Posts Tagged ‘#BrBearOFS’

Be The Lampstand !

October 15, 2018

“ We possess the prophetic message as something altogether reliable. Keep your attention closely fixed on it, as you would on a lamp shining in the dark until the first streaks of dawn appear and the morning star rises in your hearts First you mist understand this – there is no prophecy contained in Scripture which is a personal interpretation. Prophecy has never been put forward by mans willing it.

It is rather that men impelled by the Holy Spirit have spoken under God’s influence. “

2 Peter 1:19-21

This passage of Peter was written while Peter was in prison awaiting his own martyrdom. During this time Peter is writing to encourage the church to praise God, to sure up the unsteady, to warm against false prophets and encourage the faithful to live lives of holiness as they await the second coming of Christ which ( he believed ) would be imminent.

In this particular reading, Peter is focusing on the Old Testament and its reliability and faithfulness as not just something that was the outcome of any personal interpretation of what some one else said, or even a particular prophets interpretation of what was revealed to them by God. It was in fact the those prophets were impelled by the Holy Spirit to be the instrument of God’s voice. Therefore to be believed and witness to.

The passage “ Keep your attention closely fixed on it, as you would a lamp shining in the dark until the first streaks of dawn appear and the morning star rises in your hearts”, is so very relevant today.

We are baptized into the roles of priest ( to offer prayers ) and prophet ( to go forth and spread the Word of God to all nations, and make disciples) and King ( the royal priesthood), to in our role as prophets we need also need to be lights in the darkness, Just like a scientist takes samples and puts them under a magnifying glass in order to see and understand what a sample contains and how to relate to it, so too, are we to be the magnifying glass for others. So that they too can see and understand.

We need people of faith to step forward in faith, to know what it is that informs their faith and the reasons for it. 1 Peter ch 3 tells us to “ always be ready to give an reason ( explanation) for your faith”, and to do so with kindness, gentleness, and reverence. Give as much as you are able, or knowledgeable of but also know that it is also OK to say “ I don’t have an answer for you at this moment, let me get back to you and I will find an answer for you”, and then do it !

Study Study, Study. ! Study Scripture, there is so much to know, Then the more you know, the more that you know that you don’t know. There are bad translations of the Bible, get a good one. Get a version that has the original Greek and Hebrew languages and really look at what was originally said and how it has been translated in different versions. When Encyclicals come out, or letters from the Vatican, don’t take someone else s condensed version of what is said, go to the Vatican website and read what was written for yourself. This will remove any other human bias or agenda.

Study, by talking about your faith with others. Just like steel is sharpened against a stone, so your understanding of your faith will be sharpened by letting it see the light of day, by discussing it with others who may have a different understanding, and it is in this way that you will not only learn but be informed, but if there are questions or confirmations you will return to scripture, and if its still unclear ask your pastor, or several people whom you trust for clarifications. We must be the lamp stand also that holds up the Light , for all others to see in the darkness.

In the beginning of Saint Francis’ work, he set about quietly rebuilding a church stone by stone, and in time others, seeing what he was doing, began to ask what he was doing, and then of course why. He was the lamp stand , through silent action, through his example, and became the light of millions today.

Today I invite you all to become the lamp stand for others, to be witness and example..

To be the magnifying glass that causes others to look deeper into the Pascal Mystery…

To be the Priest, Prophet, and King you were baptized to be.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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The Journey… The Dream… and Love

September 21, 2018

“ Make my joy complete by your unanimity, possessing the one love, united in spirit and ideals. Never act out of rivalry, or conceit; rather , let all parties think humbly of themselves, each of you looking to the others interests rather than his own.

