Monday, December 27, 2010

Family Blueprint

Women of Faith:

The celebration of Christmas was followed yesterday by The Feast of the Holy Family. What an appropriate beginning to a New Year for our readings to give us instructions as to who, what, and how to treat and live with those we love and cherish the most, our family; and at a time when our activities are revolving around exactly that, spending time with family.

Our families may be big or small. We have our immediate family: our spouse, joined with children, siblings or parents (for those who are married) or for those who are not married, religious and single life, the church. We have our extended families, our aunts, uncles, and grandparents. And then we have our families at work and the family we sit beside each week at church. They in turn extend out to the family that we role model to when we leave the doors of the church each week.

It brought to mind the basic character instructions we were taught and that we try to teach our children from the earliest stages of our life: “Say Thank You,” “Listen to your Dad,” “Do what Your Mom said,” and “Tell your sister/brother you’re sorry.”

I don’t think we realized it then, and we might not even have realized it when we were teaching it, but we were actually teaching God’s blueprint for living a family life: Thanksgiving, Forgiveness and Honor of God’s family hierarchy.

“God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them. When he prays, he is heard; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children, and, when he prays, is heard.
‘Whoever reveres his father will live a long life; he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother. My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him; revile him not all the days of his life; kindness to a father will not be forgotten, firmly planted against the debt of your sins —a house raised in justice to you.” Sir 3:2-6,

“Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.
“And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
“Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.” Col 3:12-21

God says it all: Husbands, Wives; Fathers, Mothers; Parents, Children; Sisters and Brothers—Respect, Love, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness and Patience, Forgiveness and Thankfulness; listen to each other and obey in God’s order—spouses to each other, children to their parents-- each of us taking care of the others with love. The same “order” of character skills we were taught at the very beginnings of our lives. The same “order” that God designed for our entire world to achieve peace, love and harmony for all.

It is so easy to read these readings and see where we need to improve; to see our sins and our failures, but more importantly also to know that God’s design is perfect and that if we strive to do it in His order we will achieve that peace and harmony in love which He has given us and that we all seek in our hearts, to find what many just call happiness.

Dear God, I sing your praise. Let Your word live richly in me and may Your wisdom guide me as we continue to celebrate Your birth in our families and throughout the New Year. Help me and all wives to listen to our husbands (and our children their fathers) to whom you have given authority in our houses. Bless them with your graces so that all fathers may love their families unselfishly as You have instructed. Give us as women, wives and daughters, the graces to live with gratitude, kindness, and compassion and always be ready to forgive those who have hurt our tender hearts. Help us each to forgive the other, AS we forgive them. Thank you for all of the blessings you have given us as families, and for the time this Christmas season to spend enjoying their presence in our lives. Amen.

Continue to enjoy your family this Christmas season and throughout the New Year.
Wishing you Peace and Love, given in gratitude and forgiveness,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Peace on Earth

Women of Faith:
“Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men” & “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”

In these last few days of Advent, in the preparations before Christmas, I continue to pray that I will remember these two verses.

First, that Jesus is the Reason: I hear it, I see it, but will my head let my heart rest long enough to believe it and live it; to remember that Christmas is about only ONE gift—a little baby, who wanted nothing more from us than for us to follow Him, and to be like Him. And who continues to want this from us: silence, peace, humility, and charity.

And the second: that “Peace on Earth”, comes from “Goodwill toward Men.” I liked Father’s comparison yesterday: we do not find Christ at a “fancy” hotel—we find Him with the animals in the stable at the inn.

We find Him with the “lowly” and the downtrodden taking care of people, giving to people, and serving people. We do not find Him at glitzy holiday parties where every decoration, every food, every person is “perfect.” These “perfect” things are man made, not God made; they draw are attention away from Jesus, the reason for the season; and ultimately, at the end, we are called to be “perfect” by God, not by man.

There is nothing coincidental about who has become Saints, why Mary is called Blessed and which people God will select to be with Him in heaven. These are the people who answered His call, who died as martyrs and who lived a life of service for Him. They should be our role models.

In our roles in marriage (Ephesians 5: 21-33), wives are called to honor Jesus by honoring and serving their husbands. And our husbands are called to live a life of service to Jesus by being our protectors and providers, by being willing to die for their wives, as Christ died for us on the cross. In affect then, we are ALL called to give up our own needs, and to serve each other with love and to respect ALL life.

God has given us a “perfect” example of how we are to live by the life Jesus led on earth. That is why He is the Reason, why His life was written down for us to follow in the Bible, why His life was completely self giving as He died on the cross, not to save Himself, but to save US!

Jesus served God, not with glitz and presents, but with the gift of Himself. He is our example of love and respect, the same love and respect we are called to give our spouses, our extended families and our world.

Ultimately this is where PEACE will come from. Peace needs to start with changing our own life by taking a quiet moment to listen to God in the silence of our hearts, and by becoming as humble as the adoring animals who followed their shepherd to find Jesus the Shepherd at the stable.

Peace is not about shopping, cookies and candies, gifts under the tree or who can out do their neighbors with lights. Peace is found in a little baby, in the smallest of rooms, and in the light of a star that guided us to the baby Jesus. That is why HE is the Reason for the Season.

Dear God, Praise be the Reason for the Season, Your Son, Our Shepherd, Jesus. Thank you for His Gift of Love and Service. Help me to live my life more like He lived His. And guide me to find Peace on Earth by spreading goodwill to all, but especially to Stan, my family, and to those who read this prayer, my friends. Amen.

May you have Peace this Christmas!



Monday, December 13, 2010

Light in the Darkness

Women of Faith:

The first thing I do when I wake up is search for the light; the light outside that means It’s time to get up, and light inside so that I can find my glasses, clothes, and my way out of the bedroom.

Occasionally I get up in the darkness of night without turning on the light and I usually pay the price of a bump, bruise or stubbed toe.

The first thing God created in Genesis was light, to contrast with the darkness. Light so that we could see the rest of creation, light so that He could guide us, and light which we could reflect to help others also find the way. Likewise our choice to see Him and follow His light or to walk around in darkness, searching for some path to follow.

Think about a candle. It is a very small light. But in a very dark room it guides our path. It allows us to walk around without bumping into the walls or whatever other obstacles. And it allows us to see the door so that we can enter a new place with a much brighter light.

That’s the way my life is with Jesus too. I can either make the choice to search for His light, follow His light and reflect His light, or I can reject His light in my life. Just like my choice is to turn on the light when I wake up in the morning, so is it my choice to seek God in my life, to look for His guidance in whatever I am doing and hopefully to reflect His presence in my life by the actions I take.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing. As they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils. For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful. Isaiah 9:1-2, 5-6.

Dear God: Praise be the light You have given us in Your son, Jesus. Thank you for allowing me to see Your light. Forgive me for the times when I reject the light and instead turn to the darkness of sin. Wake me up with Your light so that I am guided to reflect Your Spirit and can find the peace that You offer forever in Heaven. Amen.

Don’t leave the light off so that you don’t wake up the rest of the house, turn it on! Wake up the house. Be guided by His light and reflect His light to the world.


Monday, December 6, 2010

From A Child, A Season of Hope

Women of Faith:
I need Hope. I need the childlike hope found thru Jesus. Hope that my relationship with Him will be inspired and strengthened everyday; hope that a simpler life exists; hope that everyone that I love will come to follow Jesus as best they are able, with each of them becoming their best versions; and hope that the wars that are being waged against peace, love, and life in our families, society and the world, will be extinguished by prayer, fasting and forgiveness as God intended when He designed each one of us in His image.

In these short, dark, days of winter, when life is speeding by, and stress seems to be swallowing the true spirit of Advent and Christmas, HOPE is what keeps me moving forward; HOPE is what keeps me in tune with “Jesus is the Reason.”

As is often the case the children are often the ones to really “see” what is important and of true value, so this song speaks loudly to where I want to be standing—in a line for Jesus—in Hope of Jesus guiding my every move: (f the link doesn’t work go to ). Please share and pass this message and beautiful song on. If we could get everyone to be more interested in the “Line to See Jesus” instead of “keeping up with the person next door” oh, what a “Wonderful Life” we might HOPE to see.

Dear God, “The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song…They will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Is 35:1-10 Please forgive me when I get discouraged. Humble me to ask forgiveness for my sins, for it is never too late to repent. Thank you for answering my prayers and for giving me signs to help guide my way through the maze of earthen treasures (and pleasures). Help me to remember that when times get tough my sufferings aren’t nearly as painful as what you gave up for me by dying on the cross. Guide me to the Line for Jesus. My hope lies in You. Amen.

