Monday, March 31, 2014

The "Right" Right

Friends of Faith:

This weekend we saw the movie “God’s Not Dead.” Would you be willing as a college freshman (or an even more mature adult) to stand up to someone with authority and defend your choice to believe in God and to choose the right “right?” (If you haven’t seen the movie, I would highly recommend it.)
When God looks into my hearts and asks: “Have you been for me, or against me—what will I honestly be able to answer?” This is the “million dollar” for “all eternity question.”

“But the LORD said to Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.” 1 Sm 16: 7
What is permissible by God and what has been made by man to SEEM permissible by God?
God looks into our hearts. God sees differently than you or I. He sees differently than what the world sees.
Man may make “laws,” and deem something necessary (a choice, an equality), but God sees right laws, and true necessities (disciplines and responsibilities.) He sees the one, true, holy right.

The separation between what God teaches, what Christ gives us as an example and what the world wants us to believe as the truth can be very small. It is one of the reasons I keep seeking education about my faith, because sometimes the differences between God’s right and mine (human’s) can easily trick me into wrong decisions or judgments.

We all know the commandment: “Keep holy the Sabbath.” But yet Jesus preached, healed and performed miracles on the Sabbath. It was one of the reasons the “legal system” of that time abandoned and crucified him. Yet, as Jesus himself depicted, how can something be deemed a “sin” when it is performing miracles in God’s name?

“This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them.” Jn 9: 16

Christ chose to cure the blind man on the Sabbath. He chose mercy over the law. He chose to make God’s mercy visible to others even though it was the Sabbath. Otherwise he would have been the hypocrite who said, “go, take care of yourself, I can’t help you because I am “obeying” the law and not  working today.” So, will my own choices make God’s mercy visible and present to others? Will God see my choices as a choice for him?

Every time I make a decision to DO something is it “my desire” or a “work of God’s?” Does it draw me closer to God, or does it keep me FROM God? Is it of this world, or of God’s world? Am I justifying what I do because it is what I want to be believe (my right), or am I justifying what I do, because I truly believe that God would say it is the “right” right?

Some examples from my life: shopping—Am I spending money I don’t have, buying things I don’t need or am I stopping for a gallon of milk because the refrigerator is empty and I have hungry kids to feed?

Working: Is my work to help others, or is my work to make more money for myself out of greed (different than sustaining the needs of my family)?

Becoming more Christ centered: Am I fulfilled and satisfied by attending church, do I make it my priority, or do I let others convince me that something else is more important?

How am I “justifying” my decisions—based on God, or based on what “everyone else” is doing?
Christ Jesus, You were sent here to be my example. Teach me right from wrong. Help me to discern what is Your way, and what is deceptively just “my way.” Thank you for giving me the opportunity and the freedom to be in your presence each week. Help my life to make You and Your mercy visible to others. Amen.

God IS NOT DEAD!! Stand up for your beliefs. Choose the “right” right for the right reason this week.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hungry and Thirsty

Women of Faith:
Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? By what, whom or how are you being nourished? Is it lasting, or are you constantly looking for more?

I was fed this past week by family, by spending time in Colorado with our new grandson, Caleb Joseph (born 3-9-14 to Sara and Luke, on his big sister Karolina’s 4th birthday, and joined by a very proud big brother, Colby.) Kristy, Tyler and Avery also joined us.
So we had two babies who very vocally made known to us like clockwork just how important it was to eat and drink, of our need to be fed.

And I was watered by this week’s readings and through our travel time, which allowed us silence and time to listen to God’s teachings in Scripture, on the radio and by visiting another church community.
Without food and water we could not survive—they are both necessities of life: physically, spiritually, even emotionally.

