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,