Posts Tagged ‘Catholic’

3 Men of the Cross, Part II

July 29, 2017

Last week, we took a walk through a historical perspective of the crucifixion of Jesus. This week, I would like to take a look at Dismas .

Dismas, was the man who guilty of robbery, and was executed , it happens, on Jesus’ right . Gustus the other robber, was crucified on his left side. If you remember from last week, The crucifixion of the leader of a group was traditionally done so that they hung in the middle, of the group for all the others to see, and so that they could suffer additional anguish over what they had caused.

Since both Dismas and Gustus were already to be executed for their crimes they had some additional time to ponder their crimes while in prison. When the hour had come, and Dismas was on the cross,
He was silent, to spite the taunts and jeers that were being hurled at Jesus.

Eventually, when Gustus decided to join in the taunting of Jesus, it was then that Dismas finally spoke up. He rebuked Gustus for his taunts, and asked Jesus to remember him when he entered into His kingdom.

Lets take a moment and put ourselves in the shoes of Dismas.

There is no back story for Dismas. We don’t know anything about what he was like, or what his life was like, or his circumstances. We don’t get to know if he had a family, or if he had relatives who were living, or anything at all. We are only left to understand that at the end of the 11th hour, he got to a crucial point, and finally went to Jesus for forgiveness.

We are Dismas. Or at least we have been at some point. Or maybe not quite yet.. ?
Consider that we are all suffering for the burden of our sinful nature. We are fallen, and broken, suffering and being crucified.

We all sin. Our sins are different for different people, but we still sin. The point is how we deal with the sin. You told a “little lie”, She took paperclips from the office. He uses chemicals to escape his reality. She over charges for purchases. You might force employees to work more than necessary.
The sins are many, the reasons many, the answer is still the same.

Lets say that one of your great challenges in life is your patience. You have none, or at least little. You do not suffer fools gladly ( or even not so gladly) . Because of this you do not show the love of Christ, or the face of Christ to your brothers and sisters. You try, and you fail, your pray about it.. you ask God for forgiveness and patience, and you really do try.. and then you go out into the world and something happens and then it happens again. You get upset with someone. At the end of the day, you are right back having that same conversation.

At the same time, we need to be able to look beyond the current circumstance of those who are busy in the process of working out their own salvation. In our current day and age social media allows us to keep in touch or find again those souls we might have lost touch with over the years. Sometimes if we have the opportunity to open our hearts we may learn that what we viewed about someone at one point in time, may change, in light of other information.

Since we are our brothers keeper, we have the responsibility to look past the sinner who is on the cross on the other side of us, and see with the heart of Christ, someone who may be trying to find their way. they might have had some time to consider that they too are sinners, and are seeking the face of Christ, in order to ask forgiveness, for hope, and understanding.

We are all Dismas, we are all seeking forgiveness, we are all seeking to be remembered when Jesus comes. We need to be ready to understand the other, in light of the repentant sinner that we are trying to be.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Why Is There Suffering ?

June 3, 2017

” Praised be to God , the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation ! He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation that we have received from Him. As we have shared much in the suffering of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in His consolation. If we are afflicted it is for your encouragement and salvation , and when we are consoled it is for your consolation., so that you may endure patiently the same sufferings we endure. Our hope for you is firm because we know that just as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the consolation” ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Suffering, is one of the biggest questions we get asked. Mostly it is formed in the question of WHY ?

Why does God, who is almighty and omnipotent , and who is pure love, permit suffering to occur in the world. Why does it happen to those who are innocent, or young, or of some other circumstance ? Through our own questioning, we seek to find reasons for the suffering which seem particularly to make the least amount of sense to us.

Why death ? Why disease ? Why abuse ? Why is there war ? Why does God not just wipe away all of these things or maybe even some of those who cause these things to occur ? He could just point his celestial finger, or conceive of it happening and it would be so.

This is a valid question, and one deserving of an answer. There is only one answer, however, there are two circumstantial responses, pastoral, and theological. By this I mean, we would not necessarily want to provide a theological response to one who is grieving, and not really in a position to reason out the answer to this question.

That being said, lets take a look at the basis of suffering in our lives, its root, and its end result.

