Monday, January 30, 2012

Believe to Achieve

Women of Faith:
I have had the same dreams as most American women: a “showcase” home; a fantasy vacation in a five star hotel; and the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

And I believed I could achieve.

But as I began my Monday morning rosary I reflected on Jesus’ walk with me thru this prayer. As I asked for his blessings on family and friends I realized how important it is to truly believe that the miracles for which I prayed could be achieved.

I realized how important it is that my goals, visions and dreams reflect not the American dream, but rather God’s dream. And that if I believed His vision, I would achieve His vision.

Here’s an example: The Fourth Joyful Mystery is the Presentation. The prayer is, “Mary, you obeyed the Law of God in presenting the Child Jesus in the Temple. Obtain for me “a Spirit of Sacrifice.”

I have often asked God to help me to not “want more” of what others have but rather to be more willing to “give up” of what I have been blessed with and to not expect anything in return: to have a Spirit of Sacrifice.

My goal is to be able to not resent what others seem to achieve and to not expect or think I deserve something in return for whatever it is that I do for others: to have a Spirit of Sacrifice.

I realized as I prayed that God grants me a miracle each time I can feel joy in another person’s blessings and achievements. I see Him granting me that Spirit of Sacrifice when I strive to give unconditional love to our family; when I chose to spend time volunteering rather than shopping; and when I have the heart to give away something that is only a material possession.

I am more content than I ever thought possible with the grace that fills our marriage; with a home filled by joy rather than possessions; with time to spend sharing with friends and family; and with the blessing of being able to give to someone who has suffered a tragedy.

I have tried to turn my vision for the “good life” into His vision of a “good life”—that of sacrifice and service. Just as Mary gave Jesus back to God at the Presentation and just as Jesus himself gave to us on the cross—they believed that their sacrifices would achieve life for each of us.

Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it. 1 Cor 9:22-23

I believe I can achieve.

I believe in a spirit of sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.

I know that each time I unconditionally give of myself I receive contentment, joy and peace from God for sharing the gifts He has given me, material and spiritual.

Heavenly Father: We are truly blessed by miracles when we believe. Help us all to come to know and understand what your vision is for each of us. Help us to know your love, forgiveness and truth and help us to accept and share that same love, forgiveness and truth with each other. Thank you for the many unconditional gifts you give us—especially the graces in marriage and the healing power of forgiveness. Amen.

May we all be touched with a Spirit of Sacrifice—both given and received in love.

Set a goal, see a vision, dream a dream and believe so you can achieve His blessing,

Monday, January 23, 2012

A BIG Fish Story

Women of Faith:

Sorry ladies, this is a “fish” story; the men probably can’t wait….

But unlike the “fish stories” most of you have heard, this is the story of Jonah and the whale and it is much bigger and much more real, because it is the gospel truth, told by God, the real “fisher(of)men.”

The Preface: The Ninevites have succumbed to evil so God asks Jonah to save them. But Jonah, because of his hatred of the Ninevites, disregards God’s call, and travels in the opposite direction. Because of his hard hearted choice Jonah ends up being thrown overboard into the sea and he is swallowed by a big fish. In 3 days (the same time Christ died and rose for us) Jonah humbles himself enough to ask forgiveness, place His trust in God and answer His call at which time he is released from the “Big Fish.”(Jon 1,2)

“Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day's walk announcing, "Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed, " when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.”
Jon 3: 1-5, 10

It’s a story where I as a Christian have seen (and see) myself in every role: from the sinful Ninevite who wants/ed my own way; to Jonah who wanted to judge who should be helped, loved and saved (helps, loves and saves.) I can relate to the whale who is waiting (somewhat) patiently and (mostly) compassionately, holding Jonah, until he changed his way. I have also been the Ninevite who converted and asked for forgiveness, and the Jonah who realizes his life is in God’s control, it is not his role to judge, and he is to do God’s will and spread the good news wherever God asks.

God asked Jonah to spread the good news to the Ninevites who were doing evil (definitely not the chosen ones) because God is not particular about “who” is saved, just that “ALL” our saved. And the story teaches that if we truly believe, ask and repent of our sins (put on our sackcloth, shed our pride and be humble and obedient) then God will forgive us regardless of our past.

