Monday, December 28, 2015

O Come All Ye Faithful

Women of Faith:

O Come, All Ye Faithful, Joyful & Triumphant for we have been blessed by the birth of Your Holy Savior, Christ Jesus.

 “The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.” Ti 2: 11-14

So, am I truly faithful, joyful and triumphant? Do I accept the training I am being given to reject godless ways and worldly desires?

It IS the true reason for the appearance of the glory of God – Jesus Christ our savior!

I am being called to live according to His commandments, faithful in my trust, to live devoutly so that I can trust that God (not I) will handle whatever comes my way—even if it causes me distress, sorrow or suffering.
I am being called to be triumphant and joyful in all the gifts I have been given—especially for the freedom to have the opportunities to know Jesus and to accept His very real presence in the Eucharist and in my very life itself.

“Beloved: This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 Jn 1: 5-2: 2

I constantly remind myself that I have been given so much more than so many other believers, especially those in other countries. Opportunities for family, spiritual guidance and even material possessions: gifts which I may be asked to give back even though it may cause me pain because I have become used to “having” that particular gift.

And I know that the greatest gifts I have been given are the ones that don’t “cost money”: my very life and the love and acceptance of my human faults by family and friends, especially by those I so often take for granted.

And I am reminded also of the gifts of wisdom and knowledge which allow me to freely know and learn more and more about His plans, His design and to see the signs of His presence in my life. I am amazed by what is revealed to me, for the more I know, the more I know there is to know.

Heavenly Father: Thank you for showing me your presence in my life. Help me to remain your faithful and trusting servant. Allow me to be triumphantly joyful, especially for the gifts of your mercy and forgiveness, which you give to me so freely when I fail to acknowledge and obey your design for my life. Please help me to use my gifts wisely so that others may see “Jesus” through me. Amen.

Keep the true Spirit of Christmas alive in your life – Oh, come let us adore Him by, in, and with faithful, exuberant, and joyful trust!
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Monday, December 14, 2015

I'm Having a Party. You're Invited.

Friends of Faith:

I’m having a party. Are you coming?

Essentially that is what God is telling us every day. He’s inviting us to a party. And it is our choice as to how we respond-- yes or no, there is no “in between” or “maybe” answer. We either show up or we don’t.

We must not be too busy, too worried, too anxious, or too ready to do it ourselves. We must rejoice that he is asking.

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4: 4-7

We must love him more than our jobs; the Iowa Rosebowl, Iowa State basketball or the Chicago Cubs playoff; our kids soccer coach who says the kids won’t play if they don’t go to practice; The Voice or whatever it is on TV that is “our show;” our lake house or whatever else it is that keeps us away from church, prayer and working with the poor.

We must choose him over everything else.

Jesus again in reply spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast* for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,* and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Mt 22: 1-14

And because God says “what we do for the least of our brothers, so we do for Him” sometimes the choice isn’t just about my attendance at church (that’s a given) but the tougher choice about choosing to stay home from work, shopping, or skipping something recreational, to take care of my family or my neighbor; have a listening ear to someone who is lonely; or spending time with someone who is ill.

The great thing about God though is that he keeps giving us a second chance, and he asks us for nothing, only that we ourselves be with Him. He does not ask us to bring presents, food, or challenging games or conversations only the gifts of our time and talents. And He continues to give us the chance to say yes with the opportunities for giving into faith and shutting out the worlds call for more success, more money, and more happiness. He simply calls us to love him through our love for others.

Heavenly Father, I want to say yes! Help me to shut out the worldly distractions. Help me to realize I can’t do everything by myself. Help me to realize that others need what you have given me as a gift. Thank you for giving me answers to my prayers and the faith to see you in the tough choices I am called to make. Please give me and others peace, joy and comfort when we say yes and when we see others say yes because we have been a witness for you. Amen.

Will you be one of the chosen because you said yes when he invited you? God asks everyone but His question requires an answer. Make your RSVP this Advent season! 

Let’s not forget that Christmas is His party. I’m hoping to see you there.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Finding Balance

Friends of Faith:

Each time I write I struggle to find balance in what I write – to share and to teach, but not to preach; to inspire with hope, but 
not give into the despair of my own shortcomings; and to seek and share truth but not judge our human tendencies to give in to our selfish desires.

That’s the way earthly life is if we believe in God’s grace. It is a journey to constantly seek the truth, while acknowledging that we all have faults, a journey in which God promises us His undeserved love, mercy and forgiveness, if we will only accept it. And a journey through a world filled with temptations demanding everyday choices between earthly happiness and heavenly righteousness, a journey which if we have faith and trust in God tells us that He offers us every gift: love, happiness, our daily needs, peace and joy.

