Posts Tagged ‘church’

I Will Open Your Graves…

June 16, 2018

Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel,. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people ! I will put my spirit in you that you may live , and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord, I have promised, and I will do it , says the Lord.”

(Ezekiel 37:12b-14 )

Here again, reading this passage, and taking it on it’s own, you might be tempted to believe that this passage is about the 2nd coming. It is not. Whenever we have the opportunity to be presented with scriptural passages one needs to go back and get the “ story behind the story” ( Thank you Fr. John for drilling that indelibly into the brain !)

This story , and this passage, take place in the backdrop of the Babylonian exile and enslavement of a vast majority of the Jews. To be sure, the discussion of what is happening above is the Lord letting Israel know, that it will be restored.. The coming out of the graves here, has 2 applications. The first are for those who are in fact under the rule of the king of Babylon. There were however, others who were not under Babylonian rule, but who were none the less displaced from their homelands and also “in the grave” from loss of both their patriotic and spiritual homeland.

In the passage just previous to this , it says that Israel is “cut off” meaning that it has nothing to give it hope at all.

This passage also reaffirms his promise, that as their God, He will restore Israel, bringing an end to their exile, and thereby confirming their faith.

So the question is… “ Where does that fit into your life ?” .

I am sure that we can all relate to this passage. Are you struggling with something ?

Do you feel like your in a “dry patch” spiritually ? Maybe you feel like you are alone or that God has not answered some prayer for something you want or need ?

Possibly, you are just having a ruff time of it. Things are not going well.

It’s funny how life for us is really not all that different. The same sort of issues face us today. Things are going along OK, and your making your way along and things seem to be going well, and then all of a sudden.. they are not so great. Something happens either from something we did , or something that happens to us and things are not good .. not good at all. Maybe you, like the Israelites, feel like you have lost hope.. or even lost your faith. ?

I am here to tell you to listen to the story of Israel. Listen and have faith !

Know that God has not abandoned you in your struggles, or in your life ! On the contrary, it is when we are going through these struggles, when we are going through the pains and challenges of life that God is yet even closer ! Working for what is best for you.

Just like the exiles, He will bring you through your struggles, through your battles. He will bring you back to Him and through it make you stronger. He will also put the fire of faith within you, and give you strength and courage.

You will then tell your story of this journey in word, or in deed, so that you can show others what it is that God has done in your life.

Be still and KNOW that I AM GOD !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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Pray Without Ceasing ?

April 12, 2018

“ Pray without ceasing” ( 1 Thessalonians 5: 17).

I have a friend who asked me about this recently. I have a good understanding of what is meant here. It does however take a bit of forethought, not only in what is going on. What is the story, behind the story. ( Thank you Father John, for drilling that into my head with a deeply Italian accent ) .. To really look at its origin, its meaning, and its application will take a bit of background.

So lets get to it..

Paul is busy writing epistles to the early church community in Thessalonika, and is providing a basic laundry list of things for the community to follow. These are to enforce some basic Christian virtue into the daily lives of the community members there. Like any other community it has had it’s share of growing pains. Paul is there to help out.

This is a list of reminders. Respect each other… respect your elders, admonish those who have not been pulling their weight, be kind, be helpful, be patient. Seek out the good not just for the people within the community, but for everyone. PRAY..PRAY.. PRAY.. and give thanks always. Your basic hallmarks of Christian living.

He (Paul) is still waiting for the second coming which he still believes will be soon. So he does not want to have this fledgling community in a state of sin when the Lord returns. So this is what is going on.

Each morning, the church offers its morning prayers. For those in the various orders and institutes of the Church, we pray the Morning prayer upon rising each day. The prayers include the offering of the entire day. We offer our challenges, pains and sufferings and join them in union with Christ, both in the way that is reparation for our own sin, and for the sins of our fellow man, we offer the day, in thanksgiving and in joy. In Thanksgiving, because of the fact that even in our challenges and in our sufferings of the day, it is through those challenges and sufferings that God ultimately uses those things not only to our own benefit, but to bring about the Kingdom of God.

