Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

I Will Give You a New Heart…

December 29, 2017

” I will sprinkle clean water on you to cleanse you from your impurities , and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts, and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statues, careful to observe my decrees. You shall be my people, and I will be your God. ”
(Ezekiel 36: 25-28 )

This passage is part of the fall and restoration of Israel and the Jews. Israel had engulfed itself in sin, and turned away from God. Then Israel fell into slavery and there stayed. In Gods time, he cleansed Israel from all its sin, and its idolatry. This was before the time of Christ. In fact, this time was the preparation of the time of Christs coming. It is before the world is ready for Christ, They had hearts that were hard, and sinful. In order to prepare the hearts of men, God allowed Israel in order to prepare for the coming of Christ.

The heart, that is spoken about in this passage is the voice of God.. ” taking from your bodies your stony hearts…” The stony heart is the heart of sin, it is hard, and unimpressible, untouchable, unreachable. We have all had people that we want to reach, or we really want to talk to , or teach, or gain an understanding of. We reach a point where it is that we are unable to make the connection we so desperately want to make. The other person is not desirous of being reached or participating and happy to be left alone.. So you are forced to leave them to their own devices until they are ready.
This is exactly where Israel was in this process. their hearts were hard, happy to be left in their sin and vice and not ready to hear, and not ready to receive the Word.

Eventually after their exile, once they were spiritually freed, then they could be physically freed from their slavery in order to receive the land God had prepared for them. They were now free to begin the work to prepare the land to receive the Lord.

In this time he brought them ” natural hearts “. These hearts that were impressionable, hearts that were gentile, hearts that were docile, hearts that were spirit filled and hearts that were ready to receive the Word, and then carry the seed God so desperately wanted to plant.

I like to consider this passage in the backdrop of the Advent and Christmas season. Look at the world we currently live in. We are at this time, no difference between Israel of old. and the time we are living in today. We have a world that is full of people with stony hearts. Their hearts are hard, unimpresisonable, unwilling, unyielding, unforgiving. These are hearts that have turned from God, or replaced God in their lives with the idols are greed, materialism, and indifference. Hearts that are full of self-love and self-importance. We have turned from God in our hardness of heart.

In particular, once every year, for a time, we have our stony hearts, that get replaced with natural hearts. During Advent, that special magical time before Christmas, where we allow ourselves to feel, to open our hearts not just to our fellow man, but to God. Sure, there is a vast amount of materialism and greed that goes on as well, BUT, there is still this grand glimmer of hope.

We get the chance to see the spirit work in our hearts, and the hearts of our fellow man. To see the kind of world that Jesus taught for us to live in ALL the time. On the calendar, Christmas is not just a day, but a season. In truth, what is intended, is that Christmas should be a lifetime. Carry your natural hearts you gained this year, through your whole life, loving God and neighbor.

May God give you the gift of His peace !


We Are Travelers…

December 16, 2017

” May God our Father give you grace and peace. We always give thanks to God , the Father of our Lord ,Jesus Christ , in our prayers for you because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you bear towards all the saints – moved as you are by the hope held in store for you in Heaven. You heard of this hope through the message of truth , the Gospel , which has come to you , has borne fruit, and has continued to grow in your midst, as it has everywhere in the world.” ( Colossians 1:2b-6a)

By way of a little background, in this passage Paul is writing a letter to the Colossians and it is meant as both encouragement and instruction. The church in Colossae, was new, and growing and vibrant, but Paul, had been unable to this point to be able to travel there or meet with them personally so everything he was learning about the community he was learning by way of Epaphras. Epaphras was the head of the church in Colossae..

The letter is a result of Epaphras’s time with Paul in prison in Rome. The reason for the letter came about as a result of Epaphras’s concern for the church, and some incorrect teachings that seemed to be creeping into the body of the church, as well as some encouragement.

I would like to take some time to take a page from Epaphras’s book, and offer not only some encouragement, but a little instruction as well.

