Monday, December 31, 2012

Miss America Prayer

Friends of Faith:
Do you remember the standard Miss America answer for what the contestant most desired? “World Peace.”

Considering the source, Miss America – I think the contestants were actually very wise, although I don’t think anyone, after maybe the first time, was taken seriously in their thought. Or maybe it was more that no one believed it was even a possibility so therefore it was just a “pie in the sky” dream. But yet it is something most everyone desires, not only in the world between nations, but in our families, in our homes, and in our neighborhoods.
It is our dream. Given to us through love. Bringing us ultimate Joy. Love, Peace, and Joy on Earth.

“The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!  The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!” Num 6:24-26
A dream, yes, maybe, but like so much of what God has promised us, entirely possible if we live by God’s commands.

Christ often greeted his disciples, peace be with you. And it is our primary greeting at mass: Peace be with you. Our answer: And with your Spirit. It is what we most desire for ourselves and for each other.
St Francis of Assisi gave us this prayer as an instructive example to live and attain peace:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
 Where there is hatred, let me sow charity;
 Where there is injury, pardon;
 Where there is error, the truth;
 Where there is doubt, the faith;
 Where there is despair, hope;
 Where there is darkness, light; and
 Where there is sadness, joy.
 O, Divine Master,
 Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
 To be understood as to understand;
 To be loved as to love;
 For it is in giving that we receive;
 It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
 And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Today, this new year of 2013, and always, it is my prayer for each of you: Believe it, Share It and Act It, Let There Be Peace on Earth!

In Peace, Happy New Year,


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Our Christmas Prayer

Families of Faith:

Our family sends this prayer to each of you and to your families as we await the Light of the World, Jesus Christ Our Savior.
“Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers loved by God, how you were chosen.” 1Thes 1:1-4

Come Holy Spirit and enrich our lives. We have all been called to this place, at this time, for Your purpose. Help us to accept Your call as did Mary and Joseph, in faith without knowing why they were chosen.
May we come to recognize you in our spouses, in our neighbors, and in those we do not yet know—because if we search, you are in each of us, manifested in the love we have for each other.

May we become more like You: unrecognizable by our humble faith and memorable because of our actions in love.
Our family thanks You for the richness of friends and the wealth of health. And we remember with love and thanksgiving all of those we have given back to you this year.

We thank you for the communities in which we live and work—Toledo, Dubuque and Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Avon/Gypsum, CO.
We thank you for the blessing of wonderful employees and loyal clientele at the places ==where we are so fortunate to gather daily amongst friends—USS Polaris, Upah Tax Service, Loras Seminary, North Tama and Eagle Valley Schools, HyVee,  and Coe College.

Our family asks for your continued blessings on Andy and his fellow seminarians as they discern Your call to their vocations. Guide the priests and all religious who serve them and us. May the leadership of the Church continue to guide all Christians to truth and to forming God’s promised Holy, Apostolic, and unified body of Christ.
We thank you and ask your blessings on the staff and volunteers that we have come to know through in any way at St. Patrick’s, Holy Cross, St. Mary’s and St. Pius churches; The Alexander House marriage enrichment ministry; and Bridgehaven Pregnancy Support Center.

We thank you for the gifts of Colby (4) and Karolina (2) who’s hugs, smiles, innocence, mischief and sweetness remind us constantly of the blessings of all children. May all parents and grandparents be guided in teaching their children to live in faith.
Our family asks for the protection of the tiny baby growing inside of Kristy. May Kristy and Tyler’s anticipation for new life, become contagious attitudes for new life throughout the world, so that the most innocent, the pre-born will be given the regard and blessing of Your most heavenly miracle, birth.

We ask your continued guidance on life’s coaches, especially Stan and myself, Andy, Sara and Luke, and Kristy & Tyler. Thank you for the blessings we have received through the couples, religious ed students, and athletes we coach and mentor. May every spouse, student and athlete become a large part of a much larger team. We praise each achievement and ask you to lead us to train others in Your Spirit, to a greater life challenge with a greater reward, heaven.
We pray for the protection of educators and students. May Sara, Luke and Tyler as educators and Andy, Sara and Kristy, as students, serve You in greater knowledge.

