Posts Tagged ‘#reflections’

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 !

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We Are All Still Sinners ( Part I)

November 18, 2017

We are all still sinners….

“We who are strong in faith, should be patient with the scruples of those whose faith is weak;

we must not be selfish. Each should please his neighbor so as to do him good by building up his spirit. Thus, in accord with Scripture , Christ did not please himself. “The reproaches they uttered against you fell on me” Everything written before out time was written for our instruction, that we might derive hope from the lessons of patience and the words of encouragement in the Scriptures. May God, the source of all patience and encouragement, enable you to line in perfect harmony with one another according to the spirit of Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and voice you may glorify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” ( Romans 15:1-6 )

This passage of scripture has a great deal to do with perspective. When I would occasionally complain about someone or something that I was dealing with, my mother used to make the comment ” Life is a matter of perspectives..” and then walk away.

She would leave me alone in my thoughts ( or give me chores to do.. thanks Mom) and which usually gave me some time in my younger years to blow off whatever steam I had going on in my head, and then ponder a resolution if there was one that I could see. Her point, was for me to attempt to view things from the other persons perspective. ( or to stop complaining all together ). None the less, it was an opportunity for introspection, and contemplation which she encouraged.

In this scripture passage, Paul, all those years ago, is telling us we need to have patience, and stop being hard on others who are not at the same place in their faith lives that possibly we are. Let’s face it, we know who these people, we have witnessed this same thing occur in our own places of worship, or amongst our own communities. We hear people complain about this brother or sister who is not dressing in the clothes we believe that they should. We hear someone who does not act this way, or that way, or someone trying to give correction to a brother or sister in a way that is possibly less than charitable.

Allow me to share a personal experience with you…

I had an encounter with a man who did some things to members of my family. I learned from other family members that he was planning to be brought to my church. To be honest, I had issues with this, intellectually, I knew in my heart, that this was not MY house, this was the Lord’s house, and if there were no where else on Earth, that this person should be welcome, THIS was the one place where he should always be welcome. Still… there was this inner struggle. I felt that this person was evil. I knew that I could not be hypocritical in my faith.. but still…. And there you have it. I was forced to come face to face with my own human sinful nature, where I was harboring my own sin holding hate within my heart.

We are all sinners. There is no getting around it. No matter how far along your spiritual path , there is always sin, there is always room for improvement. Sometimes, it is easy to get to a place, a plateau, if you will, where you are comfortable in your spiritual life and you might think that you are in a good place. It is easy to get there, but possibly difficult to leave.

The scriptures give us both encouragement when we are feeling defeat, or sinful, or troubled in some way. It also gives us examples of how it is we need to be able to deal with others who possibly are not where we are, or where we think we are, or ought to be.

Next week, we will continue this discussion and consider this reading in light of the story of the stoning of the adulteress.

Until then…. 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.

What Kind of House … (Before the Storm part II)

September 30, 2017

” Thus says the Lord:

The heavens are my throne,

the earth, my footstool.

What house can you build for me?

Where is the place of my rest?

My hand made all these things

when all of them came to be says the LORD.

This is the one whom I approve:

the lowly and afflicted man ,

who trembles at my word. ” ( Isaiah 66 :1-2 )

This is the second part of the reflection of Isaiah 66.

I have for years read this passage.. each time I am awestruck in the depth of its reach into our spiritual life. Let’s take a look..

In Isaiah 66 the back drop of this story sits squarely at the point of the beginning of the end of the Babylonian exile and a return of the land of Judah. God is giving them some things to consider in how it is they need to get back to living the kind of life within the divine plan for those who are living a Godly life.

Through Isaiah, God is telling those Israelites that He wants followers who are pure of heart. He does not need grand gestures made for man and not of God. A humble and pure heart is the thing that God desires most of all. Lets look at this particular passage.

In reading this passage, in the more literal read, if we ponder all the places , all the churches in the world, large or small, grand or humble, we have to consider, that at its very core, a Church, is a house of God. In light of this verse what kind of house can we build for God ?

In 1 Chronicles 17, David originally built a a house for himself and pitched a tent for the Ark of the Covenant, in advance of the arrival of both He and the Ark. After he arrived David took up residence in the house, and enshrined the covenant in the tent. Later on, after all the appointments of the priests and the people were all given assignments to live in the service of God within the tent, everyone else went home to their homes, as did David. David, in a fit of piety, felt guilty saying, here I sit in the house of Cedar, when the Lord , God, sits in a tent ! God said to David, I have lived all this time through my journeys going from tent to tent and never once have I said to them, ” Go built me a house”. (paraphrased ) ..

