Monday, July 30, 2012

I didn't do anything wrong

Friends of Faith:

“But, I didn’t do anything wrong!”
Sometimes the sin isn’t in what I did but rather in what I didn’t do.

If I don’t plant a seed, it can’t grow. And if that seed that doesn’t get watered and fed it dies.
In the gospel today, the apostles ask: "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear." Mt 13:36-43)

We have been given ears to hear God’s message and as humans we have been given the choice to plant for God, or to plant for the devil. It is our choice: when and what to plant, to nurture and how to nurture others (especially young plants/children), and how and with what we fertilize ourselves and each other.
If I plant nothing and do nothing, nothing will happen.

If I plant weeds through sin in the garden of my life, they are sure to grow. By sinning I am telling others it is “okay to sin”. By spreading lies like: “If she/he can do it, so can I” or “Everybody else is doing it” of “if no one knows I did or did not do it, it won’t hurt anyone” and “it only affects me” I grow these lies and allow God’s truths to be uprooted. This is especially true in the examples I set for my children—right or wrong.
If my choice is to miss a meal, a week of meals, a month of meals I will go hungry, I may even starve and die. And if I don’t feed my family they will starve and die with me. Where am I getting my fertilizer; and how am I spreading it?

Jesus told us “I am the bread of life.” John 6:35 He provides the food which will sustain us for eternity if we eat at His Eucharistic table. 
God always seems to provide us food when we need it the most. He fed Moses and his people as they wandered in the desert by providing them with quail and manna. And when Jesus was teaching in Galilee he fed the five thousand present by multiplying the loaves. Jn 6: 1-15

God says to pray: “Give us this day, our DAILY bread.” He provides for us daily in scripture, prayer and with daily Eucharist at Mass. The more healthy food of Christ’s I eat, the more healthy I grow in Spirit!
But if I choose to miss a meal, a week of meals, a month of meals, I will starve just as if I missed eating that many breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Just as I won’t survive without eating human food daily; I can’t survive without choosing to eat the heavenly food He has provided. I will starve for His grace.

And to do nothing with the gifts that God has given me—that is the sin of omission—of allowing others to wander, to follow evil and/or to avoid the truth.
I have been given opportunities to teach by example, listen with compassion to those who are hurting, and to show kindness to a spouse or friend—maybe sometimes with a simple smile and/or a kind word. If I do not sew the seed which God has given me—who will?

Heavenly Father, you bless us with the richest of food—Your son, who gave us His body and blood to fulfill our souls. Help keep my ears open to Your word and Your truth. Give me the wisdom to separate the weeds from the seeds. And help me to plant only good, by my example, my speech and by my deeds. Thank you for giving me this day and for my daily bread. Amen.
If I don’t do anything, nothing can grow.

Plant and feed a good seed this week,


Monday, July 23, 2012

Getting By

Friends of Faith:

This past Saturday, I heard the eulogy of a man who had suffered a long and serious illness and was praised because he never said, or did, “just enough to get by” either during his illness or by the life he lived before he got sick. His story was the story of a man who ministered to others, changing lives not only in his church but also in the small community where he was active as a coach. He clearly had a reputation of a man WHO GAVE ALL he had for God’s glory, not just enough to “get by” for his own satisfaction.
It made me think about how many things I do just well enough to “get by.” And about how many chances I have been given to learn how to give it my all; to learn and to do and to understand the full truth from God, that everything we have and everything we do, we do for Him, not for ourselves.

“Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ.” Col 3: 23-24
Are we doing EVERYTHING for the Lord, from our hearts?

Or are we doing “just enough to get by”, out of obligation, or to justify ourselves so that we are not to blame?
Whether it is our parents when we are young; our teachers and coaches when we are in school; our bosses when we go to work; our spouse, marriage and home; or even God—do we do enough to just get by with them, or do we do it because we love them, from our hearts, knowing that even if “people” don’t appreciate what we do—the Lord will give us our due because we were a slave to Jesus Christ, because we LOVED like Jesus Christ!