First, we know that all suffering, and death are a result of original sin. ” As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering , and the domination of death, and inclined to sin ( this inclination is called concupiscence .” ( CCC# 418 )

We also know that as a result this fallen nature, with its sin, suffering and death, were transmitted to all human kind.

That sounds all horrible and nasty and full of doom and gloom. It might have been so, but consider for a moment, that if we look back through the entire recorded history in the Bible, we saw where human kind , and in particular the Jews and later Christians, would inevitably sin, doubt, fail and fall.

Just as regularly, however, did God in His infinite wisdom and mercy, have a plan in place that would provide for the redemption and forgiveness of mans failures. It is always in Gods plan that man should grow, and mature and come into union, into relationship with Him.

Knowing this, we can look with confidence and with faith to God in our suffering knowing that He loves us, and wants what is best for us. There is however more to this story !

Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.” ( James 5:14-15) .

What we know is that during the time Christ was with us, He of course healed many people of their sufferings, just as he does today. However, through the church he has also given the gift of healing

both to those within and outside the Magisterium. Of course, in there are 2 of the seven sacraments are specifically for healing. First is Extremeunction, or the Anointing of the Sick. The second sacrament of healing is Reconciliation, of course.

It is interesting to note that the sacrament of Reconciliation is offered in the light that, again, that it is always part of Gods holy will that mankind be united with Him. These are graces given to us by God.

Now, still there remains that nagging ” Why ?” question that is perpetually present.

The answer comes here :

“because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.

Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”

(2 Corinthians 12:7-9 http://www.usccb.org/bible/2corinthians/12)

In every instance of healing that has occurred in scripture there were reasons those healing s occurred, either for the benefit of those who were present, or for the individual in need of the healing.

We are, through baptism, Priest ( laity) , Prophet, and King ( royal priesthood of Heavenly Kingdom).

Through our priesthood, ( as lay people) we are called to make gifts, offerings, and sacrificial offerings.

These come in various forms. Our work, our lives, our tithing ( time, talent and treasure) and also in our suffering.

In both an informal, and a formal sense, when we suffer in minor ways, illness, tribulations etc. we are given the opportunity to offer our sufferings up to God in union with the passion of Christ for not only our own sins, but for the sins of the entirety of human kind.

Through the sacrament of Extremeunction, we are given the opportunity to formally offer these things and to receive the graces necessary to carry those through. In addition, we are given opportunity to not only advance our own salvation, but the salvation of all mankind and to help in bringing about the Kingdom of God.

Like many other things that happen in our earthly life, there are opportunities we are presented with on a daily basis. What we do with those opportunities is up to us. It is the blessing that comes with a free will, we can either choose to unite our daily lives more closely to God, or do nothing.

This of course in no way means that you should not pray for healing, or relief from the suffering that either you or a loved one is enduring. It just means that if you are the one suffering, that you have the opportunity to make something good and salvic come from your suffering. If it is a loved one who is suffering, then it gives you the opportunity to help by your prayers, and leading them to understand the opportunity they have for grace to be part of their journey..

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

The Coronation – Franciscan Crown – Part VII

May 6, 2017

Coronation of Mary, Queen of the Universe.

“And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

(1 Peter 5:4)

In this mystery, we contemplate on Mary, who was assumed into Heaven and is crowned Queen of the Universe, with her never fading crown of the 12 stars spoken of in the book of Revelations.

The mystery calls to mind the extension of the Assumption and completion of , or the fulfillment of the vocation Mary was called to. As Mary was given to us on the cross as our own mother, we have the greatest advocate and intercessor who pleads for us with Jesus.

This mystery is all about the subject of perseverance. Perseverance, is that long, steady and abiding faith.. It is not that we do not fail, it is not that we do not fall, or falter from time to time. perseverance is about the efforts, it is about the work involved towards something. It is about truth, without and within. It is about truth from without, because God is the source. The Eucharist, often called the “Source and Summit ” is Jesus. God incarnate. It is faith at its deepest quaking in our hearts and souls.

It is our abiding with God. It says everything about how we are as a disciple. It has everything to do with how we live out our day to day lives in our work, in our rest, in our service, both to God and to our brothers and sisters.