When you enter an Order, and go through the initial formation processes, it can feel a bit like you are going to school, and indeed , to a degree, you are. There is a great deal to learn, and to consider, to think on and write about. The subject matter can be very simple, and it can be very weighty. That initial process can be very intensive and after that process has completed, You have the opportunity to shift focus a bit from the interior workings, The initial learning or getting up to speed , the graduation if you will, and then you have the chance to shift your focus to an outward gaze. To look into the community, and into the world, and begin anew to feel your way through the processes.

One of the things that becomes very apparent in a very short period of time is that everyone lives out their own vocation, their charism, their spiritual life in very different ways. Your community can at time fluctuate between what might feel like your immediate family, or your extended family.

Either your brother or sister, with whom you are very close, or maybe like that inappropriate uncle that gets invited to family functions ” because he is family”… They don’t “act right”, and maybe don’t behave or think about things in the same way that the others in the family does. What ever that thing is, basically you have a familial love for them, but occasionally they really annoy you.

As my Mother used to say…” Life is a matter of perspectives…”

It is important, to remember that regardless of what your vocation is in this life, the responsibility for the formation of your spiritual journey rests squarely on your own shoulders. Sure, there is a certain responsibility of the person who is doing the teaching, to separate their own opinion and editorializing from the true teachings of the church, but it is the sole responsibility of the individual to seek out what is the truth, and the differences between what is the central “required” truth, and what is simply the other soul, being at a different place or a different expression of the journey that they are on.

The fact that there are so many different Orders within the church, is testament to the differing ways within which will find the truth in their faith, and yet still find that there are so many different and yet beautiful expressions of their faith !

I want to encourage you on this road of your faith life, to never quit seeking, never quit asking difficult questions and once you have found the questions, then go out and seek the answers for yourself, and then take what you have found and review that with a pastor or priest, religious, or someone you might recognize who has been at the same point you are , or further down the road of their faith journey. Test out your information, get new insights, and learn from the process.

Finally, be patient, solicitous, kind, and loving with those who might not be where you are on your journey, because they too, are seeking truth, and seeking answers. Help them along their journey, if they are asking, even when they can’t find it within themselves to ask.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

On Being Solicitous…

December 10, 2017

On Being Solicitous…

” Be solicitous to make your call and election permanent, brothers, surely those who do so will never be lost. On the contrary, your entry into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for. ” ( 2 Peter 1: 10-11)

The word “solicitous” comes from the Latin verb sollicitare, meaning “to disturb, agitate, move, or entreat. So why this word in this passage ? In this passage we are called upon, to look at the various vocations, or callings. We are asked to look within, to see the path that God has laid out before us.

Now, in today’s day and age, maybe you have not taken much time, to take stock in, or take a deep look into your vocation. We each have multiple vocations each of which require some contemplation and commitment. The primary vocation or calling is that of being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.

This call to be a follower of Christ, can cause ALL of these feelings and emotions. These feelings can occur at multiple points in our spiritual journey. We can become disturbed, by that still small voice that calls us to God. It may be some little thing. It may be that nagging feeling that maybe there is something better for you. It might be a sense that your life has come to a point that has allowed you to stop and get off the world’s craziness for a bit, and provided time for you to look across your life and see that something might be missing.. It might be a loss, or just a pause.

That call can also be rather annoying, to the point of agitation. When that call becomes so very overwhelming, that you are forced to deal with it. It is a so strong, it just can not be ignored or put on hold any longer. Eventually, you must come to a good decision in order to gain lasting peace in your heart. In my own journey as a Franciscan, I actually went through initial formation twice.

I went through the first time, and approached the point where I would profess my rule, but was told that I was not ready. I eventually left, and went away for about 5 years. During that time, I kept running into others in my community, who kept inviting me back. In my heart I knew that this was where I belonged, but the pain of what I viewed as rejection, and my own pride, kept me from going back.