I find this balancing act to be even more of a challenge each Advent season.

A challenge to give to all of those that are needy, while receiving what others offer to me in charity.

A challenge to find quiet time in prayer, in church and in search of God in my own life, while doing all of the things I want to do to help others to feel God’s love in theirs.

A challenge to accept God’s forgiveness for my own shortcomings, while being patient in offering mercy to those who do not yet have an understanding of what God is granting them through truth and grace.

A challenge to both remember and share that JESUS is the Reason for the Season and that I should be grateful that his gifts are free.

“Brothers and sisters: I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 

And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception,  to discern what is of value,  so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness  that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” 
Phil 1: 4-6, 8-11 AMEN!!

Take time for God. Pray, hope and find Balance. Know that all He wants from us is our faithfulness in Him. Seek and share the truth, be thankful, and accept His love and the love of others.

May the peace and joy of the season, of Christ Jesus, be with you all.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Hungry for More

Friends of Faith:
Why is it that I can say I am hungry just 4 days after Thanksgiving? Well, I’m not hungry for food, I’m hungry for something even more basic than food – I’m hungry for God.

And my hunger goes beyond that – it is also a hunger to know that everyone else is fed, that everyone else has the opportunity to know and to feel his presence like I do.

The more I know about God, the more I want to be about God. And I want to give everyone else the same opportunity of knowing Gods’s love while having the ability to share truer knowledge and greater wisdom of His grace with others.

"Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts,  to be blameless in holiness before our God and  Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us 
how you should conduct yourselves to please God and as you are conducting yourselves you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.”
1 Thes 3:12-4:2

It’s a hunger that knows opportunity and impatience; love and intolerance; wisdom and shame. And it’s a hunger that makes me feel both sadness and find the joy of fulfillment. And I realized that I have to be willing to receive what he offers.

I am grateful that I am willing to receive education which the Church has so prudently discerned. Right now that education is from the Theology of the Body which is a part of St. Pat’s regular Date Night program. Last week, my weekly email from TOB said: “What would happen to marriages and families if everyone knew more about the Theology of the Body?”  The email made me want so much more for so many more marriages. And I feel a deep sadness for the destruction of marriage and families when God has provided us so much “education.” But the email also strengthened my commitment to continue to promote stronger marriages and the enrichment of families while continuing to learn Church teachings.

I am grateful that I have been willing to receive His gift of a business which provides a livelihood to both our family and to our employee’s families and also provides the opportunity to serve others so that they can fulfill their own talents. Specifically my tax service has allowed me to see the gratitude and generosity of others. 
And quite often I am shamed by my own desires for more “stuff” when there are so many out there who are able to witness peace and joy and while having so very little materially.

I am grateful for the freedom to openly worship and to write about my faith. I am saddened when I feel the hunger of those who want to know more but who are searching in “all the wrong places” or who don’t have a spouse or someone who is willing to share a faith journey with them. I know in my heart that I could do more in prayer and friendship.

I have been blessed to receive signs from God especially in times when my life included challenges or suffering. I hope that others will not have to suffer in order to have their eyes opened to Him. But I have also found some of my greatest joys in being able to witness others eyes opened in faith and strengthened by His presence.

Heavenly Father, In this Advent season as I wait and prepare for the celebration of the birth of Your Son, Jesus, may my hunger for You be filled with prayer and love. Give me the wisdom to discern the answers you are granting me so that I will not to be discouraged when human nature seeks materialism, accepts mediocrity, and gives in to being less. Give me instead a deeper desire to continue a quest for more: a greater understanding of your teachings and a more committed desire to serve others. Grant me tolerance, acceptance and patience so that I may serve You by being hungry to love more. Amen.

This is also a good time to say thank you to God for Stan and our 35 years of marriage and to the many who wished us a Happy Anniversary on Kristy’s Facebook post – it made me realize and reflect on the “more” of your friendship and just how much marriages and families touch one another.

He is willing to give more, if we are willing to receive more.

Be hungry for more. Pray More. Love More. Share More. Be More!

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Bigger Picture

Friends of Faith:
Many of you know that for the past 2 ½ years I have been attending Diaconate formation classes every other Saturday with Stan (part of a 4 ½ year formal discernment and formation process to be ordained as a Deacon in the Catholic Church). And you probably have suspected that some of my reflections come from this experience.

Much like my Sunday homily notes, my notes from these classes are starred and underlined with years of reflection material that this once a week writing will never thoroughly reflect upon.

