Archive for the ‘Christian’ Category

We Must Pray More Often Thank We Draw Breath !

November 21, 2015

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“We must pray more often than we draw breath” ( St. Gregory of NazianzusOra.- Theo -27,1,4 : Pg36, ccc#2697)

Prayer is such a very intricate and integral part of who we are and what we are as Children of God that we just can not live a life of faith without it.  It is impossible for us to ” love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength without it.

In the Catechism it shares this ” THe acts of faith, hope and charity enjoined by the first commandment are accomplished in prayer.  Lifting up the mind toward God is an expression of our adoration of God : prayer is an indispensable condition for being able to obey God’s commandments.  ” We ought to always pray and not loose heart” ( Luke 18:1) – CCC: 2098.
We need to be observant of life or students of the world around us.  As you might be aware, in recent years there is a certain amount of reclusion that has occured due to the advent of the “electronic age”. This causes people to retreat into their electronic devices for several reasons.   Sometimes, to is entertain the mind while they are waiting for time to pass to go from one place and another, or one event and another.  Many retreat into these devices purely for social interaction with others who they find some accord.   There are still more who retreat into their electronic coccoon in order to avoid others, to feel safe and  unchallenged, or unafraid.

All you have to do to see this phenominon, is to take public transportation across town.   It is interesting to watch people who either enter with headphones already plugged in and are blissfully unaware of what is going on around them.  No one has the opportunity to interact with them, short of physically tapping them on the shoulder or if they happen to be looking in that direction, waving them down.   Even within an initial interaction, they again retreat, reconnecting to that world in which they do not wish to partake in.  They can then fill their heads, their consciousness with the “white noise” of their choice, successfully avoiding the rest of the world.
Before we become too awefully judgemental of these brothers and sisters let us take a moment to consider “the plank” in our own eye, particularly in the area of prayer.

While watching this phenominon while taking a bus trip, I pondered how much our prayer life mimics this sort of behavior.  How it is that possibly you might go get on the church “bus”. You plan on going, you walk in, you do all the obligatory social interactions during the trip in, you arrive just in time to page through the missalette and find the appropriate hymns and readings and responsory etc. just before the celebration begins.

There it is !  The “white noise” of the entrance, and that follows with the “show” of the Mass. You know what to say, the gestures to make, and if someone waves you down, if you happen to be looking that way during the Sign of peace, you might interact for a second or two, and then get plugged back in.  More of the “noise”.

There comes that uncomfortable silence after communion, but not too long… the last bit of music and then your done.. and you can “get off the bus” and plug into the next bit of noise in the world that takes you away.  The big game.. the chores… meals.. what ever it is.. that is the next focus and the rest of the world creeps in and take over until you get back in this “bus” again next week ? !

IN the coming week or so, I am going to take a look into our prayer lives.. where we start, where we are and where we should or at least could be heading.   As a Franciscan, we have a rather unique perspective on prayer and its branches and practices.  I look forward to sharing some of these with you all.

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

 

 

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To Thine Own Self Be True…

September 7, 2015

“To Thine Own Self Be True.  And it must follow, as the night follows the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.. ”

This often quoted statement from Shakespere’s Hamlet holds key to the things that are true for Christians today as it has for centuries.. So you say.. great so what does it mean for me ?  How does something like this penned as part of a play hundreds of years ago apply to me  ?  Glad you asked  !
During the course of human history, the lessons of morals and values have been passed down through generations through parables and oral history.  The explanations are sometimes lost, but the stories live on.. until someone comes about to point our the reasons behind the story or the tradition and the stories become new again, the understanding becomes more clear.  The lessons are taught again, and another generation comes to understand.
It is sometimes difficult to admit, that we lack some basic understanding of something, particularly if we really should already know it by what ever point we are in, in our lives.  It gives us a feeling of discomfort, maybe embarrassment, or even confrontation.  The question becomes what is it that we do when confronted with these ideas ?

Too often, particularly in today’s society, we have people who are quick to speak, and slow to learn.  We have a society, that is slower still to teach, instead of confront.  Who are more vested in being “right”, than sharing, than loving.
It is far too easy in today’s world, to get caught up in our very small lives. Apple, who because of its connection to the individual device market prefixed its devices with  “i-“.   How telling this is of where we are in the world today.

The world is caught up in values of greed, and consumption-ism. Where the only thing that matters is “i-“.

We are caught up in the labels, in the titles, the positions,the power and the possessions.
I invite you to consider, that the reasons for these problems are that we are not really being true to ourselves.