It is from within, when we spend time in prayer. Not just the prayer of self…. Not the *I* prayer. You know the one I am speaking of. *I* need…. *I* want… What *I* am coming to you for …. These prayers that are centered in the desires of the world. This does not mean that we should not ask God for what we need. Or that it makes us bad Christians. It is changing the orientation of our prayer life.

from the child like process of give me “this” because I want it, into a more mature version of asking for Gods will. ” Lord. I have been presented with this situation, and we are seeking your will in what it is that we are to do “.

As in the “Prologue” of our Holy Rule states :

” All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind , with all their strength, and love their neighbors as themselves, and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance. Oh, how holy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and PERSEVERE (emphasis added) in doing them. ”

I once saw a poster of an injured lion. The lion had pulled itself up off the ground and stood strong and fearless. The caption at the bottom of the poster was this :

” It is not how we fall that matters…. It is how we RISE ! ”

As Christians, and as Franciscans this is primary in our necessity to examine how it is that we fallen, but more importantly, how it is that we rise in strength of perseverance and with the heart of the lion, strong in our faith, and strong in the knowledge and surety, in the perseverance of the love of our Lord !

This mystery is the Coronation of Mary, Queen of the Universe.

We meditate on Perseverance.

We ask pardon Lord, for those times when we have not lived the Holy Rule, as we should.

For when we have failed and faltered,

For when our failures have injured our brothers and sisters …

For those times when we have missed opportunities for worthy penance

For those times when we have stayed in our sin and vices.

We pray Lord for perseverance and strength and wisdom.

For the perseverance of mind, heart and soul, that we might not falter

For the strength of faith and character to live out our faith to the glory of God.

For the Wisdom, to see where we have failed to persevere, and to assist our brothers and sisters who may also need strength, assisting without judgment and with love in the examination of our own sin.

Finally, in perseverance of living our Holy Rule of Life to the fullest human extend with extraordinary heavenly graces, gifted to others through us.

Our Father who art in Heaven…..

May God give you the gift of His peace..

Franciscan Crown Part III – Nativity

April 7, 2017

” In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.

This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.

And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.* She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a
manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2 :1-7 )\\

This mystery deals with the Nativity of the Lord. That singular point in time when the God, the creator of the universe and all it contains, deigned to become reach down and become part of the created world. He chose to become small, to appear less, to become poor, and to suffer for love of us. He became man, not because of our sin, but because of love for us.

God gave us free will. In order that we might choose to love Him. We might choose to know Him and seek after Him, not because we are slaves. Not because we are servants, but because we are children of God.

God came to earth because of love. He came to both show us love, and to try to teach us how to love.
He gave us guidelines, He gave us rules, He gave us examples and lessons. He gave us tools to use, and He gave us each other.

Consider the depth and breadth of His love as He suffered poverty, and humility in His birth. He was not born in fine linens. and not in a warm bed. He was not born with the fanfare of man. He did not have throngs of crowd to hail his arrival. Instead, he was born in a barn, with rags for clothes… and a choir of animals gently grazing nearby.

He came into a world of nothing, He brought into the world everything..

The Mystery of the Nativity of Our Lord…

We meditate on Love.

We ask pardon Lord, for those times when we have not lived our Holy Rule,
When we have not shown love to our brothers and sisters.
when our human weakness got in the way of showing your divine love.

We pray to show your love to those who might have hurt us.
to others who might have allowed their humanity to get in the way,
and for the wisdom of understanding the human failings
that are both our neighbors and our own.

And in the example of Our Lord,
that we have the courage, and the trust, to show love,
and the strength to conquer our humanity,
and allow the divinity of Christ to show through us.

Our Father who art in Heaven….

May God give you the gift of His peace… !

That They All May Be One …

January 28, 2017

That They May Be One…

“And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are”

(John 17:11)

In the current state of affairs in the world this passage is so very important. We have a world where people have fallen victim to messages that are divisive and filled full of messages that are not only unhealthy but create an atmosphere where the statements paint a scenario where dialog is no longer possible.

As Franciscans, we are called to build a more fraternal world. This means we desire more than anything to start from a position of open and honest dialog in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

We believe, that the other person, or persons are children of God. regardless of the idea that they may not believe all the same things that we do, and that we can begin to build community at a point where we can accept those things we have in common.

