Posts Tagged ‘Franciscan’

We are Bound to Thank God for you…

January 5, 2018

” We are bound to thank God for you always, beloved brothers in the Lord, because you are the first fruits of those whom God has chosen for salvation, in holiness of spirit and fidelity to truth. He called you through our preaching of the good news so that you might achieve the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. ” ( 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 ).

In this passage, Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonika and like most of the other letters that Paul sent to these church communities, he is giving them greetings, and encouragement, and some direction as well.
Like many parts of the church history there are times in various communities where things go a little awry and the church has to step in and make some necessary corrections in a pastoral and fraternal way.

In the background of this reading Paul has a few items he needs to address. First, is apparently there were a few in the community who were not really doing what was in the agenda in the way of work, AND,
they were busy minding everyone else’s business but their own. It does not really tell us much about what it was, but that really was not the point anyway.

Lets take a note of something that I really, love, which is how Franciscan it is.. that when Paul went to Thessalonika to spread the Gospel, what happened ? He worked, and not just a little it says in this passage that,
they strained, they worked hard in order to insure that they were not a burden to others while they were there. They did not come in and expect that everyone would just open their homes and let them stay. It is logical to assume that the time necessary in order to spread the Gospel, to teach, and to develop a church that would have enough of a local foundation to be able to stand on its own would take time and effort.

The story goes, that Saint Francis and another brother were walking through a town in the pre-stated objective that they would be preaching the Gospel. They performed many charitable acts, but the brother was anxious to get to the business of preaching. Near the end of their journey the brother asked when they were going to start to preach. St. Francis said, we already have. ” Preach the Gospel at all times. .and when necessary use words. “.

The apostles certainly did this. They went to Thessalonika and worked and while they worked, this was so that the community there would have an example of what to do, and how to build the church there.

It was also important for Paul to give encouragement which is the point of this particular part of the story. You can tell that the church in Thessalonika is important to Paul.. in a way it is like a parent, whose child has gone away to school or off to work, and they want their child to know of their love for them. It has that familial feeling. In a traditional sort of style, just as we read from the Gospels, the style of instruction to the Jews, there is a history, something that causes them to remember where they are and what they have done, or some part of the prophecy, or covenant that they knew, or possibly some trial or tribulation they went through in order to learn some important lesson.

Here Paul is just giving them a reminder of their bond, and how it is that this community was one of the first, and they are almost obligated it would seem, to thank God for these people., that they were called , that they have the work ahead to get to the salvation this is there for them. THAT is the work, and the standards that they are held to, and the standard we are held to. This does not mean we are perfect, and it does not mean we are not to fail, or be understanding of either our own failures OR the failures of others. It simply means this is the goal we are working towards.

Paul gives is the example in how we are to approach people in a fraternal correction, to do so in a positive light, to do so in a way that is supportive, loving, sensitive and by way of example, we can show others how to do that same thing we are attempting. We should be able to give encouragement, share our own journey, and provide formation in a positive light.

In the same way, I want to encourage all of you, my brothers and sisters, to spend time working on your own formation, your own spiritual development. It is part of the work we are given, as part of our faith family, to learn as much as we can, and discern the meanings for our lives, and apply those things not only to our own lives, but in helping our brothers and sisters along the way.

Remember that the biggest challenge we have, is the battle over our own will, over our own natures, over our own inclinations.

My Father used to say ” What ever you are, be the best that you can be… ask the hard questions, and learn “.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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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 !

The World Waits…

December 23, 2017

The world waits..

Waiting in a soul reaching anticipation…
In the cool night air, the slight dampness settled and sky is cloudless…
Not a sound can be heard but the animals near by and hushed tones
The stars showing brightly.. particularly the guiding star showing brightest of all and coming to rest over a stable..

And the world waits..

Exausted from travel, frustrated from not finding a place to rest for the night,hearing the sound of their breath and finally findng a place in a stable.  ALthough its not perfect it is only for one night. Jospeh and Mary rest from their days labors.

And the world waits..

Suddenly, finally ,without fanfare, without robes or linen, without finery, but with total love, the Lord Jesus, King of the Universe, the Son of God, enters the world.
The world never to be the same.. True God and True man.. and then we hear nothing..

And the world waits..

The Lord goes through His ministry.. His teaching, His Passion and His Death..

And the world waits..

Then comes the Lord again, triumphant over death and sin, and shows the world again the lesson to be learned..
He reminds us of His Love and then ascends to Heaven and tells us of His return..

And the world waits…

Then every day in churches all over the world, the faithful gather, weary from their labors, their travels,
They come without fanfare, without linens or robes..
They come from the many, to become one.
Then with the same quiet and love, prayers are said, and the story begins again..
Again the Lord is made present, in the world, and is taken anew into the world to be shared through ministry.
We pray again….

And the world waits….