(Here comes the good part !)
The Lord God said to David, ” I will preserve your offspring after you, a son of your own, and make his sovereignty secure. It is He who shall build a house for me and i will make his throne firm for ever.”

OK so we have Jesus, Son of David, ( of the lineage of David ), His house the Church, and He is King of Kings. He ( Jesus,) , will build my house, (the Church on Earth ).. All this precursor to the coming of Christ.

How great is God .. How great an example of humility even before Christ trying to teach us how to live, how to love, and how to be humble and loving servants of God.

Next is the consideration, of how it is, that God, the omnipotent, omnipresent King of the Universe, Father of all creation, the Most High, I AM, deigned to come to Earth. Not because of our sin, but because of LOVE ! For God so LOVED the world that He gave his only begotten Son.

God came to earth. forced Himself to the life , the size , the life experience of a human, in order to save us, in order to teach us. What kind of house did we build ? What does the “house” of our heart look like ? Do we, like David, throw open wide the doors of our hearts, surrounding it with prayers and hymns of praise and thanksgiving ? Or, do we instead try to move in ourselves, to serve or glorify what it is that is full of the trappings of worldly desire and greed ?

We believe in the Real Presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament. In churches large and small, all over the world, God Almighty, comes. He comes in the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. He comes in the Word, delivered for our consumption and edification in the Holy Gospel and readings. He comes and stays, in the Blessed Sacrament. He goes with us as we leave to take Him out into the world to be shared with others. That which we have been freely and lovingly given, we freely give to others.

Before Mass.. After Mass.. In between weekends ? He waits for us ! He is waiting to see our efforts, our humility, our forgiveness of others, and mostly, our Love.

What kind of house can we build ? What kind of house are we building for God ?

May God give you the gift of His peace… and Love !

Looking in the Mirror

September 16, 2017

Looking in the Mirror…..

“Keep this in mind , dear brothers. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for a man’s anger does not fulfill God’s justice Strip away all that is filthy , every vicious excess. Humbly welcome the word that has taken root in you , with its power to save you. Act of this word. If all you do is listen to it, you are deceiving yourselves.

A man who listens to God’s word but does not put it into practice like a man who looks into a mirror at the face he was born with: he looks at himself , then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. There is , on the other hand the man who peer into freedom’s law and abides by it. He is not a forgetful listener, but who carries out the law in practice. Blest will this man be in whatever he does.”

(James 1 :19-25)

I my daily walk, ( not every day, just periodically) we are challenged, and we may not always carry through with the part where we show Christ to others who may not be approaching us with the best of lights.

In this reading, which is interestingly found in one of the Evening Prayers, of the Liturgy of the Hours, I wonder of it was put there because someone had a particularly bad day once.

My daily prayer life consists of , at minimum,. prayers in the morning ( usually in my morning commute… I take the city bus to work).. and on the way home, and before bed, interspersed with spontaneous prayers, meals, etc.. I love the morning prayer time because it gives me time to get my head in the game, it starts the day off with God, it gives me time to reflect, that I don’t always get in other parts of the day.

It gives me time to ” look in the mirror” in the way of this reading, where I can see not my own reflection, but the reflection of God within me. By staring into that mirror, at the face of God, it gives time for the fog , the obstacles of the day, from the mind, and from the heart and soul, that gives way finally to a clearer image of God that we should be showing to others. The Christ, we should be sharing with others, the one they should see.

Eventually, though, through our own human failings, circumstances arise, and tempers flare, feelings get hurt, or that certain sense of righteous indignation kicks in, and what comes forth is not the face we saw in the mirror that morning. It becomes a hard day. You do your best to protect yourself, to correct errors, to do what is right, and just. Maybe you become invested in your efforts to keep things upright and correct, or just keep things afloat in the sea of insanity that has become your day or your life.

After your day ends, in the cool of the evening, apart from the battles, back in the quiet……. you take a deep breath, and begin to pray. If you are like me, this is usually the time when you realize, that you have failed at some point during the day. You did not show Christ to everyone, you were not the “do-er ” of the Law of Love. You failed today….. and you return to look in that prayerful mirror to remind yourself, to see God, to talk to that Christ you left in the mirror this morning, and hid along the way today.