The world has become a much smaller place than what it was in years past. Thanks to the internet, the average person has access to an entire world of other people to interact with. Different cultures, different lives, different beliefs, and different opinions.

The internet has the capacity to be both a blessing and a curse. It can be, and has been used as a tool for evil, and for good. One of the issues, at least with written electronic communication, is that there is also a greater capacity for miscommunication. Written communication has the capacity for speed and ease of use, but also carries the capacity for misunderstanding. This occurs where one can not perceive tonal inflections or intent or varying degrees of emotion and impact by what is written, so the reader is left with the voice in their heads to perceive those items..

There is a lot of things going on in our little corner of the world. Particularly in the area of Pro-Life issues. The United States is making some changes that are in favor of building a culture of Life that is causing people to review where they stand in this discussion. Not everyone agrees, and there are varying degrees of acceptance and attitude towards each side.

This caused me to stop and ponder how it is that this parallels the faith journeys and traditions that we have throughout the world. I have been privileged to serve order as the Ecumenical Chair for our Region. This means that I had the opportunity to reach out to other followers and devotees of St. Francis in other faith traditions. This effort has enriched me and my own faith life, as well I hope and pray that it has enriched those I have had the privilege of sharing time with.

As Catholics, we believe that there are certain things that will bring about this unity:

” A permanent renewal of the Church in greater fidelity to her vocation ; such renewal is the driving-force of the movement toward unity.

Conversion of heart as the faithful trying to live holier lives according to the Gospel – for it is the unfaithfulness of the members to Christ’s gift which causes divisions;

Prayer in common – because change of heart and holiness of life along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name spiritual ecumenism.

Fraternal knowledge of each other

Ecumenical formation of the faithful and especially of priests.

Dialogue of among theologians and meetings among Christians, of the different churches and communities.

Collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind ” Human service” is the idiomatic phrase. ” ( CCC #821)

In this we find that a call for all of us to “come to the table” in a spirit of fraternity, in order that each voice is heard, and each person is valued and respected as a child of the Most High.

Let us begin from a place where we can begin to talk openly from the positions that the other person only truly desires a better world, and from that position desires to build the Kingdom of God here on Earth.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Advent …It’s Here !

December 2, 2016

Advent…. It’s here.

“And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;

the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light;

let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,* not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” ( Romans 13:11)

This is the very beginning of the season of Advent. Advent means to come. It comes from the Latin Ad ( to ) Venire (come). It is applied to the church calendar as the season prior to Christmas. It is set aside for us as a period, not unlike Lent, as a time of preparation, a spiritual house cleaning if you will.

Not unlike Lent it has been a time of fasting and praying. In fact there was a period of time when there was a 40 day fast that was just like Lent. ( without the fish frys). If we look at the time of Lent and the time of Advent as mirrors of each other, both have certain characteristics that are very similar in tone and purpose.

Both serve the purpose of preparing our hearts as a birthplace for Christ to reign, a channel through which God may share the blessings of Heaven with and through us. Prior to His arrival however we have a little preparation to do.

As a child the time previous to the holiday season, there was a certain amount of that ” spring cleaning” that my mother would always have my brother and I to do. There was silver to polish, vacuuming, scrubbing and There was a brass table to polish and well as the candlesticks that stood on either side of the fireplace. Dusting the furniture and all of that came after taking care of the animals we had. ( which in itself was an 8 hour job).

Yes, the preparations were something that we as kids did not look forward to in the least, as we would rather have been exploring the forest that we lived in, or the just relaxing around the house. On the other hand, once all the work was done, and night had fallen, there was a cool nip in the air, and we would turn off the lights in the livingroom, and light a fire in the fireplace. The house took on that certain feeling of “Hearth and Home”. When the holidays came, and we were able to entertain guests, and share our home with friends and family there was a certain comfort, a certain joy to be able to serve them and make them feel at home.

The same thing applies to our spiritual lives. Paul is telling us to use Advent as a time to remove from our hearts the spiritual “baggage”. that we need to throw off. Those things that belong to the dark, and not to the light. Those things that we have been holding onto, that do not aid us in our spiritual journeys, those things that hold us back from serving Christ, or keep us from being the conduit of the blessings, or keep us from helping someone else from seeing Christ because of our actions.