My notes can never fully capture all the who, what, when, where, why’s or how’s of God, of Jesus, or of the Spirit of the Church. Because to capture approximately 4,000 years of history before God sent His son, or another 2,000 years of church history since Jesus arrived, is a much bigger picture than any of us individually have the time, energy or brain to absorb, or that any book (even the Bible) could contain.
Only God has the power to see the big picture. Only God is big enough to design and hold together that picture.

And what happens when we think we know the big picture?

Our instructor this Saturday said, “In terms of our witness to the world Christian division is scandalous.”
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. Mk 3: 24-25

So with each passing day I search for the bigger picture to be revealed to me. I search not to be swayed by the devil’s work that tries to divide, scandalize and reform the Church beyond recognition. I seek discernment through prayer, through partaking of the Sacraments, and through continual learning of Church history—especially that of the very early Church. And I strive to avoid political rhetoric and social posturing which makes government (the people) believe they can become bigger than God, or a god by themselves.
Heavenly Father: Thank you for allowing me the time to spend in instruction and formation with those who have been equipped for ministry, and with those who are being trained for building up the body of Christ.  I yearn for total unity and true maturity of my own faith. And I hope that each of my Christian brothers and sisters will never stop seeking the bigger picture and will take full advantage of the tools (Sacraments) and the grace that your Son was sent to bring to us through the Church he left behind. Amen.

Pray constantly and seek to find unity through love.
It is the devil’s work to divide us. Jesus Christ left us His Church to unite us.
 God is the ultimate artist and He is wants each of us to unite to be a part of the big picture he designed.
Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving,

Monday, November 9, 2015

Heavenly Work

Friends of Faith:

Honestly I think part (and maybe all) of the problem with our culture today is that we think we deserve something so we don’t do enough work – not physical work (although there is some of that issue too), but spiritual work –heavenly work. Not some repetitive prayer or physical showing of charitable work to “get”  to heaven, but work because we believe there is a heaven, work because we believe in Him; work that is in a stewardship frame of mind – of the giving back to God, our time, our talents and our treasures.

Every time I write the word “work” in one of my reflections I tone it down by changing the word because I know that many Christians of denominations other than the Catholic faith think that Catholics feel like they can “work” their way to heaven.
But I think I am doing us all an injustice in toning down the idea of work because I don’t believe there is a true Christian out there who doesn’t believe and understand that we must not only be something more but that we must DO something more BECAUSE we are Christians.

First off, I agree, no one of any faith (or non faith) can “work” their way to heaven – Catholics don’t believe this – it’s a misconception about our teachings. Only God will judge who will go to heaven and it is God who has given us the freedom to choose or to deny him.
When I say I am “working” on my salvation I don’t mean I am “earning” my way to heaven forWhat good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?James 2: 14-17)

A Catholic who says they are “working” on salvation – is saying that salvation is not a one-time profession of faith, but rather a continual profession of faith, a process in which we are constantly choosing to accept or to deny the teachings of Christ the Savior (we can just as easily fall out of God’s grace as we can choose to be in his grace)—that is also why we continuously need mercy and forgiveness.
We are taught to pray, fast and to give alms—not just once but all the time (2 Thes 1:11).

And the “Be”attitudes (Mt 5), which I so love, suggest that to be something in Christ we must “do” something in Christ.
And true, faithful Christians of every faith do just that –they do “good work” because they believe in the Gospel message of Matthew 25 to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, etc– that’s how the world knows we are Christians. We deny ourselves to help others, to love others, to care for others and to support others –we “work” to imitate Jesus and our work is for our neighbor.

My first work is to pray –to pray for guidance as to what my purpose here on earth is for God, to pray for the knowledge to know how he wants me to show others I am his and to pray for the abilities to do my physical work with honor. I am refreshed in doing this by starting my “work” week by keeping holy the Sabbath in Church. For me, it seems that this is the one place where I can get away from the distractions and duties which seem to steal my time away from the time I want to spend with him. Then when I am “sent” at the end of mass to evangelize for Christ I will be able to charitably help others, to more frequently tell others WHY I am Christian, to stand up for Him and if necessary to not be afraid to rebuke others as to what the Church teaches as right AND wrong.
I need to not be afraid to work for Christ—but to be more like the “good thief” who was converted at his death. “The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?” Lk 23:40

In “working” to share the Gospel message the good thief challenged the other criminal, who conversely reviled Jesus with his “I deserve it” attitude, and so the good thief became Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 5:10

Salvation is a process which requires us to work in denying ourselves and in carrying what sometimes can be very heavy crosses. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,* take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” Mt16:24-25 and as St Paul so bluntly stated: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Phil 2:12
Heavenly Father: I am called to Know You, To Love You and to Serve You. Help me to use the gifts of my time, my talents and my treasures wisely. It is only right that I work, and even suffer, by imitating Your son, Jesus. Help me to enrich my own belief in You and to help others to come to love you as I do. Thank you for making me everything I am. May everything I do be for you. Amen.