The problem was. that that nagging call, that annoying voice, that pull that would not be ignored, finally got the better of me, and as you know, I returned to complete the journey that was God’s plan for me.

Your call should agitate you ! I know that you might think that your Christian life should be all roses. I am sorry. It’s not like that at all. Sure, you have peace in your heart, but that peace comes from knowing that your salvation is “nearer now than when you first believed”, but, this world is not our home. We are in the struggle. Not only from the environment outside, but from within as well.

Our faith life is a series of mountains and valleys triumphs and falls. How often do we start the day thinking, and praying, and promising, that we will be better at doing this thing or that thing that we are struggling with, only to find at the end of the day, that we failed, in how we dealt with that exact thing ?

It is in the recognition of the issue, and the struggle to grow, and to be better than we are, that causes us to be agitated. In addition, it should also cause us to move, and to be moved. It should move us towards God. It should move our hearts and souls, toward Heaven. It should move us to do everything we can do, to constantly strive to move our lives to be ever closer to the whatever is the will of God for us in our lives.

Vocations, are an interesting study. It is only recently that the discussion of vocations, has extended beyond that of priests, and religious brothers and sisters. In fact, vocations are so much more than that. We have a vocation as Christians. That vocation, is even inclusive of the 3 fold vocation of “priest, prophet and king”. There are vocations to be single, or married, or to one community or another. There is a professional vocation ( the work you do to earn your daily bread ), which in itself becomes , by way of a circular logic, to our primary vocation, of being a Christian. There are of course many other “minor” vocations subject to the Christian vocation.

So, we are asked in this passage, to make this call permanent ; make it part of your daily life. Our call, is a life-long journey. We never reach a point in our faith life where we know it ALL, or we are free from the effects of sin, until we make it to Heaven.

More people than not, go through their initial Christian education, to a certain point, probably to the end of their elementary school years, or middle school years. They receive the sacraments, Baptism, and Confirmation, First Holy Communion, and then they disappear until they themselves become parents and the cycle begins again. The journey of Christian education never ends. There things we learn on the journey of our vocation also changes and reflects into our lives with different messages in different ways according to your call, and your journey.

So, I want to encourage you to renew your call, your vocation, and your own journey toward Heaven. Make that journey a permanent part of your daily life. Your journey of faith will challenge you, will frustrate you, will agitate you, and will make you soar ! ( Oh, yea, and it will also give you peace too ).

May God give you the gift of His peace !

The Three Men of the Cross

July 22, 2017

Three Men of Calvary… We Are All Three

The crucifixion as an event was filled with some points of interest. To get a good understanding of what occurred we need a sense of what was going on in the area at the time.

Roman rule was fairly new to them, and during that time robbery, theft, and murder were somewhat commonplace and a pretty big issue that the Romans were trying to get under control. The Roman way of dealing with that, was execution by crucifixion. It was cruel, it was not quick, and it allowed, for an extended period of time, the opportunity for others to watch them die and consider that possibly they would not like to meet the same end, and amend any ideas they might have had of breaking the laws.

Another curiosity, is that, generally speaking, the Roman method of execution was, at least in practice, to execute people two at a time, unless….. they happened upon a group of people they caught in the act of the crimes, in which case all the people who were responsible were crucified at the same time. If this were to happen, AND the person who was the leader of the group, or band , or rebellion could be identified, that person was executed in the middle of the grouping of people so that they would not be missed and would be identified as such.

From this, then, we can know that the crucifixion of Christ was an oddity. Consider what happened in the Garden when Jesus was taken into custody. ” And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? ” ( Luke 22:52) . So here Jesus is treated as such.