Did we as children, or do we as parents, teach our children that they only have to do enough to get the treat or the outcome they desire? Do we teach them that they have to pick up their room, or clean their plate, or look us in the eye when they say they are sorry; or do we let them get by with less?

Do our children learn in school only enough so they can get the desired test score, or an “A?” Or do we ask them to learn more than what will just make a grade, so that they are curious enough to want to understand the whys and the how of putting the theory into practice?
Do we listen to coaches who ask us to repeat “perfect practice” over and over, or do we complain that we have “done the skill enough times—let’s just play.” If we “just get by” and learn the basics but fail to continue to work the basics then who is to blame when we don’t make the team, win the game, or get an Olympic gold?

Do I do “just enough” at work to get a paycheck and complete a task? Or do I do extra to help the customer fulfill his/her needs and offer to stay late to help the boss fix the underlying problem? Do I expect to be rewarded for my every deed or do I find satisfaction just by knowing that the job was done right?
Do I do “just enough” for my spouse so that I can say “I told you so,” or “I did that last week, but you didn’t even notice?” Or do I do what he/she needs, without expecting gratitude or reward, finding joy and peace in knowing that I have chosen to do something out of love.

Do I say I believe in God, but only attend church when I want to? Do I say I am “a good person” but only help a friend in need when it is convenient? Do I tell little white lies because they won’t hurt anyone; or speak angry words because it’s what I see as the truth, or look at sexually explicit TV shows and R rated movies because everyone else is watching.
Am I just “doing enough” to make me feel like I am obeying the commandments of do I listen to the secular lies that “it didn’t hurt anything,” I only “hurt myself,” “no one else will know,” or “I’ll just say I’m sorry and God will forgive me?”

True peace and joy isn’t received by “getting by.” “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Phil 4:8-9
Who and What is our God? Am I listening and believing the real truth? Do I find strength and zeal, peace and joy, through the Eucharist and by doing the Works of Mercy which Christ called me to do or am I “just getting by” by saying I’m a good person and I believe?

Do I only pray when it’s convenient for me or when I need something? Or do I pray as St. Paul instructed me to pray: “With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. Eph 6:18.
Heavenly Father, All glory is thru you. Thank you for giving us your son, Jesus, who, thru His death on the cross, showed us how to give without just “getting by.” Help me to always follow His example and the examples of those like my friend who persevered in their faith by doing what was right, even when it was difficult.  Help me to give more than “just enough to get by.” Amen.

In what part of my life am I doing only “enough to get by,” out of obligation, and without real generosity and love?
Give God your all this week,


Monday, July 16, 2012

Made for More

Friends of Faith:
I know I have everything I need.  And yet humanly I still sometimes think I need more –more things to possess, more places to see, and more time to do it—whatever “it” is. Therefore I struggle internally with my personal desires, forgetting to be thankful, and to enjoy, not only all that I have, but all that God has promised.

And if you are reading this, you too have everything you need—food, shelter and if you desire and ask, God’s love. For if you have internet and email you also have a roof over your head and food on your table. And we all have God, who is Love, if we have faith in His presence and belief in His forgiveness.
But knowing that doesn’t mean we won’t still “want” more.

Yet we don’t need more, as much as we are MADE FOR MORE.
“The world would be better off if people tried to become better. And people would become better if they stopped trying to be better off.” Peter Maurin (Together with Dorothy Day, Maurin helped found the Catholic Worker Movement who’s mission it is to provide food, clothing, shelter and sometimes work, in 185 cities around the world with very little administration, because of their faith.)

Jesus told his apostles (and us) to pack light: “He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick--  no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.” Mk 6: 8
Can we leave all the earthly behind and trust that He will provide for all of our needs, both earthly AND heavenly?