We are Christians.  We believe, in a loving God, who has made all men and women our brothers and sisters.  Great !

So what does this mean.  All men and women are our brothers and sisters.  THis is easy to say, but gets to be difficult, when those brothers and sisters do not hold the same belief system that we do.  It is not easy, when they fall away.  It is not easy when they hurt us.   It is not easy, when all of these things are true, AND,it is harder still to see these same problems when we are the ones who are carrying that burden and do not see where we are in that process.

So how do we fix this rather messed up place we have gotten to ?  How do we make a difference ?  How is it that we can change our world and ourselves ?

The answer is the same…  To thine own self be true.   Live your faith, learn your faith, and share your faith with those you meet.  Share, do not fight.    Listen and learn.

Education about our faith is probably the biggest problem facing the church today.   Learn your faith, ask the hard questions, READ !  Talk about your questions, your difficulties with a priest, deacon, religious, or friend.  You then need to go out and make the choices in your life, that reflect the faith you profess.

You don’t have to go off to some of the poorer countries in the world to be a missionary, to make a difference.  We do need those people.  You need to begin by making good choices, at home, at work, in life.

Standing up for the poor, the forgotten, the marginalized, the hurting, the unloved.  These are things that can be done at home, now, where you are.  Sharing the love of Christ with those you meet.  This is what we are called to do.

We have people all around us who need the Love of God in their lives and God calls everyone, to be His hands and feet.
We are called to be His ears, His heart.  We may be the only sight of God this person has ever seen.  We may be the only reminder of God’s love that this person will have when it’s needed most.

St Francis is often quoted saying ” Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words”.  This should be the lamp stand upon which our faith in action is perched.    We should be making choices in line with our faith and those choices should be faith in action, and when actions fail, words prevail.

God showed us.  Jesus came into the world because of Love.  He chose the apostles and set up His church on earth.. because of love.  He gave us everything we needed to survive until he returns.  He showed us in healings, in miracles, in teachings what he wanted us to do. He died for us, and He lives for us.   He made us brothers and sisters, remember the Gentiles ?  They did not believe as the Jews did.  He made them our brothers and sisters.  Faith in action.

To thine own self be true.. Learn your faith…. Live your faith… Share your faith.

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

 

Holy Communion and Its Denial To an Individual…

July 18, 2015

Holy Communion and Its Denial To an Individual…

” Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself (1Cor 11,27-29) ”

” The denial of Holy Communion can be the effect of the imposition or declaration of the canonical penalties of Excommunication and Interdict (cf. cann. 1331 §1, 2º; and 1332), but there are other cases in which Holy Communion must be denied, apart from any imposition or declaration of a canonical penalty, in order to respect the holiness of the Sacrament, to safeguard the salvation of the soul of the party presenting himself to receive Holy Communion, and to avoid scandal.
There seems to be some confusion on the part of some who seem to belive the the denial of Holy Communion to certain people is used  primarily as a punishment for acts committed by the person being denied Holy Communion.   In the case of a person who has been Excommunicated for one reason or another, the denial of Holy Communion is just a side effect of the fact that they have left the teachings of the church, they no longer belong to the Body, and so should be recieve Holy Communion as they are no longer part of the Body, and can no longer “become what they recieve”. ( ibid. Code of Cannon Law 915 )

Now in more recent times across the world, there are those who have not been able at one point or another to recieve Holy Communion due to the fact that they have publicly supported and embraced some act or process, or belief that is intrinsically evil, and therefore against the Churches teaching.

Let us take for example a politician who supported or even implemented legislation that would allow for abortion and its promotion  as a preferred method of family planning, or birth control.  Possibly they were involved in the promotion of a union between people of the same sex, or infantcide, for the purposes of medical research or organ harvesting.

Such a person would be denied Holy Communion if, after being counseled, and educated in the issues involved, that they persisted in their actions or possibly even promoted these evils to others to bring them into schism, or grave sin.

But a deeper look into the reasoning is more essential to our understanding of why this would be the case.

The priest, is the shephed of souls.  He is like a physician.  The first oath of a physician is ” To Do No Harm..”.
The priest has the overwhelming responsibility of the care and feeding of the souls within his particular flock.
Like a physician, he looks at the soul before him.  He does the triage, and diagnostics, and develops a prognosis and plan of treatment.

Just like in medicine, the idea is the give counsel, not to press the soul into submission, but rather into understanding.  To provide information and counsel for what is going on in their lives spiritually and what needs to be done to correct the problem. This so that the soul involved can have a cooperative place in the assent of the healing and process of correction.