Blessings of Childlike Hope and Love,

Monday, November 29, 2010

Are You Tired?

Women of Faith:
Are you tired? I am. And I no longer have kids at home to chase after, or pick up after, or cook for or any of the other things they need. But who do we ask for help?

How do we slow down? How do we anticipate and prepare for Christmas (or get thru the day) physically, mentally and spiritually?

It’s Advent, the time of preparation for the birth of Jesus, for Christmas. In society it is a time of rushing around, attending Christmas parties, cooking, and of course, shopping.

How often have you said, or heard someone else say: “I can’t wait to get it (Christmas) over with?” I know I have been there many times—too busy to even enjoy a simple conversation or sit down to a meal with our family, yet alone take a prayerful moment for myself, or have time to help a friend without worrying about what I have to get ready for next.

But What Would Jesus Do? How would he be asking us to prepare our lives for His birth?

As our priest said yesterday, “I won’t be politically correct.” This is a time to Slow Down! It is a time to prepare spiritually, not materialistically; to prepare not for a “social” party but for the Birth of Christ; to prepare NOT for presents; but instead to prepare for His Presence-- Jesus’ presence in our lives.

It is not Christmas liturgically until Christmas Eve, and then we should joyfully worship, celebrating Jesus’ birth, and His very real presence in our lives. But as the readings today said, we are supposed to be “awake” and ready, not so tired we just “want it to be over with.” Mt 24:37-44 & Rom 13:11-14

So until Christmas think about how Advent is intended to get us ready, slow us down, and awaken us spiritually. Ask God to become a more “real” part of your life, so that we can be ready for the true Christmas gift—Jesus.

Try to take some time each day for silence, to ask God for the needs of your heart and to hear His whispering presence, comfort and support in your life. Pray that He will prepare our hearts and make us ready for His presence. And just as we have to ask God for what we need, ask your spouse for help in managing the kids and the house work (or a friend or family member if you have parents or someone else to take care of) so that you can have that moment of quiet time. And if you don’t have young children ask your spouse to join you in slowing down and praying; or volunteer your time to someone who needs a break from their busyness, to allow them a chance at that very important quiet time.

Let’s teach our children (and be an example to our friends) about the priorities of the Advent season (and Christmas). What is Christian life really all about? Let’s make Jesus our priority and slow down. Let’s be quiet enough to let Jesus inspire us and build us up in times of busyness and the day to day tiredness.

I challenge us all to Make Jesus the REASON for the SEASON.

Dear God, I praise your light in the darkness. I ask for your Presence in every aspect of my life. Help me to make you my priority. Help me to have the self control to deny myself more “toys,” and instead focus on the needs of those who don’t have food and warmth. Give me rest when I am weary. Help me to quietly find Joy, Peace and Love in your presence as I slow down to prepare for Your coming this Advent Season. Thank you for Your promise of the greatest Christmas gift ever, Your son, Jesus. Amen.

Blessings in the Silent Preparation,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Blessings

Women & Couples of Faith:

I wanted to again share with you this “unordinary” list of Thanks

I hope you all have your own “lists” to add not only on Thanksgiving Day, but on every other day for all that God has given us.

Dear God, Thank you for giving us your son here on earth to teach us the truths, to live and die for us.

Thank you for dying on the cross so that we may be forgiven for all of our “human” interpretations, sins, errors, actions, hypocrisies, and misunderstandings of your truth.

Thank you for giving us the sacrament of marriage to teach us how to be unselfish and to depend on our faith in you.

Thank you for the sufferings in my life that have brought you nearer to me and my family.

Thank you for teaching me to pray so that I can give you my burdens.

Thank you for putting me in a place here on earth where I am not prosecuted for speaking your name, but have the ability to spread your word/truth by my actions and speech.

Thank you for giving us friends who share our values/your truths and who are willing to inspire us with their wisdom.

Thank you for Your comfort when I am lonely or sad; Your hope, when I am discouraged; and Your peace, when I am worried.

Thank you for parents, grandparents and great grandparents (those older than us) who teach us love, perseverance and courage from days past.

Thank you for the hugs, smiles, and innocence of children and grandchildren, our own and those that are shared with us, for they are God’s greatest blessings and our future.

Thank you for the ability to share my bounty: time, talent and treasures, with those less fortunate.

Thank you for every moment here on earth I am given to spend with my loved ones.

Thank you for the time I was allowed to spend with the loved ones that have gone before me.

Thank you for giving me hope in the Word that by living as your servant and following your Truth I will reach your eternal kingdom in heaven. Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving and Thanks for Being Part of our Family and for Your Friendship—
Stan & Charlotte & family

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winners or Losers?

Women of Faith:
It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. The exception to this may be what I will call the ultimate game, the game of life. There, winning is heaven, and I don’t even want to think about losing.

Unfortunately, as I try not to judge, I fear that our society may be losing as I watch us accept sin as a norm. As I watch society try to put their “spin” on what the bible teaches. And as I watch people, who grew up in Christian homes, who know there is a God, who were taught about God from an early age, leave church, ignore the commandments, or worse yet, try to justify their sin/s.

I find comfort and hope by the outcome of a vote to “oust” judges who accept gay marriage as a right, and I find Hope in the prayers of the many who I know attend church regularly and who are unafraid to “speak” against sin and who volunteer in ministry in many forms.

I also find hope in seeing those who have the faith to accept their sufferings, knowing that Christ too suffered for us.

As the gospel said yesterday: Choose REPENTANCE, it is never too late. Lk 23:35-43 “Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

The second thief is the only person we know who has entered the kingdom of heaven with Jesus because of this passage. On the cross this thief asked for forgiveness, but just as importantly accepted that he was a sinner, that he deserved earthly punishment and that his only salvation was true faith in Jesus.

Are we like the first thief, expecting God to save us, even though we have no shame, guilt or repentance for our sins? Is our pride preventing us from acknowledging our sins and seeking forgiveness?

Or are we like the second thief who admits to our sins, accepts our burdens by sacrificing our life for God, receiving just punishment for our sins and most importantly receiving God’s promised forgiveness, healing and grace given to us when Jesus died on the cross?

The earlier we learn to be like the “accepting thief” the more happiness, joy and peace we can find in Christ’s forgiveness and ultimately our salvation. And the easier it will be to bear our burdens and sufferings because like the “Footprints in the Sand” we will be carried by Jesus through the toughest of times.

Dear God, I praise Your healing grace. I yearn for your forgiveness and love. Please help me to live each day as your servant, accepting my burdens, sacrificing my time and using the gifts you have given me wisely. Help me to be less self-serving, less judgmental and more hopeful with the grace of Your Spirit. Let me be a witness to Your goodness in faith, hope and love. I ask that you open the hearts of each person, family and friend, those that I know, and will come to know, those that I can in anyway help or touch, so that we will be better listeners and learners of Your word. And especially this Thanksgiving Week, Thank you for the gift of Your Son, Jesus, who has granted us eternal salvation. Amen.

Blessings and Thanksgiving for all of our faithful friends.
Charlotte, Stan and family

Monday, November 15, 2010


Women of Faith:

My journal this week says, “Destruction brings unity.” It made me think about how our country and the world unified in the days following 9-11. And how the people around Parkersburg united following a devastating tornado and then the death of Ed Thomas, mentor and coach.

Are we at attention as God calls us to be? Are we still unified or have we fallen back asleep? Are we still calling on God in our lives as we did in the days after 9-11? Yesterday’s and today’s readings call us to be ready, to see the signs, to change our hearts and to have faith. They talk of the end times, of our blindness to sin and the signs that Jesus is near.

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” Lk 21:5-19

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show his servants what must happen soon. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who gives witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ by reporting what he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near.” Rv 1:1-4; 2:1-5

“Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.” Lk 18:35-43

Jesus is always near, whether it is the end time or not, because our lives here on earth are numbered. We don’t know whether we have only today, tomorrow or a 100 tomorrows to be with God, in God and thru God.

And like the blind man, we are to have faith even when we cannot see the destruction (sin). Because the most harmful destruction is the destruction in our hearts, the anger, the unforgiveness, the selfishness that is caused by materialism, by succumbing to societies law, instead of living God’s law and by the blindness of our human failings, the sins we choose to ignore.

We are called to be at attention, to pray more, to seek His forgiveness, to heed His message and live His commandments. We are to have faith, even in our blindness, and hope in God’s promises to keep us from eternal harm, IF we heed His message.

And if you knew that today was your last, what would you do differently? Would you be more tolerant of your own sufferings? Would you be more patient with your spouse’s bad habits? Would you take better care of your body, speak with more kindness, or love more? Would you be less about yourself, and more about others--spending your time or money caring for the needy, homeless, hungry or lonely?
Would we act more deliberately, with more intention, like we did in the days following 9-11?