We pray for Your grace on families, especially in those families who’s spouses seek enrichment through Godly instruction. Open the lines of communication and give us the courage to serve each other, dying to self and living as Christ lived: suffering, forgiving unconditionally and finding joy and hope by trusting in God’s will. May these words guide us:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”  1 Cor 13: 4-8

“In God all things are possible.”
And when all is said and done, what truly matters is that “Thy Will Be Done.”

Thank you for granting me my prayer, the greatest gift on earth, our family to be together this Christmas –see the picture below.
May each of you be as blessed this Christmas as we have been. AMEN!!

Charlotte & Stan Upah; Andy Upah, Sara, Luke, Colby and Karolina Cross and Kristy, Tyler & Baby Staker


Monday, December 17, 2012


Friends of Faith:

Our hearts go out to all those impacted by the evils of violence, death, and grief.
First, I would like thank all who called, emailed or were concerned for my safety after receiving the spam email last week which appeared to be from my blog—it was not. I apologize for the inconvenience to you, and for not replying sooner, but I wanted to complete all necessary precautions to be sure that my email was completely secured.

If you still have reservations about receiving further email from me, you can continue to receive my weekly reflection by becoming a friend at my blog:
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.” Jn 15: 18

I believe this occurrence, like many others in our lives, was just another worldly “darkness” meant to remind me to humbly search and become more aware of God’s “light” in my life. Light is much brighter and a much clearer guide when anyone is in darkness, we only need to look for the light.
“Brothers and sisters:  Rejoice in the Lord always.  I shall say it again: rejoice!  Your kindness should be known to all.  The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4: 4-7

Rejoice—find JOY! Always look and pray to the Lord who is near. Stay vigilant in searching for the light and realizing that He is in control so that His peace will guard your hearts and minds.
“For God did not give us a cowardly spirit but one which would make us strong, loving, and wise.” 2 Tim 1: 7

God tells us we will find JOY and peace if we live with courage, love and faith, by setting our priority to become Holy—to become Christ like—to become a gift to others—by living thru Him and reflecting His light with the help, guidance and power of the Spirit of God.
An easy way to remember our priority is to live with JOY as your guide.

J – Jesus (Do we HONOR Him with our actions? Do we accept our sufferings as He did for us? WWJD?)
O – Others (Does it serve our spouse, our family, our neighbor, like He served us?)

Y – Yourself (Have I laid down my life for another and denied myself?)
O God our Father, in Jesus you call all Christian families and homes to be signs of living faith. By the light of the Holy Spirit, lead us to be thankful for the gift of faith, and by that gift may we grow in our relationship with Jesus, your Son, and be confident witnesses to Christian hope and joy to all we meet. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  (USCCB Prayer for Families in the Year of Faith)

“God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid.  My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior. With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.” Is 12: 2-3
As we realize in this time of another national tragedy, JOY is ultimately found in caring for what is truly cherished, Love and Life. And it (tragedy and evil) provides us as Christians the opportunity to talk about how our faith in God helps us find Joy by looking for and seeing the light even when it is darkest.

May you find JOY and Peace as you and your family eagerly await Christ(mas),


Monday, December 10, 2012

The Gift I Wish

Women of Faith:
The gift I most want to give and to receive is a gift that is free to everyone. It is a gift in the sense that we do not deserve it or earn it, and it is readily available if we want it. It is the gift of FAITH!

My parents gave me the gift faith when they brought me to be baptized. They carefully nurtured the faith, grew it by example, and encouraged me to be fed by the Eucharist. I formally accepted the gift when I said yes to the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is a gift that I hope I never abuse but rather display proudly by my example.
It is a gift that everyone desires, but some do not yet know what it is they desire. It is a gift that everyone is offered, but some don’t quite know how to ask for. And it is a gift that everyone desperately needs—God’s presence/presents in their lives.

Faith is a gift that I hope everyone will have for its promise is life changing.
“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you.” Mt 7:7

Once faith is received it remains within us. But faith is not an “easy” gift because it requires us to look deeply into ourselves and under the package wrappings. And if we revere our gift of faith by continued study we will form and transform every part of our being.
And I am most saddened when I see a faith that has been set aside, neglected or left unwrapped because something else became more important.

In the gospel today, Jesus praises the men who let the paralyzed man down through the roof. "When He saw their faith, He said, 'As for you, your sins are forgiven.'" (Luke 5:20) (First Century Palestinians believed that sickness and infirmity were the result of sin, one's own or that of one's ancestors.)
It is thru faith that I am given the gifts of the Spirit—reverence, wisdom, understanding, wonder and awe, courage, right judgment, and knowledge. And it is thru faith that I am forgiven each time I have failed God’s commandments.

