Posts Tagged ‘Secular’

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 !

I Saw Before Me a Huge Crowd !…

May 27, 2017

” I saw before me a huge crowd which no one could ocunt from every nation and race, people and tongue. They stood before the throne and the Lamb , dressed in long white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, ” Salvation is from our God, who is seated on the throne , and from the Lamb !” All the angels who were standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creaturesfell down before the throne to worship God. They said ” Amen, ! priase and glory , wisdom and thanksgiving and honor, Power and might to our God forever and ever Amen !”. ( Revelation 7:9-12)

When I began to look at this passage, I thought to myself. What could one possibly say, or think, or ponder more than what is already written here.

Many in the theological circles I have traveled in, either know little about the book of revelation or sometimes I get the feeling that it is for the clergy, and those in pastoral, and spiritual care circles, much the same feeling one gets as a guitar player, when someone comes up and asks you to play
” Freebird”… now. don’t go get all defensive if your one of those who just can not seem to hear the song enough, and feel like it is your personal anthem.

What I mean is that there are certain questions one gets asked oh, about a trillion times and you really long for something with a little more substance or something different. What Circle of Hell am I in ? Which room in the Interior Castle am I in ? What do you think about that labyrinth thingy ?

Now, don’t get my wrong. I want to encourage everyone in their quest for knowledge, truth, ,and the understanding in their relationship with Christ. It is important, to seek these things, so that you understand what you believe and why. In today’s world we have far to few “educated” Christians, meaning disciples who know what they believe, and why they believe it, and the history and meaning behind that faith.

But I digress..

So what is it about this passage that speaks to us ? What is it about it that sticks out to you ? Most assuredly, and hopefully it will be a little different for you. Why ? Because the scripture speak to us differently, at different times, for different reasons, in order to teach us different things.

While reading the passage , we are taken into the scene. The sheer vastness of the Throne Room, the huge hall, and all of the faithful there praising God in all His spendor. The part however that caught my attention was the mention of the four creatures.. and it really did not seem to make sense to me.

In my search there are those who have described these four creatures in various ways. have connected the creatures to the four creatures from Ezikiel, but those creatures came in a much different scene. In fact there are a few places throughout scripture in the Old Testament where there are 4 creatures mentioned.

The important thing to note is that Revelation like several other books are full of imagery, and symbolism. Its just that Revelation is chocked full of the stuff. I mean literally this is wall to wall imagery. The thing is you have to understand that these revelations are mystical and dream-like and are meant to a certain degree, to speak to the audience it was meant for… the early church.

The other thing is that translations are at work here. The word “creatures” are also used to refer to various options, including angels. The reference changes according to the translator apperantly.
So who were these 4 creatures ? – they are by cross reference to the Old Testament in Daniel and Ezekiel as a Man, Eagle, Lion, and Ox. Great ?! you say ? Now what.. these 4 creatures are actually symbols of the Evangelists of the Synoptic Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
These are born out by such great theologians as Iraneas , St Auguine of Hippo and St. Jerome.

There were the elders.. the communion of Saints.. another great voice and our intercessors in Heaven.
This should give us hope, and confidence not only in our prayer life, but in our intercession. For others, and in turn through the saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary. It should also give us great confidence in the intercessory prayers of others on our behalf.

What a glorious scene for us, for our future. What fire should fill our hearts and souls as we contemplate the glories of Heaven and of our Heavenly Father.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

God’s Mercy…

May 20, 2017

Gods Mercy….

‘Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may [now] receive mercy.

For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.’ ( Romans 11:30-32 )

This passage is Paul talking is talking to his fellow Isrealites.. the Jews, of which he was one. and he is attempting to get them out of their “superiority complex” and get them to understand that they too sinned. Not only did they sin, but they sinned greatly, and God in his infinite love showed them mercy. They fell into sin which allowed them to be put into exile.. to learn of the great mercy and love of God. Now, it is the Gentiles who have fallen into sin, and they too will learn the lesson that the Jews should have learned that God indeed is loving and has infinite mercy.

Pain can be a mercy. Now before you all run off and think I have lost my mind and get any odd notions.. Consider this… How many souls have come to God in pain. How many souls reach the near end of their ropes, stripped of their preconceptions, feeling alone, and beaten, having suffered at the hands of the world. Who suffered through illness, pain, calamity, and then….. THEN.. it is that they come to realize that there is nothing…. they are nothing without God.

How many on their death beds… how many in fear and trembling ? For themselves, or those they love.
When you are at the mercy of another soul, who deigns to serve God, in the service of their brothers and sisters.