Think about how many of the stories of the gospel focus on the lives of farmers, shepherds and fisherman—using nature’s analogies of growing, catching and harvesting—to teach us how to grow God in our own lives, to “round up” and “catch” more of humanity thru evangelization, and to show us the urgent need to always be ready for God’s “harvest” into heaven.

“Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.” Mk 1:14-20

Heavenly Father: I praise your infinite wisdom that teaches me your way, using professions which provide both earthly food, and heavenly sustenance.
May I be a better fisher(of)men; a better farmer who knows that the end is always near and the harvest is in your control; and a better shepherd of all. Thank you for giving me the food of the Eucharist and the example of the prophets in the bible. Amen.

The Afterword: Do I truly understand, trust and act as if the end of the story is continually drawing nearer? Do I believe in and ask for God’s forgiveness? Do I spread His good news so that others will have the chance to follow? Do I seek His hope and live each day with the joy and peace of His promise for eternity?

May God lead us this week to be “fishers(of)men” who trust in His story and with the urgency of knowing the end is near, change our lives to accept, forgive and spread His BIG fish story,


Monday, January 16, 2012

Here I am Lord

Friends in Faith:

We pray for answers from God. We pray to not be fearful, to have trust. We ask others to pray for us, for our earthly desires, our hopes and our dreams.

We ask God to “speak” to us, but are we really willing to listen? Are we truly saying, “Here I am Lord, I come to do YOUR will.” Ps 40: 2

God spoke to Samuel three times. Each time he went to Eli thinking it was Eli that was talking to him. “Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening." When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel answered, "Speak, for your servant is listening." Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.” 1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19

“Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah" - which is translated Christ. Then he brought him to Jesus.” Jn 1: 35-42

And like Samuel and Simon Peter, God gives us friends and/or family to help lead us to Jesus, to guide us in seeking and finding answers from God, to help us discern the truth and to be our accountability partners and mentors.

Do I say, “Speak, for your servant is listening?” Am I truly willing and ready to be his servant, to listen and do what God asks of me?

Am I missing the gentle nudges, the loving words, the truth that is being spoken to me by friends and those that may already have their eyes opened by/to God? Am I ignoring “wise counsel” and instead trusting my own ideas and judgment?

Sometimes I don’t want to hear God because he says “no.” Sometimes I want to serve myself first.

Sometimes his answer to my problem seems like too difficult a task to complete. My fear paralyzes me and I forget that he will give me what I need.

Sometimes his answer says that I have to be humble and give up perfection. I forget I am human and he died on the cross to save me.

And sometimes I have to give up my pride, admit my wrong doing and say “I’m sorry.” I forget he is all merciful and forgives those who ask to be forgiven.

Sometimes I just don’t really want to do what it is he is asking me to do. I forget to trust.

And sometimes I stop myself from speaking the truth about my faith. I am afraid of being judged by societal norms when the only judgment that matters is God’s.

“Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will. I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God. Sacrifice or offering you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, "Behold I come." "In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!" I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.” PS 40: 2, 4, 7-10

Heavenly Father, Your Spirit surrounds and uplifts me. Help me to have the patience to listen for your gentle whispers in the silence of my heart and in the faithful friends you send my way. May I be obedient to your call and blessed with the willingness to honestly say, “Here I am, Lord.” May I answer and trust Your call, in Your Spirit, with kindness, compassion and love. Amen.

May you be blessed with the trust to say, “Here I am Lord!”


Monday, January 9, 2012

My Search

Women of Faith:

I search daily for my purpose, for what it is I am to do with the gifts I receive and for how I am to act and react to the circumstances of life. I search for answers to day to day choices and for control of difficult problems. I search to give hope and comfort to those who are suffering loss, loneliness and are afraid of the future.

I search to listen to and be guided on the “right” path, by the “right” voice, and with the “right” heart.

I seek to be patient in a world which is overcome with instant gratification and selfishness. I seek to act in kindness and compassion when I am tempted to be judgmental, cynical and sarcastic.