No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. 1 Cor 12: 4-7

Heavenly Father, in You I place my trust. Thank you for the faith which allows me to overcome the discouragement of superficial earthly wants and desires. Help me to see the many opportunities which my faith has given me. Help me use faith’s power and to be available to assist others who wish to unwrap their own gift of faith. May Your Spirit guide me with an increase of patience and charity, especially for those who seem to ignore Your gift of faith. And help me to nurture my faith with awe and wonder so that I may be inspired to move forward by faiths’ limitless beauty and challenges. Amen.
Pope Benedict has declared this a Year of Faith. Advent is the perfect time to take the gift of faith, unwrap it and share it with others.

May you be blessed by accepting His gift of faith,

Monday, December 3, 2012

Instructions That Add Up

Friends of Faith:

We probably all have things that we think “add up”— that always seem to come out the same way—that are clearly right.
I have always appreciated black and white, a clear right and a clear wrong, and knowing that numbers added correctly would always add up to the same number.

And when I am struggling, when I am in the midst of a problem and asking for help from an “authority” on the problem, I still tend to try to “manipulate” either the problem or the instruction into something that will add up, that will produce MY own desired end result.
And of course, not every problem, not every choice, is as clear or as easily solved as adding 2 plus 2 and getting 4.

But easy or not, even the basic instructions and the daily chores that I do, don’t always have the same end results, end answers, or produce the same feelings each and every time. Recipes, music, tax returns and even hugs, call all to have a different outcome, a different taste, touch or feeling.
Actually I can’t think of anything else, other than simple math, which always achieves exactly the same answer. Even those things that happen by nature—some would say science—are ultimately things that we have no control over, things that God controls.  

This is because anything created by humans, can or could be changed by God—even simple math.
In fact, HE is the only thing that always Adds UP!! To forgiveness, To Love and To an Ultimate Goal, Heaven.

This is what my faith has taught me, that there is only ONE right that matters.
A right God and a right-given Godly plan: a plan which was designed by God, in His image, and in His desire to get me to be in heaven with Him.

A right way that isn’t always easy and doesn’t always work into me and my plan, and will in the end have a result greater than anything I can currently even think about having a desire for here on earth.
To this end, God gives us many instructions. Instructions which for the past 2000 years He has kept “right” thru Peter, upon whom he built his rock, the Church.

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Mt 16: 18-19
And He left us a continuous succession of Popes from Peter, the first Pope, have been continuously bound to carry out and pass down His truth to us, His kingdom, the Church.

Yet for some reason we continue to search for some other instructions that will more easily “add up” to the same end—an imminent end which will escape the tribulations, so that it might be easier to stand before God—to be with Him in heaven.
"Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man." Lk 21: 34-36

I am very thankful for a God who keeps putting His instructions in my daily path: the instructions which remind me that not only is He is in charge, but that I must not be anxious, and that I must continue to pray – for His presents/presence because that is how life will truly “add up” to His unfailing love and His unfailing promise, the gift of heaven.
Heavenly Father: All glory and honor be to Your One Church, Your One Truth, Your One Holy and Apostolic succession, thru Peter, here on earth. I pray that you continue to have mercy on me when I am anxious or when I want to become “drunk with human pleasure, or drowsy through the weariness of earthly works.” Help me to stand up for you, to stay strong and vigilant and to follow Your words, which will always “Add UP” to heaven. Amen.

When something isn’t adding up in my life, it usually is because I am not “adding up” to God.
This week: Search for the way to “Add up” with One God, One Faith, One Love, One choice for Heaven,



Monday, November 26, 2012


Friends of Faith:
I am a little bit of the Christmas Scrooge because Thanksgiving was followed too closely with Black Friday. I think it was even worse this year though, because the materialism of the “shopping adventure” interfered before Thanksgiving Day was even over.

Since I don’t want to wreck my own love of “the Real Reason for the Season-Christ,” and I really do want to enjoy the Spirit of the true Christmas, I’ll let the scrooge in me have it’s say now rather than later.
Yesterday was the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the celebration of Christ the King. Next week we will begin the season of Advent and the awaiting of the baby, Jesus, who became Christ the King.

