…” ( John 15:12 ).

Among these two points we have Jesus telling the disciples to love each other and the

others in the world… To remain in His love meant to carry on with the task he provided.

To carry on loving others, those others that Jesus spoke of, was the entire world.

The second part in John 15:12, Jesus gives that foreshadowing of the passion.  He will

lay down his life for those He loved.  Not just the disciples, but for the whole world.

Great, you say ?  So now what ?  What does it mean for us ?  Glad you asked.

The church teaches that this Love, that we have is not just for those who think as we do,

or who believe as we do, or act or speak as we do.   Paul had the same issue when he went

went to the Greeks to preach to the Gentiles.  Some thought that the Kingdom of God was

strictly for the Jewish people.   As we know the Love of God is to be shared with all

people.

The act of Love, or even Charity is not something to be held only for people who are

different than we are, it is not something for us to control, because it was never “ours”

to begin with.  All Love, all grace, all possession, all of the world is a gift.  It is a trust,something we are given by God as a trust to be used for the betterment of our fellow man and for our collective spiritual growth.
Charity is one part of the two fold mission of the Social Justice teachings of the church.    Charity involves our own spiritual growth.  Consider this for a moment..
Charity does not mean giving money to a charity or particular group.  It is part of it, but from a spiritual sense, the physical act of providing money is only the surface.
it is what lies beneath that gives it meaning.

Like tithing, the purpose of charity is not because God is unable or unwilling to provide what ever is needed.  In fact it is quite the opposite.  It is to provide for us the means of our own sanctification.

We are given the opportunities to make our daily labors mean something more.  To sanctify our work day.  The money we gain in work, going to pay for the bills we have are one thing.  What comes after that, is what gives meaning to the giving.

Currently in the world, there is a fascination with what is referred to as “The Tiny House Movement”.  This movement can be whittled down to a move towards a life of simplicity.    This simplicity, like how we view our money” can have a host of motivational sources.  Usually, it seems to be from a desire to live more freely, more simply, without the need for additional possessions or the need to work more hours to gain more free time and quality of life.

The issue with this process is that it seems to stop there.  It stops at the first person.  Personal gain, even if the personal gain is the reduction of their own need.
By giving of ourselves, we give flesh to the faith.

Giving Charity is not just about money. In fact it is only one of the 3 branches , Time, Talent, and Treasure.   Charity can be given in time.  If you are exercising one of the corporal or temporal works of mercy, all of that is considered Charity as well.  Visiting a brother or sister, caring for their personal needs teaching someone, or just spending time to listen.

What talents do you have ?  Any talent, what ever it is can be used in the service of another brother or sister.   Lets say you are an accountant, you can offer to assist someone in preparing their taxes.  It does not even have to be your job.  If your good at cooking or baking, just taking some food to a sick neighbor, or donating baked goods for a bake sale to assist someone in need.

It does not need to be something of a grand gesture.  Nothing has to be on a grand scale.  Saint Theresa of Avila found and taught holiness in the little things in life; in serving others.

Then there is the other leg of Social teaching which is Social Justice.   That social justice will be the work that we do in order to bring about change in our world to make the lives of those who are poor or marginalized; the forgotten people.

There are so many places for us to offer our time talent and treasures.  For like Saint Francis said.. ” For it is in giving that we receive… in dying to ourselves, we are born to eternal life…”

In giving we receive.  We receive vision, we receive growth.. we receive love.  We receive love far above and beyond anything that we are able to give.

We might be able to see the initial concrete changes we will contribute to, but far and beyond are the seeds we plant, that we never see.  The love that is planted in charity, will produce far beyond what the eye can see or the mind can conceive.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

 


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