Monday, May 26, 2014

Building Memories

Women of Faith:
Memorial Day traditionally symbolizes the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. This week has been busy with school year end state meets, awards, graduation, graduation parties, a birthday and family reunion. Beginnings and endings, a time of building memories!

Memorial Day is also the day we remember all those who have gone before us. Those people who have been our heroes, our mentors, our leaders and who have participated in the formation of our own personal histories. Not remembrance of endings, but those that were our beginnings, who in some way cleared the path for us to be alive, learn, share freedom, and share faith.

“I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.” Jn 16: 1-4
And God gave us both the Old and New Testament to build upon and to bring alive His guide for us to march with him: so that we will memorialize (remember) what he has told us and so that our movement ahead doesn’t go the wrong way, so that we do not fall away, but so that we follow Him and others will know Him because of us.

There is one thing for certain in our lifetime – the hour, our hour, will come when He will ask us if we remembered, if we have achieved our purpose, if we can graduate, if we have lived life to the fullest using the gifts and freedom provided for us.
Are we doing this “in remembrance of Him?” 1 Cor 11: 24, 25

So Memorial Day is a good day to look at our beginning and our ending, right here and now, to see that we not only are we honor the greatest who came before us, but that we are also building up His kingdom for all those who will come after us.
Do we remember the legacy He has promised? To what legacy is my own life leading and is it worthy of what He has promised?

Heavenly Father, You gave us Your son to show us the way. He died for us so that we might have eternal life. Thank you for showing us the way to mercy, forgiveness and righteousness. Help me to remember and follow Him with each new beginning, so that in the end , when my hour comes, I will be worthy of You. Amen.
Will we remember? Do we remember all that He has told us?

What do we remember about those who have gone before us? Who is relying on us, following us, who is our beginning or what do we want for our ending?
Remember and live life to His fullest. Build a memory!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Community of Faith

Friends of Faith:

As I listen to the readings from the Acts of the Apostles during this Easter season I am reminded how the first disciples of Jesus worked together and joined “in community” and joined “within the” communities to spread Christianity, the gospel, and form the first church: a church which has stood firm for over 2000 years.

The original unity (community) was with God and Adam and then with God, Adam and Eve. Original sin caused a separation of that original unity; a separation that only Jesus Christ could reunite by his mediation in becoming both human and divine. In his humanity he directed the apostles to form the original church and by His divinity he gave us the sacraments which allow us to receive His grace thus restoring original unity.
When Jesus died he promised that he would not leave the apostles alone so the Holy Spirit remains to guide them and us to build an ordered church, a community of faith, through the witness of his disciples. As Christians we are all called to become active participants, witnesses, within this universal church community and by our example to bring Christ to others.

“… the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses ….to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1: 8
Most of the apostles died martyrs for their beliefs. None of them took credit for their own actions, but rather were miraculously changed by following Christ. As Christians our call is to share in this same life changing experience and to bring others to share in it as well.
The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles (as in ordination) giving them the gift of speaking in tongues so that all could hear the gospel message regardless of the dialect they spoke, and so that no one would be left out of the opportunity to be a part of Christ’s church. The apostles also received the charisma to heal and drive out demons along with performing other signs and wonders.

Just as God made himself visible to us through His son, Jesus; Jesus makes himself visible to us through the Church and the sacraments given to the Church as an outward sign of His invisible grace.
Two other things come to mind when I use the word community: common unity and communion. God the Father and creator has given us a common unity to work towards a common goal which is intended to move us forward to original unity (heaven) and a common universal Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, to instruct and form us in God’s design. He also gives us himself as a common food to nourish us with spiritual energy (his Son, Jesus, in the sacrifice of the Eucharist—aka Communion). Together these “common”alities fill us with His grace and perseverance.

Unfortunately what is also common amongst us in our human nature is the desire to sin. Sin and the devil’s temptation which attempts to keep me away from this unifying community: a nature which feeds me a lie that I can do it myself and that I make my own destiny.

The fact is regardless of what science wants me to believe, humanity cannot survive, cannot continue, without being in communion with Him AS He designed it—the natural order. The foundational community is that of family: the first union was between Adam and Eve, man and woman, husband and wife. And the continuation of God’s children flows from this family unit, the domestic Church, through our unity with God.
We promise to God to love Him AS He loves us, and that is to “love one another AS he loves us.” It takes each of us in covenant with Him to put this command into practice.  If I truly care about unifying God’s people I will put aside my selfish desires and help others in any way I can (regardless of social status): by giving my time in prayer, my talent in service and my treasure to financially support the poor through Christian organizations which give in areas where I cannot.

And by God’s design His community is built by our manifestation of joy and peace within the world. Our actions, our priorities, and our mannerisms towards others will proclaim the Gospel to others much louder than our words.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen [me], you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me.” Jn 6: 35-37.

Building His community requires energy: both human and spiritual food, so that we will never hunger or thirst. Just like I need food in my body every day, I also need the spiritual food found in the grace received through the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Heavenly Father, I place my trust in you. You know my goal, to be in union with you. You know my community of faith, I ask for your blessings on them. Continue to provide us, Your faith community, with Your encouragement to live Your way, in Your Truth and with the hope of Your Eternal Life. Amen.

God designed us so that we wouldn’t be alone in striving for his goal. By our baptism we become members of His community who are called to go out, be His disciples (students), and bring peace, love and joy to others by spreading the Gospel message. We are called to make disciples of all nations by bringing others to be a part of His Christian community, the Church.
Blessings as you join in and spread His community of faith,


Monday, May 12, 2014


Friends of Faith:

Like everyone else in this “speed up” and “instant gratification” world I am always on the lookout for shortcuts. Whether it is a new “speed key” on my computer keyboard, “speed dial” on my phone, a new gadget that makes cleaning the house simpler, or a new diet product that will make the pounds “wash away” shortcuts seem like they should make life easier and be “fool” proof.