God calls us to hear his message, to pray harder, to live in faith. When disaster happens, when a loved one is taken away from us, when Jesus comes again, then it may be too late to change. We must already be at His attention living his commands.

As Father said, just thinking about change is not enough, we must change from our hearts, and have hope that our change will affect others; because the more we love, the more others will love; because the faith that others see in us, will give others an example of the joy His faith brings. As God’s people we are to be His living bible, His living message.

Almighty Father, Lover of All, Bring us to your attention. Help us to live your words, to forgive those who have wronged us, and to pray for those who have not yet come to see you in their lives. Thank you for the blessing of seeing change in those we love. Help us to never grow weary, to become complacent, or to think that it is someone else who needs to change. Change me. Protect me. Keep ME at Attention. Amen.

Do we have God’s attention because we are following, leading or dividing His church?

Make the move! Come to God’s peaceful, loving, and forgiving attention. Blessings!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Date Night Reminder

Friends in Faith:
We would like to invite you to join us for St. Pat's Date Night on Sunday November 21 at 5:30 for faith, food, fellowship, and tools to be used in your marriage journey.
Each date brings new tools for Christian marriage and assists in reminding us of the vow we took to each other and with God on our marriage day.
As Matthew Kelly says we are never too old, or too young to enrich and change our lives: our youngest couple is engaged and soon to be married and our oldest couple has been married over 60 years! Making, and taking, time to "date" is one of the tools to a healthy, happy marriage. And all of the work of deciding where to go, where/what to eat, who to go out with and who's going to watch the kids is already taken care of :)
If you need daycare please reply back to this email or call our home phone below and leave a message.
For your calendar future date nights are scheduled on Jan 23, Feb 13 and March 27, 2011.
Hope to see you next Sunday night, St Pat's, 5:30.
Blessings on your marriage,
Stan and Charlotte

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gather Us In

Women of Faith:

As I reflected this morning I searched for guidance, God’s Spirit to lead me to the words that could tie together the fragments of our lives scattered by society evils and family demands.

Sunday I wrote at the top of my church journal—Gather Us In. As usual God seems to find Me—to put before Me--just what I most need to hear. The song ‘Gather Us In’ says: “Here in this place new light is streaming, now is the darkness vanished away. See in this space our fears and our dreamings, brought here to you in the light of this day. Gather us in the lost and forsaken, gather us in the blind and the lame; Call to us now and we shall awaken, we shall a rise at the sound of our name. We are the young our lives are a mystery, we are the old who yearn for your face, We have been sung throughout all of history, called to be light to the whole human race. Gather us in the rich and the haughty, gather us in the proud and the strong; give us a heart so meek and so lowly, give us the courage to enter the song.”

Even as my heart “analyzed” what I was singing I knew I was in church to be “gathered in” to put the pieces together, to unscramble life’s puzzles and challenges. And as Father said, “have the message PROCLAIMED into my life.”

And then I read the following verse and reflection from the USCCB website: “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me”. (Philippians 4:13)

“Paul is writing to the Philippians and saying to them that there is a secret that leads to survival and, indeed, joy in every circumstance in life. The interesting thing about this secret is that it is no secret at all! The problem is that we too seldom avail ourselves of the power of it. The name of Jesus, the person of Jesus, the personal touch of the Savior, the closeness that is closer than our own skins - this is the "secret" Paul speaks of. It is one of the most widely known and poorly used secrets in the whole world.

“Wherever you may be in life, look to Jesus. Go to Jesus, speak with Jesus. Whatever is happening, Jesus has the ability to help you cope. In good circumstances and bad, remember and reverence his Name. In a famous spiritual classic of the Orthodox world, one Pilgrim through the world endeavors to say His name with every breath and with every step. Such would be a good practice for us as well. Whether we are in good times or bad, fast or feast, famine or abundance, Jesus is the one who helps us - He is our strength, our mainstay and our hope. He is the one who gives us the power to rejoice in chains and to conquer our enemies through love. And the only true conquest, the only lasting victory, is Love - Jesus Himself.” –Saturday, Nov 6 USCCB daily reflection

Dear God: Gather Us In! I come to you, lost, lonely, blind and lame. Awaken me to find the “secret” that is in Your Spirit of LOVE; leading me every step of the way and rejoicing in the knowledge that you are close. Thank you for seeing my fears and helping me get through each minute, of each hour, of each day. Thank you for seeing my dreams and helping me to put those dreams into the proper perspective, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, for richer for poorer—Give me the courage to enter the song.

Are you missing the “secret” ingredient in the recipe of your life?


Monday, November 1, 2010

Snooze Button

Women of Faith:

Are you like me in the morning, hitting the snooze button 3, or 4, or more times. Sometimes even pushing the alarm clocks “snooze” limit?

Are we pushing the “snooze” button on God? God says we can’t push Him to a limit, but have we “hit snooze” so often that we are oversleeping and missing the rewards
He offers us each day, His ability to care for us in every aspect of our “daily” lives.

Monday: Set the tone for yourself and God: Am I sleeping and exercising regularly and then choosing the right foods to eat? Or is “snooze” the name of the diet and exercise plan, saying I will “snooze” til tomorrow, the weekend or maybe even a New Year’s resolution?”

Tuesday—Our Country: Don’t snooze, VOTE tomorrow!! God’s choice is LIFE, not protection of our economy but of the people He created. “No servant can serve two masters. 8 He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Luke 16: 13

Wednesday—Spirit Day (Religious Ed/church night): If you are taking the kids to get educated, are you educating yourself in God’ ways by what you are reading and watching? Are you in “snooze” mode with escape books, reality TV or rap music, or are you reading a self help book (Matthew Kelley), watching EWTN (Catholic TV) or listening to Christian radio (99.1 or 101.9).

Thursday—Societies “model.” Are we “snoozing and losing” focus of God because of the society and peer pressures around us. Don’t give in to “saying and doing” what society says is right. We know in our heart what God is asking us to wake up to and to speak for and against. If we are awake to God, His joy in our lives will be contagious to those around us.

Friday—the day of the cross: Are you hitting the snooze button on asking for “forgiveness?” Someplace there is someone we need to tell, “I’m sorry.” When was the last time YOU held YOURSELF accountable and received the sacrament of reconciliation? God’s forgiveness and mercy is for all, regardless of the seriousness of our sin, and if we ASK. As yesterday’s reading from Wis 11:22-12:2 reminds us: “But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook people's sins that they may repent. For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned. And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you? But you spare all things, because they are yours, O LORD and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things! Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!”

Saturday: Date night! How important have I made my spouse this week? God tells us that the purpose of marriage is to take our spouse to heaven. They can’t come with us if we don’t ask them to come and if we don’t make them our priority—not just on

Saturday, but all week long, in every decision, in every step we take with God. Quit putting them on “snooze” just because they are the most “tolerant” and understanding person in your life. Make your spouse your priority. (If you are not married: a parent, a “spiritually lonely” child, the elderly or someone without a family: someone is seeking your friendship so that you can share God in their life.)

Sunday—God’s chosen day. Are we taking ourselves (and our children) to church, or sleeping through another “snooze” on the alarm clock, saying “this is MY day to sleep in?” God doesn’t “sleep in!” He is awake all the time, seeing our every “snooze,” and listening attentively to our every prayer. Be awakened by Church, listen to His word and be fed his body and blood so that we can remain spiritually healthy when we go home and want to “snooze” in the other parts of our life.

All Loving, All Merciful God, Wake me up. Help me to turn off the snooze button in my life and say “Good Morning, God, I am awake for you today. Amen.

God's Alarm! Snooze! God's Buzzing! SNOOZE! GOD's CALLING! Wake up, if you have not already done so, because it’s “your” time, in your life, to do something for God.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting Things Done

Women of Faith:

Last night was our second Couples of Faith date night. Conversations there are always enlightening and thought provoking. At some point the discussion always turns to “how do you do all the things you do?” This is how God, not I, answers: “Why did God make me? To Know Him, Love Him, Serve Him.” Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 27-32, 46)

Today’s reading from Ephesians, also points to giving in love, sacrificing and working for God, acting within God’s commandments, finding light in the truth.
“Brothers and sisters: Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater,
has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. So do not be associated with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Eph 4:32–5:8

My theory is like Father Mike’s: “Don’t sit if you can stand, don’t stand if you can walk, don’t walk if you can run.” “It is a blessing if you can get things done.”

I am only doing what God made me for. If I do less than that, I am not answering His call. If I put something or someone ahead of God, I am not answering His call. And this is a TEAM effort, God is my/our coach. He wants the WHOLE team to succeed. That is the plan for marriage and for our families.

