Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Friends of Faith:
I know I am just like many of you, I often groan when I hear someone older than me say, “Those were the good ole days!”
But more and more often I long for the simplicity of the good ole days myself. I long for the simplicity of the past: a time before Facebook took the place of actual conversations and handwritten notes; a time before the beep of a cell phone text or message interrupted every meaningful conversation and a time when entertainment meant playing cards with the cousins or a board game with my brother and sisters.
I long for leisurely conversations after church where no one has to run off to be entertained by a football game, or a shopping trip. And I long for the time again when going to Sunday mass IS the event of the week.
But in the simplicity of the past, there is/was much more of an unknown, a mystery of how, and why, and when. In this age of information we are not very patient in allowing that mystery to unfold before us—we want instant answers, instant information and instant satisfaction.
So, we go looking in all the wrong places: searching for information, searching for answers from as many people as we can touch, or“friend,” and searching for entertainment which will provide us an instantaneous, warm, and fuzzy feeling.
Unfortunately though, all of these “instants” take the mystery out, and leave us with a fleeting satisfaction that is sometimes more empty than where we started from.
“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body. Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers. Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.”
“Thus we may say with confidence: “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.* It is good to have our hearts strengthened by grace and not by foods, which do not benefit those who live by them”. Heb 13:1-9
A simple answer—let mutual love continue; be hospitable in serving each other, compassionate in caring for each other, and content with what you have. Don’t be led astray by the “politically correct or the popularly instantaneous answer.”
Often it is difficult to stay simple and to not “go with the flow” of consumerism and instant easy. But Christ will never forsake us. When I stay within the mystery, the faith of trusting Him, I am not afraid and I am strengthened by His grace, by His hope, by His love and by His mercy.
The simplicity of giving love to another person, of helping them to understand that God so loved them that He gave up His only son for them, of offering another person hope, understanding and comfort, is an unending challenge.
It is in the simplicity of making another person FEEL God’s presence in their own life, in helping others to understand their own God given purpose, that I feel the greatest and most lasting joy.
Heavenly Father, You hold the key and the answer to my every question. Help me to search for You in all the blessings (people) You have already placed in my life and those I have yet to encounter. Allow me the grace to be content in the simple joy found in sharing You with others. Amen.
Enjoy the mystery. Be strengthened by the Spirit. And be“simply” blessed by the family and friends with whom you share your week.
In the Spirit of simplicity,
Monday, July 22, 2013
Women of Faith:
I have focused this past week yet again on my family. My co-workers probably think I have deserted them, but I know work will still be there when the grandkids return to Colorado to start school in what will be just a short time.
It is always difficult and a mind struggle however to be torn between “hanging out” and playing when you know there is work to be done. My focus is divided, but I often remind myself when I am divided—division equals the devil’s intrusion.
So what is the right answer, the better part, the choice that God would choose for me?
I find my solution in this question: “If I only had a day to live, or if I had one regret, what would it be?” I don’t want my own answer to be what I think is often the most regretful answer, and that is: “I didn’t spend enough time with my spouse or/and my family (or I mistreated them in some way, by some lack of forgiveness, or through some misunderstanding.)”
And I think this is a part of what God tries to tell us that in the famous Mary/Martha story: “Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Lk 10: 38-42
Will we regret not having spent enough time with God? Someday will we ask ourselves: “Would I have received more answers to life’s challenges if I had prayed and listened more to God, instead of listening to the classic “everyone else is doing it” answer?”
God’s ultimate gift is forgiveness and mercy—to whom do I fail to give the same better part? Who is my first neighbor? Does my family come before work, or does my desire to be noticed in the world out rank the better part?
I hope that my focus is always on God first. For with God: all things are possible, God is the bearer of all good gifts, and God’s will for me is always the right choice for me.
There is a fine line between working to do God’s will and working to do what I want to do for myself. Without prayer (asking AND listening) to God it is difficult to know what the better part is that God wants me to chose.
Heavenly Father, You are the best part. Thank You for giving me the gift to know and trust You. Help me to always have the courage to allow you to be the better part of my decisions. Teach me to pray and to listen to Your call instead of answering the world. Help me to always choose the better part by following You and by serving those whom you place in my path. Amen.
Today and every day let us focus on the better part: the all powerful, the all truthful, the all knowing, wisdom, strength, courage, forgiveness and mercy that is the Spirit of God.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Friends of Faith:
So I am a little late this week—I have been on a mission—not the normal mission as many church goers might think but a mission to spend time with my grandchildren in the few short days they will be at our house this summer.
As Christians we are on a continuous mission, a mission to get to heaven, to be made holy through the grace of God. But our mission here on earth is much greater than just ourselves because none of us really want to reach heaven strictly by ourselves. We want to be in heaven with those we love.