But as someone who loves to bakes knows by having learned the hard way, short cuts often have unintended, unlikely, or undesired consequences, and are definitely not “fool proof.” I have tried many recipes, I have only found one that is perfect every time. I have had dough that was flat because in my haste I forgot an ingredient, kolaches that have turned out like hockey pucks because I didn’t bake them at the right temperature and bread that was heavy because I didn’t have the patience to let it sit and raise to become “holey” enough.

Likewise Jesus tells us that there are no shortcuts to a perfect eternity with him in heaven. He tells us that he is the leader and that there is one path. And we are to be wary of anyone who tries to lead us on a shortcut, over a shorter fence, to what may seem like a less costly (in terms of sacrifice and suffering) way.
“Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.  But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.’” Jn 10: 1-10

Jesus even realized we wouldn’t get it (that it would be difficult for us to understand his ideas; that our human nature would lead us to want to take shortcuts) so he explained himself twice to his apostles.

And while I might know that I want to follow God’s recipe and I might even be following His recipe in some certain ways, as someone who is less than complete (unbaked) J I need to re-examine my life to be sure that I am not being led astray (by shortcuts that will provide me less than perfect results). Because I do have a desire to reach the perfection of what is His holiness I don’t want to fall flat, turn hard, or fail to rise because of my own failures to follow Him through His open gate.
Some of what I see as the more obvious shortcuts taken by this world in trying to reach God’s perfection: a belief that every recipe (church, small c) is equal—God created only one perfect Church (capital C) with His Son, His Spirit, Sacred Scripture and Sacraments as the baker, the recipe and the ingredients; a belief that I can make it easier, cheaper, or “my way”—by using less or lesser ingredients (margarine instead of butter)—believing in a watered down message, or failing to read or measure His Word through His Church and the Spirit; a belief that I shouldn’t or won’t be asked to sit patiently while he “raises” me through His eyes, not mine (that my prayers will be answered either my way or immediately); or a belief that I can bake at any oven temperature (that God doesn’t or won’t require us to suffer or make sacrifices)—that everything will always be “cool” and easy and there won’t be any “hot” and difficult moments of life.

Almighty God, You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. You gave us Your Spirit through the Church to guide us and teach us the recipe for living life Your way. You gave us this world with all of the right ingredients, help me to use your gifts properly. You gave us Your son, Jesus, the Bread of Life to allow us to receive Your reward. Help me to avoid the shortcuts, and have patience as You knead me into an instrument of Your faith. May I be allowed to taste the Bread of Life. Amen.
Don’t take shortcuts. Follow Him where He leads, and by your example give out His perfect recipe to others.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Joy of a Mothers Labor

Friends of Faith:
With Mother’s Day just around the corner it is a great time to think about the wisdom God uses in passing on His kingdom through the lessons of acceptance, patience and perseverance learned in motherhood and childbirth.

From Mary’s first yes in accepting God’s call to be the mother of Jesus, to her peace and joy in his birth, to her sorrow and suffering in seeing him unjustly accused and crucified, and then again to her joy, peace and glory in his resurrection God has given all mother’s (and all humankind) a powerful and encouraging role model.

Mary’s faithful example teaches us patience, trust, courage, and perseverance, in giving God control: in pain, in sorrow AND in joy; in the sacrifice of doing his will at whatever the cost.

“When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.” (John 16:21)

God has the power to do all, so that must mean He had a purpose in allowing Jesus to suffer for us and in making Jesus human thru Mary. Likewise, God has a purpose in each of our own sufferings: so that we learn to accept his grace and give him our trust.

The grace of God allows us as wives and mothers (fathers and friends) to accept and bear both pain and sorrow in the sacrifices we make while serving each other. The same grace of God that allows us to accept suffering will also allow us to be rewarded in His time (years, nine months, or tomorrow) with the joys of seeing God’s kingdom, through them.

Just as Mary said yes to God in being a mother, so then for the sake of all she bore the pain of her son’s death on a cross so that we might be saved. Think of her agony as she watched him die for our sakes. We have somewhat those same types of experiences and feelings of pain when our children are struggling in school, careers or relationships. But like Mary we must also trust God to lead them (and us) to the right conclusions.

And we are constantly being asked to give up and sacrifice time, talents and treasures to help others, to die to our selfish desires – that is what it means to be Christian, a follower of Christ, to act as Jesus did, to give up our life, our desires and our wants for the sake of others.

As a spouse we are asked to become a vehicle to help “deliver” our spouse to heaven – if we accept our role in God’s design we will be asked to make sacrifices for the sake of the other, and we will be rewarded with the joy of seeing Christ thru them.

And just as the birth of a child (the end result of God’s grace) create joy, so too does the end result of other situations given over to God: a healing after an illness; a “thank you” after an act of service; or a conversion of heart/Spirit after soul searching or sin. Each act of kindness done with a heart of giving, in a Spirit of humility, can create joy – both for the person that sacrifices or gives up, and for the person that suffers or for the one who has been healed.

Like a woman who bears the pain of pregnancy and childbirth we will ultimately be rewarded with new birth, the joy of being a child of God in heaven.

Heavenly Father, We are your children, given by you to help others find joy in you. Help us to have patience in bearing the pain created by our own sins. Help us to be willing to sacrifice and bear pain for the sake of others. And may we be blessed by the encouragement of finding your joy in our lives. Thank you for the gift of all mothers and for Mary’s powerful example to each of us. Amen.

I think God’s most visible example of His love is the role and the outcome of a mother’s labor of love – the joy of a child—new life created and found through self-sacrifice and pain.

May all who labor find the joy of new birth in Jesus Christ,