One of the other comments I have heard said is: “I wish “____” would have heard this.” That too is our call, to let others know what we have heard about God’s truth. Not what we think, not what society thinks, but what God has given us in the Bible and thru the Church teachings. It is our duty to spread that Truth, to invite someone to attend Church with us, to share God’s message by our living example, to express joy in our lives, and not “whine” but to show acceptance and embrace the burdens and sufferings we might be given—just as Jesus accepted the cross for us.

That is where prayer comes in. Many are not willing to listen. Many are not choosing the “narrow path.” It is so much easier to follow what has come to be the majority (only 1 in 4 Catholic’s attend mass on Sunday). (I don’t know statistics for other Christians.) What does “Keep Holy the Sabbath” mean? Can we afford to sin against a commandment so carelessly?

Our first job, whether we are sitting, standing, walking or running—is to pray! Pray to open hearts, to allow God’s spirit into conversations, and into the actions that we model for others.

If only 1 in 4 (or less) are doing God’s call—knowing Him, loving Him, serving Him—then will only 1 in 4 be allowed into Heaven?

What will we do, what will we give up, who will we pray for so that they, and we, are 1 of those 4?

Dear God: With joyful hearts we sing your songs of praise. Let Your Spirit guide us in paths of righteousness. Continue to bless us with the abilities, knowledge, courage and patience to “get things done.” Help us to touch others with Your word and light. Amen.

Go in faith, to build your team and “His will be done” “Good and faithful servant.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

To Be or Not to Be

Women of Faith:
How are our lives and our society driven by convenience?

We have “convenience foods,” drive-thru drug stores and even drive up windows at “eat-in” restaurants, so now we can save the time that might have been required to prepare the food. We have DVD’s in our cars to entertain the kids. Our stores stay open 24-7 so that we will have “convenient” shopping hours. We have “convenience” stores that carry everything from milk and bread, to medicine, to gas for our cars. We carry cell phones and hand held computers so that we have “convenient” access to our email, our offices and we can be “tracked” and kept track of without every really talking to our children or our spouses.

What has all this convenience done for us? We no longer sit down as a family to have a meal, or to hang out on a regular basis in the kitchen, learning how to cook. Sunday’s (and even Christmas and Thanksgiving) are filled with shopping for a something we might “need” (or is that want?) Our children are entertained not only by the TV at home, but even when we are traveling down the road. When do we take time to talk and find out about their day? And we (and our spouses) are always connected to our work, so that we never really have “free” time or silence in our lives, a chance to connect with each other, or a time to listen to God’s call in our lives.

In St Paul’s letter to Timothy he says: “Beloved: Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” 2 Tm 3:14-4:2

God is not a God of convenience. God is a God of truth and mercy. His word is inspired with wisdom for our salvation, forgiveness for our past wrongs, and perfect love for those who chose to seek His narrow path. We are asked to be persistent (and patient) in learning, convincing, correcting and encouraging others and ourselves to live His truth and share His love.

How do we make our faith lives convenient? We justify our every choice with the ever popular “it must be right, everyone is doing it.” We choose to do something for ourselves, rather than to do something for our neighbor (next door, or in a country around the world).

We ignore the opportunities we are given to help a child (both our own by giving them quality time with us or by being a good role model for our younger generations). It is inconvenient to talk to our lonely, elderly neighbors, or to help out the person next door who may have lost their job or have no food on their table. Instead we use our time and money to entertain ourselves and give ourselves more toys and conveniences, filling our homes with “useless” treasures.

We go to church when it is “convenient,” when it fits our schedule. We choose marriage and divorce with convenience—it’s easier to live together than to make a commitment to one another (and to not communicate God’s word to those who are making this choice); and when our spouse “fails us,” divorce becomes the “convenient” choice.

We even choose “life” when it is convenient, with birth control, abortion and euthanasia or by voting for someone who is pro-choice, because they promise us “lower taxes.”

It is tough to take the “inconvenient” path. It is not easy to “do” what God tells us is right. And as Paul said, it is not always “convenient” to speak the truth: to “know Him, love Him, and serve Him.”

Dear God: Praise be Your merciful forgiveness of my past “convenient” choices; for sending Your son who suffered “inconvenience” for me and died on the cross. Forgive me for the times I have chosen entertainment over service, anger over love, or envied “what everyone else” was doing. Thank you for the “conveniences” I am blessed with—a warm home, a car that starts, food on my table and friends to support me. Help me to listen to You in the silence and to be patient with those who have not yet heard Your truth. Help me to remember that the inconveniences of this world will be blessed in Your world. Amen.

Be “inconvenienced” today! Blessings,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Take action! Walk the Talk

Women of Faith

Just because we “hear,” are we really listening? Just because we “see,” are our eyes really open?

In yesterday’s gospel, only one out of ten that was healed, returned to give thanks. The rest were given a sign, but took no action.

“As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?" Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you."’ Lk 17:11-19

The responsorial also reminds us that God is speaking to us and that we should take the action of His word. “The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power. The LORD has made his salvation known: in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel.” Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

Are we going to church, sitting in the pews, listening, and then walking out saying I’ve “done” God for the week? Or,” I have been “saved,” I know there is a God, so God will take care of me, regardless of how I act until I come back to church?”

Our call from God is to KNOW him, LOVE him, and SERVE him. But that also means that we must obey his commands, not just listen, that we must take action on what we hear, not just accept and continue our “normal” ways; that we are to lead by action, to speak softly as God commands and to accept the sacrifices and burdens given to us, just as Jesus accepted his cross.

In today’s society making the choice to DO God’s will is VERY difficult, because there is so much around us that says, “this is the way society is, it must be okay, everyone else is doing it.” Or I can’t fix “society;” so as long as I am “good” I have done my part. Choosing the path of God means that we will take the action of love and forgiveness; that we will take the “first, most difficult step;” that we will thank God for the small blessings, that we will “open” our eyes, bear our crosses and reach for a greater goal than just happiness on earth.

As Father Corapi says, “God’s ways are not societies ways; God’s way is tough to follow because the happiness that He promises is something that is not an immediate gratification, but rather what is eternal. We do not go to heaven alone, we will either take our friends and family with us; or they will take us to a place that does not know God. It is our choice.”

Dear God: Praise be your saving power. Forgive me for the times when I chose or will choose an “easier” path. Thank you for protecting my home from evil forces, for putting angels in the path of thieves, so even they could not ignore Your sign. Help me to have the courage and faith to walk the talk, not just talk the talk; to see your signs, and to not be afraid to take action. Keep my eyes and ears open to the signs you place before me. Amen.

Blessings as you walk the talk,

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blame and Complain

Where is God when we are blaming and complaining, when we are in pain or suffering and something isn’t going our way?

This week’s readings are about God’s presence in our lives especially when we are suffering. ”How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord. Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live”. Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4

We are reminded in this reading, and in Paul’s letter to Timothy that we must have faith, patience and humility in our lives. That God is not here to disappoint us, that He has a vision and that we must WAIT and pray in faith regardless of the sufferings placed in our path.

“Beloved: I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.
Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.” 2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14

Not every day can be as “perfect” as the beautiful fall day that today is going to be; not every day is a day in Heaven. All around us, we or someone we know, is suffering. There is a complaint, a blame, a test of our patience, an ache, a pain, or a tragedy.

Yet, if we look around, if we seek God, if we choose to accept our sufferings as Christ did, there will be a glimpse of heaven even in those moments of tragedy and suffering, even in our sorrows. We will receive a hug from a spouse, a child, grandchild or friend. There will be a kind word from someone you didn’t even know cared. There will be a “flower” blooming in the desert, a sparkle in the death of a fall frost, or a star to light the sky.

Earth is a “test, “a preparation,” for what is to come. We are here to act as Christ did in His sufferings, in His service, to Love in Good Times and In Bad. We are to accept our sufferings, and from them learn patience, faith and humility. If God didn’t “let us suffer” we would have no reason to seek Him in prayer.

And, most of us have the tendency to pray more when we are suffering. God wants to know that “we trust” Him, “know” Him, “love” Him; that our faith rests in Him.

How many times do we forgetten to thank Him for the very small treasures of our life? Have we thanked Him for the roof over our head, the food on our table, the “I love you” from our spouse, a child’s hand, a friends smile or time to spend with our family?

Our sufferings are also a reminder that we are not in control, but that God is in control. It is our faith, hope and love which will bring us to prayer in both good times and in bad: to look for Christ in our life regardless of what “suffering,” what unkind word, what injustice, may have happened in our day.