The readings near the end of the liturgical year include parts of the Book of Revelations and talk about the end of history as we know it. They are a striking contrast of this world with the heavenly world—much as the Spirit of Christ and Thanksgiving are contrasted with Christmas shopping and the materialism that is Black Friday.
Yesterday’s Mass introduction was a reminder that we don’t always need to receive what we desire; that our wants are much different than our needs, and that we might be better off if we got along without, and appreciated what we have instead.

Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here." So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Jn 18:35-37
Is it any wonder that God keeps asking us to listen to His truth, and reminding us of the importance of His kingdom, when our culture constantly bombards us with advertising that says we shouldn’t even give thanks for a continuous 24 hours?

Heavenly Father, You are the King, and because of You, I have everything. May I find it in my heart to listen to You, to appreciate my blessings, and to share all that I have with You thru those who you place in my path, especially those who need to see you, in me, each day. Thank You for giving me more than plenty. Amen.
I, like many others, find it difficult to stay on task—to choose “Godly” over what is earthly.

So the earthly Scrooge in me says—stop shopping, learn to give thanks. And the heavenly influence says  enjoy and give thanks for what I already have, because receiving more isn’t necessary.
But I’m sure, just like you, I’ll go shopping, buy presents and eat more than my share of food.

I hope, however, to remember each day, a little bit more than the day before, that it is Jesus who is king; it is Jesus who rules the world; and it is Jesus who I am suppose to imitate.
So this is a reminder: Shop a little less for those who have bounty, and a little more for those who do not; accept the sufferings and irritations of our life because our sufferings are not nearly as great as those without electricity and running water; and serve graciously and humbly by imitating Christ without grumbling—for it is He who was born in an animal’s manger, and it is we who have warm comfortable roofs over our heads.

So this “earthly” Scrooge will continue to work on being a “Christly” imitator—
Peace be in Christ’s reason for the season,



Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friends of Faith:
Happy Thanksgiving! This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, an “annual” cultural reminder to say THANK YOU for what God has given to us, for our earthly treasures.

But should our “attitude of gratitude” only be celebrated during this week of Thanksgiving?
And does our Thanksgiving only say thanks for “all that we have?” Or does our Spirit of Thanksgiving include “all that we are?”

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”. Phil 4: 6-7
Does our thanksgiving acknowledge that as “imitators of Christ” (Eph 4) God will guard our hearts and minds so that we can BE the person God is calling us to be? Are we “without anxiety” because we are “in Thanksgiving?”

Does it feel right when we thank him for everything we are and everything we have because everything we have and are, and everything we do, honors of him?
“I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”1 Cor 1: 3-9

Thank you for reading God’s word in these reflections and for sharing them with your friends. But more importantly thank you for using this time to reflect and to become more like Christ himself, to become what God is calling you to be, so that we are firmly enriched by the Spirit and in the end we will be “irreproachable”  to God.
Heavenly Father, Thank You for being the ultimate hope and power in my life. Thank you for the many gifts and blessings found in the richness of friends and family.  May I graciously serve you by sharing my time and talents with them, and with those I don’t yet know, in an attitude of gratitude, knowing that everything I have is yours and that everything I have should rightly be given back to you. Amen.

And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth; Who fosters people's growth from their mother's womb, and fashions them according to his will! May he grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you; May his goodness toward us endure in Israel to deliver us in our days. Sir 50: 22-24
I am thankful that God is in each of our lives for “he has done wondrous things on earth.” May you continue to find hope, peace and joy by fashioning yourself thru Him with an attitude of gratitude.

Make every day a day of Thanksgiving!



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Influence and Hope

Friends of Faith:
I recently related my “surprise” at how God influences my mood by putting just the right hope filled words in front of me at just the right time.

We spent some time with Andy at Loras yesterday and these are the words on banners in the front of the campus church:
“Keep the Surprise Alive!” “There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to other’s of our friendship with Him. Pope Benedict XVI”

And mass was dedicated to the memorial of St. Josephat Kuncevyc, bishop and martyr who died because he wanted to unify the divided church of Ruthenian.
He evangelized to give hope to a divided nation. Just as Paul evangelized to Titus, For a bishop as God's steward must be blameless, not arrogant, not irritable, not a drunkard, not aggressive, not greedy for sordid gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled, holding fast to the true message as taught so that he will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents. Ti 1:1-9

St. Josephat’s influence was because he was holy, blameless and he held fast to the true message of God.  His message, like Christ’s was for unification, not division, one body, one Spirit for all. And St. Josephat became a saint in part because his influence, like Christs’ was after he was martyred, not when he was alive.
Will our influence AFTER we die, be greater than when we are alive? Who do we remember, who did we know, that influenced us MORE when we look back by how they lived their humble lives?