But it was a failure for today, once, at one time. That does not mean that the human you in that mirror, is not there, or even shouldn’t be there. It certainly does not mean that your a bad person or even a bad Christian. It means that you are human, that you are faithful by the fact that you are back to look at this mirror, and are trying to find God within it, AND trying to carry Christ out into the world. The Christ you saw in the mirror, the pure example of the hearer, and the Do-er of the Law.

“The gifts of the Holy Spirit include, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” ( CCC #736)

By this, we know that we are already infused and have these fruits grafted onto us by virtue of our life with the Holy Spirit. Its up to us though, as in all things to engage our will, and work to develop these gifts, and carry them forward to that Christ may shine forth from our lives.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

They Will Beat Their Swords into Plowshares…

September 2, 2017

” He shall judge between the nations,

and set terms for many peoples.

They shall beat their swords into plowshares

and their spears into pruning hooks;

One nation shall not raise the sword against another,

nor shall they train for war again.

House of Jacob, come,

let us walk in the light of the LORD! ”

( Isaiah 2:4-5 )

We, Franciscans, are a peace loving bunch. We love all the brothers and sisters, all of Gods children. I work for the dignity of all people from the moment of conception until Sister Death comes to escort us unto the presence of the Most High.

We have been accused of being the “Hippeys” the “tree-huggers ” because of our love of creation. To a certain degree that could be true, but there is a difference. Our love of creation, the love we carry in our hearts for our brothers and sisters is squarely centered on the Holy Church and its majesterium.

Our love of creation, is centered on God the creator, as opposed to creation itself. It is our mission to bring souls to God, through the mission to carry Christ to our brothers and sisters in all we say and do.

to “preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words”.

I had always had in my heart the idea that this passage and the others in Joel and Micah, that basically retell this same story, were going to give us the idea of what it would be like on Earth, if people would put aside their sin, their hate , their greed, and just love God and each other. When we would never again have to worry about wars , or earthly powers driven by hate. Its the idea of the eutopian sort of existance.

Shortly after loosing myself in the reverie, I find that I again have to go through a little disconnect and deal with the reality of life on Earth. As a teen, my parents took me to a prison outreach ministry visit to the local prison. We went in, and we visited for a bit.. and I found myself sitting across from a man over a game of chess. As a youth I had no clue where to begin to have a conversation with this man. So I asked him, why he was in jail. He told me that he had raped, and murdered someone.

To say the least it was mind bending to be sitting there with this man who rather matter of factly told me of his journey that landed him in the prison for which he would be for life. I do not remember what those circumstances were, I only knew that there must of been something of a redemptive quality there because at the time my state still had the death penalty for murder.

Later in life while I was in college I took course work in Law, and was asked if I wanted to be a guardian -ad -litem the voice of a child or protected adult in court and doing investigations etc. I politely declined as I knew it was not what I wanted. I also turned down working in the prison ministry in my parish back then, because having been exposed to stories of the things that happened in prisons, I did not believe that I was able to make a difference there. They pretty much needed to go there, do their time, and then decide what kind of person they wanted to be.

I also knew that there were stories coming out of other ministers who had gone into those prisons of people who had real coversions, who had really found God in prison to spite their cirumstance.

I want to offer you a different view of this passage. That when we beat our swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks, this is not just a eutopian view of what life might be like, it is a story of redemption, a story of salvation ! It tells us that we have the ability to change and to under go a metanoia of the heart. It means that we too can change, and grow, and develop in our lives while seeking God. We can take out the hate that is in our hearts, after beating them into plowshares using them to till the garden of our hearts for Christ to live and help us to grow.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

See What Love The Father Has For Us !

July 15, 2017

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

It is easy for us in our worldly presence, trying to live a spiritual life, to get bogged down, with not only the imperfections of others, but even our own. We are frustrated by the way we get treated by others, or how others are treated , even by people we know and love.

Our employers, our boss, our friends, our family, other brothers and sisters, heck, we don’t even really treat ourselves the way we should. Possibly, it is we who find ourselves in the situation that we have failed to treat others the we should, either by circumstance, or emotion, our own personal failings.