Just like a medical patient, the patient has the free will to decline the treatment, and to do what ever it is that he or she wants to do.  They  would be free to go outside the Doctors care to seek solice and comfort in the world. The Doctor has a particular responsibility to the patient and to the community to do no harm, and to provide the best care possible.  That care is not only for the sake of his own soul, but for the sake of the soul of the person who is in sin.

Just like in medicine, the healing process is not always a pleasant experience.  The “medicine” is bitter, or the surgery is painful at the outset.. and it takes work, trust and understanding.

Just like in medicine, the soul who presents themselves for healing, will go through struggle, there may need to be some medicinal (spiritual) therapy that is necessary before the healing begins to take shape in the form of a spiritual,healing.

THe priest can not in good conscience, provide communion to a soul to which damage might be done, as his first mission is to the pastoral and spiritual care of those in his charge..

The Christian has the responsibility as well to examine their own conscience, in the light of the Gospels and Church teaching, to make the determination if they are able to recieve Holy Communion worthily, and make a restoration if that is not the case.

I pray this provides light for the your journey.

May God give you the gift of His peace !   Pax Tecum !

Read Here the words of St Francis Admonition to the Clergy..
“Let us attend, all clerics, to the great sin and ignorance, which certain men have concerning the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the most holy Names and His written words, which sanctify the Body. We know, since there cannot be a Body, unless first it is sanctified by the word. For we have and see nothing corporally of the Most High Himself, in this age, except the Body and Blood, Names and words, through which we have been made and redeemed from death and life (1 Jn 3:14). However all those who minister such holy mysteries, should consider within themselves, most of all those who minister illicitly, how vile are the chalices, corporals, and altar linens, where the His very Body and Blood are sacrificed. And by many in vile places He is placed and abandoned, borne about in a wretched manner and consumed unworthily and ministered to others indiscretely. Even His Names and writted words are sometimes tred under foot; since the bestial man does not perceive the things that are of God (1 Cor 2:14). Is not our piety stirred concerning all these things, when the pious Lord Himself offers Himself into our hands and we handle Him and consume Him each day with our mouth? Or are we ignorant that we must (one day) fall into His Hand? Therefore let us correct quickly all these things and the others; and wherever the Most Holy Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ has been illicitly placed and abandoned, let Him be removed from that place and let them be placed in an honorable place. All these things all the clerics together are bound to observe according to the precepts of the Lord and the constitutions of Holy Mother Church. And those who will not have done this, let them know that they must render an account before the Lord on the day of judgement (cf. Mt 12:36). This has been written so that it may better be observed; let them know themselves to be blessed by the Lord God, who would have it copied.”

What Do We Have To Fear ?

July 11, 2015

What do we have to fear ?
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more.

I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna;* yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.

Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins?* Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.

Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.

I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.

But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.” ( Luke 12:4-9)
What an amazing world we live in.  What an amazing time to be alive !

I would imagine that alot of people through the course of history must have thought this very same thing.

I have spent time pondering the life of St, Francis living in the 12th century and a time when religious movement abounded throughout Europe and changes were all around.   It was also a dangerous time.  A hard time.

There was war  !  Famine.. crimes..

St Francis before his conversion, St Francis wanted to be a Knight.. Glory, Honor..Respect, and position.  Instead he found war was not glorious, it was deplorable, as a prisoner of war he was ransomed.  He grew sick that prevented his attempt at returning.
He suffered, humility and defeat, and abuse from his captors and then from his fellow townspeople.

After his religious conversion, St. Francis suffered more.   He suffered joyfully.   He lost his family, his income, friends, and
what would have been a promising career as a merchant.    During the course of his efforts to shed his entrapments of his life, and  to teach people about the Lord, he was taken by his own father to court with the bishop in an effort to regain his sons
obedience under the idea that he had given Francis everything… even the clothes he wore.

Francis in obedience removed his clothes, and handed them to the Bishop so that Francis could be free in his love for God.

So, then, there are choices to be made.  The question ultimately becomes, whom do we serve ?  To whom do we belong ?

Gods law does not change, therefore there is only the choices left for us is to determine if we will follow the law, or not.

We have free will.  This means that we are given the choices of that will and whether to make it our lives about following God or following man.

God knows what we need.  God knows what we desire in our hearts.

There is a question that flows from this view.  It takes the form of ” Yes, but…”.
Here is the rule.  Yes, but living in this time, or living in this country, or living in this circumstance, I have to do “this” or “that”.   So, possibly yes, there is the law, but we have to bend our faith to fit into the lives that others choose or there might indeed be consequences.