In addition, it is noteworthy that He is crucified in the middle of the three.. This would tend to signify that He was the leader of the group.. He was in charge… Then, there is the other two men. So, history records that the other two actually were robbers Since they were crucified with Jesus it appears that Jesus’ crucifixion was an addition… or an after thought of the day. In perspective, it was the other two men had been in jail for a while awaiting their execution, and Jesus’ trial, and judgment occurred on the same day as the others, after all the delays and passing Him back and forth etc. Finally , with Roman efficiency, they decided that since they already had an execution scheduled, why not just get this over with, and crucify Jesus at the same time. It would make efficient work of the issue and put it to a final resolution and make the locals happy all at the same time.

I went all through this explanation because it helps to gain an objective non-theological view of the occurrence in order to understand, as one friar used to quip.. ” The story behind the story ” .

Now on to the other two men. The two other men who were crucified with Christ were , Dismas and Gustus. Dismas was the robber who was crucified on Jesus right side, and Gustus on his left side.

In the coming few weeks, I would like to beg your indulgence , as we will examine these men, and their circumstances. Stay with me.. I hope you enjoy our journey together !

May God give you the gift of His peace… .

Lather….Rinse… Repeat !

July 1, 2017

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God !
Yet that it what we are. The reason the world does not recognize us is that it never recognized the Son. Dearly beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall later be has not yet come to light. We know that when it comes to light, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope based on Him keeps himself pure, as He is pure.” ( 1 John 3: 1-3 )

Some of you who might not be aware, 1st John, ( also second, and third ), come near the end of the New Testament and is not part and parcel of the 4th Gospel. This letter, written by John, was written during a time when the church was going through a period of heresy. Particularly Gnosticism, which denied the humanity of Jesus. or Docetism. In the docetistic heresy, the followers believe that Jesus was purely divine, his body made almost ghostly and so his passion death and resurrection would have been purely appearance sake.

Today, we have a vast number of heresies and different versions of apostasy. In Johns time it was no different. there were people roaming about preaching all kinds of whacky stuff. In Johns letters, and particularly in this letter there was a certain thematic progress to them. These were meant to drive home the principles of Christian faith and life.

Sometimes we need a little reminding of the things that are important in our faith lives.
It is important that we study. It is important that we memorize our faith, our beliefs and it is vitally important that we not only BELIEVE , but that we know WHY we believe the things we do, and where those things come from.

Priests, and Deacons when they go through formation , they take classes in the practice of exegesis.
Exegesis is simply the process of reading, studying, asking questions, and then finding the answers to those questions in preparation for sharing that information with others.

This practice is not just for priests and deacons. It is something that everyone should be doing. Now, i am not saying everyone should go out and get their own interpretation of what the Bible says or anything of that sort. What I am however saying, is take a good long hard look at your faith life. Consider all the things that you believe, and then start asking the questions. Not the easy ones.. not the ones you might have learned in the Baltimore Catechism, or in some of your nursery school rhymes. Lets tackle something with a little meat on it. Let’s ask some of the hard questions that you don’t have answers for. READ and STUDY and figure things out. What you will find is that you will inevitably have MORE QUESTIONS…. When you find you do not have answers, then go and ask your pastor, or a clergy or lay person you trust.

You need to keep asking questions. My father used to say to people.. “What ever it is that you are ( meaning your faith ), then be the very best ( that faith person ) that you can be. Ask the hard questions, and keep asking them until you are satisfied with the answers.

John, is telling us in this passage, we need to realize the awesome gift that we have been given, as children of God. The reason we suffer persecution in the world is because they who are not Christian, do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

Further on in these letters John reminds his audience, to break from sin, to keep the commandments, to become detatched from the world ( be IN the world, but not OF the world.). and finally to be on guard against the enemies of Christ. By this he means to be weary of those who would try to lead you away from your faith.

Today, the world is in great need of saints. It is every single Christians vocation to be a great saint. It is up to us to choose to fulfill the plan that God has intended for us.