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 !

Advent…It’s Here !

December 2, 2017

Advent…. It’s here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God give you the gift of His peace !

We Are All Sinners ( Part II)

November 25, 2017

We Are Still All Sinners ( Part II)

Last week, we began to talk about the scripture passage Romans 15: 1-6, where Paul is reminding us that we need patience, with others who might be at a different place in their faith lives , and in their walks than we are, or at least believe ourselves to be.

Today, lets we are taking that a little bit further by way of example, as we examine the passage in John 7, where Jesus encounters the Pharisees and the stoning of the adulteress.

Consider the example of the woman who was to be stoned to death for adultery. ( John 7:53 )

In this scripture , the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus in their attempts to discredit him and the things He is trying to teach His followers.

Lets take a look at the Pharisees and see what is going on with them. First, the Pharisees don’t like Jesus, and they are trying to trap Him into discrediting Himself. So, here is the trap. First, they have this adulteress, who according to the law (Leviticus 20:10) who must, by their law, be stoned to death.

On the other hand, we have Jesus who has been going about the land, preaching love, and forgiveness, and mercy. The Pharisees believe that by trying to force Jesus into judging the woman, by either method they have laid out for Him to choose, they will discredit Him, as he will either follow “the law” and at the same time, condemn the woman, and discredit His teaching on Mercy and forgiveness,

OR

He will break the law, thereby discrediting Himself, and giving them a reason to end His ministry.

It is important to note here in the scripture, that when they ask Jesus to judge the woman, He is initially silent for a time… He does not speak right away.. WHY ? in fact, in a number of stories in scripture when put to a test or a trial, Jesus takes time before he speaks.

The pause occurs, to allow time for the Spirit, to work. Time is given in order to allow the Pharisees to consider what it is that they are trying to do, or possibly to gain a bit of perspective on how committed they might be to both stoning this woman, or trapping Jesus.

It give the woman time to consider her own predicament. It gives her time to consider and reflect on how she found herself in this position to begin with, and her own sinfulness, her own forgiveness, and her relationship with God at this moment.

Jesus gives the perfect answer. He tells them to let the one who is without sin, cast the first stone.

Going back to last week where we take a look at how it is that we deal with others who might not be at the same place in their faith life that we are, should heed this example. It is a perfect reflection of how we should deal with others who are dealing with their own struggles.

Can you see yourself in each of the people in this story ? Are you the Pharisees , that are condemning or judgmental of others who are not where you are in your walk ? Are you the adulteress, sinful, sorrowful, broken, guilty, remorseful , and seeking a way out ? Are you Jesus to others, inviting the Pharisees to self-examination, encouragement, to consideration that they, like the adulteress are also guilty of sin, and are imperfect as well.

The further it is that we travel on this road to Emmaus, the more obvious ones own sin becomes. It is a paradox of the Christian life. At the same time, however, the more obvious God’s love and mercy also become. We are called to bring God’s love and mercy to our brothers and sisters.

We need to strive to do better, to be better , to live and love that message better each and every day.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Opening a Can of “Act Right”…

October 28, 2017

” Never let evil talk pass your lips; say only the good things men need to hear, things that will really help them. Do nothing that will sadden the Holy Spirit with whom you were sealed against the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander, and malice of every kind. In place of these, be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving just as God has forgiven you in Christ.” ( Ephesians 4:29 -32)

There are a few places where this particular message of scripture are echoed or paraphrased . Colossians 3:8 and Tobit 4:15 and even in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 7 Luke 6 and also in Leviticus 19.

Well, you get the point. The point is that this kind of sentiment is reiterated in different ways throughout the writings of nearly every apostle and in every part of the ancient church and synagogues.

It is call to renewal. It is Gods’ way of bringing His disciples into repentance and conversion.

This idea of “The Golden Rule”, unfortunately tends to be reduced to the idea of right behavior towards those we encounter on the street. Treating others the way we would like to be treated can turn into something totally different, than what its intent is in sacred scripture.

For a better idea, let us consider the human condition. Within the world, it is not hard to find misery, and suffering. Poverty, UN-employment or under employment, on going physical and mental illness, homelessness, discrimination, nepotism, harassment, oppression, all of these types of sin, that occur within the realm of the earthly plain, are a result of the stain of original sin.

It is our belief, that Jesus, did not come into the world because of sin, or misery. Jesus came into the world because of LOVE. Remember, ” For God so LOVED the world He gave His only begotten Son”. LOVE is the reason.

Because of the misery and suffering Jesus saw here on Earth, He provided for us a path to get out of all the suffering, while at the same time provided a way for us to work out our own journey into salvation.