Think of the love and mercy Christ gave us on the cross. Think of the pains and challenges you have faced in your lifetime. You are given graces beyond recognition. You are given mercies you do not know, or even understand. The developement of your travels towards sanctification are held in the river of mercy poured out on all the world.

Consider the breadth of pain a teenager goes through as they attempt to figure out their world. Emotions that run the gambit, relationships and all the turbulence that goes with it. The terrible 2’s when infants are trying to figure out their world. Or when seniors get away from their jobs and again have to figure our their world.

Come to think of it, we pretty much spend a vast amount of our lifetimes trying to “figure it out”. All the while God has already given us the blueprint. We are however, like the Israelites of the Biblical era , hard headed, and hard of heart… and we do not listen.

God’s Love and Mercy endures forever…

May God give you the gift of His peace (and mercy) !

The Coronation – Franciscan Crown – Part VII

May 6, 2017

Coronation of Mary, Queen of the Universe.

“And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

(1 Peter 5:4)

In this mystery, we contemplate on Mary, who was assumed into Heaven and is crowned Queen of the Universe, with her never fading crown of the 12 stars spoken of in the book of Revelations.

The mystery calls to mind the extension of the Assumption and completion of , or the fulfillment of the vocation Mary was called to. As Mary was given to us on the cross as our own mother, we have the greatest advocate and intercessor who pleads for us with Jesus.

This mystery is all about the subject of perseverance. Perseverance, is that long, steady and abiding faith.. It is not that we do not fail, it is not that we do not fall, or falter from time to time. perseverance is about the efforts, it is about the work involved towards something. It is about truth, without and within. It is about truth from without, because God is the source. The Eucharist, often called the “Source and Summit ” is Jesus. God incarnate. It is faith at its deepest quaking in our hearts and souls.

It is our abiding with God. It says everything about how we are as a disciple. It has everything to do with how we live out our day to day lives in our work, in our rest, in our service, both to God and to our brothers and sisters.

It is from within, when we spend time in prayer. Not just the prayer of self…. Not the *I* prayer. You know the one I am speaking of. *I* need…. *I* want… What *I* am coming to you for …. These prayers that are centered in the desires of the world. This does not mean that we should not ask God for what we need. Or that it makes us bad Christians. It is changing the orientation of our prayer life.

from the child like process of give me “this” because I want it, into a more mature version of asking for Gods will. ” Lord. I have been presented with this situation, and we are seeking your will in what it is that we are to do “.

As in the “Prologue” of our Holy Rule states :

” All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind , with all their strength, and love their neighbors as themselves, and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance. Oh, how holy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and PERSEVERE (emphasis added) in doing them. ”

I once saw a poster of an injured lion. The lion had pulled itself up off the ground and stood strong and fearless. The caption at the bottom of the poster was this :

” It is not how we fall that matters…. It is how we RISE ! ”

As Christians, and as Franciscans this is primary in our necessity to examine how it is that we fallen, but more importantly, how it is that we rise in strength of perseverance and with the heart of the lion, strong in our faith, and strong in the knowledge and surety, in the perseverance of the love of our Lord !

This mystery is the Coronation of Mary, Queen of the Universe.

We meditate on Perseverance.

We ask pardon Lord, for those times when we have not lived the Holy Rule, as we should.

For when we have failed and faltered,

For when our failures have injured our brothers and sisters …

For those times when we have missed opportunities for worthy penance

For those times when we have stayed in our sin and vices.

We pray Lord for perseverance and strength and wisdom.

For the perseverance of mind, heart and soul, that we might not falter

For the strength of faith and character to live out our faith to the glory of God.

For the Wisdom, to see where we have failed to persevere, and to assist our brothers and sisters who may also need strength, assisting without judgment and with love in the examination of our own sin.

Finally, in perseverance of living our Holy Rule of Life to the fullest human extend with extraordinary heavenly graces, gifted to others through us.

Our Father who art in Heaven…..

May God give you the gift of His peace..

Finding of the Child Jesus

April 22, 2017

” Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.

After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2: 41-49)

If you are a parent of a child, this story falls near to your heart. The anxiety begins with that feeling where you do not see the child, and then it begins to grow as you search, Those minutes feel like hours and that level if anxiety only grows until you are finally reunited with the child and feel secure in the knowledge that they are safe, and at that moment, nothing else really matters at all.

If you are not a parent, then you if you have been entrusted with something precious that you need to return to your parents, or to someone else in authority, and you have no idea where that thing is. That might give you a very small idea of how a parent feels in those moments of separation.