So let us work on throwing off those works, those deeds, and put in some of the work in those areas of our lives to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. Throw out those pains, and grudges, lets fix those broken relationships. Let’s be the one who extends the olive branch, and extends the hands. Let us be the Christ in the season, and really live the life of faith we profess.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Blessed are the Peacemakers…

November 4, 2016

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God. ( Matthew 5:9)

How is it exactly that I am a peacemaker ? Let’s take a quick jump ahead in Matthew a couple of chapters to Mattew 7.. where we are quickly reminded that we need to ” remove the plank from your own eye, before tremove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” ( Mathew 7:5)

Being a peacemaker is primarily about the renovation that is necessary in our hearts, and preparing our hearts as a suitable place for Jesus to dwell, more so than it is a resolving conflict between others.

Preparing to be a peacemaker brings us to a place where we have to understand what peace is, how it is that we need to form our hearts, our conscience, our own understanding.

First, everyone sins. every single person no matter who we are, what our position is, what our vocation is, indeed no matter how hard we try.. we all suffer from the effects of sin. You might say to yourself. .” Well that’s great ! So why do I bother even to try ?”.. Thats a good question.. God did not promise us that our lives would be easy once we tried to live a faithful life. In fact, its going to be nearly the opposite. The people who are living easy lives that are not worried about life at all, those are the people who need to start asking questions. But I digress, back to ourselves.

In being a peacemaker we should be engaged in a daily examination of our own consciences. A review of where we might have failed today… This week.. This month.. It is a point where we look inside and see where we have acted, or failed to act. Did I cause conflict ? Did I cause pain ? Was there something I could have done to make a situation better for one of my brothers or sisters and I failed to do so ? Did I fail to show Christ to my brothers and sisters in difficult situation ?

Could I have helped ? Was the way that I helped part of the issue … part of the conflict ? Did I get of the way, to let Christ shine through the work I was needing to do ? Remember that NO converts were ever won with a sledgehammer.

“Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace”. By the blood of the cross , in His own person he killed the hostility, He reconciled men with God and made his Church the Sacrament of unity of the human race and of its union with God…” ( CCC# 2305)

The Church is, just as we should be the sacrament of Peace within the world, and within ourselves and within each brother and sisters, whether they are inside or outside the Church. Just as being a peacemaker has to start within the individual and their relationship with God properly formed. Those individuals then formed may work on the formation within the Body of Christ ( the church) and let that be an outpouring of peace unto the entire human race.

Peace requires sacrifice. It requires commitment, it requires work. Jesus showed us how to love our brothers and sisters. He showed us how it is that we are to have peace with God, and then with our brothers and sisters.

We have not listened…

We have not learned…

We have not loved …

Saint Francis’s Peace Prayer begs ” Make me a channel of your peace…. ” This is our prayer, and our mission. If we love our brothers and sisters, then peace with reign and flow through us. We become what we profess. We become the instruments of peace within our hearts, within hour houses, within our Church, and within the world.

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

Blessed are the Merciful…

October 22, 2016

:Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy. ” (Matthew 5:7)

This is the year that we have had a year for the celebration of mercy, as it was lead from Pope Francis.

We are coming to the close of the Year of Mercy, and so what have we learned ? What have we put into practice ? How has this year caused us to reflect on how we practice mercy, and what have we done to use this practice to enhance our spiritual lives or the lives of our brothers and sisters ?

In the book of James, we find James giving some instructions about how we are to treat each other.

In this chapter, we find James giving us specifically the example of how it is that we treat the poor. how it is that if we spend time looking at the rich who are brought into the church, and invited to sit in places of prominence, but the poor we tell them to stand in the back, or in some other out of the way place. We are given examples of how we offend the dignity of the human person, and the other children of God by our actions, even unto the very house of God.

“The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. the corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God ” ( CCC # 2447 )

The church teaches us these characteristics of what mercy is, Jesus throughout the scripture shows us examples of how this mercy is to be carried out. How have we internalized these works ?