We know from the passage ” The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me” ( Deuteronomy 15:11 ) In this passage we know, that this sort of misery would continue on throughout time. The Church, and Franciscans particularly have a love of the poor, and we cling a spiritual poverty. Our “Lady Poverty” who is our preference for the poor, to stay connected with our brothers and sisters, and all the poor, because it is through our service to those who are in misery, who suffer, who are sick, who are in need of any kind, that we also serve Jesus.

Those who have been involved in ministry for any period of time will testify, that in our service to others, not only do we serve those who are in need, not only do we serve Jesus through them, but we also gain more than we provide. We gain understanding, we gain wisdom, knowledge, and we persevere in our service, we gain insight, not only of our neighbors journey, but of our own as well.

It is also a teaching of the Franciscan family that we choose a spiritual poverty, that keeps us close to our brothers and sisters who are poor so that be can better serve and better understand the struggles and priorities, and the life of the marginalized of society.

It is in this way that we have a clearer path to serve Jesus through our brothers and sisters, and find a path towards our own salvation, and also that of our brothers and sisters. We can preach the Gospel of love at all times…. through our actions, through our thoughts and through our deeds, but mostly through our service to others.

May God give you the gift of His peace.

There is Cause for Great Rejoicing !

October 20, 2017

” There is cause for great rejoicing here. You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials;

but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold , may by its genuineness lead to praise , glory and honor when Jesus Christ appears. Although, you have never seen Him, you love Him, and without seeing, you now believe in Him, and rejoice with inexpressible joy touched with glory because you are achieving faith’s goal, your salvation. ”

( 1 Peter 1: 6-9)

Many, is the time, when we hear people who are in distress, or possibly who were in distress, because of their circumstances. Something happened to them, or possibly they just hear of the evil that roams the world. The disease, or the tragedy, or crime, or natural disaster… Possibly it is just a situation, that you are struggling through. A relationship difficulty, or a problem or set of problems at work, Possibly even a situation in the home, or at church that is at the heart of your distress.

Whatever it is, its a point of stress in your life. You basically get to a point in dealing with the issue to the point where it just seems easier to avoid it, that resolve it. It is easier to walk away, if you can than to take a deep look into the issue, and analyze it, and think through it.

You pray about it, right ?

So, why has not God delivered you from it ? Why has he not wiped away the source of this frustration, the person, the situation, the whole problem ?

Our God is a loving Father. Who, just as an earthly father should be, loving, and caring, seeking only those things that are most beneficial for our growth and well being.

It is at the very heart of our faith, to understand that God may not be the author of the things that happen in our lives, however, He does allow things to happen, that are designed for our benefit.

We are given the gifts of love, faith and free will, to decide for ourselves what it is that we will believe, and what it is that we choose.

Faith, like love is a choice. These are the gifts given to the Children of God. Our faith, is tested, over and over again. It is purified, it is molded, it is refined. Why ? Why is it that we have these things that cause us to much stress and why is it that God seems, from the viewpoint of design, to need to test and try our faith ? This would be an incorrect way of this view.

Our faith, begins like an infant. We begin to explore and learn about our faith at home, and at Church.

We gather information, and we have the faith that our parents give to us, We learn more as we age,

and gather more information. As we venture out into the world, into school, and on to the playground and interact with the rest of the world, we test out the things we learned.

We also learn that not everyone learned the same lessons we did at home. We learned that we are not at the same place, or understanding as other people. Our faith is tested. Not because God does not love us, or does not care, but conversely, because He does love and care for us. Maybe that little boy who pushed you down, or that little girl who called you names, was not God, but it was something that happened, and you chose, using your free will to blame God, instead trying to fix the problem, or learning a lesson about what might have caused the problem, or understanding that these things are not things that should happen to others.

Through out your life, from the very beginning of your life, you are tested, tried, and refined in your faith, IF, it is your free will to seek God through the process of your pain. If God is the question, then Love is the answer. We are not always privileged in the moment to see the hand of God in the things that we do or have happened to us.

I have, believe it or not, not always been the peaceful loving soul that I aspire to be. If in fact, I manage to forget that little bit of information, I have family and friends who are kind enough to remind me of it. Sometimes, it takes time away from the situation, time in contemplation, time in prayer, to be able to see that not all the challenges are bad. sometimes, they are there to give us insight, to give us understanding, or possibly just to remind us of the fact that possibly, we are all fallen, broken people.

Possibly, the other person, is struggling, hurting, challenged, and trying to work through their own salvation. They too are being tried and refined in their lives, and in their faith, and are trying to make good choices, and sometimes our own broken humanity, and theirs can both get in the way.

Our whole lives are set in motion towards the ultimate goal of becoming saints, towards salvation , towards Heaven. Choose, life! choose faith! Choose Peace! Choose Love ! This faith, is the stuff that the tempered steel of the armor protecting us in this world, and the purified, white hot, burning golden purity of faith we strive for until the day we stand before God.

We are, what we are standing before God, and nothing more !

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 !!