Even the typically very rational and thoughtful of parents calm goes out the window when they are looking for a child. There are just no words for this level of anxiety.

In those days it was typical for a child to travel up and down a caravan, these were friends and community, and a place of safety. Imagine, after the child was not found after a full day of searching, and no one knew anything about where the child was. Imagine after that, to go searching for 4 full days with no answers. The level of that anxiety was immeasurable.

Imagine, their relief and , as a typical parental response, wanting to know what He was doing, and why He did that to them ? His response was pretty simple. Didn’t you already know that I had to be here ? After that episode He was a good and obedient son while He grew in age.

So, what is it that we get from this Mystery ?

We are like Mary and Joseph in this story. It is given to us as Christians a responsibility for the soul we have. We are given the gift of life, and during our period of time on earth we are responsible for the care and feeding of that soul. We are responsible to seek God in our daily lives,

When we face challenges and difficulties in life, each challenge is the call of the soul, it is the call of God . He is calling out to find the lost soul of our heart. In our earthly life we feel anxieties, and pains, fear, and longing. It is however, sometimes difficult for us to discern what it is that the soul is looking for. Because our soul belongs to God, The soul will seek God even if we do not see, or understand what that call is or what to do about it. God will provide these things. Just as a parent provides for a child. The child may only understand the basic need, and not the will or intent of the parent..

The child will only be content, when it is back in Heaven, in its Fathers house. So it is with Jesus.

The fifth Mystery – The finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.

Father, we ask pardon for those times when we have not lived our Franciscan Rule of Life,
For when we have not sought, and found Jesus in our brothers and sisters,
For when we have failed care for the child Jesus in the body and soul of our brothers and sisters,
For when we have not trusted in Your Divine providence and suffered anxiety from our lack of faith.

We pray for those who are lost.
For those who do not know Jesus, or have turned away.
For those who suffer, either in their souls or in their bodies.
For all parents, who are given the primary responsibility of sharing Jesus, with their children, and with each other.
For our Franciscan Brothers and Sisters, for the strength and wisdom to live the Rule every day until they are united again with God in Heaven.

Our Father who art in Heaven….

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Daily Trials… Yours and Mine.

February 25, 2017

Daily Trials… Yours and Mine.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes* so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you ” ( John 15 1:3)

It does not matter where it is that you are, or where it is that you believe that you are on your spiritual journey in this life, because no matter there you are, there are trials.

These trials are either great , or by our human perception small. Sometimes we ask for them, ( Lord, grant me patience…) some happen without our asking…

No matter where you are on your journey, if you spend time, either great or small, in the efforts of moving forward on your journey towards God, you will have trials. You may make those little daily promises to yourself, or have those conversations in prayer, where you say to yourself, I will be more patient, I will be more loving, I will let the light of Christ shine through me today and let them see Him and NOT me …

And then the day starts…

At the end of the day here we are again… right back where we were yesterday, feeling defeated, feeling that ashamed… feeling that in the points of the day where we were tried, we failed and we let that fallen very human temperment come out and in our rather annoyed, rather human, rather self – filled moment, we fell short of the goal we had at the beginning of the day… And so the cycle begins again.

Possibly, you have a cross that is more serious. Possibly you have physical challenges, or health challenges that are limiting in some human facet. You may ask God why ?…. Why you can’t be like others. Why you are not able to do what others do. Why you may feel isolated …. angry.. confused.. challenged.

You may be going through a difficult time in your relationship with someone else. Possibly they do not understand you.. or you do not understand them. You may not like what they are doing, or that they are doing nothing at all, or you are not.

In my younger years, if I was having issues that were apparent, my mother might ask what was wrong, and then after explaining the situation, she would say “Life is a matter of perspectives…” and leave me to ponder that idea.

In this Gospel reading, John is giving us a parable, showing us that God is the caretaker of the vineyard of our lives. God loves us, and cares for us, like the vines. In the course of our lives we have adversities of every shape and size. Those adversities are Gods way of pruning the vine of our souls.
To make us spiritually healthy. Those adversities we face are allowed for our greater good. For our virtue, and grace.

There was one of our sisters, Kathleen, who was elderly and in a nursing home, and I used to go visit as often as I was able. She used to say, that she was not sure why she ended up in the nursing home that she was in, but while she was there, she knew it was Gods plan for her to proclaim His message to others who were there with her. Sometimes, nursing homes can be a place of isolation, and a place of desperation and loneliness, as the world they were once a part of, goes on outside their walls. Family and friends, do not have time to visit with the obligations in their lives… at least as often as might make them feel comfortable.