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” Lk 10: 25-28
So our bigger mission is to make each other holy. Just as Jesus was sent to us to be our example, we are to be an example to others. And just as Jesus helped us to see God thru him, we are to help others to see God thru us. This is the bond we share as a Christian community: One body, One spirit, One Lord, One love of God—one mission for all eternity, to be joined together with God in heaven.
“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.” The Mission of My Life by Blessed (Cardinal) John Henry Newman 1801-1890
So as the song says: “And they will know we are Christians, by our love, by our love. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…. And we pray that all unity may one day be restored….. We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand. And together we will spread the news that God is in our land….. We will work with each other, we will work side by side. And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride…” They’ll Know We Are Christians by Carolyn Arends.
Am I living my mission to be known as a Christian? Is my attitude towards others Christlike? Do I pray for unity, do I spread the truth of God and do I guard the dignity of all other human beings? Does everything I do and say work towards one ultimate mission?
Heavenly Father, You are the greatest of teachers. Help me to trust the Words you speak thru Scripture and the Spirit. Help me to accept all that you ask me to endure, with patience and perseverance. Help me to never grow weary of Your mission for me. Thank you for giving me the gifts of the love of a spouse, children and grandchildren, family and friends, and a community of believers with whom to share Your mission. Amen.
In the mission of Christ,
Monday, July 8, 2013
Women of Faith:
If we are willing to admit it, all of life is a search.
For those of us that have faith in an “after life” (heaven or hell), whether we believe in God, Jesus Christ or some other power higher than ourselves, we are actually following a guide—a guide that says there is more to this life than just today, something richer and fuller than what is here on earth.
And even those who don’t believe in anything are on some sort of a search, somewhere, for something—searching for what to feel, how to feel or for something that will make them feel a particular way—a search for no more searching.
Those who might say today, that they have done everything they desire to do or that they wish to stay exactly the same as they are right now for the rest of their lives, will probably change their minds tomorrow.
So very few can ever say they have found everything they want, that they are truly content with what they have and where they are in life.
And yet, this is exactly what Christ offers to us—a beginning and an end to our search: “Peace be with You.” We are actually searching to answer for our call to holiness, to be holy.
“To you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Cor 1: 2-3
In the first official writing released just this week by Pope Francis he says: “There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us. Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time.” Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith) Pope Francis http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20130629_enciclica-lumen-fidei_en.html
Instinctively we are seeking peace (in contentment) for ourselves and we seek to offer peace (to give joy) to others.
Heavenly Father, You are our guiding light, the answer to our search. Help me to see and follow You in faith. Give me the grace to put aside the search and the need for the worldly and to be grateful for the opportunity to give joy to others in service. Help me to find peace in my search for holiness and the achievement of Your will. Thank you for meeting all of my daily needs. Amen.
The search can be over. Peace can be achieved. But the work of giving joy is never done.
May the peace of Christ be with you, today, tomorrow and always,
Monday, July 1, 2013
Friends of Faith:“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and all my will—all that I have and possess. You, Lord, have given all that to me. I now give it back to you, O Lord. All of it is yours. Dispose of it according to your will. Give me love of yourself, along with your grace, for that is enough for me.” –St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)
I search for truth: for liberty and justice for all. And I find I need to say nothing, except to quote this week’s scripture and the prayers of the Saints scattered amongst prayer book after prayer book to remind me that if I put God FIRST, and never second then I too will have the freedom I am seeking.“Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you go on biting and devouring one another,
beware that you are not consumed by one another. I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Gal 5: 1,13-18
Serve God, not the law: don’t abuse the freedoms and the free will that God has given us (God may have given me a choice, but if it isn’t God’s will, then it might not be a good choice).Give him my memory—my memory? (put into my head, my memory, only what is truly God’s understanding, and forgive and forget any injustices I may have received so that I may love my “enemies” as unconditionally as God loves me.)
And a reminder that the world is made of things to serve our flesh (good things to consume, look at, buy, and use) but that the Spirit which guides us would only give us these things to sustain us and to use for the good of others. Food is to sustain, sex is to procreate and unify a marriage, and time, talent AND treasures are to give away: so that others may also be filled with Christ (physically, emotionally and spiritually.)Only God’s law IS law: and man’s laws which override the commandments take away our freedoms instead of protecting them.
“O God our Creator, 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. Amen.” (Prayer of St. Thomas More, patron for religious freedom)
Happy Independence Day! May you seek and be blessed with the truth of God, the Spirit of Undivided Liberty and Justice, Joyful Freedom from worldly desires, and be justified thru the Grace of God.