Symbolically the readings, especially this week were loaded with spiritual “living water”and the food provided by Jesus’ example—physically in His teachings (Scripture and Church) and spiritually by the nourishment He left us in the Body of Christ (grace and Sacraments.)
"In those days, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?” So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? A little more and they will stone me!” The LORD answered Moses, …“Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink.” Ex 17: 3-7
"A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” —For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jn 4:5-42
In Exodus the people physically threatened Moses because they felt as if they were being left in the desert to die without food and water—which God provided through the power of miracles where he allowed water to flow from rock, and justenough manna each day for a daily serving. (Ex 16:4) (These verses prophetically tie to the need for water (Baptism) and to be fed daily by the transformation of bread into the Eucharist celebrated daily—the Jewish root of Mass.)
In the story of the unnamed Samaritan woman at the well she represents the lost, the lonely, the spiritually malnourished, the outcast, and the sinner—all of humanity. It is her “thirsting”for more and then her response in faith which gives her spiritual fulfillment.
Her encounter with Jesus ties us to our eternal salvation through the Sacraments of Baptism (by Christ’s grace poured out we are given new life), Eucharist (Jesus is the ”living” food and through our reception of the sacrificial meal we will never die), Reconciliation (although she was a Samaritan and a sinner forgiveness is offered to everyone), and Marriage (despite the guy she lived with and the five previous “husbands” Jesus is the perfected seventh—a representation as her one true and only eternal spouse. (In those days when a man met a single woman at the well she often became his spouse.))

(For more listen to: “I’m Not Being Fed” by Jeff Cavins available at

When I thirst and hunger, when I feel spiritually lost or lonely, when I recognize my sin, I am fed and I am watered through simple prayer (a response in faith) or by going to the well’s of reception, the Sacraments: attending church (seeking the fulfillment of His community) and by physically and spiritually being fed by Him in the Eucharist, or by seeking His forgiveness thru the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
And I am fed by the grace received in my vocation, marriage, through serving and through being served by my spouse—by sacramentally fulfilling my call, in the Spirit of sacrifice (doing for another) and in the joy of being lifted up, encouraged and accepted, by another.

Lord, I thirst and I hunger for the washing of my soul and food that strengthens my Spirit. Help me to respond to my deepest needs in faith. Take away the junk food of “happy meals” and shallow societal thoughts and allow me to be nourished by the deep well you have left in the teachings of the Church Fathers and through Your offering of daily, healthy food , the Eucharist. Amen.
Fill your body AND your soul with more than junk—search for the living water and the Body of Christ,

Monday, March 17, 2014


Friends of Faith:
I like “definition,” to know right from wrong. I like black and white—not grey, to know that 2 plus 2 always equals 4.

And the laws of the Church have definition: good and evil, or sin and death, or discipline and life.
But faith in Christ is both, and, – it is both head and heart; both law and compassion; both the grace of faith and works because of the grace of faith. It is both Word and Tradition.

I am instructed to pray for my enemies, and to serve the person I love. I am justified in the good works I do BECAUSE I have faith (there is sacrifice in doing for others AHEAD of my own needs). And I am instructed to embrace BOTH the written Word AND the Tradition (example) that Christ intended for me to witness. Sometimes the rules are both black and white—AND the rules always make sense in the light of Christ’s ministry and life.
“And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Mt 17: 2-4

I am transformed by staying connected to the obedience of BOTH the Law of Moses AND having the Spirit of Elijah. My connection to prayer AND fasting; listening AND witnessing; believing AND acting on my belief is what transforms me.
To have one without the other will give us the grace of faith, but no one to share it with, no one to be connected with. There is no such thing as a community of one—only if I live to give others life can there BE life. I can be the example of Christ without being Christ, but I cannot be like Christ without doing something for Christ.

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.” See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” Js 2: 14-26
I won’t truly be able to abide by the law, without being led by the Spirit. I am asked to be connected by grace AND justified by the thoughts, words and actions which reflect that grace.

It is the reason we have priests and the single life—so that they will reflect  for us the visible sign of Christ AND marriages—so that thru a marriage which is open to new life we will have a visible sign of a Christian community (the domestic church), a family. Both vocations serve the other AND both vocations give love to the other.
It is the reason we are connected and transfigured by BOTH His death AND His Resurrection.

“May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, And the rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand” ― Irish Blessing
Faith is connected—to BOTH AND: To Christ, to the path of His road, to the words in the silence of the winds, to the warmth of the “son” and to the healing in the tears of the rain.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Beginning and the End

Friends of Faith:

This is not harsh, this is mercy. It seems so complicated, and yet it is so simple.

For God was. The Beginning and the End—AND everything in between.

In the beginning, God made us.

“The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,  and so man became a living being.” Gn 2: 7

We were tempted. Everything “in between” is a choice. Heaven or earth. God’s way or man’s way.

At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.”Mt 4:1-11

In the end, Jesus saved us.

“Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned. For if, by the transgression of the one, death came to reign through that one,
how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ. In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.”
Rm 5:12, 17-19

I know the beginning... I am a sinner. I know what I want in the end... I want to be saved. And I struggle, like all humans, in between, to make the choice to worship and serve God alone.