There is no equivocation in the law.  If you have others who disagree, it is not to say that you need to fight with them. No souls were ever won at the end of a guns barrel.

As Catholics, as Christians, it is our job to love.  That is the Law.  Love our neighbors, and to love all of them, even the ones we dont particularly care for all the time, if at all.   But we can love them, and walk with them, and not affirm their choices.

Do you worry about the choices you make concerning your faith ?  Why do you worry ?  God already knows, God already has a plan for you and will take care of all your needs, it is just left for you to step out in faith, and let God have control.

At the same time, we should be putting on the light of Christ, We should be allowing Christ to shine through us, allow God to work through us, so that in our daily walk, others might see the Lord within us, and give glory to God, and return to Him.
Preach at all times.. and when necessary use words.   In the words of an old song…

“Light of the world, shine on us all…. LOVE is the answer ”

Jesus is the Way…. the Truth…. and the Light..

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Are there different degrees of reward in Heaven ?

June 12, 2015

Are there different degrees of reward in Heaven ?
This question was posed not long ago through a friend.   This brings about an interesting question and since we really dont have a vast understanding of the nature of Heaven aside from some of the writings of the Apostles, and mystics, it might cause some to wonder about this question.

We need a little background  for this we turn to Romans 2:6-11

” (God) who will repay everyone according to his works,

eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works,

but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.

Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.

But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.

There is no partiality with God. ”
So, there are interesting parts of this.. In this section of scripture Paul is explaining to the pagans and the Jews that there will be a price to pay for their stubborness in their ways.

The first part of this verse says that God will repay everyone according to their works.  Seek to do good works and then persevere in seeking Honor, glory and immortality.   I might lead one to think that you might gain insurmountable wealth in Heaven..
heck you might get a huge mansion which would be better than the shack your neighbor got because he didnt work as hard as you did, and so you deserve it !

This manner of thinking is a slippery slope into the sin of pride amongst other things.

Here is the other side of the coin.  It was God given grace that gives us the urgings to do good works.
We get the promptings of the spirit as the result of a well formed conscience, that leads us to do good works.

So even the works that you do are not really your own.  Yes, we have free will, and we could refuse those promptings and persists in some other form of sin.  Since we already know that these are the urgings and promptings of the Spirit, then how can we claim those as prize.
Lets dig a little more.

In John 14:2 is the verse ” In my fathers house there are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you, I am going to prepare a place for you there”.

In this verse, the term “mansion” is not what we think of today a huge house with many rooms and winding staircases etc..  In this case a “mansion” was a word that was used to mean a a dwelling in a family home.  These are places where extended family both by blood and marriage would live.    He went to prepare a place for us there in that kind of close family environment.

THis idea flys in the face of the idea that there would be that kind of materialistic reward.

The Catechism (CCC#2007)  shares ” With regard to God, ther eis no strict right to any meriton the part of man.  Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality , for we ahve recieved everything from Him , our Creator”.

(CCC#2008) ” The merit of man before God in the Christian life  arises from the fact that God as freely chosen to associate man with the work of His grace”.  … SO that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, and then to the faithful.  Man’s merit moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actisons proceeed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.”
Lactantius had the following to say :

“”Let every one train himself to righteousness, mold himself to self-restraint, prepare himself for the contest, equip himself for virtue . . . [and] in his uprightness acknowledge the true and only God, may cast away pleasures, by the attractions of which the lofty soul is depressed to the earth, may hold fast innocence, may be of service to as many as possible, may gain for himself incorruptible treasures by good works, that he may be able, with God for his judge, to gain for the merits of his virtue either the crown of faith, or the reward of immortality” (Epitome of the Divine Institutes 73 [A.D. 317]).

Here is the crux of the matter.  The reward for living a good and holy life, that of virtue, of morals, and struggling for the goodness of God and for His greater glory is not of riches in the human idea of wealth.  Instead it is faith, and immortality in Heaven with God.

Here again we see how simple our faith can be.  Those things that we learned so long ago in the Catechism we were taught as young children,  Our purpose, is to know God, to Love God , to serve God, so that we can be with God in Heaven…. Amen !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Welcome Sister Death …

May 29, 2015

Welcome Sister Death !

There is a particular friend I have, with whom I tend enjoy having coffee and on occastion we talk on theological subjects that pertain to what ever is going on in our world and by and large, we cover a multitude of subjects.  Since he is not Catholic, but had loving grandparents who were, he has lots of memories of things Catholic that he does not understand the reasons for.