My prayer for each of you is that the Holy Spirit that dwells within your bosom be enflamed in your heart, and become a raging inferno in seeking Gods holy will and fulfilling it.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Franciscan Crown – The Annunciation

March 25, 2017

The Annunciation – Franciscan Crown Rosary Part I

“And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;

for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. ” ( Luke 1 : 35-38 )

Annunciation, to announce or proclaim in an authoritative way. We are as Christians called to announce and proclaim the Good News of Jesus to all the world.

We, as Franciscans, are called through the words of St. Francis to “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”.. Why is this important ? It is important because we are called into action first, and then using words.

When the angel appeared to Mary, he greeted her, and gave her the the news. and her Magnificat, her surrender, and ascent to the news, and to the will of the Heavenly Father, was a very important part of the salvic action.

Because of the fact that we were created with free will, the angel presents the request.. and Mary says “yes”. She could have said “no” .. or let me think on it for a while.. and instead chose surrender.

Because Mary said “yes” Jesus was born into this world. Because Mary said “yes” , she risked everything in this life that she knew. Everything in her earthly life , including her own life, could she have lost as a result of being an unwed mother who was betrothed to a man. She risked, scorn and her reputation, she risked her family and friends.

We are given the opportunities and the options to have our own mini-Magnificats to proclaim the Gospel through the choices we are given every day. We are given the chance to say YES.. to God, Yes to the job that we are given to proclaim God through our lives, our actions and our words.

In a society which is full of mis-information, and indifference, to a world which is starved for truth, and love, it is given to us, to share the Truth of Jesus Christ, and His Love with all. Ultimately, our entire lives need to be ordered towards the Divine Truth, towards God, and His will. That requires our ascent to His holy will.

Doubt, is at the very “tap-root” of Satan’s plan. Satan does not want you to believe that you have this call within you. It is only by living the Gospel through your life and words that Jesus may convict others. Just like Mary, it is through your actions, through your word, where you can choose to be the vessel God uses in order to bring the love of Jesus Christ into the world that is in so much need of it.

*** The first Mystery***

The Annunciation – The Angel of the Lord appeared unto Mary. Let it be done unto me according to Your will.

” We meditate on surrender of our will unto God”

We pray for forgiveness when we have not surrendered our will,

and when we failed to proclaim Christ, in word and deed.

For our failure to follow the Franciscan Rule of life,

For our failure in loving our Brothers and Sisters,

Our Father…

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Those Who Are Well Do Not Need The Physician..

January 14, 2017

Those who are well do not need the physician…

Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” ( Mark 2 : 13-17)

This morning we had this reading at Mass. I was preparing to go and be with our Franciscan community, but felt I wanted to linger a while in the church. Although I was tired from the weeks labors, and honestly would have much preferred to sleep in, such is our vocation to be present for and present to our brothers and sisters.

On the way out the door, I had some challenges getting past a couple of folks who also wanted to linger and talk with their fellow parishioners. Since I was having some difficulty navigating access to the side door I normally use, I decided to stop and head back towards the center of the building in front of the altar. After a short pause to say a prayer, I turned and gazed upward towards our choir loft, which is pictured above.

Interestingly, the beautiful stained glass mosaic of our Lord, is a picture, that is visible to only those who serve at the altar, ( meaning the priest, deacon, readers, Eucharistic ministers (EMHC) and altar servers). At least this is true DURING the Mass. Even the choir sings facing forward towards the altar and do not see this sight. Indeed, it is only at the very end of the Mass when the people are preparing to leave the church do they have the opportunity to gaze of this art.

I pondered how loving and inviting this image of Christ is, His arms outstretched inviting in everyone. During the Mass the priest can not help but to gaze upon the face of Christ in this image. I sometimes wonder what they think on any given day.

We, like Levi, are at church, stopping by the church to visit. We are there at the invitation of Christ to dine at table with “sinners and tax collectors” and every other manner of sinner. Jesus calls to us…
He calls us to come and follow Him. So, even though we are sinners, we go as we are called. We are called to His house, to His table, to His sacrifice. All sinners, the ministers, and the congregation.