As I said, I have been surprised by some of the other messages this past week:
“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. ..... You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God." Lk 16:9-15

God knows our hearts, it is His power that is important, not human power.
“The LORD keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets captives free. Ps 146:7

God will protect and set us free. Forever!
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy. 1 Cor 3: 16-17

We are God’s temples, in his image he created us to be holy, by our actions, by how we treat ourselves and others, like Christ treated us—to die to ourselves and give everything up for Him.
“Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Phil 2: 12-18

Around us there may be division, a lack of unity and seeming discord, but God made us to know him, serve him and love him—without blemish—so that we may be LIGHT to the world. Are we striving to become saints?
Heavenly Father, you are our creator, our hope, and our protector. May we become for you as HOLY as you intended us to be. Thank You for giving us Your son’s life to be our greatest influence. Set us free from the captives of this world, from the powers of money and oppression. Help us to honor You, by imitating Him. And may our actions reflect your light and bring us hope, peace and eternal joy. Amen.

If the truest judge of character is what we will be remembered for after we die, then are we doing what we want to be remembered by?
Be influenced today by God’s Hope,


Monday, November 5, 2012

Am I There Yet?

Friends of Faith:
This week I took a little time to file and reflect on some of my recent writings—some of which you have seen, and many which you have not (I often journal to sort out my own personal struggles or in response to personal questions from others.) That is in fact how these reflections started in the first place.

Father said/asked in his homily this week: 1)” Are you there yet? And 2) Good things become bad, when they are an obstacle (definition of Satan or evil) for what God calls you to be.”
“So 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. (Eph 5: 1-4)

I translated into my own life: if I am not taking or making time for what’s really important to God in my life, if I am spending too much time “working or playing for the culture,” instead of God’s purpose, than am I really doing what God wants me to do, and what are the things that are interfering with making time for God, what are the obstacles, the Satan’s, that pull me away from God?
I am definitely not there yet. (I guess that’s a good thing, since Father Mike also said that when we are there, we will be with God in heaven.)

So I let the common themes of the 200 plus writings guide my prayer this morning: to grow closer to God with the requests in many of those writings: to change myself, to make more time for prayer, to continue to bless our marriage with grace and opportunities to share, and to listen to His call (and law) rather than the call (and law) of culture.
This week’s readings included teachings about the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes (Mk 5: 2-12), and the greatest 2 commandments (to love Him and to love each other as He loves us.) Mk 12: 30-31.

But as one of the writers of the USCCB daily reflections commented: It is sometimes difficult to put these instructions into our daily lives.

The beatitude: Blessed are the poor in Spirit, is easier understood if worded as the negative: we will not be blessed because we are rich. (God isn’t impressed by our stuff or even our wisdom/knowledge.)
So too the command: “thou shalt not kill,” makes us complacent because our thought says, “I have never murdered anyone.” But yet our country, by it’s law, allows 3,600 abortions per day and there are many who won’t speak (or vote) against abortion.  Stan was talking to some nursing students yesterday and asked them, “Why are they interested in saving people’s lives but yet their intended vote would continue to fund legalized abortion?” Isn’t it an inconsistent thought for any future or current medical provider, to vote for someone who will not protect the innocent unborn, while educating themselves to save the lives of others. (Or anyone who works to in ANY way to save ANY other life, or ANY type of “earthly” life—pets, trees, birds, etc….)

Heavenly Father, You created us in your image, so that we would become like you. Help me to answer your call to spend more time with You in silence. May I listen to Your Spirit whom You send to guide me. Help me to be a better spouse, a better citizen, and a better child of God. Thank you for continuing to enlighten and remind me of the many opportunities and blessings we have in America, while those living in other areas of the world struggle to live because they are persecuted for their religious beliefs. May my choices and actions be according to Your will. Amen.
“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vain glory; rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others.” Phil 2: 1-4

I realized as I wrote this that much of it is a repeat of what I have written before. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since it started with my “look back” so I hope that I do never bore you by my “introspections” but rather draw you each closer to God.
And I hope that because you have taken the time you are reminded of what God’s call is in each of your lives this week.