It is sad that there are a number of people who have memories of the Church that are either incomplete or because of some human failing on the part of a few people, they do not have an understanding of the Church and its teachings.

This brings me this morning to the subject of death.

A number of years ago, there was a physician who began helping people to voluntarily end their lives.   It came to be that there was a small spike in the number of self inflicted deaths..  Slowly that went away… and now it is back again.

It is important for us to look at a few facets of this practice and why it is so inherently bad.

First, and foremost this issue of voluntarily taking ones own life, is a Pro-Life issue !!

Pro-Life is NOT just about infant abortions and the evils of that particular practice although that too is an inherently evil act, but for different reasons, and some reasons that they share in common with voluntary suicide.
Lets look at this from the angle of a conversation that I was recently witness to.   A friend of mine was talking to me about his elderly grandparent who had lost a part of their mental faculties.  At the moment that he spoke about that, another person walked up and said, ” If I ever get to that point, just take me out to the shed, and put a bullet in my head”.

Just about a month prior, the friend who had been talking, was telling me he wanted to go home and see Jesus.  He was tired of dealing with the world and all its problems and his challenges. This friend has physical challeneges and because of those, life can be challenging.

So, what is it that can be understood about these situations ?  How do they relate to us, our world, and our relationship with God ?
No part of life is easy.   At every stage of life our perception of how our life is going, could be considered challenging for one reason or another.  It has work, school, life, relationships, pressures, and a challenge we have of how to understand those challenges and the drive we have to get ahead of them, and be successful.
Everyone tires of these challenges.  Even more so for people of faith !  Not only do we have those challenges that the secular world puts in front of us, but we  are challenged by our own faith and consciences and the lens through which we view all the other challenges in our lives, and even more so the human frailty and failings that come to our attention because of the faith life we try to live.
In the course of our lives we are sometimes gifted with wisdom and understanding AFTER we have gone through the challenges we face.  We also understand that at some points, we may not be able to understand until we get to Heaven and can ask God those questions.  It is not for us to know.
Now lets take a moment to look at why it is that Suicide or assisted suicide is so inherently evil and selfish.

Lets return to our friends who are having the conversation about memory loss.  In both of the scenarios being discussed, the person who is the subject of the discussion is someone who needs care.    The second person says ” I know.. but I don”t want to be a burden to anyone else…”    This is a common sentiment.   Particularly as one ages, they do not want to be a burden to others.  They don’t want to have to have people to wait on them, or hold them back etc.

Here is the problem with this way of thinking.  Everyone who is ABLE to do things for themselves should, and should be allowed to do what ever it is that they are able to do, or assisted in doing, for their own psycho-social well being.

Doing ones own work, that they are able to do is a blessing from God and should not only be shouldered, but should be allowed to those who are able.

God, who has already numbered our days, and who gave us life is the only one who we should count on to say when our days are done.
Life is a gift.

The Church teaches us this :” Human life is sacred  because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end.  God alone, is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”   ( CCC 2258 )

” The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. ” (CCC 2268)

The taking of life, is a sinful act and not only is it a sinful act, but is a mortal sin.

Let us return to our friends.

The act of taking ones life we know is sinful, because of the fact that we violate the 5th commandment.  But there is more to it than that.

While we walk this earth, God has a specific plan of us.  There is work that he has planned for us to do.

When the Lord began his passion, he did not get to the Last Supper and say.. “You know .. this looks like its too much , and I will be a pain to all these people and look what they are going to have to go through.  I just dont wanna go through all that.. so I think I will just stick some drugs in the chalice and be done with it.. I’m outta here.”…

No, He gave us the example of how we are to live our lives.  The Lord told us to pick up our crosses daily.    These crosses are for us, for our benefit, it is up to us to take up our crosses.

By taking our own life, we would not only be shrugging off our cross, refusing the gift we are given, but we are also robbing ourselves of the opportunity to learn, to see, to get closer to God.

By not taking up our cross we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity, to bear witness to God in our lives, and through our struggles.

We would rob those around us, to have the opportunity to receive the gift of our testimony.  Of our witness, and our example.

We would rob those who would have the opportunity to care for us, for them to receive the spiritual gifts of caring for us, loving us, loving God, and being able to share the witness of their own experiences that is part of the never ending witness of how it is that God works through the community of Faith !

Most of the evils that are present in the world today would be eliminated or inconsequential, if we looked at our lives and our world, through the eyes of faith and a well formed conscince.