Jesus told the Pharisees, that those who are well do not need a physician… the problem is, that no one is truly well. From the priests on down all are sinners. There are just varying degrees of wellness.

It is also interesting to note, that at the end of the Mass, that everyone leaves through the rear doors and so they have the opportunity to see this image of Christ . Here Christ again is inviting us to take Him that we have received and take Him out into the world. We must become what we have received and share Christ, see and recognize Christ, and be Christ to the world, no matter how large or small our world is.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Touching the Hem of His Garment…

November 19, 2016
She Touched the Hem of His Garment... (Matthew 9:20)

I have been spending time this week  thinking about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus's garment who had been suffering from bleeding for years without relief.  

The woman is not named, however, we can assume she was well enough known that they knew how long she had been suffering from her ailment. 

How many of our brothers and sisters that we know suffer ? Do we know people who live near us, or even in some remote corners of the world who suffer.  Some suffer and do so for long periods of time in the silence and isolation that comes from not wishing to be a burden to others.

Do we know others who are hungry in your town .
in a nearby place. ?   How do we feel ?  What does it mean to you ?  To us ?  To the Community ?  

What about the elderly ?  Those who are alone in their homes ?  Do they suffer for long years because  they have limited incomes, because their bodies are not as strong, or resilient. 
They suffer because they have lost someone possibly their spouse, they suffer loneliness.

There are brothers and sisters who suffer in our midst and we never know.... we never see... we never ask... 

In this story there is no mention of others who went to help her, no mention that anyone reached out to Jesus to tell Him of her suffering.  

All we really know from the story is that she was suffering, she traveled a great distance to get to Jesus, and had faith to know that if she touched the hem of his garment that she might be healed. 

This story should give us eyes to see those who might be suffering in our midst. It should give us not only a voice in prayer to those who suffer but also put flesh to the words, through works of corporal mercy, to motivate us to action in love.  

The story should also give us hope and inspiration!    This poor suffering soul, garnered the strength, maybe in the a last effort to try to receive a healing putting monumental effort into her faith.  In an complete act of her will, in a total surrender to God's will for her she gathered her strength and pushed on through the journey... through the crowds.. through the hardships to seek Jesus.   

Possibly, like some of us, there might have been moments or two, where the earthly realities were a challenge not only to our physical lives, but our faith lives as well.  Maybe like you, she had fear of approaching Jesus that he might gaze at her, or reject her, or maybe she had fear that he would look at her and know what sins she carried.    

Do you have these kinds of fears ?  Do you stay away because you fear others... or because you maybe even fear God ?  Do you no want to approach God because you feel unworthy, or ashamed ?    Take the example of the woman in this story.  In our faith lives we all fail !   We all have struggles.  Even the greatest of the saints had challenges.   They all sinned ... We all have the challenge of sin in our lives.

Jesus was aware of what had happened, as soon as it happened He healed the woman.  Interestingly, as soon as it happened the story says He called out to ask who it was.  Now, have you ever wondered why he called out ?     This was Jesus, He already knew who it was, and what happened. So why did he bother asking, and calling out ? 

Jesus called out to the woman, just as He calls out to us today.  He called out because He wanted the woman to complete her own journey.  She confessed her illness, she came to Him and told him of the healing she needed, and she needed Him, just as we do. 

So in your challenges in your faith life, in your struggles you face day to day, in the deep reaches of your hearts, be like this woman and push all of your will through to the heart of Jesus.  He will be there  for you too, He will heal you too.... He loves you too !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Family.. and the Face of Christ

April 23, 2016


Family is a funny thing. When we are young, our family is our parents, and siblings. If we are fortunate, we have extended family to include aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. Possibly your extended family might even include an “aunt “ or “uncle” who are age old friends of the family.