I seek to find the path of the Spirit while being led by laws in a society which is often self serving and ignores God’s simplest commandments and truths.

As I thought about Epiphany and the role of the three kings in Christmas I thought about how they searched for and found Jesus—without a bible, without GPS and without the knowledge of 2012 years of tradition, history and experience. Do we have the patience to wait or do we need an instant post on Facebook? And could we have endured travel on a camel?

"Go and search diligently for the child… And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Mt 2:1-12

Just think about the difficulty of their decision and the actions they took—they chose the “right” star, they chose to listen to the “voice” of an angel instead of King Herod who they could see, and they chose an infant, a stranger, to give their wealth, their gifts.

The sky was filled with a thousand stars for them to choose from, just as we have many paths to follow in our own journey.

A king, Herod, who they could see and touch, tried to lead them astray by tempting them with his own selfish desires.

Finally, they had to believe and trust a Spirit that spoke within them that Jesus was the Messiah, the Chosen One, the one sent to them from God to lead them—a stranger, worthy of gifts of a King.

So are we searching for and praying for the “right” Light?

Are we searching for the grace of understanding: that like the Magi we will recognize God in nature, in our experiences and in our relationships?

Are we searching for greater trust: that God’s Light will guide us into an uncertain future and that we will follow in confidence with a belief in God’s love for us?

Are we searching for peace: that our hearts would follow Jesus by rejecting violence and self gratification and being kind and compassionate in our relationships with spouse, family and friends?

Are we searching for the commitment to begin again: by opening our hearts to wholeness in the Spirit rather than to trying to fill them with earthly satisfaction which will only makes us temporarily happy?

Heavenly Father: I praise the brightness of Your star which guides me. May I continue to be blessed with the desire to follow it, and an opportunity to understand what Your will is for me. May I always search for Your righteous path. Grant me the patience to give to others without expecting instant gratification in return. Help me to stay committed to search for Your love, Your hope and Your peace. Amen.

May your search this week be for His Light, His Choice and His Will in your life,

Monday, January 2, 2012

In the Middle

Women of Faith:
Happy New Year!

I would guess that you are surprised that my subject is “the middle” rather than the “beginning:” for it is the beginning of a new year, the beginning of new resolutions, and even the beginning of a new tax season.

Remember the old saying: 'It’s how we live in the “dash” (19??- 20??) that counts?’

In the beginning ….with childlike faith we planned for perfect happy endings, for happiness and “honeymoons.”

And as Christians we all hope and believe that at the end of our dash we will be granted eternal life in heaven.

But the middle of life brings stresses, challenges, obstacles, loneliness, sufferings and even failures. And we are challenged to keep the same attitude as we had in the beginning: to live life in faith that He has control of the outcome, to TRUST in Him.

“Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life. …And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming.” 1 Jn 2:22-26

God tells us that as believers, life, the middle, will not be “perfectly happy,” that we will be persecuted for our belief in Him (Timothy 3:12); and that while we suffer we are supposed to “have peace” and “take courage” for “I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

The middle is about crosses: crosses which reflect His gift on the cross; about His will, not mine.

In the middle of life’s journey we are given choices, choices of trust and faith which are forced by sufferings, challenges, and loneliness, by new beginnings and untimely endings. I am given the choice to freely give love even when it is not given back; to pray rather than to complain; to accept responsibility for my actions rather than to blame others for what has happened to me or my family; to serve rather than to be served; and to chose God’s world rather than this world.

Do I trust God like a child trusts a parent or am I overcome by worry and fear?

Do I have an “attitude of gratitude” or do I expect rather than accept?

Do I choose God’s love in the middle, to love one another as He loved us (He died for us) and as He asks us to love: “love is patient, love is kind... it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth… it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (Cor1:13 4-6)?

Do I make choices in faith: to keep my resolutions, vows and His covenant, even in the sufferings, so that my middle, my dash, will have “new life” at the end?

Dear God, May I always praise you even when things aren’t going my way. May the middle of my life say “faithful, courageous, peaceful and loving.” Thank you for the gifts that you have given me in the middle of the hardships to remind me of your presence each day. Amen.

Blessings in the middle of each of your decisions,