I prefer to look at this passage in this light. In the process of the morning offering, we call to mind our priestly office ( remember this means we are called on to offer prayers , praise and sacrifices, and thanksgiving to God). We recall in the morning and we pray to offer our day.

Like many other things we need practice, or reminders periodically to be better at this thing or that. Prayer is no different. As we go through the day, we receive prompting from the Spirit where we might have failed, or where we might have forgotten to pray about this or that, and in the practice of prayer, you will find that your prayer becomes more and more frequent,

Now, will you spend 24 hours a day on bended knee, and in front of the crucifix or the Blessed Sacrament ? No… Our lives generally do not allow for that. Do we have to be there to fulfill Paul’s charge to pray ? No. In fact by fulfilling the morning prayer, you have fulfilled the call, but it is so much more, and there is so much more to be done.

Life has a way of creeping in, and trying to dislodge you from your prayers. Praying is a habit, in the same way that going to have coffee every morning with your spouse, or with a friend is a habit. It is easier, the more you do it. Do not be discouraged, but take heart and press forward with your prayer life, you have to make the time to do it initially, but after you do this you will find it is an integral part of your day, and you will not want to be without it.

Until next time, may God give you the gift of His peace !

On Being a Builder..

March 30, 2018

“Every one of us will have to give an account of himself before God. Therefore we must no longer pass judgment on one another. Instead you should resolve to put no stumbling block or hindrance in your brothers way. The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of justice, peace, and the joy that is given by the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ in this way pleases God and wins the esteem of men. Let us the, make it our aim to work for peace and to strengthen one another.”
(Romans 14:12-19)

There is so much food for thought here.. So much to be taken in not only in our own view of the world around us, but to look within, at the state of our own souls…

Each one of us will have to give an account to God, for what it is that we have done in the course of our lives. Let’s be honest… Looking back over the course of our lives, there are for each and every one of us moments where we have stumbled, fell, or just plain hurled ourselves into some parts of our lives we would just as soon forget. Then, there is that one family member, or that one friend, or one person who just would just as soon, not allow that particular moment to fade into oblivion.

It’s all up there.. in the volumes of our lives. Consider for a moment, if the last person we did not show the face of Christ to…. became the judge.. or became the prosecutor when we stand before the Seat of Mercy ? The last person we were unkind to… the last person we judged…. the last one to whom we forgot who and what we are, and unleashed our temperament upon..

To be clear, it is not that God is unloving, or unforgiving, think of it this way When you were a child, and you did something wrong. You at some point ended up standing in front of your parent, or teacher or whoever it was, and admitted to what ever it happened to have been. You felt terrible, horrible, wretched. Then after a time that person came to you,and told you that you were forgiven for what ever it was that you did. It was terrible, and ultimately that person came to forgive you,

And consider this… Jesus came and provided us a blueprint…. a model to follow. Jesus planned for us.. God planned for us from the very beginning a way for us to be with Him. There was the Agony in the Garden… Our lives are a reflection of the both the entrance to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the joys and the triumphs of our lives, and then the Agony where we have not fared so well, not only in our misfortunes, but in our spiritual failings. This Agony.. is part of our earthly life. How many times have we prayed to allow one “cup” or another to pass us by ?

We also have death and judgment, In death there is a worldly judgment. In this passage it says that, if you conduct yourself in this way… then you will please God, “ and the esteem of men”. People will think and say many things about you when you depart the earth. I would like to think that those who are left, will be kind and say good things. There might be some who do not. It should give you comfort to know that it was no different for Christ. After he was gone, not everyone said good things about Him.