It would be very easy for us to fall into the pit of despair or depression because of the way the world can treat us. We do, however, have reason for our joy !

Look at John… all those years ago… talking to brothers and sisters who are fearful, disheartened, maybe a bit disillusioned. He is reminding them of the great gift they have received. Just as the 12 were also fearful, disheartened, and in some cases disillusioned at the setbacks in their own walks.

John reminds us that the world will not recognize us as its brothers and sisters, as children of God, because it did not recognize God in Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. It is no wonder we are still fighting today, to try to get people to recognize God in our brothers and sisters. Children who were born with the imprint of the Most High !

How can we expect for the broken world, who did not recognize God, who was before them, to see God in the poor, the suffering, the aged, and those who are marginalized, even in our own brothers and sisters.

Possibly, it is because the world is not unlike Herod , who feared the Son of God when He came to earth, because the world has tried to claim for itself, something that does not belong to it, and in fear of losing the things that is has tried to take from God, or from the children of God, that it puts in place the machinery of sin to try to keep glory for itself.

At the same time, Brothers and Sisters, take heart ! For even if the world does not recognize us for who and what we are, we are in good company. It is up to us to continue to carry on the fight for good and right, for faith and hope, and mostly for peace, and love. It is important for us never to give in to despair, and sin. These are tools that Satan uses to try to separate us from God.

John reminds us that at the end of this earthly battle, we have something even greater that awaits us.
We have all had moments when the Spirit inflames us, and our hearts are afire with the love of God and everything in the world seems right, peaceful, and loving. So much more, then, will it be for us when we get to see God.

This is when we will get to see God face to face, Our loving Father. We will be the prodigal children, returning home, to the Father, who will rejoice with us.

The last part of the reading, John sticks in a final reminder..

” Everyone who has this hope, based on Him, keeps himself pure… as He is pure.”

This reminder is reminiscent of Jesus’ reminder to the disciples to “Be Holy even as your Father is Holy” (Matthew 5:48 , 1 Peter 1:16 )

This is to say that even in this daily world of suffering and strife, we are to carry on in doing what the Lord showed us while He was here on earth, and that is , to Love.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Love Is The Answer…..

June 24, 2017

” You know the times in which we are living. It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent; the day draws near. let us cast off the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light. Let us live honorably as in daylight; not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy, Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. ” Romans 13:11-14

We are hard-headed. hardhearted, and a slow to learn ( if ever we learn) bunch of degenerate children. You have to sit back and wonder why God bothers with us at all. We fight, we complain, we rebel, we are champion sinners, and who knows how many times we keep doing the same silly, backward, things over and over again.

Paul. who is the author of this passage, is trying to get the believers to understand where they are on the journey. There are issues of faith running around.. If you remember the passage in Matthew 22:20 , where they are asking Jesus about paying taxes to the Roman Empire. Just to prove the point, here again the citizens are still struggling the same questions that Jesus already answered ! They still had not understood, and still fighting with the same questions.

Paul is trying to tell them … Yes, you still have to do what Caesar tells you.. and YES, you still have to pay taxes.. because you live here, this is the authority in place at this time..

There is a special note I would like to inject here for our Franciscan brothers and sisters, consider for a moment your vocation. Recall the words you spoke on the day you took your profession. Our vocation, our calling, our job in the Kingdom of Heaven, ( for Franciscans, and for Christians as a whole) is to be “in the world.”.

What does that exactly mean for us ? Are we still this hard-headed ? Jesus told us … Because we live “in the world” , that means that we have to participate in the processes involved in living in the world.
We have to pay taxes. We have to obey the laws of the place where we live. We have to “pay the dues” of living in the place where we are.

We are “in the world” but we are not “of the world”. We belong to Christ. We have responsibilities, that go along with belonging to the Kingdom of God. There are things that are expected of us.

The passage before this reading explains the rule of the Kingdom of God is LOVE. If we do no evil to our neighbor, ( or wish them evil ) then the law if fulfilled. He reviews with them the 10 Commandments. and then comes the reading above.

This is meant to spur them on in their faith, to get them to try to excel in doing good works. To keep them from falling into sin.

Now consider, that every day, you start out your day, saying your morning prayers, and you ask God for the strength, and wisdom and perseverance to keep from some particular area of sin, or the occasion of it.