In everything you do , act without grumbling or arguing ; prove yourselves innocent and straightforward. Children of God beyond reproach in the midst of a twisted and depraved generation – among whom you shine line the stars in the sky while holding fast to the Word of life. As I look to the Day of Christ, you give me cause to boast that I did not run the race in vain or work to no purpose. “

( Phillipians 2,: 2-4, 14-16 )

As Franciscans we are called to be peacemakers, and bridge builders, the caretakers of all creation, through the love of God. The story behind these passages lie with the Apostle Paul who was in prison at the time of this writing, and word had reached him of a few things that were a little out of sorts with the young church in Phillipi. There were issues where some of the young members were a bit caught up in vanity and status. There was also some others who were circulating around the community with heretical ideas and papers. It’s nice to know that in over 2 thousand years somethings have not changed. Although it would be nice if some did … but I digress.

As a result there was some in-fighting and bickering amongst the community. This was not a huge problem, but enough that it caused concern enough that Paul wanted to write. Not only to admonish those who were not acting in accordance with their faith, but to give encouragement.

Note that for most of the Apostles when they were writing in order to address an issue of some sort, there was a bit of a formula to the epistle. First, a greeting, that is warm and loving as an elder would to a younger family member. Then comes the admonishment where there is an outline of what is wrong , not pointing the finger at a person, just a general statement. Finally, push of encouragement and praise to God and His love for us.

There is a catch phrase if you will, that Franciscans use, which was the title of a book by Murray Bodo , is “ The Journey and the Dream “ . I think it is likely fair to say that there are very few Franciscans who did not at some point read this book, and gain insights about themselves and their lives.

The “Dream” is the idea of our Christian and Franciscan lives. “The Journey” is the life we live here on this earthly plane. People who are not on a spiritual journey to God, can only see the “dream “.

Since they are outside, they can only see their perception of the ideal. They can only know, that this is the ideal, that does not correspond identically to path that the person who is struggling is taking. Of course that person will fall short of the ideal. We all do.

It is only by going inside, by entering into your own spiritual journey towards God, that you can understand “The Journey” in light of “ The Dream”. It is not hard for me to say that I am not perfect. I fail… I sin…. I am flawed, and I fall short of the Dream. As a Christian, as a Franciscan. I fail.

It is in our failure, and through our faith, that God is reaching the best part of us if we allow ourselves to be formed. If we take the time to work on our faith, we can be better than we are. Will we still fail even if we are on this “Journey” ? Sure ! We will fail, and we will fail a lot. Possibly, however, not quite as often. We will be better, and we will love.

Forgive others….. Forgive yourself….. Love is the law.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Trails and Endurance…

September 16, 2018

“ My brothers, count it pure joy when you are involved in every sort of trial. Realize that when your faith is tested this makes for endurance. Let endurance com to its perfection so that you may be fully mature and lacking nothing.

If any of you is without wisdom, let him ask it from the God who gives generously and ungrudingly to all, and it will be given him. Yet he must as in faith, never doubting, for the doubter is like the surf tossed and driven by the wind. A man of this sort, devious and erratic in all that he does, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

(James 1: 2-8 )

OK .. Trails/Temptations … Testing …Endurance/Perseverance.. Maturity… hmmmm Got it.

OH wait ! We are missing a few things in here. Our faith life,… Our Spiritual life is not unlike our earthly life in this regard. There are temptations to do things that in our minds we know are not right, or not good. Sometimes that voice is circumvented by our initial desires to do or get whatever it is that we are being tempted by , somehow believing that we will not have to worry about the consequences.

When you were little maybe that was candy or sweets you wanted and even though you knew it was not good for you, You did try to eat that entire bag of Halloween candy and later paid the price for it.

Possibly when you were a bit older, maybe you snuck out of the house to go to a party or spend time with someone. I am willing to bet that might not have ended in the best possible way. Maybe you smoked cigarettes or you were not careful of what you ate or drank. Those also had consequences.

My parents were both teachers. Admittedly I was not the best student. Not because I was not capable of getting better grades than I did, but because I was not convinced of the value of getting good grades.

Since I only had to worry about that once a quarter.. it was not at the forefront of my mind.. Well, at least until those pesky consequences came along. Not only did I not get good grades, but then I was put on restriction.

