Monday, April 28, 2014
Friends of Faith:
Why is it that we sometimes have such a difficult time acting on the beliefs of our moral faith, as strongly as we identify in our belief of God?
Could it be that we just get too busy in this “culture of stuff” and don’t take time to exercise our faith belief?
I am often torn between the treasurers of God’s world and a world which includes both the fulfillment of human treasures and the trials of “being tested” in my faith.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Pt 1: 3-9
It is difficult to maintain our lives in this world while searching and yearning for God’s. Yet, this should be our goal… to live in this world making it God’s world. With Jesus as our example: to love one another, as Christ loved us; by giving our lives for each other; by doing God’s will even though it may not be what I might want for myself (“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” Mt 26:39)
The disciples, too, even though Jesus lived in their midst, were tested, tried, and failed to recognize, live, believe, and always do what Jesus asked of them.
Simon Peter denied Christ three times; the disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognize him and Thomas asked to touch Christ to “prove” his existence.
Yet, like them I am asked to have the faith to believe in a power higher than myself, like them I am asked to pray unceasingly, to have the trust to get out of the boat and meet Jesus on the water,and to sustain myself with the food He provides (in nature and in the Eucharist).
My conscience burns with moral truth. My heart burns with internal knowledge of His will. But my eyes aren’t always open to see and my ears don’t always listen. That is the choice I am given by God, to believe in this world, or to believe in His living Word.
God is in charge of the growing and the feeding of both my body and my soul. He is ultimately in charge of my life if I will trust Him to have power over me. And it is in that giving up of my own self, that I find ultimate peace and happiness.
They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. Acts 2: 42-47
God, You are power and mercy, You are in control. Help me to believe and to give up the life I think I want, for the beauty of the life you give me, even when I can’t or don’t recognize the gifts I am being given. Thank you for the people you have put in my life that allow me to see you and help me to be a person that allows others to see you through me. In faith I trust, I believe. Amen.
Believe. God is providing us all that we need. Find the faith to trust in all that He is and has provided.
Monday, April 21, 2014
Friends of Faith:
The Resurrection message is about the peace we find by placing our trust in the Lord.
Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! … Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.” Mt 28: 1-10
The published “count” for the number of times “do not be afraid” appears in the bible differs – up to an often quoted 365 times (once for each day of the year).
Blessings in Christ,
Monday, April 14, 2014
Friends of Faith:
I have had others agree with me that Holy Week is their favorite spiritual and sacramental week of the liturgical year.
I don’t remember very many times, over the years, that I haven’t been able to attend liturgies every day from Thursday thru Sunday – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil) and Easter Sunday. It was then, and has over the years become extremely important for me to have a full experience of not just history, but to be a part of Christ’s saving journey for us during Holy Week.
Certainly I didn’t go to church every day when I was younger because I was “holy,” nor do I now. I went then because I was lucky enough to be part of a family who found Christ not just in his Resurrection, but also in his passion and death.
And I go now because I understand that without his passion and death we would not have a Resurrection. Christ’s passion and death, his suffering, allow us the grace of forgiveness, so that through His death we can have the gift of eternal life—Resurrection. I would feel denied and empty if I was unable to engage in the liturgies of His death and Resurrection, not just during Holy Week, but every day of my life.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,*and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” … He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.” Mt 26: 36-45
One of my earliest memories of Holy Week is spending Holy Thursday night with my dad from 11 p.m. to midnight in church. Dad explained to me that our hour of prayer in front of the exposed tabernacle (Eucharistic adoration) was to commemorate the time the disciples spent at watch with Jesus as he prayed, and I remember thinking that I could not and would not be like them – I was going to stay awake (a difficult task for someone age 5 or 6 in a quiet church that late at night).
I know now that I fall asleep as the disciples did each time I sin. I fall asleep each time I don’t fully trust in my faith. And I fall asleep each time I justify a choice that is not God’s will for me.
But I realize that each time I walk this Holy Week with Christ, and that each time I am given the opportunity to celebrate Mass (the Last Supper) I am given another gift, another grace by which to bear my own sufferings, and another opportunity to feel His awe and presence in my life.
The glory of his Resurrection is just that much greater when I have am able to take part in the entire experience celebrated this week. I become a part of the crowd exalting His entrance into Jerusalem by waving of palms on Palm Sunday. I am a witness to the initiation of the Eucharist and priesthood, through the blessing of bread and wine and the washing of the feet of His disciples at His Last Supper on Holy Thursday.
I feel empty of His presence by the lack of Mass on Good Friday (while there is a liturgy service, no Eucharist is celebrated anywhere in the world on the day we commemorate Jesus’ death.) And great sorrow in the reading of Holy Scripture which tells of the pain and suffering Jesus Christ experienced – knowing that it is my sin for which He was nailed to and hung on the cross.
