Monday, June 24, 2013

From God's Point of View

Friendsof Faith:
The readings this past week would have all fit in the condensed version of “God’s Little Instruction book for Life.”

“Cause no one to stumble in anything.” 2 Cor 6: 1 “Love your enemies.”  Mt 5: 44 “God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Cor 9: 7 “This is how you are to pray, Our Father….” Mt 6: 9 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, but store up treasures in heaven.” Mt 6: 19 “No one can serve two masters, You cannot serve God and mammon.” Mt 6: 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Lk 9: 24
Have you ever looked at your life completely from God’s point of view, using God’s instruction book as your guide?

As Christians we believe God gives us everything and that everything that is good comes from God. So why is it so difficult to choose our path in life? Why is it so easy to justify the world’s point of view? How do we look to God AND to other Christians? Would it be easy for someone else to identify us as a Christian?
Do I help others to make good choices (cause no one to stumble) or do I tell others—it’s your choice, it must be right if  so and so, ……., it is the law, or everyone else is doing it? Does our law override God’s law?

Do I forgive those who hurt me, ignore me or judge me, and do I hold grudges against those who I consider enemies? Or do I pray for them as Jesus taught us?
Do I ask what I can reward myself with or do I cheerfully give my time, talent and treasures FOR the good of others?

Is it more important to make money to satisfy my own needs or is it more important to use my money for the benefit of the whole? (Do I honor God or the world?)
Are our spiritual goals as important as our earthly goals? (God or mammon/money)

What if we made His conscience ours; gave advice as if it was his; and made every choice as if he was standing next to us? Would our life look differently than it does now?
Heavenly Father, you have given us every instruction we need to live our life to achieve the greatest reward, heaven. Help us to make your goal for us our own goal. Help us to give cheerfully, pray as you taught and teach thru your counsel. Help us to make You our only master. Thank you for all of the gifts you have given me. May I use them to serve you and others and to draw me closer to you. Amen.

No human is without sin—that is why God gave us these instructions to follow, so that we can become holy in His world (heaven). This world is our practice field, a time to train and a time to condition our hearts for Him.
God gives us His expectations. May I make his point of view my own.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fortnight of Freedom - A Call to Action

Friends of Faith:
I write this morning to call every Christian into action and to ask us all to join together in the 2013 Fortnight for Freedom: June 21 to July 4.
The U.S. bishops have called for a Fortnight for Freedom, a two-week period of prayer and action, to address many current challenges to religious liberty, including the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, Supreme Court rulings that could attempt to redefine marriage in June, and religious liberty concerns in areas such as immigration and humanitarian services.
Regardless of our personal religious beliefs and/or which denomination we name ourselves, we as Americans have long taken pride in the fact that if what we believed would not harm another being than that belief would be protected by the religious liberty our country was founded upon.
That did not mean that the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would be trumped by “equality.” Or that one belief was more equal than another belief. It meant that we would have the right to form a rightful, faithful conscience and that our conscience choices would allow us to make the choices necessary within our lives, businesses and families based upon the faith that we each profess.
Freedom (and our conscience) should not allow us to take a life, abuse widows or orphans, or ignore the one who created and died for us—but rather it should protect our right to live our conscience beliefs, including choosing a religion and accepting the gift of faith each of us has been given.
Without God there is no conscience, and without God there is no freedom. That is why this country was founded: to protect our freedom to believe in God and to give liberty and justice to all. God is the one who designed and created us. God is the only one who can and should judge. His law is the only law that will protect us and His law is the only law that should limit us by stopping us before we do wrong.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Mt 22: 37-40
God’s laws should form our conscience. God’s laws do not contradict but give freedom to all.
The media have implied all along that the dispute is mainly of concern to a Catholic minority with peculiar views about human sexuality. But religious leaders of all faiths have been quick to see that what is involved is a flagrant violation of religious freedom. That's why former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared, 'We're all Catholics now.'" – Mary Ann Glendon, Wall Street Journal
"We are Catholics.” (And I would add faithful Christians) “We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples, and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together. " —Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, April 12, 2012
From your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ.
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.
Copyright © 2012, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.
Let us stand together and pray together to protect God’s laws.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Imitate and Follow

Women of Faith:
I’ve heard it many times: “don’t do what I do (did), do what I say.”