On the other hand, when I got to college and finally figured out why it was important, well.. that was different. I studied , applied myself and made it into the Honor Society, while working a 12 hour a day job 5 days per week and supporting a house. I gained endurance because there was something that was important. AH ! There it is.. something important.

There were challenges, hard days.. temptations ( like sleep) and tests.. but I knew in my heart that I was doing some thing important and I had to endure. In pressing forward, in doing the work… in discerning the right path.. I knew what needed to be done..

Just like our earthly life, our spiritual life is full of these challenges, temptations, pain and work that needs to be done. It would be easy to take the easy road… But the easy road is a LIE. Satan is the father of lies. He knows what is our there and he wants to tempt you with lies whispered into your ear, that says that you don’t need to do the work that is yours… that you don’t need to listen to the voice of the spirit , that still quiet , nagging voice that is from God that calls to you.

In the Garden of Eden. Satan tempted Eve, he told her she that she could be like God, that she would not die if she ate of the fruit. Eve allowed herself to be tempted, and in turn Adam allowed himself to be tempted as well. In the end death entered the world because they fell.

When you are faced with trials or temptations, and you need help ( like we all do ) then it is time to reach out and pray for wisdom. Pray for discernment. ! Ah,, but there is a catch.! You have to step out in faith !

You say to yourself , OH , well so how do you have faith if you …well…. don’t ? or are lacking in one area or another ? It is not that you have faith that God will give you what you want. He will give you what is best for you. You only need to pray with a heart that is open. A heart that is true in its desire to know, love and serve God. A heart that wants to join itself to God’s Holy Will/

Then you wait. Keep a prayerful vigil, and pray for the wisdom to understand to discern His will for you.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

We are Peacemakers…

September 2, 2018

“ All of you should be like-minded , sympathetic, loving towards one another, kindlly disposed, and humble. Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult. Return a blessing instead. This you have been called to do that you may receive a blessing as your inheritance.”

(1 Peter 3:8-12 )

I think that it is safe to say, that sure we are all nearly like minded at the end of Holy Mass. Then, however, we are called out to go and become what we have received, to be food for others.

Sometimes that seems nearly literal, in that those in the world would like to cut, bite, chew and swallow us up. It is also possible that due to some issue we are dealing with , that WE become the one who gets presented with an issue pervasive to our thoughts and then WE become the one who bites, chews or swallows up the other. Worse yet, that we allow that thing to fester within, to grow, to hold on to the hurt and perceived injustice, and allow that to reign in our hearts.

This behavior brings about a 19th Century idom commonly referred to as “ Who kicked the cat”. The idea of this idiom, is that someone in a higher authority brings their anger or aggression into a situation and then lashes out on the next equal or lower person in position and then that agression gets passed down the chain until the person or persons who are least in position gets “kicked” and is just forced to either take it out on the family cat, or just generally on another person with no recourse..

As Franciscans we are called to be servants, to all, to have a preference to serving the least among us. The disadvantaged, the poor, the marginalized. Our brothers and sisters are the ones at every part of this “food chain”, We are called to be peacemakers, and bridge builders.

In this scenario, if , instead of passing on the anger, instead of passing the hostility, the hurt, the pain, on to the next person or thing, we could be the one who loves, we could be the one who listens, who communicates, who tries to dissolve the issues to get to the root of the matter and to diffuse the negative with the love of God.

Everyone has a basic need to be heard, and to be understood, in order that they become whole and grow as healthy well adjusted people . The line of communication is essential for any relationship. Spouse, family, co-worker, client , stranger. By and large, this has more to do with ME than it does with the other person. How it is that we receive what is presented to us. How it is that we are able to respond , how it is that we are able to filter what is presented and get to the root of what is needed.

We can not be more invested in being “right” than we are in building bridges. We need to be both educators, AND students of others. Stating, is not the same as commnicating. If both parties are not listening, but talking communication can not occur.