As Mother Angelica once said, ” Christianity is not for wimps.  The cross is not optional, dear”..

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Her name is Wisdom …

May 22, 2015

” Watch for her and you will have no trouble,
you will find her sitting at your gates.
Event to think about her is understanding fully grown,
be on the alert for her and anxiety  will quickly leave you.
She herslef walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
and graciously shows herself to them as they go.
in every thought of theirs coming to meet them…”    ( Book of Wisdom 6:14-17)
IN the book of Wisdom in the Old Testament, this book which is at points attibuted to Solomon, speaks to us of Wisdom.

In order to truly understand Wisdom and try to consider how it applies to us, we first need a good understanding of What Wisdom is.

Wisdom is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit we receive at Baptism.  The gift of Wisdom is what allows us to discern the right choices in living a holy life.

So, now that your a bit confused.. how is Wisdom different from faith ?  Faith is a gift as well, but it is the acceptance and affirmation of that gift that is the mark of faith.  Wisdom give us the understanding and internalization of that faith, that
allows us to take that faith and put it into the actions and decisions that cause us to live a full and holy life.

So we understand that like faith, it is a gift, but, that gift must be taken out of its “box” and used in order for us to gain
a complete understanding of what it is.

Let me ask you a question..   Does anyone remember one of the readings from the last Mass they attended ?  ( NO cheating).

OK. so, the point of the readings is so that we can hear what is read, and from that reading, we are able to hear and internalize some facet of the reading this gives meaning to us individually and we get our spiritual feeding from that.

Like Wisdom, it is a gift we have received.  The problem being, that like the other spiritual gifts we have, they are near useless
until it is received, internalized, and then shared with others for the benefit of our brothers and sisters, for the glory of God.

Taking our Lord, in word ( and deed) to our brothers and sisters allows them also to hear, to internalize and hopefully to take that feeding they have received and share it with others that they also might be fed.

You might think that after an entire lifetime of attendance in church, that those messages might get old.  That they certainly have heard the messages time and time again.  There is certainly nothing new there ?  AH.. but there is.    Everytime we hear the Word of God it speaks to us in new and different ways at different times of our lives.

The first part of the reading reminds us that it is our responsibility to seek wisdom.
We are also admonished that Wisdom causes anxiety to leave us.

Wisdom lets us understand that God has a plan for each of us, that we should not be afraid or worried because God has things well in hand.  It is through the gift and search of spiritual Wisdom, that we find that our stress and anxiety of everyday life is
lessened or removed because of our understanding of the spiritual life.

All of those things, Life, birth, death, finances, stress, work, all those factors that make up our daily lives all processed through the eyes of wisdom cause us the ability to see these events all as part of the life of faith and a time to stop and praise God for his mercy, and grace.

Seek out your gift of Wisdom, read, learn, and advance in your understanding.  Today, the biggest problem that the church faces is a lack of formation, and knowledge of its own true faith.

If you do not have a good grounding in your faith, you will be lead astray easily.

Ask the hard questions, seek the answers to those questions that have always nagged you.  It is by seeking these answers, by working on your understanding that you will gain an advancement of Wisdom, which is pleasing to God.

May God give you the gift of His peace !
“Fear of the LORD* is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline” Psalm 1:7

Humility and the Fire of God’s Furnace…

May 2, 2015

” For Gold and Silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.”
– Ecclesiastes 2:5   ( Textual Concordance of the Holy Scriptures  copyright 1908 Benzinger Brothers.)

Every single person has a spiritual path to walk.  They are on a different point on their journey.
Indeed, there are many points that each of us have shared.. and those shared points occur, within our own experiences, but also at different points of our journey..

Your experience of your spiritual journey might occur in a different place than the next person.  No spiritual journey to GOd has ever occured in a straight line.

I would dare say that if there was ever some one whose path was exactly what they thought it would be.. I would like to meet them.
( Save of course for the Lord.. )

In the course of your journey how many of you have stood there , or knelt there, and prayed for patience.. ( I know .. I know)
and even though you know too the saying is, be careful what you ask for.   If you pray for patience, possibly you will be given the trials that will present you with the opportunity to work on your patience, and odds are you will probably fail at some point during that process.

This is however an incorrect way of thinking about this in the spiritual sense.   Consider this for a moment..