In our daily lives, do we try to teach (Instruct) others in areas where we are knowledgeable ? Do we console those who are feeling down, or separated or in pain ? Are we forgiving of others ? Can we manage to have patience, and bear with others who wrong us unjustly ?

In many churches throughout the world, parishes have created a “Door of Mercy” through which everyone passes through, and there was a big “to do” made about the door and a liturgical blessing and celebration etc. What difference has it made for us ? Do we pass by the door, making a mental note of the fact that, “this is the door of mercy” and then thoughts drift off to the next thing. Maybe you pass by the door and it no longer makes you take pause to mark its existence at all because its been there all year… It is no longer “new” to us so we just accept that its there. Possibly, this is what has happened to our practice of mercy as well.

“In its various forms – material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death – human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin” ( CCC # 2448 )

In the world today we have these effects. These effects which we carry out in our daily lives, as a matter of course. These effects, these acts of both commission and omission, where we see the poverty, we see the injustice, we see the oppression of our brothers and sisters, and possibly, just like that Door of Mercy, that we pass by, we have seen it, we know its there, but we have become so accustomed to it that we no longer take note of it. .

The Church tells us that these human conditions have their origin in original sin, but we has human beings have perpetuated this condition as a matter of free will. This is why we are given then the Physical and Corporal Works of Mercy, in order to counter the effects of these evils in the world.

Saint James reminds us :

“So speak and so act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom.

For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”

(James 2:12-13)

In our practice of mercy, it is most important to remember that we too are poor, and in great need of the Fathers mercy, as we have all sinned, and therefore, we need forgiveness, and mercy of the Father, and from our brothers and sisters. Knowing this to be true, we should be foremost in these acts, to soften our hearts, to love, as we have been loved.

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

All Is Not As It Seems…

September 10, 2016

All is not as it seems..

A few months ago, I noticed a change in the neighborhood.  There was a house, that at one time was being used for one man, who lived there, but also ran a plumbing business out of it.  THe house was sparsely furnished, and the plumber who lived there seemed to be quiet, and only on an odd occasion would have friends over and have a get together with his friends or possibly they were employees.. but they did not seem like employees.

Anyway, one day while I was on my walk to work, I noticed a “For Sale” sign in the front yard.  I never saw anyone going there to tour the house, and not much later the sign came down.   Approximately a month later, all of a sudden the house we filled with about 4 or 5 older gentlemen, and the only vehicle that was there was a white unmarked van.    Walking past the house a couple of times a day, The people who lived there would say hello as I passed.

During those moments where I passed, I began to wonder who they were and why they were there all the time.

One Friday afternoon, while I was on my way home they invited me over to share a beer with them.  I explained that I did not want a beer, however, I would come over and sit down and visit with them for a while.  They instead offered some water, which I greatfully accepted.

Some of them, because of the Tau Cross I wear, asked me if I was “one of those church people who wanted to convert them,,,,”.  We have a number of different religious groups who frequent the neighborhood knocking on doors and asking to share their faith with us.
We also have them not only in English, but also in Spanish by well meaning folks who only speak a single language.

I proceeded to explain to them that I am still working on fixing the things that need fixing within myself, rather than trying to fix others, but if I could help someone else on their journey, then I would happy to share.

Once we got past that hurdle, they were all very warm and inviting, and would greet me as I passed on my way to or from work.  If I was not in a hurry, I would stop and talk for a bit and see what was going on.

Soon I finally learned what was going on with the people who lived there and how it came to be their home.  It seems that these men, were all homeless veterans, and one city employee, who owned the house, had provided the house to these men, so they could transition back into what ever their normal life was, prior to their homelessness.

In talking with these men, I learned a little about their journeys.  One of them, used to get up early in the morning, and would greet me every morning, and in his way attempt to give me encouragement for the days journey.  On the way home he was always there waiting to welcome me back home.  A few times, he waited for me to pass the house, and joined me in my walk to the bus stop.  In those walks, I learned that he was going to visit his family from whom he was estranged.  He was taking food, and going to do work at the house and help out the family.  He said it was not much, but it was everything he could do in showing his love for them.