These are things we probably really did not think much about because lets face it.. your a kid and you just love your family no matter who they are or most of the time what they are doing. Your main goals in life are deeply provisioned in the taking care to receive the necessary nutrients of the major food groups… liquids of your favorite variety, and junk food, solely for the purpose of powering your life’s pursuit of hanging out with friends and having way too much fun !

You probably grew up more or less oblivious to much of what was going on in the family politics and set your sights on the next game.. or the next adventure.

In the “Rockwell-ian” family, in that grand ideal, everyone gets together for family meals, particularly on holidays, and special occasions. You got to gather around the table and see the faces of family, and possibly a couple of friends. You would have those conversations that were warm and inviting, and catching people up on the things that were going on in your life… and listen to them do the same thing.

You would listen to the older family members tell the same stories that they told last year and everyone would have a good chuckle about what ever it was. At the end of it all, everyone would retire to the living room with a deep sigh of contentment and share their memories of years past…

People had much the same core values, you would see at least most of your family at church. Where you learned that your church was an extension of your family/friends.

This is unfortunately for most not quite the way things happened. We have today a culture of families that split apart, who move away to other parts of the country, or the world. We have “grown up” and we have lost touch with our family. Sometimes these splits occur not due to any fault of our own, but possibly due to family squabbles that never got settled or resolved, forgiven, or forgotten.

It is a problem in our world culture that there seems to be little time available for spending extra time with family. Due to distance, or time, or whatever the circumstance is. With single parent families, or with parents who work out of necessity of survival, and for long hours and salaries that are incongruent with the costs of a living wage.

Family, is in some respects like marriage. It takes work. It takes understanding, and it is that “get your hands dirty” type of mucking around in our own humanity that is precisely what makes it difficult to deal with.

We are not children any longer. For good or for bad, we have take on the mantle of adulthood and we have responsibilities, and we have taken on a deeper understanding of what it is to have a family, what ever it is that this looks like for you.

Every family, much like every marriage, has cracks in it. The deeper you look into the inner workings of the family, the more you will see two things. You will see more flaws, and issues. You will, however also see, more individual people, once you get past the emotion, get past all the dirt and built up garbage, and pain, and resentments and all the other stuff that has gotten in the way, you will see a person who wants and needs love and because of their own human brokenness, needs family.

The older we get, the more we become aware of the politics of the family. What this one or that one says or does, or thinks. We start not spending time with this one or that one.. because they don’t act right. They don’t say the right things. They argue with us all the time. They are a pain to deal with.

At some point or other…. something happens, and you are forced to stop and consider what is occurring with your family. Weddings, or funerals, graduations, or births… all of these things impact us and we are forced to stop and think, if only for a time.

Let’s take a moment to consider these things in light of our faith lives.

When I was younger and I wanted to go off and do something for someone, or had some grand idea to go off to perform some charitable work, my mother used to say, “ Charity, begins at home…” . This was usually because my room was probably a disaster area, or there were chores that needed to be done around the house that I had not done at some point or other.

The point is, that those little mom-isms usually ring through when applied in the light of our faith. The application of our faith begins at home. Home, ( and family) often called the domestic church, is such that we need to apply our faith not only outside the front door, but inside the front door as well.

We need to love, to give, to share love with our family members. We need to be peace keepers. We need to search for Christ in the most vulnerable, for those who are poor in spirit. We need to reach out to them. We need to exercise the love of Christ in dealing with our own families. Search for Him among the wounded and broken relationships.

We also need to remove the planks from our own eyes. We need to search for those areas that might have wounded others and seek forgiveness and reparations. We need to heal those we have wounded, or allow healing to occur where we have been injured. We need to seek the face of Christ in the hearts of our own family. We need to be prepared for the fact that this type of growth will not be instantaneous, and it will not give you those warm and fuzzy feelings you might get in helping out at your churches food pantry or carnival, or some other charitable work. It will be a long road, but eventually it will provide abundant fruit, as the light of Christ shines from within.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

When Life Gets Busy…

October 31, 2015

Reflection from the Choir Loft

It had been a particularly long week at work and honestly, after work I really had very little desire house.  Typically the work day spans from 5:30 AM until about 7:30 PM when I return home.  After these last few weeks of particular challenges I was already falling asleep, but there was no time for rest now.