I had a client once who would not allow anyone to talk for the first 5 minutes of the phone call, because he would talk, and would not allow anyone to talk until he had communicated everything he wanted to say and refused to stop talking until he had completed communicating everything he wanted to say. It was so, because he he believed he had all the information the person who answered the phone would need to take care of him. More often than not, he was mistaken. After he stopped talking then he was ready to communicate. We could then begin to fix his problems and at the end he was happy.

Start by listening. Ask questions to find out what is needed, and then consider if what you are going to say next will help the other person on their journey towards God.

Finally, pray first, last and always. Sincerely pray for the other person, pray for understanding, pray for wisdom, pray for our own understanding, and that the will of God will be done in this and all things.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Suffering and Love…

August 26, 2018

“Let your love for one another be constant, for love covers and multitude of sins. Be mutually hospitable without complaining. As generous distributors of God’s manifold grace, put your gifts at the service of one another. Each on the measure he has received. The one who serves is to do it with the strength provided by God. Thus, in all of you God is to be glorified through Jesus Christ. “

( 1 Peter 4 8-11a )

In the backdrop of this story Peter is addressing the people in the five provinces of Asia Minor. These were a people who were undergoing persecutions, and alienation from their former beliefs, their former friends, and basically everything that they had previously known.. They were suffering both in ostracism but the persecution in their newly chosen faith.

The entire chapter of Peter was meant to both encourage these new Christians, but to provide an example of Christian life.

Like many other parts of scripture.. “ the old becomes new” in how it is that these passages become God speaking to us today for exactly the same reasons, and with the same type of purpose applied to each one of us.

The church here on earth, made up of humans, who are subject to the stain of original sin, with all its human failings, with all of their own individual weaknesses, suffers, and struggles, and sometimes fails because of its humanity.

It is important to realize that the church IS the body of Christ. If the church were just any other human organization, it would have failed long ago. It is not, however just a human organization, It is the Body of Christ. Consider, that the example that Jesus gave to us while here on Earth, is exactly how it is that we are to view not only our mission and existence as “Church” , but our life as brothers and sisters in Christ, who suffered for us.

Isaiah 53-1:12, gives us the vision of the “Suffering Servant”. Can you not also see in this reading ,

how it is that just as Christ did suffer, so the church suffers, and we as members of His body also suffer ?

More importantly, is not just that we suffer, but HOW we suffer, and what it is that we DO with that suffering. We are to first follow the greatest commandment which is to LOVE. We are to “assigned with wicked men (Isaiah 53:9), and we suffer.

Like all suffering, there is a larger purpose. The trials we suffer are there in order to be redemptive, and ultimately salvic in effect. If we suffer, we can choose to enter into cooperation with the will of God, in bringing about His kingdom. In the offering of our suffering in union with the suffering of Jesus Christ, in being the conduit of His graces, in being testament to faith in Jesus Christ.

Indeed, it can be through our suffering that we will see, that either in this life, or the next, that we will see “His offspring” ( Isaiah 53:10) , and we will see that the will of God prospered on earth as a result, and through that process, we will not only grow in our own faith, but we may also be the sower of the seed that bears good fruit in the Kingdom of God.

Take heart brothers and sisters, for our Lord said from the beginning, “ you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,*and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

(Matthew 16:18)

Remember that even since the time of the disciples, Satan has come among those in the church, and done evil within our midst. The church suffered because of it, but ultimately, we triumph overwhelmingly through our faith in Christ. It is not me, it is Christ within me.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Speak and Act as Men Destined for Judgment !

June 30, 2018

“Always speak and act as men destined for judgment under the law of freedom. Merciless is the judgment on the man who has not shown mercy; but mercy triumphs over judgment.

My brothers, what is it to profess faith with out practicing it ? Such faith has no power to save one, has it? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and no food for the day, and you say to them, “ Good-bye and good luck! Keep warm and well fed” but do not meet their bodily needs, what good is that ? SO it is with the faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly lifeless. “ ( James 2:12-17 )

Some of you might be of the age to remember a time prior to the Vatican II council, when before Sacrosanctum Concillium the Old Testament was not read during Holy Mass. It is important to read and gain an understanding of Old Testament scripture in order to gain understanding of the New Testament and the setting behind which the New Testament scripture is written and in some cases why.