Like our sister Kathleen, it is up to us to have the perspective that where ever we are, it is where God desires us to be for our own spiritual health and growth, or for the spiritual growth and health of those you become witness to or for.

We don’t always know, and we might not know until we are all in Heaven together one day. Until then, ,do not fear the struggles and trials of this life. Instead, find the opportunity to allow Christ to shine through the challenges, to allow Him to grow, and to share love with all you meet.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

+Ad Majorem Gloria Dei +

That They All May Be One …

January 28, 2017

That They May Be One…

“And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are”

(John 17:11)

In the current state of affairs in the world this passage is so very important. We have a world where people have fallen victim to messages that are divisive and filled full of messages that are not only unhealthy but create an atmosphere where the statements paint a scenario where dialog is no longer possible.

As Franciscans, we are called to build a more fraternal world. This means we desire more than anything to start from a position of open and honest dialog in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

We believe, that the other person, or persons are children of God. regardless of the idea that they may not believe all the same things that we do, and that we can begin to build community at a point where we can accept those things we have in common.

The world has become a much smaller place than what it was in years past. Thanks to the internet, the average person has access to an entire world of other people to interact with. Different cultures, different lives, different beliefs, and different opinions.

The internet has the capacity to be both a blessing and a curse. It can be, and has been used as a tool for evil, and for good. One of the issues, at least with written electronic communication, is that there is also a greater capacity for miscommunication. Written communication has the capacity for speed and ease of use, but also carries the capacity for misunderstanding. This occurs where one can not perceive tonal inflections or intent or varying degrees of emotion and impact by what is written, so the reader is left with the voice in their heads to perceive those items..

There is a lot of things going on in our little corner of the world. Particularly in the area of Pro-Life issues. The United States is making some changes that are in favor of building a culture of Life that is causing people to review where they stand in this discussion. Not everyone agrees, and there are varying degrees of acceptance and attitude towards each side.

This caused me to stop and ponder how it is that this parallels the faith journeys and traditions that we have throughout the world. I have been privileged to serve order as the Ecumenical Chair for our Region. This means that I had the opportunity to reach out to other followers and devotees of St. Francis in other faith traditions. This effort has enriched me and my own faith life, as well I hope and pray that it has enriched those I have had the privilege of sharing time with.

As Catholics, we believe that there are certain things that will bring about this unity:

” A permanent renewal of the Church in greater fidelity to her vocation ; such renewal is the driving-force of the movement toward unity.

Conversion of heart as the faithful trying to live holier lives according to the Gospel – for it is the unfaithfulness of the members to Christ’s gift which causes divisions;

Prayer in common – because change of heart and holiness of life along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name spiritual ecumenism.

Fraternal knowledge of each other

Ecumenical formation of the faithful and especially of priests.

Dialogue of among theologians and meetings among Christians, of the different churches and communities.

Collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind ” Human service” is the idiomatic phrase. ” ( CCC #821)

In this we find that a call for all of us to “come to the table” in a spirit of fraternity, in order that each voice is heard, and each person is valued and respected as a child of the Most High.

Let us begin from a place where we can begin to talk openly from the positions that the other person only truly desires a better world, and from that position desires to build the Kingdom of God here on Earth.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

On Seeing What is Before Us….

January 21, 2017

 

“At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known ” ( 1 Corinthians 13:12 )

I grew up in a little town in Delaware.(USA ). There were numerous wonderful things are this place.

One of those was the Bombay Hook, National Wildlife refuge. Now, as a young adult, I really did not know much about it, or appreciate all of its beauty or uniqueness. All I really knew was that it was a great place that was out in the woods, in nature, where I could go, and clear my head, think, and try to sort out the problems of the day.

Later on, I had a friend, who used to ask if I wanted to go out there and visit the refuge. Initially, if I was wrestling with some problem, I might share that with him and he might offer some insight, or just sympathize. He began pointing out different birds, and tell me something about them.

Many years ago I became a bit of a shutterbug. I bought an old used 35 mm camera from a pawn shop, that I had NO clue how to use. However, I purchased film at a small photography shop in a little town in central and began my adventures in photography. I brought in my first full roll of film and

since I was excited to see how they turned out, I opened them right there in the store. The young lady behind the counter, made a couple of comments about what I might consider changing in my pictures or in my process, that would make my pictures better.

I asked her about her experiences in photography and she shared that she had a recent degree in art that was centered around photography and that she had a similar experience, where she bought a used camera, and started taking pictures and got help from the stores owner to help improve her skills.