For a number of people, the beginning of their mature spiritual journeys, began at a point of crisis in their lives. Something happened to them, or to someone they care about, that caused them to stop and consider the “why” of how things happen, or to find some sort of meaning in their lives.  It might have been just a point in their lives where there was a void, an emptyness, some critital juncture where they felt like there had to be something else.
It was, however a trial or difficulty of some sort or other that brought them to the point of making those decisions, that brought them to the beginning of understanding at some level of their spiritual journey.

This verse has a number of messages for us.

The first part,  ” For Gold and Silver are tried in the fire…”  In this section we understand that in the physical secular world, that Gold and Silver are highly prized, possibly above other possesions one might own.   However, reading further we find this.  ” but acceptable men…”   Notice he did not say just “men”, but “acceptable men “.  This is an important distinction.

So this begs the question who exactly is “acceptable” ?   In Romans Chapter 5, we read, that although from the time of Adam, unto the time of Christ, Sin reigned within the world and man was not “acceptable” because of sin.  However, just as sin entered the world through one man, sin was conquored by through Jesus Christ, true God and true man.  The paschal mystery provided for all man kind who, by faith in Jesus Christ, have been provided the opportunity for salvation, and therefore made “acceptable” to God.

One other facet of this verse in Ecclesiastes. This provides for us the opportunity to reflect on the yet another verse along this path.. ”
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be…”  Matthew 6:21

For in this verse we talk of silver and Gold as being precious to men.  In Matthew the reading previous to this particular verse admonishes us not to store up treasures for ourselves here on Earth, because the things we here are fleeting, temporary, and subject to decay.  In contrast the treasures that we store up in heaven are eternal.
Returning to the orginal thought, where we all have trials and difficulties.  We all know that trials and difficulties are part of every day life.  Even those who have no faith life still go through difficulties in life.  So there is no sense in trying to avoid them by ignoring what it is that you already know.

Pray for those things that you have discerned that you need.  The fact that you know that you need to work on some certain area in your life is the Holy Spirit at work within you, informing you and urging you forward ever closer in your walk with God.

Pray for wisdom, guidance, patience, and grace.  When your own trials happen in life, like many other things you might not see what happens, or how God was working with you while you go through your trial, but in time, you will understand.   Keep firmly in mind that just like the beginning of your journey, the trial you were going through was what started you in your journey, and it was how it was that you came to be closer to God.

For your soul is the most precious thing you have.  It is the only thing you have that will stay with you, even after death. Your treasures in heaven, stored up through a lifetime of service to God, and to your brothers and sisters for the sake of Christ, that  will be where your treasures truly lie, and this is indeed what makes it worth life’s trials.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Work…. Its Use and Abuse…

April 18, 2015

Work, Its use, and abuse…

“Finally, renumeration for work should guarantee man, the opportnity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural, and spiritual level to correspond to the role and producivity of each…. ”

(Rerum Novarum p. 649 )

In the United States an interesting thing is occuring people have been going on strike for and in one case in Washington State passed a law requiring higher wages for all employees.

There are so many viewpoints about why this is or is not a good thing.  There are many opinions about why this move would be bad for the economy of the country.

The interesting thing about this scenario is that it has forced people who stop to consider and expore their feelings and beliefs about work and what is means, on the personal level and how it effects them.

The issue centers around a job working at a fast food restraunt and their workers who are demanding higher wages.   This job, working in fast food has historically been the domain of high school children.  Viewed as lowly, entry level jobs used by kids to use as money to enjoy time with their friends. This is certainly not a “real” job for any responsible adult, and certainly just a job to learn about the “real world” when those employees are sent into a job where what they are doing really matters.
There are several issues with this viewpoint. First in a work environment where the ecomomy is thriving, jobs are plentiful and there are companies who treat their employees with dignity and respect, then the idea that these are ” lower level jobs for young kids” might be justified.

Like many other things, in an economy that is not thriving, and the jobs are not plentiful, we are forced to look at our perspectives in a new and different way. These jobs are taken on by hard working,  people who are trying to survive on what little money they make.  In many cases they are the elderly, those who have fallen on hard times,   Some of them who might have made poor choices in life and are starting over.

In a somewhat larger lens, the questions involved are more about why it is that we look at these employees as “less”.  Not just in  these fast food locations, but there is a larger problem where companies view their employees not at people, but as machines or commodities.  There is a larger issue where companies engage in a de-humanization of the person.  Like any other piece of machinery or commodity, we can throw it out once it nears the end of its expected use.  We can use it for things it was not intended to do with cheaper parts and objects and since there are so many other parts just waiting to be used, we will just toss this one and get another.