But in reality, most of us don’t follow spoken instructions (or even written ones) very well. Instead it is easier to watch what someone else is doing and follow their lead.
“And whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” Mt 10: 38

Christ had no scripture written down to follow, but he had the example of the prophets and the leadership of the Jewish teachers. He did what His Father, God, asked, and willed, for Him to do.  
We look to others for leadership and examples to follow. We search for what is successful (by our standards) and then we try to follow and imitate those successes. But are these worldly successes or God’s successes? Are we following THE image of Christ?

And many times we look far away from our own circle. We search for someone who has “clout” or that we think are rich and famous so that we might imitate them and make them our example.
“And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Lk 4:24

So who are we overlooking? What examples of kind, compassionate and courageous are right in our midst? Who has God placed in our path to teach us holiness? (And who are we teaching by our own example?)
Do you know of someone who is suffering from a long term illness or has a family member who is chronically ill? Do you know of someone who has recently lost a loved one thru illness or accident? Do you know of someone who is unable to find a job, suffers from mental illness or addiction?

Their suffering, and those who help them and care for them, might be the living examples that we are supposed to be following, and that we are supposed to model.
Are we overlooking Christ in our midst? Are we overlooking an answer to a problem because it is too close to us? What examples of kind, courageous and holy are right in front of us? Who has God placed in our path to teach us holiness? (And are we being an appropriate example to others?)

"Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” Jn 12: 25-26
Heavenly Father, In your honor and glory may I follow you always. Thank you for giving us Your son to be our leader and living example of service to others. Help me to pay attention to the examples you set so closely in front of me and to be courageous enough to imitate Your actions. Change me to always be ready follow YOU as your servant! Amen.

God’s will, and Christ’s example, may not provide the easiest answers, nor produce the fastest results, or even be the most popular answer. But He is always near and ready to guide us by His presence. May we always be ready to do the same “unto others” as he did for us.
Let us follow Him!

Monday, June 3, 2013


Friends of Faith:

Exercise—oh how I hate that word. I’d much rather not do it, and I keep hoping someone else will do it for me than so that I don’t have to do it myself.
On the flip side, I love to eat: all I can, whenever possible. It seems to be my favorite recreation. I am always inventing reasons to eat out and trying new things to eat in my kitchen.

But we all know what happens when we eat and don’t exercise. We get fat, not healthy. Instead of the food I am eating becoming the nutrition which energizes and strengthens, I become sluggish, lack endurance and become weak.
And vice-versa for some who exercise whenever possible, but starve themselves physically. They too are unhealthy.

It’s a delicate balance. Most of us struggle at some time with the balance and very few are perfectly balanced all or even most of the time.
He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves." They replied, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people." Now the men there numbered about five thousand… Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets. Lk 9: 13-17

And the balance between eating and exercising is very much like the balance we need in our spiritual lives—between being present and fed by Christ’s word and food each week in the Eucharist and by the way we exercise the faith we profess when we walk outside the walls of the church.
By just exercising our “goodness” as a person without being nourished spiritually we will be left unfulfilled and wanting. To say we have faith and to do good without attending Church and receiving the promise of the Eucharistic food we will be left weak and sluggish—without enough Spirit to move us forward.

And vice-versa, by just eating the food of the Eucharist and not exercising His message I won’t be entirely healthy, because this was not God’s intention for us as a community of well fed Christians.

Unlike earthly food which becomes more like us, God’s food (the Eucharist) is intended to make us more like Him. His nourishment should spiritually strengthen us and better equip us to exercise of our faith though the gifts he has given us in our talents and through His graces. Instead of being taken in, He is in us to take us out—to show His glory to the world by the way we live.
But just like exercise, we have to do something to make that happen, to use the nourishment (the faith) He gives us.

Heavenly Father, in the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus, by His Body and Blood given to us as our everlasting food, at the Last Supper, and by His death on the cross (exercise) you have shown us perfect balance in word and deed. Help me to learn to balance my life. May the fulfillment I receive by Your food (Eucharist and Scripture) be multiplied by the faithful exercise of Your presence in my life. Thank you for the promise of fulfillment in the rewards of heaven.  Amen.
Exercise in the Spirit, eat and be filled by the Body of Christ, be balanced by a perfect God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)—the perfect unending trinity.