Don’t forget to vote—for life, liberty and freedom, under God,


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

God, Politics and Santa Claus

Friends of Faith:
I figured if we were tired of politics, it must be time for Santa Claus.

I learned several important lessons growing up: God is everywhere and knows everything (and so is Santa Claus.)
With God all things are possible (Mk 10:27): and if you don’t believe (in God or Santa Claus)—you won’t receive (heaven or presents.)

And in order to prove that you believe, you must DO (work hard) for what you believe—hard work, I thought, especially as a little girl; but even harder work, I have realized, as I have grown up.
“You know the commandments.” (Mk 10:18-19) A clear set of common sense rules to live by. A clear reward if we choose to live by them. And a clear punishment if we don’t: it probably isn’t a coincidence that a lump of coal could easily symbolize the fires of hell.

As a little person, the choices didn’t really seem that difficult, or even that tough. I had to work (and play) within the boundaries my parents, and God, as our Father, set—to receive what is most important for every little child—their parent’s (and the promise of God’s) love.
It was always Christmastime at our house—the Christmas of love, as a child the equivalent of Santa love, as I grew older the knowledge that I am always loved. Love had both a long memory, and much forgiveness—just like the love I more and more grow to desire from God.

Back then, I didn’t know it, but everything I did was a choice—a choice of choosing between rights. Mom and Dad’s commandments were pretty clear (and very much in line with God’s commandments). If we disobeyed we had to ask both their forgiveness (and do a penance for them) and do something for God (an extra prayer, often asking God’s forgiveness thru confession.) It was a great life lesson, both because we knew our boundaries and because we learned the discipline and hard work of choosing right truths.
I did have a choice, but when I chose to disobey, to take the easier way out, or to choose what seemed like more fun, or less work, I also had to face the consequences of that wrong choice (sin). And the pain of those poor choices was much more difficult than the work of right ones.

Santa Claus love, represented my parent’s love, and like God’s love, always won out in the end.
As an adult, the choices may seem more difficult, but our eternal parent, God, is just as clear with his commandments, His rules, His disciplines, His boundaries and His promise of love.

God’s consequences are much bigger than my parent’s consequences. Almost as if, growing up, means I have to grow up to a higher standard—God. The choice is no longer for Santa Claus presents, the choice is now for eternal presents. And life keeps getting shorter, because thru the reality of living I now realize that our time here on earth isn’t forever—in fact, it isn’t even my choice—it could be over in a second and when it is over, I will no longer have the opportunity to choose: in God, politics or Santa Claus gifts and rights.
Maybe that is what God means by saying he is the power over principalities (Eph 6) and the reason he gives us the hope that regardless of what the principalities do he is always in control and the final judge. (Lk 12:1-7)

The commandments: A clear set of common sense rules to live by. A clear reward if we choose to live by them.
And the political ads are like the Christmas ads growing up – Santa Claus ads which showed what would happen (toys or a lump of coal) (heaven or earth) if I didn’t/don’t work for the right beliefs and choices. (Choosing right was and always will require money, work and difficult discipline—they won’t be easy or free!!)

Someone said to me this week that the political ads looked like an ad for the Catholic/Christian Church.
I can’t and won’t disagree: We are being asked to choose: to give up money, for work and to be disciplined: to choose God’s design for marriage, protection for life, and obedience to Him vs. lifestyles of promiscuity, greed, homosexuality, abortion (murder) and the freedom to choose these wrong and sinful behaviors.  (Gal 5:18-25)

And these right choices may mean we have to work harder and sacrifice here on earth to receive what we desire of God, heaven, just as we worked for, and sacrificed for, our parents and God when we were younger, so that we can always receive what each of them promised: a Santa type present—only received because we believed, and because we acted as if we believed. (Gal 5:1-6)
The freedom to choose is only a right when we are obeying God’s laws. The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to live [just] as he lived.” (1Jn 2: 3-6)

God is very clear on both the commandments and the consequences. Who will we obey, who will we choose—in the politics of both heaven and earth?
Heavenly Father, your gifts are far greater than any we have ever received from Santa Claus. Help us to do the hard work you require in our vocations (marriage, celibate, or single), in our families and in our choices for you. Thank you for your forgiving and ever “present” love. Amen.

