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,