As anyone who has been involved in the music ministry of a church knows, the preparation time that goes into the Christmas season is critical.  There are usually at least 2 rehearsals a week plus a 3rd usually before Masses.  There is all the Christmas music to prepare for the Masses, and then a Choir concert, and finally a shorter concert to prepare for before the Christmas Masses occur.  Needless to say, that is a lot of performance in a short period of time.

That is just a little background to say that we have just begun entering into the extra rehearsal time needed to get things in shape for this season.   We arrived at the church and we had to wait until the other choir was done rehearsing before our rehearsal could begin.    We socialized with the other members who slowly showed up and started talking.

Finally, it was our turn to begin rehearsing.  We began and since some were having challenges getting the music perfected, the director started working with those people, which left time for me to sit.

As I was waiting, I sat and began to meditate on the Cross, and on the Lord.   I began to pray and shared with God how very much I would love to come into His presence and just sit in solitude, in the quiet.   Maybe just for an hour or two, laying bare all of the things that ran through the mind, the heart, and life in general.    As I was sitting in that reverie, I was so exausted that I could barely keep my eyes open, and very shortly after I started to get lost in my meditation and prayer, my attention was pulled back quickly into the rehearsal I was there to perform.
While getting pulled back into the music it caused me to pause and consider how much this experience is like most of life.
We are so very busy with our day to day lives, particularly in todays world where our jobs demand more and more of our time, and efforts.  It can even be when we are not at work, that we spend a vast amount of time conisdering what is going on there, or what needs to be done the next time we are supposed to be there.  Technology that takes up a vast amount of time even when not at work.

It is easy, to get drawn into the need to be plugged in, to be connected to the electronic world. Computers, Cell Phones, Television all with a dizzying array of options to keep you occupied and entertained.  Distracted from the world going on around us.

Just like all other things in life, there comes a quiet time, when there is a pause in the noise, in the distractions.  In the quiet, when we are able to pause and hear our own thoughts, our own prayers, and there in the quiet, is the voice oF God.  That small quiet voice, that is calling us to Him.  Inviting us to spend time with Him.

After a time, and just as quickly life intrudes on our time. trying to force its way in.  Sometimes it is true that this can not be helped.  It is not a change from God… God does not change.  It is a change in the world, our lives, our schedules. The challenge is that we have to recognize the challenge of time and distractions, for making the time for God.

Even when our lives are busy, there are short periods of time where we have time to make time, to bring God into our lives, to invite Him in.  It is not that we have to invite Him for him to see, it is to enter into the relationship, to spend the time, to offer the time in sacrifice of our day, and of our lives.   It is to open our hearts to receive the graces that He wants to impart.

God wants to share in our lives, he is constantly beckoning us to enter into communion with Him.  Our God is not there for just Sunday. He is there for every day, for every time, for every season in our lives.  If we seek God.  If we seek him in our lives, and in the lives of others, He will be present.

Possibly you find yourself in some situation where you sit in wonder about why it is that God has you in some particular situaiton.   In nearly every circumstance, the answer is this:  To enter into communion with Him through the people who are in that circumstance with you, either bring Christ to others in the situation, to receive Christ through others in the situation, or to share Christ with others who are not in the situation, but who may be watching the situation unfold.

You may feel like the situation seems impossible to deal with.  I offer you this to ponder, and you will know that nothing is impossible for us, for the Children of God.

” What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we are being slain all the day;

we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things,* nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,* nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(Romans 8:36)

May God give you the gift of His peace !