If we believe in God, all things are possible. Make them possible this week,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Social Justice and Human Rights Letter to Editor

(Written by my husband, Stan)
Lately the political talk is about Social justice and Civil and Human rights issues.

The greatest social justice and human right IS the right to life! Without life, no other right is necessary or applies.

At the end of our lives we will have to account for our actions (or lack of action).

It seems to me if we have not defended the unborn by casting our vote for the party which allows less abortion in this country then we have misguided priorities. We must defend life from the womb to the tomb. There is no greater obligation than to defend the helpless unborn child's rights.

This economy is a result of a culture of death that has killed 55 million consumers through abortion since 1973. Can we expect God to favor a country that kills His children in their mother’s womb and calls it legal? God’s most innocent creation depends on our vote! 

And Planned Parenthood?? It should be called Planned no-parenthood. It's the business that does abortions not mammograms!

I have heard Abby Johnson share her story of when she worked for Planned Parenthood and I encourage all to go to her website for more information. Abby Johnson tells the truth about Planned Parenthood:

When I hear comments that it is the "mother’s right to choose" the response will and should always be "It is the Babies right to choose".

The other comment I hear often is "What about rape and incest cases?" Answer: Less than 2% say they became pregnant as a result of rape or incest.  Source: The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Perspective on Sexual & Reproductive Health, Sept. 2005

Testimonies from some individuals report that when they aborted their child it doubled the anxiety of the rape/incest and they felt even more violated because of the abortion. Others reported that by having the child they found forgiveness and healing from the assault.

In closing this letter I believe that as an independent business owner I should have the right to decide what kind of benefits I provide my employee's and for a President to dictate to me that I will provide a service which is intrinsically evil denies the personal religious freedoms on which this country was founded.

Be it Republican or Democrat no person on this earth has the right to make legal the killing of a baby or forcing another human to pay and provide the service (Obamacare) to kill an innocent child. Or to provide birth control (which has abortifacients in it.) The Obama administration has rescinded the Mexico City Act, partial birth ban, late term abortion bans etc in order to honor previous campaign pro-choice promises.  It is time to stop forcing taxpayers to provide funding for abortions to Planned Parenthood and Obamacare policies.

Religious freedoms are under attack by the Obama administration that violates the most basic human right. 'the right to be born"!

If you have not yet voted, or are uncertain as to which party to vote for in this election because you don't like either candidate, I encourage you to vote for the ticket that supports "less evil." In this election that would be the Romney/Ryan vote.

We will be held accountable for our actions (or lack of action)!

Please God, bless America.


Monday, October 22, 2012

The Reward of a Servant

Friends of Faith:

It is human nature to want to be paid for our jobs; and rewarded for doing what is right—treats and stars when we were little, a paycheck when doing our jobs, or rewarding ourselves with a pair of shoes, a great meal or a glass of wine.  We sometimes expectreturned “favors” from those we have helped in the past and like the disciples request (or even demand) a “reserved seat in heaven.”
He replied, "What do you wish me to do for you?" They answered him, "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left." …Jesus said to them, …but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared." Mt 10: 35-36, 40

But as Jesus said to his disciples, the power, the seat on his right and the seat on his left, is not for Him to give—that will only be judged by the supreme God on the final day. And only he knows what he has prepared, and what we have given of our hearts.
I have come to realize that happiness doesn’t come from instant gratifications or even from the things that “instantaneously gratify” me (like fast food and a drive thru) but rather from the smiles I receive for doing something for someone that isn’t used to receiving, or because someone else has received God’s miracles which we often take for granted:  life, health, happiness, or forgiveness.

How many times have I expected respect, praise or some type of power just like the disciples “expected” to become the authority by having a place reserved in heaven? But Jesus was quick to remind them (and us) that it is the “least” among us who will be rewarded.
Jesus summoned the Twelve and said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mk 10: 42-45

Our prayers are not supposed to be demands with expectations, but rather praise and thanksgiving for all that we have been given, and an invocation for grace (instead of complaint) to accept the sufferings that are a result of our human choice to disobey (sin) in the Garden of Eden.
Heavenly Father, You are the ultimate power and I am Your servant. Help me to see and to not overlook those who are in need of a helping hand. May I have the humility to step forward and selflessly give my time, talents and treasure so that others may come to know the love, hope and the strength which only You can give. Thank you for the opportunities this week to see You in the miracles of innocent children, the smiles of spouses who are working to make their marriages as God designed, and the elderly who so joyously looked forward to the Eucharist. Amen.