Even Jesus was tempted (three times), by Satan’s distortion and application of the words of the scriptures.

One: “The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” Mt 4: 3

Two: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Mt 4: 6

Three times: “Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, "All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” Mt 4: 8-9

Jesus knew the whole story. Not just the beginning and not just the end. The devil tried to trick him with his own words, by three times taking His own words out of context. But Jesus knew the whole story, not just the beginning and not just the end. He knew that EVERY choice in-between was important.

“There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”Jn 21:25 So, He left us His Church to instruct us and His Spirit to guide us.

I am called to Pray! to Learn! To Discern! And my choices will include being tempted to stop in-between. He gave me, He gives me, His son, every minute of every day, so that I can learn by my mistakes, be forgiven, and move forward to the end.

Merciful Father, You are slow to anger and great in Your kindness. Give me the courage and strength to withstand the temptations of this world and to have the desire to know You more. Thank you for the gift of grace which helps me to understand You more fully. The gift of Your words, spoken and unspoken, which give me the tools to move closer to You. And for the gift of Your Son, through the forgiveness of the cross, which allows me to look forward to You. Amen.

We have all begun. We all want the same end. We were put here to help each other through the in- between.

This is our Lenten journey—together in Christ,



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Everything I need

Friends of Faith:
A very wise young lady has had me thinking for the past several days about this answer to “What is heaven like?”

Her response, “Heaven is right here, right now. Because we have everything we need.”

"Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, Offerings and libations for the LORD, your God.” Jl 2: 12-14

Since I knew early Monday that this reflection was going to be late, I decided to do an Ash Wednesday  thought  instead – one fed by my own soul searching after hearing her response—and tied to our Lenten journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Hopefully these questions and thoughts will help us all focus on Lent, our personal preparation, how we might make Christ present for others and how Christ has made himself a sacrifice for us on the Cross, to give us the heaven we have here on earth and the heaven promised by an Easter resurrection.

Prayer: What am I praying for? Is God telling me no, because I already have what I need? Do I ask (pray) to God for my wants or do I pray to Him for my needs (more trust, to let Him have control)? Am I praying for more and not recognizing what I already have?

If I am sick—am I turning down help and missing blessings God is trying to provide for me? Despite some of the financial headaches of our healthcare system we still have the best healthcare professionals available.  Do I find and thank God for both the smallest and the greatest of these blessings?

If my spouse doesn’t seem to be all I think they should be—am I telling my spouse what it is I need, or are they attempting to fulfill the wrong needs because they truly don’t know what else to do? Am I praying to change others when I should pray to change myself instead?

Am I thankful that I have the opportunity to pray publicly? And do I take that opportunity?

Fasting: Our readings this week were about how we cannot honor both mammon and God. How much do we have and how much do we really need?

Most of us have plenty of food, and some of us could probably do with eating a little less. Most of us have a warm roof over our heads, while many are living without shelter or inadequate sanitation. Most of us have plenty of clothes in our closets, while some barely have the shirt on their back, or sandals on their feet. Who could we help by sacrificing a meal, a degree on the thermostat for even a day, or a single shopping trip? Should we be making a donation to the local clothes closet or food pantry, or as Pope Francis suggests “to look those in need directly in the eye” by helping in a soup kitchen?

Almsgiving: Our Christian call is to make ourselves holy, and to help others see Christ in and thru us—to help make others holy. Our baptismal call is to make this earth a small piece of heaven for others. That doesn’t mean to just give money (although we need to do this too), but more importantly to share a piece of ourselves, to do something for others, to make someone laugh or smile, and to make someone feel important enough that we care enough by being a good Samaritan—rather than walking past and hoping someone else will take care of them.

“Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward…..  “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,… “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites….Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.” Mt 6: 1-6, 16-18

Heavenly Father, You sent us Your Son, Jesus, a “peace” of heaven, to dwell within us. Jesus, You did not put on the gloomy face of a hypocrite, but accepted Your sufferings and died to save us so that we might have a piece of heaven. Holy Spirit, Enlighten us, to the pieces of heaven around us.  Thank you for giving me everything I need. Amen.

Don’t make Lent about “me.” Make Lent about seeing the pieces of heaven around you, and about helping others to see the pieces of heaven around them. YOU may be everything they need!

Blessings this Lenten season,