Then at night in the cool of the evening, you have the time to reflect on the day. You have the time to pray, and you feel bad, because you fell into some trap of sin. and it happened AGAIN .. and you find yourself the next morning having the same conversation with the Lord. You feel terrible… you think maybe you are the worst disciple ever… EVER ! Well, maybe not ever.. but still pretty bad.

Take heart ! You see, the saints, all of those people who were the super heros of humanity, they became saints NOT because they did not sin. They became saints by putting forth super human effort in attempting to live the gospel virtues. In short, these folks became saints because of the fact that they tried above all else, to live the law of LOVE !

I want to encourage each of you, to strive as best you are able, to live the law of love. Jesus made it as simple to remember as He could. Just two things you have to remember !

Love the Lord your God, with all your mind, heart, and soul.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

He did not say it would be easy. I can tell you from personal experience that everyone fails… Particularly on the second rule. Do not lose faith in this journey because you fail, OR because someone else failed to love you. Your neighbor might fail in loving you… but God never will !

Again it is not that we FALL, but how we RISE ! Rise with FAITH ! Rise with HOPE and rise with LOVE !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

May You Attain Full Knowledge …

June 18, 2017

“May you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom, and spiritual insight. Then you will lead a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to Him in every way. You will multiply good works of every sort and grow in the knowledge of God. By the might of His glory you will be endowed with the strength needed to stand fast, even to endure joyfully what ever may come, giving thanks to the Father for having made you worthy to share the lot of the saints in light. He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.” Colossians 1:9-13

This passage from scripture is the opening lines of encouragement from the Apostle Paul, who was writing to the Colossians, along with Timothy who was traveling with Paul. What comes before this passage though is subtle, but noteworthy. Paul recognizes Epaphas, who he recognizes as a ” fellow servant”, or disciple of Christ. What is also important to note here is that there is no recorded point in time where Paul ever actually went to Colossea. Instead, Paul taught the true faith to Epaphas, who converted, learned and then took that seed of faith and returned home to Colossea, and spread it through the countryside converting the people and passed that faith to the people and the future saints who lived there.

So, you say to yourself, great ! So what does that mean for us here ? Glad you asked !

It is important because Paul did not have to go and hold the hand of Epaphas in order to pass on the light of faith and the Word. Paul had faith in the seed he planted. It really had little to do with Epaphas. Although, Epaphas did have an open heart, and believed the Word when he heard it. Paul trusted that Word would spread. Just as Jesus, entrusted the twelve apostles, who in and of themselves were not perfect, did not always have perfect faith, but still trusted in the seed of faith that they were given..

This idea of having the pure seed of faith being transmitted to others in a sometimes imperfect manner is pretty much how it goes. This should give us encouragement in the faith that we have received and to participate more fully in the charge that we are given to pass on this faith as Epaphas did. We don’t have to do it perfectly, we just have to do it. We also don’t need the sledgehammer approach, where we are pounding the seed into the skull of the person receiving it… All we have to do is plant the seed, and walk away.

We have to have faith that the seed we plant, is what God will use for His will. The seed that is planted, will not always bloom before our eyes. We may never get the opportunity to see the results of the seeds we plant. We must trust in God. We must trust that the Lord will use the seeds we plant in the continuum of His divine will.

The beginning of this passage says “may you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight…” Maybe the saints eventually ended up at this place, but for the rest of us, this is the destination, and the journey is where we spend our time… at least if we make the effort.

Much like the planting of those seeds of faith, where at times we may get to see a glimpse of the results, possibly the beginnings of the results of our labors, we will likely never see the complete result, or even understand what it is that will occur as a result of that work, which would be in Gods will for mankind. The one truth that we know about Gods will to an absolute certainty is that Gods plan for us is as basic as the first truth we learned as children. God’s will for us is to …. know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.. so that we can be with Him in Heaven.
Ask someone who is your elder, if the life that they currently have, is the life that they dreamed of, or planned for in their youth. If their lives were the same now as what they had planned for it to be maybe after high school, or even after college ( if they went to college and attended after high school).

I would venture to say that nearly none of them can say that their lives turned out as they originally planned. This is the difference between where mans will differs from God’s will. We could attempt to understand, or discern where God had a hand in the things that have occurred in our lives, It is even possible that we could see a facet of how things happened the way that they did. This enlightenment is not just for our own understanding. This enlightenment is there so that we have the opportunity to not only be enriched in our own faith,, but to fulfill our mission to share that faith with others just as Epaphas did in Collosea.