Do we ask to receive and serve to be served? Or do we serve those who serve us—our parents, our employees, and our students—by being selfless children, employers and teachers?
Do we demand or assume our place is “reserved” in heaven, or are we constantly serving others as Christ served us—til death do us part?

Blessings in Christ,


Monday, October 15, 2012

Introspection or If God Looked In

Friends of Faith:

If God looked into me what would he see?
I have often said that what I write each week is really an introspection of my own, an examination of my own conscious. (And as usual I continue to be amazed by the “coincidence” of the Sunday gospel readings as they pertain to these introspections.)
I cannot write without seeing inside myself, without seeing my own inability to change the things about myself that from the “outside” look or seem to contradict the very things I write.
In one of those “wide awake” nights this weekend I wrote the following: “Sometimes we have to answer the tough questions and make tough choices, but often times it is not the choosing that is difficult but rather executing those choices. And our choices are these:  right or wrong, good or evil, heaven or hell, saint or sinner.
Only God can know me (and your) personal inner struggles, in our thoughts and in our prayers, as we seek to continually face the challenges which will allow the Spirit of God (our conscious) to guide us and change us for Him.
I am pretty sure, for some, my writings sometimes seem like a “bull in YOUR china closet;” meaning the ideas they contain seem to try to beat you, or break the very ideas that you hold nearest and dearest to your own heart.
It is humanly difficult to “break” or have “broken” a sin of the past by the Spirit who gives us the gifts of wisdom, understanding and awe at God’s greatest desire for our lives—to remain the innocent child he created.
I am also reminded with an ever growing humility, that I have been given something many others have not, and that is the gift of a great husband, a great friend. It is a gift to know that not only does Stan pray for me, but he is equally committed to God’s ultimate goal for us. We are blessed with joy in our marriage, and to share the knowledge that our intentions for each other are “right” and that we are willing to serve and be served by each other, for life, freely and faithfully. (This is God’s design for marriage.)
So, I pray, with the hope of God, that you understand where my writing comes from—not from a desire to change you, but from my own introspection, my own experience, my own sins and my own struggles to choose God—every time. It comes from a desire to change myself, so that I will be as He designed me to be—created in His likeness, a holy child of God.
"Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother." He replied and said to him, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Mk 10: 17-22
I do have one other desire and that is that every one of us would share heaven together.
Yet God’s own words this Sunday pointed out: Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Mk 10:23-25
God did not say it would be easy to be human, because as humans we are sinners.
I know that I will often be challenged, emotionally and spiritually, with the failings of culture and our society.  And I struggle in my writings to contain my patience, anger and judgment of others. But I also know that I must become what I believe and that I am called to share my beliefs. (Blessed Pope John Paul II, The New Evangelization)
Therefore, my introspections are often challenging: a growing realization that I have been given unique gifts, and that I must use these gifts; but the more I use them, the more I am challenged by them: to change the wrongs in myself, before I point out the wrongs of others.
And of course this creates the challenge that I may be ostracized for sharing my thoughts, just as many of God’s followers were outcast.
So it is with great hope I continue Mark’s gospel: “They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God." Mk 10: 26-27
So here is my abbreviated and concentrated short examination of conscious (and long prayer) for myself this week—
God blesses me with an abundance of food: I choose to be healthy. Help me not eat everything I see, but instead to seek His true food, the Eucharist, at every opportunity.
God blesses me with an abundance of earthly wealth: I choose to be humble and thankful, making my decisions based on WWJD and not about money or gain for myself. Help me to give up control and seek opportunities for others without a “pat on the back” for giving away my time and treasures.
God blesses me with the opportunity to attend church: I choose to put God’s time first. Help me to focus on prayer and see church time as a privilege and an opportunity rather than as an obligation.
God blesses me with a talent to write: I choose to write about how God’s teachings influence my religious conscious, with the prayer that God’s voice in life and death issues will be heard above the culture of materialism. Help me to be guided and protected by the Spirit, and help my words to be charitable and tolerant. May I always write faithfully on God’s design for marriage (one man and one woman) and in expressing the need to vote for the protection of innocent, voiceless children and the freedom to make decisions based on my religious conscience. Amen.
“I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.” Wis 7:7-11
May my own introspection guide you to see God’s Spirit in your life this week,
Blessings and thanksgiving for each of you who hear my heart,