Our lives here on earth must be “made for more.” And in order to be more, God must be our “more!”
So by praying His famous prayer, we have been promised everything here on earth: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Mt 6: 11

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, “who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” Eph 1: 3 May we never want “more” here on earth, help us to be satisfied. Thank you for every “more” that I have, especially Your wisdom and awe in my life. Help me only to want more of you here on earth, for my own spiritual fulfillment and the fulfillment of others, so that I may reach my promised destiny of heaven. Amen.
I recently made reference to the evils of “socialism.” I believe social justice is a balance between being able to speak AND LIVE our faith and physically survive in this world.” And I believe without freedom of religion we will not be able to physically survive here on earth—because I think it is more important to survive in heaven than it is to survive on earth. (See CCC 2425, 2426)

I would urge you, therefore, to read the following as it can be said no better scripturally than through the Catechism of the Catholic Church: (my “emphasis” would be the “short version”).  (Paragraph #’s are in Bold, the annotations are the Scripture references below. This will also link to the Catholic/Christian definition of “socialism,” referred to above, CCC 2425, 2426) . (Section 7, Chapter 3, Article 3, Sub-section IV)
2830Our bread”: The Father who gives us life cannot but give us the nourishment life requires—all appropriate goods and blessings, both material and spiritual. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus insists on the filial trust that cooperates with our Father’s providence.115 He is not inviting us to idleness,116 but wants to relieve us from nagging worry and preoccupation. Such is the filial surrender of the children of God: (2633, 227)

To those who seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, he has promised to give all else besides. Since everything indeed belongs to God, he who possesses God wants for nothing, if he himself is not found wanting before God.117
2831 But the presence of those who hunger because they lack bread opens up another profound meaning of this petition. The drama of hunger in the world calls Christians who pray sincerely to exercise responsibility toward their brethren, both in their personal behavior and in their solidarity with the human family. This petition of the Lord’s Prayer cannot be isolated from the parables of the poor man Lazarus and of the Last Judgment.118 (1038)

2832 As leaven in the dough, the newness of the kingdom should make the earth “rise” by the Spirit of Christ.119 This must be shown by the establishment of justice in personal and social, economic and international relations, without ever forgetting that there are no just structures without people who want to be just. (1928)
2833 “Our” bread is the “one” loaf for the “many.” In the Beatitudes “poverty” is the virtue of sharing: it calls us to communicate and share both material and spiritual goods, not by coercion but out of love, so that the abundance of some may remedy the needs of others.120 (2790, 2546)

2834 “Pray and work.”121 “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.”122 Even when we have done our work, the food we receive is still a gift from our Father; it is good to ask him for it and to thank him, as Christian families do when saying grace at meals. (2428)
2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but... by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,”123 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on earth, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”124 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.125 (2443, 1384)

2836This day” is also an expression of trust taught us by the Lord,126 which we would never have presumed to invent. Since it refers above all to his Word and to the Body of his Son, this “today” is not only that of our mortal time, but also the “today” of God. (1165)
If you receive the bread each day, each day is today for you. If Christ is yours today, he rises for you every day. How can this be? “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” Therefore, “today” is when Christ rises.127

2837Daily” (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of “this day,”128 to confirm us in trust “without reservation.” Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence.129 Taken literally (epi-ousios: “super-essential”), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the “medicine of immortality,” without which we have no life within us.130 Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: “this day” is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day. (2659, 2633, 1405, 1166, 1389)
The Eucharist is our daily bread. The power belonging to this divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into his Body and made members of him, we may become what we receive.... This also is our daily bread: the readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage.131

The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven.132 
115 Mt 6:25-34;116 2 Thess 3:6-13; 117 St. Cyprian, De Dom. orat. 21: PL 4, 534A;118 Lk 16:19-31; Mt 25:31-46;119 AA 5; 120 2 Cor 8:1-15; 121St. Benedict, Regula, 20, 48; 122 Attributed to St. Ignatius Loyola, cf. Joseph de Guibert, SJ, The Jesuits: Their Spiritual Doctrine and Practice, (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1964), 148, n. 55; 123 Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4; 124 Am 8:11; 125 Jn 6:26-58; 126 Mt 6:34; Ex 16:19; 127 St. Ambrose, De Sacr. 5, 4, 26: PL 16, 453A; Ps 2:7; 128 Ex 16:19-21; 129 1 Tim 6:8; 130 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Eph. 20, 2: PG 5, 661; Jn 6:53-56; 131 St. Augustine, Sermo 57, 7: PL 38, 389’; 132 St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 67: PL 52, 392; Jn 6:51.