Why do I bring this up ? …. Good question , lets take a look !

This New Testament reading, talks about being merciful, generous, and loving towards our brothers and sisters who have little , less, or nothing, in relation to where we have been blessed. If we are honest with ourselves, we can nearly always find someone who is near to us who is worse off, or in more dire straits than we are. You don’t even need to go far to find someone who is in need. A quick drive or walk around your own neighborhood with an open mind and heart, will enlighten you.

Possibly, you live in a very nice neighborhood, a trip into another part of your town, or area, will assuredly show you the needs present in our lives. Needless to say, it is not a difficult thing to do.

But wait ! There is more… We know there is a problem, the question becomes our response to that problem.

The scripture passage that usually comes to mind after this one is that “ The poor are always with you”

This passage is at times used by people to justify inaction, or to solidify their fears or presuppositions regarding those who are in need.

God never intended the inequality of mankind. when placed in the backdrop of Deuteronomy 15: 1-11 we can then understand that God never intended the kind of class status, and inequity created out of greed, or hatred, or prejudice etc. It is up to us to be like the unnamed woman in the beginning of the passion narrative who takes the very expensive jar of perfumed oil to anoint Jesus with.

It is in this spirit, that we need to be able to provide for our brothers and sisters, to help them along their way towards Heaven.

It is also important to remember that in gauging how we are to be the conduit of the blessings we have received, that we consider the method as well. The method of delivery must be done in such a way that the brother or sister in need, will not only have some immediate need met, but done in a way that they have a path to grow, and not only provide for themselves, but to preserve the dignity of the human person as a child of God.

You have become the blessing that you received from God, you must be the conduit of the blessing so that each person you share with, is permitted to become the blessing that they also have received.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Control and Treasure…

May 10, 2018

“There is a certain spiritual wisdom which we express among the spiritually mature. It is not a wisdom of this age, however, not of the rulers of this age, who are men headed for destruction. No, what we utter is God’s wisdom: a mysterious, a hidden wisdom. God planned it before all ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age know the mystery; if they had know it, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory. Of this wisdom it is written :

“ Eye has not seen, ear has not heard,
nor has it so much as dawned on man
what God has prepared for those who love him “

Yet God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit. “ ( 1 Corinthians 2:6 )

No matter how much things change, they are exactly the same. The folly of mankind lived out suffering growing from some misguided notion, that the world has better things to offer us, if we can control more of it. If we own more of it… If we exercise dominion over more of it !

It is something that we tell our children.. make sure you get a good education.. no one can take that from you.. Make sure you have enough education because it will open doors for you, it will give you a job so you wont have to work, or work so hard. Climb the ladder, become the boss, or own your own place so YOU can be the boss, and then no one can control what you do ! You need to get ahead.
You need more, so that you have a comfortable life. So that you have more control over your life.

In some fields of work, the ego, the control, and the ability to lord that over others is more prevalent. It is there from the smallest businesses… to the largest of corporations, to governments, all wanting to exercise control to see who will “win”.

Lets look for a moment at WHY it is that this thought process is not a bad thing in theory, however the practice is where we lost something important.

It starts with what we receive. You did not get your job, or your education, or your opportunity on your own. There were people who sacrificed, people who taught, people who cared, and people who provided for you to get where you are. While it may be true that you may have worked hard to get where you are, and you too may have sacrificed, and labored to get where you are, it was there, because someone else built it, bought it, made it, or taught it into being so that you might avail yourself of it.

At the very core of those opportunities is God. God in his infinite wisdom granted to you life. Things were set before you so that you have the opportunity to grow. You accept or deny either part of that reality, and you have not fulfilled your purpose.