Our God is a loving God. For those who have faith, and whose hearts belong to Him, He has already assured forgiveness for our failures. His request of us, is to work for Peace, Justice, and Joy. Notice how PEACE comes first ? We need to cease being a world where entitlement and self-victimization are the center stage of our lives. We need to move towards being peacemakers, Building bridges both in our lives and in our hearts. We must move towards being builders. Building lives, and building hearts, and saving souls, one seed at a time !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

The Morning Commute…

October 14, 2017

I wanted to share with you all something that was one of those epiphanal moments that occurred to me recently.

As many of you know, I take a city bus to work for part of my daily journey, and then a walk that takes me another distance to get to my office. Recently, our fair city decided to make changes to the time schedule that the buses run on, but in addition, to the routes that the buses run on. this was of course touted as a change to better serve the patrons and make the travels more efficient.

In the end run, at least for me, it means a longer commute, and I must leave my house earlier, the buses are more cowded, and are standing room only already. So, this has not been an improvement. Pretty much no one that forced into these changes along the journey that I take, has been happy with those changes, and ultimately has meant more delays, and more missed connections, often by minutes, meaning between another 30 to 60 minutes of waiting until the next bus.

Now, yesterday I found myself sitting at approximately the midway point in my journey, after a missed connection, where I had about 30 minutes to sit and wait for the next bus. While I was waiting, the sun was just beginning to dawn over the horizon, and paint the sky in beautiful shades of reds, blues and gray hues. I could not help but to stop and watch the beauty of creation dawn, and how I became part of that scene. There was an older gentleman who was sitting across from me on the bus, who mentioned that he saw me praying my Divine Office, and he said to me in a thick Hispanic accent,

” I see you this morning making your devotions.. it is nice to see a young person doing that… ”

We left the conversation there.. as we both enjoyed the beauty of the sunrise.

As the time moved onward, and the beauty that was before us unfolded, I could not help but become drawn in to the moment. That reverie was periodically interupted by moments of mental awareness that i ought to be trying to keep an eye out for the bus that would be coming soon. Eventually, I allowed myself to return to the reverie of being taken in to the moments of simple thankfulness, and beauty,and awe, that were being unfolded before me.

During one of those moments that I forced myself out of peaceful observance, I noted that pretty much no one except the older gentleman and I , were taking the time to appreciate this awesome experience. Instead , most of my fellow travelers, who were on their way to work, were busy looking down the road we had just traveled , looking for the next connection, the next bus… the next part of the journey, or they were looking at down the road, to the place we would be traveling when their next bus arrived.

At this point, while my gaze fell back towards the rising sun, I could not help but consider that this moment in time, this little spec on the timeline of life, held within it a microcosm, of our existance on this earthly plane. We spend a good deal of time, either looking backward, at the points in life we have traveled, and possibly taking stock in the life we have lived or the decisions we have made. The other side, is that while some people are looking backward, The other group is looking forward , towards the future.

Both of these views can, in and of themselves, be both good or bad. They are good because we should take some time to review where we are in relation to where we have come from. It can be bad if we spend too much time dwelling there, in some lamentations, or sorrows. In the same way, looking forward, making plans, and having a direction that is directed towards God is time well spent. Spending too much time in what might be considered the “dreamers world ” in what might be or could be can also be dangerous.

Too much time in either place, keeps you from enjoying the presence of God in your life, the present of THIS moment. The ability to stop and appreciate a moment of pure joy, of pure beauty.

Brothers and Sisters, the human race spends so much time in these things that we miss the sunrises in our lives. Possibly, you might consider that our very lives are like the path of the sun, there is beauty in each stage, Not only should we stop and appreciate the sunrise, but as we approach our fellow brothes and sisters, we should stop and appreciate the SONrise, in each soul..

May God give you the gift of His peace !!

Do To No One What You, Yourself Dislike..

August 27, 2017

” Do to no one what you yourself dislike. Give to the hungry some of your bread, and to the naked some of your clothing. seek counsel from every wise man. At all times bless the Lord God, and ask him to make all your paths straight and to grant success to all your endeavors and plans.”