God can take the one small seed, one small act of faith, and use that one act to help bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. This is what Paul was praying for and encouraging the Colossians towards… and what I encourage you towards today, the same way that Saint Francis did hundreds of years ago… Preach the gospel at all times.. and when necessary, use words..

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Patience of the Lord

May 14, 2017

” The patience of the Lord is directed towards salvation ” – 2 Peter 3:15 \
(*ibid Shorter Christian Prayer)

I was on my way to a gathering of our community, which I was supposed to lead. At the last minute, I received a phone call from the Minister stating that the person who was supposed to lead the formation class, might not be able to make it due to some mechanical and service issues with her car.

I said not to worry about it, we would be able to work through the process and if necessary I would take up the challenge and provide some necessary formation discussions.

As it ended up, someone else came to me before the meeting began and provided the impetus for the needed discussion. However, lets backup the story a bit. I will share with you that one of my character traits/flaws (depending on ones view) is that I can not stand to be late for anything. There is something rather irritating to me about insuring that I am not late in order not to be burdensome to someone else. At work, I am always at least an hour early, as it allows me time for coffee, and to ease into the day. (caffeine is one of my vices).

Anyway, while walking to the meeting I allow plenty of time to stop and have coffee prior to its beginning and I used some of that time to review the readings of the day. Now, on this particular day, for those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours, there were approximately 4 different possible readings for the day. There was the standard reading from the Psalter, the Blessed Mother on Saturday, there was another saint whose name I have forgotten, and Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. The readings that were previously selected were Our Lady of Fatima, and I had sent out the notice.

Well in my lack of caffeine haze, I started reading (to myself , before the meeting) the reading from the Psalter. which was 2 Peter 3 12-15. This last line however stuck with me and I could not quite shake the desire to pick that apart a bit. So, what does this exactly mean that His patience, is DIRECTED towards salvation ? How exactly is it that this reflects into our own lives. ?

The Lord’s patience is,without end. Consider the span of recorded time, has man over thousands of years have we failed, have we sinned, have we failed. Still, the Lord is patient and repeatedly tries to teach us how to follow His holy will ! Why ? Why is it that God has been so patient and kind towards man who stubbornly does not learn, and has to repeatedly relearn the same lessons He has been trying to teach.

The Lords patience is directed towards salvation….

Jesus, came into the world. He took on the most vulnerable of children, born into poverty, patiently He bore His humanity in order to teach us how we are to live. Patiently, He lead the leaders. Patiently He taught the disciples, even as they failed, and stumbled. Even Peter, prince of the apostles, did he stop and patiently explain, teach, forgive, and teach again. He patiently bore the process of dealing with those who hated, and misunderstood Him.

Jesus deals with us this way, suffered, and suffers yet, for us this way, in order that we gain wisdom, and which is would lead us to salvation. Jesus often taught, that the Love is the law. take a moment and switch the word patience, with the word love. Jesus loves us. his patience exists because He loves us.

Jesus also teaches that we are to be Holy even as the Father is holy. (1 Peter 1:16 and Leviticus 11:44 )

If this is the case ( and it is) that our part of our daily offering should be that in our struggles, we need to try to emulate in our human state the holiness of Christ on Earth, then our patience should be long standing just as God’s patience is which is directed not only to the salvation of others, but towards our own sanctification.

I freely admit this is one of my own character flaws. I am not always as patient as I should be. I try, I struggle and I fail. I probably like many of you, ask the Lord , praying for patience, or being afraid to ask for patience, because of fear that the Lord would give you opportunities to work on your patience, that the human side of you ” just does not want to deal with”.

Do not be afraid to ask the Lord for anything. Primarily, however, pray and ask to become the vessel. Ask to become the tool, ask to fulfill what ever it is that is His holy will for you. I hate to tell you but if it is His will for you to have more patience, those opportunities to work on your patience are going to come whether you want them to or not. There is, however, that nasty free will thing that keeps showing up. We have choices about how we deal with them. We have to pick up our daily cross, and follow. That’s the job. Will we fail ? Yes. Will we ever get better ? Yes ! Does God love us even when we fail ? YES ! Why ? Because….

” The Lords patience is directed towards salvation ” for you, and for me.

May God give you the gift of His peace !