Consider for a moment that when you accept those gifts that are placed before you, that there is a responsibility that comes with those gifts. There was a book/movie that quipped “ With great power comes great responsibility…” I tell you that you have no power, save for the free will you were given to make one decision, whether to accept the gift of faith, or not. Even THAT power was given to you so that you have an opportunity.

With the gift that was given to you, comes at a cost. The cost of being a disciple means that you have a responsibility to your brothers and sisters. To care for them.. To love them… To feed and clothe them…
to help them in this world, along their own path. To share, and to teach… and to do as much of that as you can in the short time we are given on this earth.

Oscar Wilde I believe was the one who said a man is judged by the quality of his enemies. I tell you this is not true. I can tell you, that man is judged by his capacity for LOVE and his journey of faith.

At the end of our earthly life. God has assured us that we will not be able to comprehend the level of riches that await us in heaven.. I can testify, that the greatest treasure I have is the love that Jesus has for me and you.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Looking in the Mirror

September 16, 2017

Looking in the Mirror…..

“Keep this in mind , dear brothers. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for a man’s anger does not fulfill God’s justice Strip away all that is filthy , every vicious excess. Humbly welcome the word that has taken root in you , with its power to save you. Act of this word. If all you do is listen to it, you are deceiving yourselves.

A man who listens to God’s word but does not put it into practice like a man who looks into a mirror at the face he was born with: he looks at himself , then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. There is , on the other hand the man who peer into freedom’s law and abides by it. He is not a forgetful listener, but who carries out the law in practice. Blest will this man be in whatever he does.”

(James 1 :19-25)

I my daily walk, ( not every day, just periodically) we are challenged, and we may not always carry through with the part where we show Christ to others who may not be approaching us with the best of lights.

In this reading, which is interestingly found in one of the Evening Prayers, of the Liturgy of the Hours, I wonder of it was put there because someone had a particularly bad day once.

My daily prayer life consists of , at minimum,. prayers in the morning ( usually in my morning commute… I take the city bus to work).. and on the way home, and before bed, interspersed with spontaneous prayers, meals, etc.. I love the morning prayer time because it gives me time to get my head in the game, it starts the day off with God, it gives me time to reflect, that I don’t always get in other parts of the day.

It gives me time to ” look in the mirror” in the way of this reading, where I can see not my own reflection, but the reflection of God within me. By staring into that mirror, at the face of God, it gives time for the fog , the obstacles of the day, from the mind, and from the heart and soul, that gives way finally to a clearer image of God that we should be showing to others. The Christ, we should be sharing with others, the one they should see.

Eventually, though, through our own human failings, circumstances arise, and tempers flare, feelings get hurt, or that certain sense of righteous indignation kicks in, and what comes forth is not the face we saw in the mirror that morning. It becomes a hard day. You do your best to protect yourself, to correct errors, to do what is right, and just. Maybe you become invested in your efforts to keep things upright and correct, or just keep things afloat in the sea of insanity that has become your day or your life.

After your day ends, in the cool of the evening, apart from the battles, back in the quiet……. you take a deep breath, and begin to pray. If you are like me, this is usually the time when you realize, that you have failed at some point during the day. You did not show Christ to everyone, you were not the “do-er ” of the Law of Love. You failed today….. and you return to look in that prayerful mirror to remind yourself, to see God, to talk to that Christ you left in the mirror this morning, and hid along the way today.

But it was a failure for today, once, at one time. That does not mean that the human you in that mirror, is not there, or even shouldn’t be there. It certainly does not mean that your a bad person or even a bad Christian. It means that you are human, that you are faithful by the fact that you are back to look at this mirror, and are trying to find God within it, AND trying to carry Christ out into the world. The Christ you saw in the mirror, the pure example of the hearer, and the Do-er of the Law.

“The gifts of the Holy Spirit include, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” ( CCC #736)

By this, we know that we are already infused and have these fruits grafted onto us by virtue of our life with the Holy Spirit. Its up to us though, as in all things to engage our will, and work to develop these gifts, and carry them forward to that Christ may shine forth from our lives.

May God give you the gift of His peace !