( Tobit 4:15-19)

I recently read a note on a social media site, where the pastor of a church, put up a sign stating “Racists, and Bigots, are NOT WELCOME HERE !”.

Now, I would like to invite you to take a little time to consider how that statement makes you feel…

Does your gut make you feel like this is right, or good, or just ? Was your initial thoughts about this somehow making you a little anxious or even a little angry or upset ?

There are a number of issues with this message, not to mention the motivations involved for placing it at its location. Consider for a moment some of the underpinnings for this sort of statement.

First, and most importantly, the question becomes WHOSE house is this ? At its core, the statement is made under the mistaken idea that the church belongs to the pastor. It does not. Sure, the pastor is charged with the safety, and security of the flock, and probably some of the financials or administration of the building(s), but it is not his to do with as he wills.

The church is the House of God. It belongs to God. It is His house. If there is anyplace, that EVERYONE is welcome, or should be welcome it is in His house. Lets go ahead and call a spade, a spade. Sin, is sin. There is no other word for it. At its base, every place where we do not treat others with dignity and respect, every place where we have hurt others, every place where we have not loved out neighbors as ourselves, we have sinned.

OK, so all who are without sin, raise your hands… It’s OK if your late in coming I will wait.. ……

………. NO ? No one ? That is true.. so everyone sins and falls short right ? Right ! So if sinners are not welcome in the house of God, then who is the pastor going to lead ? Whose soul is going to be stirred ? Who is going to gain insights into the Gospel if there is no one there to hear it ? Who is going to receive Jesus, and take Him out into the world who is so very sorely in need of Him ?

Everyone, Every sinner, every broken, beaten, stained and stoned, every person no matter who or what they are, should be welcome in God’s house.

Finally allow me to relate a story of my own…

I had a circumstance, where there was a man who hurt my family. I was angry, I was annoyed and all those human emotions that go along with those things. One day I learned that this man wanted to come to church. Honestly, I was conflicted. I did not want him there. Of all the places this was my safe place, my haven from the remainder of the world. This was the place where I regained my sanity full of a place of love and understanding. This man wanted into my haven and I did not want him there.

I went to my spiritual sounding board, to check in and make sure that I could somehow get past this annoying and very conflicted feeling I had about the entire situation. He gave me the following advice. ” The dark can not stand the light “. So wise a counsel I could not ignore. Like the Gospels I needed time to sit and think about this for a time, to ponder what he had said…

At first, my heart found comfort in the thought that it makes sense that eventually the evil that surely dwelled in this mans heart would eventually be driven out of my little safe haven. God would indeed take care of the matter and all I had to do was to take the time to wait on divine providence to handle the matter for me.

Ahh.. how sure and secure was I, sitting there thinking that all would be well and I could be at peace again. Eventually, and in the passage of time, indeed this man never did enter my church, my haven, my safe place from the rest of the world. Eventually, the thought of this man coming passed from my conscious thought left to drift in my long term memory ….. until…

One day I was sitting in prayer, contemplating the ministry I was called to and serve in. I pondered the words of my friend…. they still sounded right.. felt OK… but I was still not at peace. It occurred to me, that although I never spoke to this man, and had no contact with him, that if he had indeed showed up, my heart was not quite ready, not quite welcoming, not quite ready to be the bearer of Christ that I was called to be.

This idea was bothersome and painful at points that I would have failed. If I had died, and I was at the judgment seat, and I was asked , “Where is your brother ?”, what is it that I could say ? I would have to say that I did not carry Jesus with me in my heart for this man. I did not show Christ to this man, because there was a darkness in my heart. That pained me. Why ? Because ” The darkness can not stand the Light ” !

I learned that the lesson in this is that we need to drive the darkness from our hearts, before we would be able to carry Christ to others !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

For Dust Thou Art…

March 4, 2017

Remember Oh Sinner, “For Dust Thou Art, and Unto Dust Thou Shalt Return… ” ( Genesis 3:19)

By the time this post is shared, Ash Wednesday will have passed for this year. As it happens I am writing this a few days ahead of Ash Wednesday simply because we were reminded this week at Mass that Ash Wednesday and Lent was already upon us !! Where did the time go ?

