Posts Tagged ‘church’

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 !!

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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..

Sharing in the Passion, and Life of Christ is Our Mission !

September 19, 2015

“Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.” ( Mark 8:27)
Peace be with you !
Today I want to talk with you about the immense beauty of our daily mission, our failures and our ultimate triumph.

This was last weeks Gospel reading and I know this will resonate with each of you.
In this reading Christ reveals solidifies the apostles knowledge that He is the Son of God.
In the process of His efforts to teach them he reveals that he will endure His passion. Suffering, death and resurrection are
what await Him moving forward. Peter does not want this for Jesus. He loved Jesus dearly and like anyone we love, we want them
around forever, or at least as long as possible.

Jesus moves forward and then taking this explanation further, tells the disciples, whoever wants to follow Him, must deny
themselves, pick up their cross and follow in his footsteps.

Consider this for a moment. He (Jesus) is going to suffer and die, and now He wants them to do it too. This probably did not
sound so appealing to many of them. He then pushes the point further and says that if you try to save your life, you will loose
it ( i.e. your going to die anyway) and whoever looses their life for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel will save their lives ( but
you still have to die anyway).
In the world today we are right in the middle of some of the greatest times of spiritual warfare present in our lifetime.
Notice that I did not say in history. For these battles are old. We as disciples have fought these battles before and we have
been victorious.

Look at what is going on in the world today. All of the Pro-Life issues we face. We have Abortion, Euthenasia, Abuse, HUman
Trafficing, discrimination, and poverty to name a few. Then there is the issue of Same-sex Attraction and civil unions.
There is the persecution world wide of the Christian church as a whole.

Sin abounds at every corner, and of every variety known to history. Its not a different fight, it is exactly the same. This
whole battle and the pressures involved in fighting the battles can be overwhelming at times. And these are the battles from
outside our own souls. Then there are the battles from within, fighting off the temptations of our own fallen natures while
trying to keep focus on the mission we have laying before us.

Our fight in this life, is two fold. The battle we carry on for our efforts to continually dying to self is hard work. Everone
has this cross to bear. The fun part of that battle is that we fail, and we fail alot. To make matters more fun, the more that
we learn, the more aware we are of the sin present in the world, the more we are aware of our own failings !

Some people will tell you not to pray for patience, because God will give you the opportunity to work on your patience.
Do it anyway ! If you are given the oppoortunity to work on your patience, you are probably ( like me) in need of work in that
department.

When going into battle, you don’t go without weapons, or armor. You need to put on the armor of God. Your best weapon is prayer.
Your best tool is education. LEARN YOUR FAITH ! Ask the hard questions and go get the answers. The RIGHT answers not what makes
you comfortable. Work on your faith life. Take the time necessary to know the answers to the hard questions, that others will
have for you. As yourself, WHY do I believe what I believe ? Why do we do ( this or that ) ? What does THAT mean ?
If you cant answer these questions for yourself, then you can answer them for others.

Scripture and Sacred Tradition, are like the two covers of a book, and your life and faith are the pages in between. Fill your
book with the knowledge and love of God.

My Dad used to say.. ” What ever it is that you are…be the best of that thing, that you can be”.

Jesus says at the end of the Gospel, ” “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.” This is the challenge. Denying ourselves. Self denial comes in many forms. The denial of
allowing ourselves to give in to anger, to lust or greed, and instead to show the face of Christ to do our very best to live the
law of love. We deny some pleasure, at the gift of service in some work of mercy. visting the sick, or imprisoned.
We deny ourselves in our offerings to others, for the sake of Christ.

We deny our own fallen natures, and instead offer our lives, our time talent and treasure, for the Kingdom of Heaven..

We pick up the cross we have been given. If its caring for someone, if its in the way we do our days labor, if its in a
relationship ( a healthy one), if our cross is something our human intellect would rather us not do, but we know in our heart and
soul that picking up that particular cross is what would be pleasing to God, and we do it for the sake of Christ, then that is the
cross we must pick up.

In our world today, we have Christians persecuted and killed for their faith. Their cross is our cross. The battle we must fight
while we are here, is carried out under the banner of Our Lord, with a heart of Love. This because Love is the greatest
commandment.

In the end Jesus tells us : “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.”

This is where the rubber meets the road. In the end, we give up our very lives. Everyone will die at some point. This is a part
of Natural Law. The question becomes will you have lived your life giving it up in the service of God, living for Him ? Will you
take up the crosses that are laid bare before you and take that challenge on, for the sake of Our Lord ? If you say ” yes!”,
then you have gained your life and the best part is that you can be a testament for others.