One day the man was not there any more. He was gone for a couple of days and there was no one outside to greet me on my walk.  A few days ago one of them was sitting outside as I passed on my journey home, and I asked him what happened to the other gentleman, as I had not seen him for a while.  He explained that the man had returned home to his family and they had moved north together to begin rebuilding their lives again.
The point is that in the beginning of this journey, the very human view, might have been to be afraid of these people because they could have been any type of criminal, or addict.   It would be easy to judge from outward appearances that these would be people who were not desirable to have living in your neighborhood.

Investing ones time and effort in reaching out by inviting conversation, by hospitality,
by being open to anothers story, we can break down the walls of assumption, or appearances, and learn the true heart of the other.

Love, is the lesson.  Love of neighbor. Love of “the other” in our lives. These are the things that bring about the opportunities to share Christ with others.  Not by force, not by abuse, and not by the use of methods that are more akin to winning a battle or war.  Sharing Christ is done first, through acts of love that we share.
May God give you the gift of His peace !

Entering Into The Silence….. ( Prayer Part IV)

December 19, 2015

Entering into the silence….. ( Prayer Part IV)

We are now going to enter into the second area of prayer, namely meditative prayer.

Not everyone is comfortable, or practiced, or possibly desirous of dabbling in meditative prayer. Lets see what is waiting for us in the Catechism on the subject of Meditative prayer.

“Meditation is above all a quest . The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life , in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking.” CCC #2705

The point of meditative prayer moved from the vocal to the mental,and spritual prayer. The Holy Rosary is a great example of the fusion between vocal prayer and meditative prayer. It is also a great teaching tool for all the versions on prayer on whole, and even like a tour guide,if you will, through all the different versions of prayer. For now lets look at the first parts.

Many who begin the practice of saying the Rosary will concentrate on the individual prayers, insuring that they are saying the right prayers and on the right beads. This becomes more important when one is reciting the Rosary when in communion or in choir with others. If your new to this form of prayer, I would encourage you by saying first that in all of my experiences in praying the Rosary it is inevitable that someone will “loose their place ” in the counting of which bead they are on leaving the rest to wonder if they had lost a bead or if the person leading the prayer had missed a bead somewhere along the line.

It only becomes important if you begin this practice in choir with others, or if your asked to lead a decade of the Rosary, and you find that you need to track where you are in the progression of the prayers or if indeed you are the one who is counting the beads to insure that you have recited the correct prayer.

But lets back track a bit. If this is not part of your prayer life, and you find that you need a little spiritual workout, then I can recommend that this is a good place to start.

The first part of the physical act of prayer, reciting the prayers, tracking where you are, fingering through the beads, basically the mental and physical part of learning the prayer routine is part of the physical parts of the prayers and the initial part of the learning of the first part of the prayer.

Once past the discipline of HOW the prayer is done, then you move to the intial prayer mode. Vocal prayer. The part where you recite the prayers and are in a point of comfort with what your actually saying, or what it is that these prayers mean.

The prayer moves from the physical to the spiritual act of prayer.

At some point in the practice of the Rosary, you move from the act of praying where you have become comfortable enough with the prayers that you can begin to move beyond the vocal prayer to the meditiational prayer. Each decade has assigned to it a Mystery and a meditative passage or thought, or spiritual practice. These meditiations add a new dimension to the prayer.

For instance, in the sorrowful mysteries, The Passion of our Lord, which has attached to it the meditation on “long suffering”, this mystery has many different flavors in it, not unlike the daily readings. These mysteries, like scriptural readings also have different flavors or facets, that reflect differently for each person according to where they are on their own personal journeys.

These meditations then move from the concept of the meditation into the actual prayer that we seek.  Like many other forms of prayer this takes practice and work. Its not something that just happens for most.

I also want to admonish you that if this does not come easily for you that you are not alone. Different people pray differently, and everyone has a particular style of prayer that they feel most comfortable with. The same thing applies to ones service to God, and their own particular ministries.

The Carmelites have a contemplative charism. The Dominicans have an active apostolate and charism. The Franciscans are right smack in the middle. We are both Contemplative and Active in our charism. This is why there are so many different ministries, orders and avenues of service within the church. Our journey to God is individual and as different as each person is.

This does not however mean that we should not work at each of the avenues of prayer.

Until next time….

May God give you the gift of His peace !