Dear God: Praise the glimpses where I can “see” you. Forgive me for the times I have blamed my spouse, my friends, my neighbors for my suffering, especially those caused my own deeds, actions or inactions. Help me to make decisions guided by faith and the wisdom of the Spirit. Guide my actions and my words in my family, with my friends and in voting for our countries leaders. Help me not to place blame, especially where I could be the solution. Help me not to complain but to be patient and listen to you in prayer. Amen.

As Christians we never take “enough” time for prayer. Suffering is a part of our lives, so that we will stop and “look” harder for God. Let's give God credit for having a plan that will be fulfilled in HIS time, and that will not disappoint. God is still in control of our destiny!
In faith,

Monday, September 27, 2010

It Doesn't Affect Me

Women of Faith:

Have you ever been asked to take a stand on a moral, church or political issue and said, “It doesn’t affect me?” I know I have, especially when I was younger and didn’t understand the direct (or indirect) affect that those decisions I made had on others.

This saying often comes from “a false sense of security,” “a complacency,” that as long as I do right, it doesn’t make any difference what the rest of my family or my community does around me.

Like the food chain we learned in middle school biology, when I make a choice, or take a stand, or allow someone else to do so, it DOES affect others--family, community, or world. Even a relatively easy decision like going shopping can affect all three: my purchase has spent money that could have been used for a more “needy” purpose in my family, or the money could have been used to make a payment on debt/credit card (community), or to feed the needy (world)—and my time could have been spent with my spouse or my children doing the more “simple” –staying home (family), visiting a sick or lonely friend (community) or helping at a food shelter (the world).

In Sunday’s first reading, Amos is pretty clear about how “complacency” is affecting the people of Zion—the people are eating the lambs and calves and enjoying their treasure “luxury” (ivory) while the poor are starving: “Thus says the LORD the God of hosts: Woe to the complacent in Zion! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall! Improvising to the music of the harp, like David, they devise their own accompaniment.” Am 6:1a, 4-7

I read one of those internet “forwards” the other day about a mouse who asked each of his “larger” animal friends for help—everyone said “it doesn’t affect me;” in the end each of them dying because of the indirect cause and affect we have on each other.

It is pretty clear what God calls us to do: “But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called.” 1 Tm 6:11-16

Yet the problems facing our society today: the rich getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer; a 60% divorce rate; 4000 abortions a day and same sex marriage—just because I am making the “right choice;” just because “I” choose to follow the commandments, doesn’t mean I should allow “free choice” because it is “their life,” “their choice.” Our choice to follow Jesus, means we would lay our lives down for another, just as He did for us. But are we willing, are we spreading God’s word, are we attempting to tell others the truth, especially our children and friends, God’s truth, and most importantly, are we following God’s truth ourselves?

These are tough choices, these are not popular choices. We are in a spiritual war, and war is not easy. But I don’t think we can just sit back and say nothing; I don’t think we can “expect” our children to realize that society’s teachings are not God’s teachings. As church going Christians, we are the “larger,” while there are some that may not listen, there are many others that do not know God at all, because there has been no one to teach them, to show them God’s truth. Life is not easy, we may even suffer for making the “right” choice, or for speaking God’s truths, but just as it is the military’s duty to defend our country, so is it our duty to defend the teachings of Christ.

It is our job to teach not only our children the faith, but also to let our friends know when a particular choice, or a society choice, is not fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives. And it is our duty as Christians to vote our faith. (See the attached article by Father Corapi.)

Dear God: Praise Your Truth, praise Your Righteousness. Help me to pursue Your Truth and Your Righteousness. Forgive me for being a “slow learner.” Give me the grace and knowledge to make the tough decisions, to speak the Right Truth, Your Truth. And let Your Spirit be with me in passing Your Truth to those around me, with patience, understanding and true love. Amen.

Search for God’s Truths. Choose the Truth. Spread the Truth.


Father Corapi Attachment to It Doesn't Affect Me

An excerpt from Letters, a Collection of Short Letters by Father John Corapi

Education, Faith & America

In speaking with faithful Catholics all over the world for the past twenty years there is a consensus among them that the average Catholic doesn't know much about their faith. Likewise there is an overwhelming consensus that if we did, the world would be a very different place. In the United Sates of America we have over sixty million Catholics. If these Catholic citizens knew their faith and then voted and lived their faith, this country would be incalculably better off. In turn, so would the entire world.

As Bishop Robert Vasa pointed out, clarifying the teaching of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops in their excellent pastoral letter "Faithful Citizenship," a candidate or office holder is disqualified from receiving the vote of a Catholic in good conscience if they hold a pro-abortion position. In other words pro-choice candidates under the current set of circumstances are disqualified because of their pro-death political positions. We cannot vote for them. As the Bishops of Kansas asserted in their voter's guide, "Catholics would 'commit moral evil' by voting for a candidate who supports abortion and other intrinsically evil things. Voting is a moral act, and voting for pro-chice candidates is evil in itself. One becomes a collaborator in evil by so doing. No amount of rationalization can escape this logical and moral conclusion."

There was some confusion over this, based on a statement made some time ago by Pope Benedict, who was speaking in general terms, saying that for a "proportionate reason" it would be possible to vote for such candidates. However, in the concrete situation we face, with the candidate who is pro-life, this would not be possible. No amount of "other reasons" would excuse voting for a pro-choice candidate. The Church clearly teaches that life begins at conception. As Pope John Paul II state many times, "abortion is murder." Following logically from this, if a single abortion is murder, then 48,000,000 (the approximate number of abortions in this country since Roe v. Wade) of them is genocide. What would be the "proportionate reason" supporting such an outrage? There is none.

Lack of understanding of what the Catholic Church teaches is grossly harmful to the individual Catholic and to society in general. It is for this reason that I have always tried to promote and teach the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is a sure norm for teaching the faith, as Pope John Paul II asserted in promulgating the Catechism. "Guarding the Deposit of Faith is the mission which the Lord entrusted to His Church," are the first words of the Apostolic Constitution " "Fidei Depositum." These are the worlds the Holy Father used to introduce us to the Catechism.

Ignorance of the Faith can prove fatal - for individuals and for nations. Learning our faith is the best investment we can make. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the very best way to do this.

Fr. John Corapi

Monday, September 20, 2010


Women of Faith:

I woke up this morning with a thought about how nice it would be to stay in bed in “the silence.”

With no cell phones, no computers, no constant “noise” of the world. Maybe I felt that way because I fell asleep frustrated by my computer and lack of a “good signal” on the internet. Or maybe I was hearing God “in the gentle voice” within me.

Matthew Kelly in “The Rhythm of Life” talks about how as children we hear the “gentle voice within us with great clarity and we live by what we hear. So we are immensely happy.

“As we grow older, we become aware of all the other voices around us—the voices of parents, siblings, friends, critics, television, strangers and experts.

“These voices have strength and confidence of experience, so we become fascinated and distracted from the gentle voice within.

“We start to question and doubt and gradually that voice within us becomes faint, we stop listening to this natural voice within.

“The gentle voice within us is your truest guide, because it has no self-interest. It is only interested in you becoming your best version of yourself.” (Paraphrased from Matthew Kelly)

What does this say about the silence? How do we fail to hear God’s truth and probably more importantly how have we come to believe in what the world says is normal, true, and more important, than what we know in our hearts is not “morally right?”

Why is it we are so ready to argue with what our inner voice says, with God’s truth? And why is everything else, and everyone else more important than taking the time to be silent so that we can listen to God’s voice in our life?

Yesterday’s gospel in Paul’s letter to Timothy called us to pray, saying: “It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument. 1 Tm 2:1-8

Dear God: Praise be Your presence in my life. Praise be your whispering call. Help me to be still and know that you are near. Thank you for those moments of quiet time, of silence. Let me appreciate them and not try to fill every moment with something “more important.” Thank you for meeting my daily needs. Give me opportunities to be silent, to listen, and to truly hear your Truth. Amen.

God is here, God is just waiting for you “to be still,” to be quiet, to be silent and to know that He is here. We can’t listen to Him, to the “gentle voice within us” if we fill every moment of every day, or if we are continuously arguing with that voice, ignoring it so that we can accept what we know is wrong, because the world is telling us—“everyone does it.”

Blessings in silence,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Special Date Night Invite

Women of Faith:
Specifically this week to those of you that are married or who have friends that are married—

Dear God: We praise your inspiration in our marriages. Please bless all couples and show us your way to holiness. Amen.

Stan & I would like to invite all of you to bring your spouse to Date Night, a “Couples of Faith” marriage enrichment program on September 26 at St. Pat’s in Tama at 5:30 P.M. We will have food, fellowship and share in faith some “not so new” tools for marriage—the tools given to us in the Bible.