In most locale’s the church has dispensed with using this passage as part of the Rite of Ashes, in the Liturgy of the Mass, In favor of the passage “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” ( Mark 1 : 15) .

I think it was interesting to see the circumstances surrounding these two passages.

First, the Genesis passage. In this passage, God is talking to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and they collectively pretty much made a royal mess of things in their world. God was in the process of telling them how it was going to be from that point forward, since they just could not follow instructions. This is same passage where God told them that there would be pain in child birth, and they would have to till the soil and make their living by the the sweat of their brows etc. .etc.

Now, then there is the passage in Mark, where it had already come to pass that Jesus was beginning his earthly ministry and trying to get people to follow the instructions they had been given. Jesus had also, after being baptized went through the temptation in the desert, and then at the beginning of His ministry, John got arrested and thrown into prison.

How do you like that ? There is John, doing what is right, following along with the plan God had set out for him and BAM ! He gets thrown in jail and treated like the dirt. Meanwhile, everyone else was out there living it up. How did THAT happen ?

In any case, lets fast forward a few thousand years.. and here we are. Do YOU sometimes feel like John ? You try to do what is right, and good and then BAM ! life comes along and throws a wrench inside the works.

You get a few ways to look at this. Either you can decide that it was just not worth doing and it would just be easier to let it all go and have fun. OR – You could say, that it was all your fault because at some point this was God’s way of punishing you for something that happened in your past and its just what you deserve and that’s fine.. BUT, that sort of leads us back to the first part of the options, and neither one of those are true.

God, does not work in that way. Instead, we already know we have a loving God, who already knows our heart and wants what is best for us. Sure, things happen, and yes, those things are at times not what we had in mind, but they are ultimately for our good.

The usage of the passage of Genesis has fallen out of usage in some circles as it does not have the ” warm and fuzzy” tone, that the passage in Mark has. If you take some time to review the current state of affairs in the world, we could use a little sobering catechesis on where it is we stand, spiritually speaking.

In this time of our lives, while remembering that our God is a loving God, and He loves and cares for us, it does not mean that we can just run out and do what ever we like. God gave us free will, but there are consequences to having that free will.

During this Lent, let us spend this time, in doing some serious “spring cleaning” in our spiritual house and work on those areas that we all need work in.

Most of the diocese, have teamed up and gathered priests to go around to the different parishes, to make the Sacrament of Penance very accessible to everyone. This is a great place to start.

Prepare your soul, and make straight your path, for the Kingdom of God is at hand !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Your Abundance to Supply Their Needs…

July 23, 2016

Your Abundance to Supply Their Needs…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congress Shall Make No Law …

February 21, 2016

Constitution

The first Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows :

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances ”

This clause in the constitution is built in to the Constitution specifically so that the government will not only protect the freedom of the individual to choose their own religion ( or non-religion ), but it also protects the individual from government from prohibiting the exercise of ones chosen faith. Rituals, actions, choices etc are all protected under the First Amendment.

The government MUST, by virtue of the Constitution, never interfere with an individuals right to exercise ( or violate their faith). For the sake of legal-eze, the other side of the coin is that it has one limitation. That limitation is that the exercise of your faith can not impinge on the rights of another. Hypothetically, if your faith demanded you take the life of another, then of course that would not be allowed under the Constitution, as the life that you are taking also has the same rights and protections that you do.

In the last number of years we, in the United States have a government that has broken its own law. It has said that our citizens MUST provide, and pay for services, that are abhorrent to the exercise of our faith.

It says that we must provide and pay for abortions, among other “services”, that fly in the face of exercise of our faith.