I asked if she would be willing to help me in that process and help me to improve my skills, to which she agreed.

I went back to the wildlife refuge, and found myself seeing so much more of what was right there in front of me. Different birds, plants, and animals that I might have seen but had not appreciated or even paid attention to them because of the fact that I was there to try and clear the noise that was either in front of me, or in my head. I began to appreciate each bird, each animal, each plant, and found myself trying to see the uniqueness of creation, finding it through the lens of a camera, and through time in research into what I did not know.

I hung on that old camera. and eventually it was stolen. I did without that camera, but in the meantime the digital age came about. I received a camera as a gift one year for Christmas. The learning started anew. I began taking walks around my neighborhood, and started taking pictures of things that I saw that reflected God’s beauty either in creation or man made.

The picture in this post was taken at a bus transfer station. I had to a little way away from the driveway to take the picture, but seeing the beauty of the pasture struck me and I wanted to try to capture it. As I am sure that some of you also like to take pictures, I am sure you can appreciate that circumstances in trying to capture a particular image is not always idea.

Just like my trips to the wildlife refuge, sometimes it is difficult to see God because of all those obstructions that get in the way. We have to find ways to maneuver our way around those obstacles, or remove them from keeps us from seeing God in our daily lives.

Just like my trips to the wildlife refuge, sometimes we need a guide to be able to see what is directly in front of us. A brother or sister who has already traveled that road, and then we can see those obstructions, or possibly they help us to see God, and we find the obstructions for ourselves. What we see dimly at first, will be revealed , what we may only know partially, like my initial trips to the refuge, become clear, our vision of the beauty of Gods glory will be revealed as long as we make the effort to take the journey to see it.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Advent …It’s Here !

December 2, 2016

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 !

Blessed are the Peacemakers…

November 4, 2016

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God. ( Matthew 5:9)

How is it exactly that I am a peacemaker ? Let’s take a quick jump ahead in Matthew a couple of chapters to Mattew 7.. where we are quickly reminded that we need to ” remove the plank from your own eye, before tremove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” ( Mathew 7:5)

Being a peacemaker is primarily about the renovation that is necessary in our hearts, and preparing our hearts as a suitable place for Jesus to dwell, more so than it is a resolving conflict between others.

Preparing to be a peacemaker brings us to a place where we have to understand what peace is, how it is that we need to form our hearts, our conscience, our own understanding.

First, everyone sins. every single person no matter who we are, what our position is, what our vocation is, indeed no matter how hard we try.. we all suffer from the effects of sin. You might say to yourself. .” Well that’s great ! So why do I bother even to try ?”.. Thats a good question.. God did not promise us that our lives would be easy once we tried to live a faithful life. In fact, its going to be nearly the opposite. The people who are living easy lives that are not worried about life at all, those are the people who need to start asking questions. But I digress, back to ourselves.

In being a peacemaker we should be engaged in a daily examination of our own consciences. A review of where we might have failed today… This week.. This month.. It is a point where we look inside and see where we have acted, or failed to act. Did I cause conflict ? Did I cause pain ? Was there something I could have done to make a situation better for one of my brothers or sisters and I failed to do so ? Did I fail to show Christ to my brothers and sisters in difficult situation ?

Could I have helped ? Was the way that I helped part of the issue … part of the conflict ? Did I get of the way, to let Christ shine through the work I was needing to do ? Remember that NO converts were ever won with a sledgehammer.

“Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace”. By the blood of the cross , in His own person he killed the hostility, He reconciled men with God and made his Church the Sacrament of unity of the human race and of its union with God…” ( CCC# 2305)

The Church is, just as we should be the sacrament of Peace within the world, and within ourselves and within each brother and sisters, whether they are inside or outside the Church. Just as being a peacemaker has to start within the individual and their relationship with God properly formed. Those individuals then formed may work on the formation within the Body of Christ ( the church) and let that be an outpouring of peace unto the entire human race.

Peace requires sacrifice. It requires commitment, it requires work. Jesus showed us how to love our brothers and sisters. He showed us how it is that we are to have peace with God, and then with our brothers and sisters.

We have not listened…

We have not learned…

We have not loved …

Saint Francis’s Peace Prayer begs ” Make me a channel of your peace…. ” This is our prayer, and our mission. If we love our brothers and sisters, then peace with reign and flow through us. We become what we profess. We become the instruments of peace within our hearts, within hour houses, within our Church, and within the world.

May God give you the gift of His Peace !