Whether you have been married 1 day or 50+ years, no matter what Christian church you attend, regularly or irregularly, and whether your marriage is full of joy or needs recharged the evening will be worth your time.

Please share this message with your married adult children and your friends who I may not know, or with those you know who were unable to attend a Cluster of the Saints Mass this weekend.

For those of you who attend other churches or who were out of town we introduced the program Sunday morning by showing the promotional video at this website:

Stan’s and my message of invitation, tie in to the Sunday reading and statistics follow:

If we told you that 6 out of 10 of you would get cancer in the next 5 years, to what lengths would you go to prevent that cancer. If we than told you that if you attended church, your chances of getting cancer would lessen to 1 out of 250, or that if you prayed daily with your spouse your chances of avoiding cancer would be cut to 1 in 1110 (One thousand, one hundred, ten)!! Would you begin coming to church? Would you begin praying daily?

These are the statistics for divorce in couples who attend church together and who pray together. In contrast to the 6 out of 10 marriages that will end in divorce—a devastating 3600 couples DAILY; only 1 couple in 250 who attend church together have their marriages end in divorce; and more importantly only 1 couple in 1110 who pray together daily will have their marriage end in divorce.

These statistics are not “Catholic” statistics—they are for ALL Christians who attend church together as couples, and who pray daily together as couples. Catholics do not have a “better chance” at marriage than any other couple, likewise this program is not just for Catholics—we are inviting couples of ALL faiths to join us.

One other statistic we should share is that 80%, 8 out of 10 of all couples who “cohabitate” (live together before marriage) will have their marriages end in divorce. This is a statistic to share with those who are already in this situation or who are thinking about it. As the video said—as married couples we owe an apology to our friends who have chosen this route for implying that marriage is something to be avoided or that is not a fulfilling sacramental unity.

In the first reading, Ex 32:7-11, 13-14 Moses asks God "Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people. Our culture is a culture of death; abortions and divorce rates higher than ever, and are ever increasingly considered acceptable by our society.

The question should probably now be, “ Why, O lord, “shouldn't” your wrath blaze up against your people?!”

Pope John Paul 2 said "as goes the marriage, so goes the family, as goes the family so goes the community, so goes the state, the country and the world. And that is exactly what the devil wants - to break up our marriages, our families, our communities, our country. Sound familiar?
The devil wants to get his foot in our door and take over your family and ours.

How do we fight the devil, the evil of our society?

We go to school for 12 years and some go to 4 years of college, so that we can get great jobs and make a lot of money, but who prepared us for the most important jobs we'll ever have?
Marriage, raising children and spiritual warfare in our homes are our most important jobs!

Who gave us the educational tools for these jobs and showed us how to live out the covenant we made with our spouse and with God?

Whether your marriage is good, great, or terrible, we will all benefit from the "couples of faith" marriage enrichment program!

Why? Because we are all teachers of the faith and role models for each other and if we can share and learn new tools to live out our own marriage commitment, and reach out and teach others who may be struggling in their marriages, then it will be worth your time and ours.

Mathew Kelly said "A tree with strong roots can withstand any storm.” The question is not "will there be a storm in your life, the questions are "when will the storm come?” and “does my marriage have strong enough roots to withstand the storm?” And do I have the necessary tools to withstand the storm and to rebuild the damage that the storm creates?

Today’s Gospel talks about the joy of finding one lost sheep Lk 15:1-32 or 15:1-10. Imagine how the Lord will rejoice in the one marriage that is saved and the marriages that are strengthened from "couples of faith" program. And imagine our own rejoicing when we are able to live our marriages for what they are intended to be, not what the culture says is acceptable.

God is the author of marriage, He is the key to a faithful, fruitful and fulfilled marriage and marriage is our path to holiness. Do you know what God has to say about the purpose of marriage? Did you know that God has a plan for marriage?

God has given us the tools to help us in our marriages… but without knowing what those tools are, we can’t know what we don’t know.

We are here today to ask you to join us in helping to prevent divorce; to join us in making our marriages stronger and in turn to rejoice in the building of our parishes, families, and our community.

Please give Stan or I a call for details. (Daycare will be provided. Please RSVP for this service).

Blessings on your marriage and families,
Stan and Charlotte

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day, Rest Day

Women of Faith:

I have often wondered why it is easier to play on a holiday, schedule a vacation, shop, golf or watch a ballgame, than it is to attend church on Sunday. When I was growing up there were very few stores open on Sunday. Only the workers who worked in hospitals and emergency crews worked to save lives. I think we had it figured out “back then” according to today’s gospel.

“On a certain Sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the Sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up and stand before us." And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" Looking around at them all, he then said to him, "Stretch out your hand." He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.” Lk 6:6-11

Jesus says that we should only work if what we are doing is to do good, rather than evil.

What good are we doing with our Sabbath days? Are we working to serve others, or are we working to serve ourselves—to make our lives “better” by increasing our earthly riches, instead of our heavenly riches?

Dear God: Thank you for allowing me a day of rest and for giving me time off from work. Thank you for giving us the “servants” in our lives. Help me to make time for you on Your Holy Day. Help me to honor your law, to keep Holy the Sabbath. Amen.

Blessings on the rest you find on God’s Day and this Labor Day.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Humble Child of God

Women of Faith:

Does it feel like you are “always” last? Like there is never enough time for you, or that the only time you have for you is when you climb into bed at night, or lock yourself into the bathroom for a few minutes?

Do you wish for quiet time, me time, more energy, or that someone would just DO something/anything to help you? Do you feel like you are the doormat, and everyone else is walking on/across you—especially those you love, your spouse and children.

How do those feelings make you treat or react to their needs, your coworkers or others you come into contact with? Do you resent their free time, or even get angry at yourself because of your own “willingness” to be “last,” which as women, wives and mothers we are so good at being—always taking care of others and putting our own needs last. And do I even feel guilty when I happen to have a moment of quiet time to pray or meditate?

Have we forgotten who we are? Who they are? Who our spouse is?

We are all “Children of God?” And God asks us to “be humble and to be last” as he did in today’s readings: Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29 ”My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.”

(Non Catholic Christians—if you do not know this verse, it is because the Book of Sirach is one of the books of the bible that was “deleted” during the Protestant reformation. The book was deleted because he/Sirach refers to believing in the traditions of the Church—meaning that all things that are true may not be written. If you click on the link you will be able to read the entire book.)

And the gospel, Lk 14:1, 7-14 “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” This gospel goes on to tell us to put our feelings and needs last so that we won’t be embarrassed when we are asked to “step down.” That doesn’t mean that we are to be doormats. It does mean however, that if we are “putting others before ourselves,” and doing it with grace and love, then we are being “last” exactly as God asked us to be. We are submitting our lives to God (and to our husbands/spouse and children) which is exactly what God calls us to do.

Dear God: Thank you for the gifts you have given me—for letting my husband/spouse be someone who is your Child, for putting your “children” in my care. Make me Humble. Help me to Love humbly without resentment, and with gratitude for the times my love is reflected by my family. Help me to appreciate that my family is part of your family. Help them also to see me as a child of God, so that they appreciate the love I show them. Help me to remember though, that love is not “even,” and that I am to love humbly, regardless of what is returned to me. Amen.

We are all God’s children. We have all been “designed by God.” Let us be humble in our actions and reactions to the children of God by whom we are surrounded. Let us treat God’s children as the gifts you meant them to be.

Blessed be God’s children,

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Truth is In Your Handbag from Proverbs 31 Ministry

The Truth is in the Handbag
25 Aug 2010
Shari Braendel

"Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me." Psalm 31:3 (NIV)

I recently watched as a frazzled shopper fumbled around in her bag trying to find her allusive keys. As she dug through her overstuffed purse, multiple items spilled out, landing on the counter and falling to the floor. Quickly, she began collecting her items.

I thought about her pretty purse, beautiful on the outside but hiding an unruly mess on the inside. And then I started thinking about how alike women and purses can be.

Maybe you're like a small purse that only has the capacity to hold a few things. Yet you try stuffing more into your life than you can hold, only to get frustrated. Perhaps one of those things is God: He's been cramm ed into a tiny space in your world and you don't give Him much room to rule because you feel more comfortable when you are in control.

Perhaps you're like a big purse, carrying all kinds of things. You're involving yourself in so many activities just because you can; with no real purpose to why you're doing it. You end up flustered like the shopper digging for her keys because you haven't spent the time needed to organize your spiritual life.

I know you're not a handbag, but when applying biblical truth and application, what kind of purse are you most like?

It's not God's desire for our inside to be out of sync with our outside. He desires for us to have our hearts turned toward Him and have our very pulse in beat with what He is doing in us.