St. Francis said ” Preach at all times, and when necessary use words.” Our actions are the best testament we can give, in our
love of God.

I pray that we all will have the strength of our convictions, through the graces of the Sacraments, to go forward, picking up our
cross and following Our Lord.

Because the Truth, is not a thing, it is a person, and His name is Jesus Christ !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

To Thine Own Self Be True…

September 7, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

 

Soured Milk Cookie Reflection…..

August 15, 2015

Soured Milk Cookie reflection..

” Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death saying:
“This is enough, O LORD!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,
but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.
Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water.
After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.” (1 Kings 19:4-8)

After having gone to the Fridge yesterday, I have my first cup of coffee poured..
I had put in some sugar.. and grabbed the milk from the fridge.. and poured it in.

There is was…. those little floating tiny curdles in my coffee that told me that the milk was going bad..
Then I thought to myself.. well it probably just started to go bad.. so I mixed it in.. and took a sip..
BLEH.. no.. indeed it had already gone bad and was probably had been bad for a couple of days.

I did not notice because I usually drink me coffee during the week, at the office, where,
since the milk is that powdered creamer substitute that is the abomination to coffee drinkers who,
like myself, just really look forward to that first cup of the day.. to savor and enjoy that first
swallow of that sweet dark, liquid sharing the sweet and acidic smokey flavor that dances down the pallet.

I admittedly screwed up my face, and experienced instead a bit of frustration at the combination of
waste of a perfectly good cup of coffee, and the sugar that went in it..
Fortunately I had a backup jug in the fridge that I picked up the night before.
All was not lost !
Now your asking yourself…. This guy has gone off his rocker.. and what does this have to do with this reading ?
stick with me.. it will become clear.
I sat and pondered what it is that I could do so as not to waste any of this milk that had gone sour..
There did not appear to be enough to make cheese with.. at least not enough to make it worth the effort.
It is important for us not to waste any gifts that we are given.. As part of the Franciscan spirituality we try to do
as much as we are able with the blessings we have, so that in turn they may be blessings to others.
We are after all only stewards of the blessings we recieve, not owners, and stewards for the benefit of others.

After doing a bit of research I came across a recipe for cookies that are made from Soured Milk.
I gave it a try, and after a little bit of quality control, ( A very necessary part of any kitchen)  I deemed them giftable, and
so blessed the neighbors with some of these wonderful cookies.

Now, to the reading….

In this readings ELijiah is running away from his life, and mission, his job.. He is most decidedly unhappy..

He runs away from it all.. and finds himself a nice secluded spot.. and decides that he has had enough of his life and
is ready for the Lord to take him home.. He is unhappy with his lot in life, he really just would prefer if the world would stop
so that he could get off !  ( Does this sound familiar ? ).
So he falls asleep and an angel comes down and wakes him up and tells him to eat and drink… and he does, and then goes back to sleep.  The angel comes again.. same thing.. wakes him up and tells him to eat and drink … He does, and then after having regained his strength, he got up and went on a journey for another 40 days and nights to the mountain of God.

Everyone at some time or another desires to get off the carosel of life even for a while, some downtime is necessary for the gathering of our thoughts, to step back and assess where we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

The problem is sometimes, the need to stop, turns into a desire to escape, not unlike poor Elijiah, there is the desire to stop and say, OK Lord, I have had enough, I am not any better than I am ever going to get, so I am getting off this journey !

At times, to need for rest might turn into something different, where we no longer desire to pick up the cross we have been given.
Instead of saying I need a rest from my labors, it becomes ” I am putting down this cross, its not for me, and I dont want it, so I am leaving it there”.

There is a paradox here.  God has a plan.  Even if you put that cross down, there is another cross in the path your running to.
When you get to that cross, you must again come face to face with the journey that God has in store for you.  You again come face to face, with yourself, and with God.

Just because you reject the cross you have, does not mean that God will not be there, again, and again.. You will come face to face with what ever your cross is.. the question becomes, will you pick up the cross that is yours…

Making Soured Milk Cookies is like that.   In the beginning, you might not see your cross.. you sit with great anticipation of that thing, that work, that part of life that you enjoy.  Then you experience something unexpected.. the milk of life you were drinking has gone a little off.  You might throw it out.. and you will have wasted the opportunity to learn something new or diffrent.  There is still the idea that you will have to get other milk.. another cross, another journey…

Or you can rest a bit, get some perspective, and then pick up the cross.. and try something different, learn something new,and in the process you become a better steward of the spiritual gifts, the journey, the blessings, that you have recieved.
May God give you the gift of His peace !