May you be blessed with God’s “more” this week,
In Christ,


Monday, July 2, 2012

Expecting a Miracle

Friends of Faith:

As we invoke our prayer and song of God Bless America and God Bless Me, what miracle are we expecting God to provide for us and for our country?
A miracle is an unexpected gift given by God. We have all received the first miracle—and that is life itself. He gave us life and our countries forefathers promised us the freedom of religion—the freedom to believe in Jesus and to walk in Jesus’ footsteps as he asks us to walk: to give life as he gave life; to love as he loves; and to forgive as he forgives.

Blessed Pope John Paul II said: “The challenge facing you, dear friends is to increase people’s awareness of the importance of religious freedom for society; to defend that freedom against those who would take religion out of the public domain and establish secularism as America’s official faith.” Baltimore, Oct 8, 1995
As Pope John Paul II said we must DO something to protect the miracle God has provided.

We must ACT to defend life. We must ACT to defend our freedom to choose God. And we must ACT out the faith we profess.
God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying. For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it. Wis 1: 13-15, 2: 23-24

God gave us free will – and that freedom means we can choose what we will believe, what we will honor and how we will practice our faith. Will we CHOOSE LIFE—the very life that he created in his own image?
Will we choose to honor his design and plan for marriage: the union of one man and one woman – God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.*  Genesis 1:28.

God also did not make death. We chose death in the original sin of Adam and Eve. And then God gave us his only son, Jesus, to free us from that sin by His gift of the greatest of miracles: a gift of suffering; a gift of sacrifice, and a gift of redemption—eternal life.
"Your daughter has died; ... he said, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." ..... So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep." And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child's father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this. Mk 5: 35-43

Faith is not: “believing if we see”—faith is “believing what we cannot see.” Miracles were not given so that we would have faith; instead they were given to those OF faith.
Currently the USA professes the freedom of religion (many other places in this world are persecuted just for their beliefs). But will we always have that freedom? Many Americans believe we are a “protected nation” built on God—but does God see us that way?

As Americans we have more wealth and more food than any other country. Do we share it, or waste it? Am I doing my job to serve others and giving freely of my gifts, time and talents? Do I serve my spouse, my family, the poor or needy? Or do I complain that I didn’t get enough for myself? What miracle are we expecting God or someone else to do for us?
Do Americans value entertainment more than we value God? We choose to attend and watch movies, sporting events, and concerts by the millions (and worship musicians, athletes and movie stars)—while our church pews grow emptier and emptier.  If we don’t worship God and honor him with our presence; if we don’t put God first, then why would he put us first? Why are we expecting a miracle?

Do our laws reflect a new form of equality—an equality that lets us CHOOSE whether a life is worth living, surviving or even being born; laws which define marriage as something other than one man and one woman (only a man and a woman can multiply). Are we creating laws to protect an equality that God didn’t promise or design?  Are we expecting that God will miraculously change unjust laws?
We are in the final days of the US Catholic Bishops Fortnight for Freedom. These 14 days of prayer, worship and study were brought about partially because of the impending HHS (health and human services) mandate brought about because of the health care bill (that ALL employers will be forced to provide health insurance coverage which guarantees abortion and contraceptives). This forces all employers, from Catholic hospitals to small Christian business owners, to provide health services which violate their religious beliefs.

“O God our Creator, through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society. We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome— for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us— this great land will always be "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.” (Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty, )

May each of us Go Forth, spread Your good news and BEcome the miracle, instead of expecting to receive a miracle.
And may God continue to bless America with the freedom of religion,