Where should we start to curb the chaos, release our controlling tendencies and lighten the busyness to fall in step with God?

Start by being still. For some, that will go against every fiber of your being, but try it. Perhaps you abide in chaos because it's masking what is really going on with you, just like your pretty purse hides the unorganized mess within. Sit quietly and pray for God to help you be keenly aware of Him. Nothing that you are going through is a surprise to God.

Next, relax and trust the Lord. Sometimes feeling out of control causes you to hyper-control everything around you. Let go of your fears, doubts and worries and make room for God in your life.

Finally, clear your calendar. We overbook and over-schedule out of habit and now busy feels normal. Is your fast pace driven by fear, or does it define your value or identity? If so, re-evaluate where your time and energy are being spent and why.

Making a change doesn't come easily, but it can be done. Although seeking out time with God, learning to trust Him, and reorganizing your priorities can feel uncomfortable and difficult at first, I know for sure that it's not nearly as hard as living overcommitt ed and out of control.

Together, let's commit to cleaning out our "purses!"

Dear Father, will You please meet me right here, right now and quiet my heart so that I can rest and regroup? Thank You for the comfort of knowing that while I sometimes get waylaid, You never take Your eyes from me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Let Go and Let God

Women of Faith:

How do we let go of our children, our grudges, or our worries? Our minds may tell us to trust in God, but getting our hearts to completely believe and trust Him on a daily basis can be a real challenge.

I wrote most of this Monday Morning in response to a friend struggling to let her child become an adult. As many send students off to school this week I thought it would be appropriate to share these thoughts on a broader perspective.

I found the following prayer card, God’s perspective on “letting go, and letting God.”
“Let Go & Let God”
As children bring their broken toys and tears for us to mend, I brought my broken dreams to God because he was my friend.

But then instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone, I hung around and tried to help, with ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried, “How can you be so slow?”

“My child,” He said, “What could I do? You never did let go.”

We can fix our children’s broken toys, but we cannot fix their broken hearts; nor can we keep them safe from physical harm, decisions they make or the world’s evil influences. Likewise, we cannot make someone change their heart, accept God, or make dreams come true.

God is the only one who can fully protect us, that’s why “Be Not Afraid” & “Do Not Fear,” are the most often used phrases in the Bible.

The same principle that applies to letting our children grow up, also applies to our fears, and the angers we feel for the injustices that are so a part of our everyday lives. Learning to let go of our fears for our children, with TRUST and learning to let go of our hurts through forgiveness are all a part of the same “letting go,” process. TRUST God! in all things and with all things.

Prayer is the essential action—Praying “the right” prayer, not to change someone, but to change myself; not to change a child’s destiny, but that God will protect my child’s destiny. And prayer that asks for forgiveness which in turn allows us freedom from guilt and opens our hearts to trust.

As women we want to protect those we love and we feel guilt for just about every wrong, many times wrongs which we did not create. Keeping our children in our arms (or in a glass cage) may not completely protect them from illness, and as they grow older to protect them from making the wrong decisions. We are not the protector, God is.

Likewise, feeling guilty for things we did not do, or for what others did that affected us serves no purpose. We must trust that God will protect us and our loved ones. My prayer should be not to change my spouse, my friend, or my child, but to change myself. This gives God the power to reduce my fears, and take control of my life. In turn, the knowledge that God, who really does have control, also knows my needs and dreams and He can give me peace and comfort.

Someone wisely once told me: “Love is about, letting go, give them their wings, let them fly and dream their dreams.” One of my favorite songs is “On Eagles Wings” and especially this verse: ‘You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord, who abide in his shadow for life, say to the Lord: “My refuge, my rock in whom I trust.”’ Psalm 91
In prayer, we must learn to recognize God’s messages to us which are so often whispers amongst the screams of our problems and the societal messages in our lives.

One of the hardest parts of letting go our fears is when it requires us to seek forgiveness; not only His forgiveness, but of the person/s we have wronged, or who has wronged us. We must trust that when we ask God for forgiveness our relationship with Him will open both our heart and the other persons involved, so that we can receive His grace, and therefore let God be the judge, not us.

It is truly about learning to trust that God will take care, about letting Him have control. Give up the idea that you are the protector, that you will keep your children and family safe. Unfortunately we can’t always protect. We can only love them and let them know we love them. Let Go (of the control) and Let God (have control)—TRUST!

Matthew Kelly would tell us that our purpose is to “help others become the best version of themselves.” If we are always trying to help someone become “their best version” our prayer will always be the “right” prayer. This will give control and trust to God.

Praying not that my spouse, family member, or friend will change, but that I will change to be more accepting, more forgiving, more trusting of the circumstances in my life. And praying that those I love will also come to know God’s protection, forgiveness, and peace.

Just as I was when I first wrote this, I will again be leaving Sara, Luke, Colby and Karolina in Colorado after spending the weekend with them. I always have to remind myself that she has her own family, her own dreams, her own home. This is what “leaving your mother and father” and “cleaving” to your spouse means. I know that the only way to help her from a distance is to pray for her and for her family, so that their marriage and family will be God centered and God protected.

Our experiences of sending our children to school as kindergartners are a preparation for sending them out into the world as adults. Just as we give teachers our trust, so must we give God our trust. He is the ultimate teacher.

To Let Go is to Let others dream; To Let Go is to allow others to learn on their own experiences; To let Go is to let others affect their own destinies; To Let go is to allow others to Grow; and to Let go is to Fear Less and Love More.

Dear God: I praise your presence in my life and in my loved one’s lives. Help me to Let Go so that others can dream. Help me to let go so that others can learn by their own experiences. Help to me to let go so that God can affect each of our destinies. Help me to let go and allow others to grow through you. Help me to let go by fearing less and loving more. Thank you for giving me comfort and peace because I have trusted in you. Amen.

Let Go (of the control) and Let God (have control)—TRUST!


Monday, August 16, 2010

It's All About Me????

Women of Faith:

Is it all about me? Or are you coming to realize that just because our society says ME, ME, ME, doesn’t mean that God says so?

It seems as if none of us wants to accept the blame, few truly forgive, and even less forget, and seeing someone serve another person without “pay” or reward is a rarity. As spouses, serving and forgiving, which are the core principals of love and marriage, are at the “root” of many of our breakdowns in relationships. We live with the consequences of pride, anger, and jealousy; greedy and unwilling to “see” God’s love and understanding in our lives.

We want to be taken care of, pampered, and made to feel as if we are right all the time. We spend money for instant gratification, we expect to always be right and put ourselves in charge so that we can have “power” for our own purposes. And if a spouse doesn’t justify the other, they go in search of “love” from other “feel good” /addictive/ areas, or another person thru adulterous affairs; and no one seems to think any of this is “abnormal” or wrong, because society has made it “right” by its frequency.

We have religions that support gay marriage, abortion, and birth control. Religions who believe in “a god”, who don’t believe that Jesus has lived, and/or who’s teachings circumvent the full truth so that they will feel better about the way they are living.

The California courts have thrown out the ban on gay marriage, voted on by the people, saying that it is “unconstitutional” and yet it was the people who put it in the constitution by their vote. Literally the judge is saying—IT’S ABOUT ME, “I don’t like what was voted in, so I’ll just make a new law I like by banning the people’s vote/law.”

God doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t need us to be right. He is RIGHT! He put us here with His love; He put us here to serve each other. He put us here so that we could be with Him in heaven.

We have a shining example of “pure love,” “pure acceptance,” and “pure service,” in the person He gave us to bear His son, Mary.

“Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Luke 1: 38 She accepted God’s request for her body and spirit wholeheartedly. “Done according to HIS word!” She said nothing about her own desires, nothing about I or me, only about God’s desires.

So do we worship Mary? No, but we do pray "thru" her, honor her with the greatest reverence, and ask her to lift our prayers to her Son, Jesus and to God. As Martin Luther said in 1531, “She is the highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ. She is nobility, wisdom and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures.”

At the foot of the cross, with some of his last spoken words, Jesus said to his disciple, “Mother, behold your Son. Son, behold your mother.” John 19: 26-27 Jesus gave his mother, Queen of the universe, to us ALL, so that she would be OUR HEAVENLY mother, as she was/is God’s GIFT of a PERFECT mother for Jesus. And just as we requested our own earthly mothers intercede with our fathers when we were youngsters, so does Jesus tell us to take our prayers to His mother Mary, so that they will reach a greater glory with God, our Father.

Mary is our example that none of our actions should “be about me.” But instead, they must be “about God.” We are called to love and serve as Jesus (and Mary) did. We are also called to forgive and give as they did.