And I have witnessed with joy the rebirth given to those who symbolically become new lights in faith as they fully join the church through the blessing of the new water in baptism and in the first communions, and confirmations celebrated at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.
Lord God, make me one with you. Help every human to have the opportunities I have been given, to be a Christian who walks with You, who is present in both Your death and Resurrection and who participates fully in the Sacraments You have initiated for us in faith. Thank You for the gift of salvation. May I be a faithful disciple whose awe for you keeps me awake, engaged and present in the journey. Amen.
Every ritual, every veneration and blessing allows me to walk one step closer with Jesus: to walk, fall, deny, and to be forgiven, as one of His faithful disciples; to feel the sorrow and pain of His mother, Mary; even to bear the judgments, hatred and the misunderstandings of the crowd.
If you have not been blessed to experience these days with a community within a church I would invite your participation in the liturgy of a Holy Week,
Engage. Make Christ’s journey more, take the opportunity and make it your priority to become one with Him on the journey He walked for us. Without you, His journey for us means nothing.
Have a Blessed Holy Week and a Joyous Easter,
Monday, April 7, 2014
Friends of Faith:I think I started this message last week, but Archbishop Jackels perfected it for me at mass this weekend when he talked about “mistaken notions.” His message projected a part of what Pope Francis keeps trying to instill in us as Christians; that it is not just okay to call ourselves the faithful, to be pious by attending church and praying, if we aren’t really doing something for each other with good intentions, lifting up those around us (the needy) in mind and spirit, and serving each other with kindness and compassion.
Each of us is a vehicle to help others make the right choices to become holy and it is the path of holiness that leads us to heaven.My mistaken notion may take the belief “that everyone else is doing it” to justify my own actions. I may condemn another’s beliefs by misreading Scripture to fit my own beliefs. O I may and spend a lot of time within church walls piously praying.
But if I’m not disciplined enough to look for God’s justification instead of my own, if I don’t learn about Christ’s teachings from the Church itself, or if I don’t take the time to serve others and do the work it takes to help others first then am I really driving the vehicle I am down a path of true holiness?I don’t have the liberty to justify everyone’s action as freedom of choice nor should I make someone feel good when they are making a wrong choice, but instead I have the responsibility as a Christian to live up to God’s standards and God’s freedoms, hating sin, but loving sinners.
God put us here on earth as an extension of himself (we are created in His image (Gen 1:27)) and He gave us helpmates (our spouse (Gen 2:18) and the Spirit within His church (Jn 14:26)) to teach us and to guide us to accept His grace and eventually lift us back to Him for all eternity (Rev 19: 7-9) holy and unblemished—clean of sin (Eph 5: 25-27).“Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.”
Wives and Husbands.” Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord… Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
God designed for us the vehicles to holiness: he taught us to pray, he gave us the commandments and he initiated the Sacraments so that we would not have any mistaken notions about our roles here on earth. We are to love and serve one another as Christ did.
In the Sacrament of Marriage (as designed by God, see Genesis and Ephesians above) we are to be helpmates to our spouse, a vehicle to help another attain holiness. Just as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for it, so a spouse is to care for and love the other, serving each other as Christ served us.In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are taught to say “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you,” just as Christ forgave us.
And in the Sacrament of Holy orders the priests are given the duty to carry out his examples of prayer and discipline by sacrificing their own desires and using their talents and time, just as Christ sacrificed His own life for us.And that is enlarged upon by Pope Francis’ message of caring for and serving each other, to rid ourselves of the mistaken notions that Christ’s grace given freely to all ends when we accept that grace, but rather becomes our beginning to act upon that grace, to touch others, to become a vehicle for others, by our thoughts (prayer) and actions to live our lives as God designed.
All of life is a balance. I am called to choose to be disciplined enough to avoid making myself feel good, to be disciplined enough that I don’t justify my own actions with the filter of human eyes, but rather to search for and see my actions and my intentions through God’s eyes and Christ’s example. I am called to avoid the earthly “mistaken notions” that I have rights, or that I should be given rights other than what God has intended for us in the beginning.Heavenly Father, You created each of us in Your image. I know that I fail, sometimes miserably, in my decisions, in my mistaken notions, and justifying my choices. Thank You for the mercy You extend each of us. Help me to avoid my mistaken notions and to search diligently for your purpose in my life. Help me to do what it is You want me to do, rather than what fulfills my own desires. Help me to accept Your decisions in my life and to have the patience to bear heart aches and physical aches. Help me to remember that Your son, Jesus, died, not so that I could be fulfilled in this life, but so that I would have eternal life. Amen.
I have a lot to learn. The world has a lot to learn. It is my job, it is our job, to avoid the mistaken notions, to go out and seek God’s truth, to go out and to be Christ to others this week,Blessings,