To attempt to force the issue, the government forces every citizen to pay for “medical insurance” or face fines.
Then to make sure you are forced into complying with this mandate, they force the insurance companies to provide these “services” and then force the Hospitals , and the medical professionals to all submit performing these services ALL of which are against the Constitutional right of the individual to the exercise of their faith.

In one recent court case, a group of Christians, went to court to protect their right to freedom of religious exercise, and were told that, the government has an interest in having these services provided to its citizens AND that forcing private companies to do so, would insure these “services” are available to everyone. Of course this if false, because these so called “services” are available to them through a multitude of other service providers.

The discussion here is NOT, whether or not healthcare should be available to every citizen, the discussion here is, at its core, what the definition of healthcare actually is. Because the government would like for you to believe that abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc all fall under the guise of healthcare, which again goes against the faith of Christians (and others).

The focus of these battles in the media as of late, center around companies, and religious institutions.
What is NOT said, or dealt with at this stage of the game, is that the individual, the average person, suffers at the hands of the government as a matter of conscience.

The individual goes to work, and is forced to purchase medical insurance, the Costs of which are prohibitive of anyone actually being able to use said insurance, because of the fact that the deductible for the insurance is so high, that they will never be able to pay for the deductible without some catastrophic event occurring. On top of the fact that they not only have to pay for the $100 or so visit to the Doctors office, plus the next $1-200 in Lab fees, plus the $100 plus in Pharmaceuticals that are needed, they also loose money from the day or two that they are away from their jobs, which makes it impossible for them to go to get the real health care that is actually needed, unless there is a medical crisis.

SO, lets say that you decide that even as a matter of conscience you decide you are not going to purchase insurance from the company you work for. You decide instead to pay the unconstitutional fine. Then those funds go into paying for the “services” for the public which is also against your faith. Then you have to pay for the hospital and other “services” at a hospital , and staffed by medical professionals who are forced to provide for, which your money is then going to feed, the same unconstitutional “services” that go against your faith.

The Government in its current state, will not stop at just trying to legislate this part of the religion, THIS is how a government attempts to subvert the exercise of the freedoms of ALL citizens in every area of life, not just in matters of faith.

The government has been masters of financial mystery and behind the curtain financial laundering using funds for its current administrations ( and past administrations as well) agendas.

This however is just wrong. It is incumbent upon all the citizens of the US to stand up and fight this process because, although you might not agree with the Christian churches on the matter of abortion, the next right it takes from the Constitution will be the one that cuts to the heart of your own freedom, but by then it will be too late, because the precedent will have already have been set. As any attorney will tell you, historic case law having been decided is more difficult to overturn.

E Plurbus Unam – From Many.. One.. You may not agree with the Church on this issue, but it is time to live this motto.

May God give you the gift of His peace.

(editorial…
I want to apologize to the readers from other countries as this post is aimed squarely at the United States.
I have done alot to stay out of the political agenda, and pray you will excuse this one exception. It is however something that needs to be said as it has been on my mind and I have been feeling compelled…Thank you )

Breaking Bread with Brother Bear ( Part II)

January 31, 2016

One of the base ingredients for baking bread, is water. Not only is water necessary, but we learn through its use particularly when we move to different areas of the world.. Bread tastes different in different locations although it is made with the exact ingredient list as it was made in the original location, because water, is water, but water is never quite the same in different places.

Particularly within the United States, water that is used to make Pizza, and Bagels, are never quite the same as they are when they are received in New York City, because of the water. In fact, so prized is this water for the purpose of making bread, that some bakers and restaurateurs will go so far as to import this water from thousands of miles away.

Water is part science, and part art and inspiration, when it comes to baking bread. The science gives us the base measurements, however, the art part comes in understanding that those measurements change according to weather, and humidity in the air, the desired crumb and crust of the bread your baking, and the methods involved in how all of the other ingredients come together.

In the church, from the very beginnings of our spiritual lives beginning with the creation of the world, has water played an integral part of our lives. We have as part of our life in the church, many uses for water for worship and as sacramentals to aid us on our spiritual passage.

“Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” ( John 3:4 )

This passage talks not only of the acceptance of Gods gift of salvation, but also about the sacrament of Baptism.
of course in the sacrament of Baptism, water is used as one of the sacramentals that is used as a sign of cleansing, or purification.

We also have water in our Holy Water fonts in the entrances to the church. We use this water as a sacramental when we enter or leave as a blessing, as protection from evil, a cleansing, and as a reminder of our Baptism.

During the Eucharistic celebration, water is added to the wine prior to the consecration rite. The reason we use the water included in the cup during the consecration, the water represents the people, the Church, the body of Christ. The wine represents Christ and this intermingling represents that Christ and the Church are one and we can not be separated.

You will also see water used when a priest or deacon takes a bowl of Holy Water and sprinkles the water over the people. This also has scriptural significance. Where in Psalms we read : “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Psalms 51: 7)

In this Psalm there is water being used in a spiritual cleansing. In the Old Testament time period when a person was re-entering the Church after sin or after they were found to have leprosy, there was a ceremonial cleansing that was not only for the person, but also for the Church as a sign that they were cleansed.

As you can see, water has been the vessel chosen for the life of the kitchen, and the church.

Next time, we will talk about yeast or leaven.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Vocal Prayer (Prayer Part II)

November 27, 2015

Vocal Prayer…. ( Prayer Part II)
Continuing on our examination of prayer, we move into the varied parts of prayer.. and examine some of its components and forms.

The first type of prayer is vocal prayer. Within the realm of vocal prayer there are different forms of this type.

First, there is wrote prayer.  These are the prayers that are most often taught to us from infancy, the blessings before meals, and our prayers before bed.  There are the prayers we learn through religious education channels, or other formative processes.
There are the prayers we use as part of our Mass or prayer services usually done within a community of some form or other.

Let us examine for a moment what this means for us, and how we are effected through our use of this type of prayer.

At various stages of our religious developement this type of prayer can me the most common, and most used.  THis occurs particularly in the early stages of spiritual developement.  In particular it gives new Christians a starting point, through which they can begin to work on exploring their relationship to God, and to others.

Using this type of prayer, also gives us a sense of community.  We all are praying the same prayers, with the same words, with the same gestures, with the same basic intent.  We get the feeling that we belong, to our family, to our faith community, to our brothers and sisters throughout the world.    That sense of community is important for us on so many levels.


For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  ( Matthew 12:50) … Our Mothers brothers and sisters are those who also part of our faith community, Not to mention, those who are not yet part of our faith communities but who are still in need of our love, and prayer, and works of charity.

Wrote prayer has its place of honor amongst the varied types of prayer, and it has its own challenges.  Primary amongst these challenges is the challenge that it particularly can, if permitted, become habit, a formed action performed without the need for thought, or the need for any type of active particpation short of the muscle memory needed to recite the words, and blindly going through the process of the prayers.

It has a danger of becoming the habit of doing “the thing” for the sake of doing “the thing” to participate in the action because it is what is expected, or what is required, or something of the same line.   Possibly it is because you say these things so often, that the words loose their meaning, in the process of the action.

Everyone falls into this process at some point or other.  It is our challenge to become aware of this situation and work on the process of bringing ourselves back into the mystery of prayer.

We should, particularly at Holy Mass come with the idea and work at the practice of what we call “Full and Active” participation at Mass.  This means that we prepare, we arrive early, we pay attention, We work at our mental and spiritual involvement of every part of the Mass.

Pay attention to what is going on, what is being said, the words of the prayers, your own participation in those prayers.  It is not something you will be perfect at, yet it is in the striving towards our relationship in prayer that draws us closer to God.

Even the simple prayer of the blessing before meals, should give us pause to consider the things we are saying, the things we are asking, the offering we are giving. the supplecation the sacrifice, and the prayer we have entered.

Until next time…
May God give you the gift of His peace..