The use of threats and fear, unreasonable expectations and policies that cause unneccesary anxiety and stress.

Then there is where we need to also look in the mirror.  Our society has created this view of some people as being “less” than others, worth less, need-less, use-less, and just plain inferior.  They seem to us “less” because of how they speak, or their level of education, their job title, their relationships, what family they belong to, or because of the work they do.

My mother used to say ” THere is dignity and honor in every job.”  This simple statement taught my brother two things.  That we should take some pride in the job we are doing, and that job is worth having because it fills a need.   THe second thing was that  no matter who it is that no matter what business you enter, or utilize, that every person deserves honor, and respect no matter what job it is that they do.

Work fills a certain spiritual need.   Work ( provided correctly) provides dignity to the human person.  It should provide a means  for a person to provide for themselves and their family.  It should provide for enough surplus that they can participate in the life of their own society, and the needs of their spiritual lives.    It should provide time away from their job not only for relaxation, but for their spiritual lives.
Work should not only provide for but demand, provide for,and protect the respect and dignity for every single employee it has regardless of their job title.  THis, because the Christ in each of us may be the only Christ that person sees or has seen.  Because that person is in the in dwelling of the Holy Spirit and because they are the neighbor, we are supposed to be loving.

May God give you the gift of His peace…

Holy Thursday and The Last Supper

April 4, 2015

Holy Thursday and The Last Supper.

In spending time in reflection of Holy Thursday the subject came up at work and it was beneficial to think back over the events that occur during this holy sacrifice and all its meanings.

Lets review what happens on Holy Thursday.

John 13:1 sets the beginning of the scene. The disciples are gathered for the Passover feast.

Once the disciples are all together He stops and gets water and begins to wash the feet of the disciples.

There was great symbolism here. This is what we would call today a “teachable moment”.

The Lord already knew by this point that the time of the Passion was upon Him. He did not have much time, and he wanted to try and drive home His message, and lessons before He left them.

The Lord washed the feet of the disciples … why ? There are two reasons. In the time of the Lord, the roads were primitive, dirt, dustly and daily travel meant that you were pretty much going to have a load of dirt on your feet by the time you were done. The disciples were travelers whos feet would have been particularly dirty from their travels.

At the time, it would have been a point of hospitality that was extended to guests and visitors to have the servant , or the lowest of the servants if there were more than one, to come and wash the feet of the visitors so that they were comfortable and clean and were able to relax and enjoy the visit.

So the first thing that comes along is that the Lord, who was God, who is the leader, the Master makes of himself the servant. This is to drive home to them, the idea that he came to show them how to be servants to one another and to all. Jesus understand that they don’t quite get it yet. But that they will eventually when the time is right.

In the process of the washing of the feet, there is another item that is not quite evident in a cursory reading. Jesus washes all the disciples feet, but who was the last disciple ? (Simon) Peter. So, Jesus washes Peters feet last in a foreshadowing that Peter would be first among the apostles. The first pope.

Peter objects at first, saying what the others were probably thinking but would not say. The Lord, tells him “ Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”. This brings into the picture the symbolism of the sacrament of Baptism. Unless you are washed clean, through the sacrament of Baptism, the cleansing waters, at baptism , sin is removed, the soul is cleansed.

Peter wants to be washed all over because he wants to be totally immersed in the saving waters. Jesus tells him he is already clean, “but not all”were clean. This because the Lord already knew that Satan had entered Judas, and that he would be betrayed.

After this came the great gift of the Eucharist. In the time before what he knew was to come, Jesus wanted to insure that we knew that he was always going to be present even if it was not in the form of man. The Lord said to the disciples in Luke 22:19 “ This is my body” and taking the cups said “ This is my blood”. Here creating sealing for us His presence in the world for all time until the end of days.

So that even unto this very day, the Lord is present in every tabernacle of every church. In the celebration of the Holy Mass, Jesus is truly present.

In every celebration of every Mass, we re-enter the Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday Passion, death and resurrection of our Lord.

We like the disciples, enter into the house of the Lord. The upper room. We wash in the font of holy water. We enter into the celebration and repent of our sins. We offer up our prayers and gifts. We celebrate with our brothers and sisters. We then enter into mystery of the Eucharist and offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and finally we receive the body and blood of Christ.

The sacrifice does not end here, it renews and invigorates us renewed in spirit we become what we receive. We take the Lord out of the church to share Him with the world until we return again to celebrate again with God and our brothers and sisters. To serve, and to love.each other and our brothers and sisters.

May God give you the gift of His peace !