Dear God: Praise be the gifts of Your Son, Jesus and His heavenly Mother, Mary. Thank you for the Beauty and Blessings bestowed on us thru her intercessions for us. Help Me to be more like Mary, ready to serve, giving of my life, willing to forgive, and pure of heart. Help me NOT to be “about me” but “about living my life for you.” Amen.

Help me to be “about you” this week—


Monday, August 9, 2010

Live from San Antonio

We are in San Antonio, a city rich in Catholic heritage, which was named after St. Anthony, who celebrated the first mass here almost 400 years ago. Our mission is that of “spiritual recharge” with “carefree timelessness”—Matthew Kelly-- for each other and with God.

Saturday, as part of an audience of over 10,000, we listened to the internationally known priest, Father Corapi, He was sponsored by our special friends, Greg and Julie Alexander, founders of the Alexander House, and the “Covenant of Love” marriage enrichment and ministry programs. (Watch for more—the ministry is coming to TT soon!)

Father Corapi is a “conservative, Harley riding,” priest, who is a Vietnam vet, was once a millionaire businessman in Hollywood and Las Vegas, and lost everything, becoming homeless as he succumbed to drug addiction. Thru his conversion, Father Corapi was ordained a priest by Pope John Paul II with Mother Theresa in attendance in 1991. He appears regularly on EWTN TV and radio stations and is known for speaking the hard truth about where our country and our families are headed spiritually.

His message this weekend was entitled “Life, Love and the Purpose of Our Existence.”
In summary, of the 16 pages of notes I took, Father Corapi said, ‘“The time is at hand to change your life,” because “where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” And in the end there are only 2 choices, There is Heaven, or There is Hell. “You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”’ Luke 12:32-48.

He said, “The United States is in a state of spiritual warfare” (see Ephesians 6: 10-17.) Our nation is unraveling before our eyes and yet we continue to ignore the signs of the consequences of our sin. And that our life, our love, our souls depend on how we respond to the conflict around us.

This “spiritual warfare” is seen in 4000 abortions and 3600 divorces in the USA each DAY. One half of all marriages end in divorce and almost as many couples are cohabitating without the benefit of marriage. Because marriages are failing, and our children are in misery, so too are our communities and our nation in chaos. Our youth are being denied the teachings of morality, church, and marriage. There is an open, organized attempt to deny the existence of God, just as we have been denied the rights to mention God in our public school classrooms. And the recent rulings by the courts concerning homosexuality and same sex unions which is spoken so strongly against within the teachings of the Bible are another “failure” to heed God’s commands.

Pope Pius XII once said: “The greatest sin of our generation is that it has lost all sense of sin.” And yet we have been told over and over that God will punish and destroy those who sin.

Some of the reason for these sins, these failures, this evil in our society, can be pointed back to the choice to question, and then to go against, the Churches’ moral teachings, especially the introduction of birth control and the ever increasing materialism and secularism in our society.

In Fatima, Portugal, where Our Lady, The Blessed Mother of God, Mary, appeared in 1917 to 3 children and now, again as she appears daily since 1981, in Medjugorje, Bosnia, , Mary brings the message: “I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins.”

She continues, by adding repeatedly: “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” This, along with the message, “The Blessed Mother can no longer restrain the hand of her Divine Son from striking the world with just punishment for its many crimes,” should be more than enough warning. However, many Christians have either never heard the warning or have chosen to ignore the warnings. And with each passing day more and more of the predictions made by the Blessed Mother to the children of Fatima and Medjugorje are coming true.
Father Corapi brings much the same message, saying that we must change our ways, heed the commandments, listen and speak the truth, and live by the cross—first with God and then by loving our neighbor as ourself.

Dear God: Praise Be Your Love given freely for life. Help me to Love you more fully by always being ready to sacrifice my life for your sake. Help me to never “water down” or only speak “partial” truths because they are “easier” to bear. Help me be “spiritually ready” to fight the battles and the spiritual war I see all around me. Bless our politicians so that they will listen and act as you command. Thank you for giving Stan & I the opportunity of “carefree timelessness” to spend with you and with each other. Amen.

Will we heed the warnings of Mary and of Father Corapi? Will we do as we are asked: to pray daily, to say the rosary daily, to receive the Eucharist weekly, and to read the bible regularly? Or will we risk being unready sinners, denying the Church teachings and living immorally, choosing only what feels good and not following the commandments?
Blessings from San Antonio,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Too Much Stuff

Do you have “too much stuff?” Would you like to be free of having to find a place or a use for all of that “stuff?”

We live in a society of “consumerism.” We are continually in need of more things.
So, how much is “too much?” When have our possessions overtaken our life so that God is no longer in possession of our hearts? Are we “storing up” instead of “giving up”? Have we become greedy for more than we can ever possibly use, in ego, time and things?

As Americans we have more possessions than the rest of the world’s population. Even our poorest American neighbors have more than most of the worlds under privileged population. It is one of the reasons Americans are hated in other countries. We are seen as not living under the motto “one nation, under God;” but rather in building so that we are “one nation, for myself.”

Sunday’s reading is of the parable of the rich fool: Lk 12:13-21 ‘Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” …. Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
‘Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.

He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”’

Are we like the “fool” in the parable, building bigger houses, bigger closets, bigger garages, and bigger egos? Are we more concerned about building our 401k than giving to the poor; about having enough possessions to “eat, drink and be merry?”

Do we readily help those who have lost their jobs; are struggling for their next meal; who’s home has been foreclosed or those who live in underdeveloped countries? Are we sharing our possessions, including our finances, with neighbors who are living in substandard housing, who don’t own more than one pair of shoes, eat less than 3 meals a day or have less than an outfit for every occasion?

Most of you know that I love to shop, but lately that shopping has been more of an exercise to see how many times I can say, “no, I don’t really need that.” I realize that my “over full” closet needs cleaned out and my kids will attest that lately they seem to be ending up with a carload of items from the closet—food, memories, appliances and even furniture seem to be finding a “needier” home. Goodwill and the Clothes closet have become regular stops. Most of you can probably relate this to your own parents or grandparents, as they have shifted their possessions to others.

And what good does “saving it for my hayrack” -- meaning the auction when I die – do for someone who could use those “extra” possessions now?

The parable also talks about our life being “demanded.” As our priest said today, this does not necessarily mean death, but rather it is about God’s calling us to give up our ego, so that we will trust in Him rather than relying on our own self sufficient security; to live God’s way, rather than “my way.” To “… seek what is above, …. Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry….” Col 3:1-5, 9-11

What is our reason for building more storage? If my reason for building is to become self sufficient then I have taken God out of my life. I am supposed to rely on Him, and I am to use my possessions so that I can serve other people and so that others can see Christ in me.

Possessions not only include worldly possessions, but those impurities of thought that won’t allow us to spend time in prayer or in spiritual growth.

Our readings Sunday also talked about our vanity. Are there times when what I do for others, including my family, is to build my ego and seek self satisfaction or acknowledgement of my worth rather than because I am serving them as God would ask? Do I need their praise to be satisfied?

Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23 “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” … He must leave property. This also is vanity and a great misfortune. For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart …. All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest. This also is vanity.”

Greed and vanity are interconnected. If in our anxiety to acquire and to become self sufficient we cannot rest, if we are continuously striving for more of something, if it is impossible to be content, then it is because we are not TRUSTING that God will take care of us. If we followed instead, our prayer to “Our Father” to “Give us this day our DAILY bread,” not our “weekly,” “monthly,” "yearly,” or "life’s” bread—but, our DAILY bread, we would not be “storing up” belongings, but rather we could be relying on God as our provider.

If we gave up our desires and rested our vain anxieties to possess, think of the freedom and comfort we would have in knowing and trusting that God is taking care of us. He has promised He will take care of us just as he did the Israelites on their 40year journey into the desert by giving them DAILY manna as food. Not extra to store for the future, but to meet their DAILY needs.

We have an attachment to our belongings. But the 10th commandment says “do not covet your neighbor’s goods.” We are to be rich in what matters to God, not in material possessions. We are to denounce all of our material possessions and become rich in our desire to possess God’s promises. Where our treasure is, so is our heart.

Dear God: Praise be your promise to care for my daily needs, to feed me, to make my soul rich. Thank you for fulfilling my DAILY needs. Please help me to desire only that which will help others and show others your goodness. Help me to be content with what I have and to always be willing to share my earthly possessions with those who are in need. Amen.

What in my life do I “possess” that makes me rely on myself rather than on God? What in my “possessions” do I have that I should be giving up—to my neighbors, near and far? What do I seek that I am “storing” and not using daily?

Blessings for a richer life with God,