Let us not be afraid to work to unite ourselves to Jesus Christ,


Monday, November 2, 2015

On Your Mark, Get Set, Get Ready

Friends of Faith:

Am I chosen OR am I ready to be chosen?

“I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the children of Israel.” Rv 7: 4

Many of us have read this passage and probably wondered like I have what I could possibly do to be a part of the “chosen” 144,000, knowing as I know myself that this number over the last 2015 years is minutely small – a sliver of all of the Christian people that have come and gone, and in humility, without trying to fool myself, honestly knowing that I am not even close to being or becoming holy enough to being ONE of only 144,000.

So why do I, and should we, continue to seek holiness, to be Christlike, and to live for God? Why do I continue to strive to achieve heaven when at times it can appear to be so unachievable? Why do I have hope? Because this verse is followed by this passage:

After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed: “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” Rv 7: 9-14

God may have only “marked” 144,000 but he has left the door open for all those who in hope seek his mercy; for those who in perseverance and patience seek to know Him and to do His will; and for those who remain faithful to Him despite temptation, persecution, sufferings and sorrows.

This passage is not about a few, about being “gifted or chosen,” this passage is about being prepared, about hope and mercy and about a lifelong journey towards God. For only God will know whether I am ready and whether I have done what it is that he has called me to do. My job is to be willing and to be humbly ready to lay down my life for Him so that I never feel too “chosen” or so “privileged” that I fail to do the one and only job he calls me to do – to love everyone else as unconditionally as He loves me.

Lord, we are a people that long to see your face. Help me to be ready to do your will, to stand against evil and to desire what is not vain. Help me to seek to know and acknowledge all that I have been blessed with, to be in your presence every hour of every day, and to be ready when I am called. Thank you for your patience and your mercy. It is through my hope in you that I find peace and joy. To all may there be blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might to our God forever and ever. Amen. (From Ps 24)

So I strive to give up my prideful ways and my desire for earthly belongings and in humility to become “marked” by a ready willingness and an eternal hopefulness that through His grace and blessings I will be chosen BECAUSE I was ready AND willing to do His will: in love, with love, by love and for His love.

So on your mark, get set, get ready – Love – because God awaits,


Friday, October 23, 2015

Our Call, Our Mission, Our Legacy

Women of Faith:
My reflection today intends to share with you more of what we heard at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia already several weeks ago. The excerpt below is taken from a Family Life Today reflection and is a somewhat obvious (while not spoken about with enough frequency) summary of some of the problems we are facing as a country today. I conclude with some of the solutions and suggestions that were proposed to those of us in attendance at the WMOF in the hope that each of you will reflect and take the time to act and move forward with a renewed sense of purpose in your Christian faith.

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Joshua 1:8
As a people, we are healthier but not happier. We are drenched in knowledge but parched for wisdom. Materially we are wealthy, but we suffer a profound poverty of the soul. The longer I live, the more I see that our nation needs a spiritual reformation in its inner spirit.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the state of the family. The biblical values that built our great nation--once passed on from each generation to the next as a national treasure--are being questioned and dismissed. As a result, never before have we seen such deterioration in our homes:
Never before have so many children grown up in broken homes.
Never before has the definition of marriage been altered to allow for two people of the same sex.
Never before has the marriage covenant been viewed with such contempt by a generation of young people.
Never before have parents been ridiculed for seeking to raise children with biblical values.
Never before have so many Christians laughed, shrugged their shoulders or did nothing about adultery, divorce and sin.
Never before has materialism been so flagrantly embraced over relationships.”
Never before has the family been in such need of a new legacy.
The pivotal national issue today is not crime; neither is it welfare, health care, education, politics, the economy, the media or the environment. The pivotal issue today is the spiritual and moral condition of individual men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and families.
Nations are never changed until people are changed. The true hope for genuine change in the heart lies only in the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Through Him, lives can be rebuilt. Through Him, families can be reformed.” (Excerpt from Moments with You by Dennis and Barbara Rainey)

I read a biblical reflection the other day that talked about a great battle within the early Church. One that was being lost, because just like now the Christians were divided against themselves – more worried about who was right and who was wrong then about building up a unified kingdom for God.

WHERE have all the Christians gone? WHERE AM I in forming a legacy for Christ – in my home, in my church, in my community and most importantly amongst those of you I call my friends and family?

I pulled three key thoughts from my WMOF notes:

The first is this: We no longer talk about the effects of sin or evil - hell. We don’t even talk about the earthly consequences of our selfish searches for happiness which run rough shod over others feelings, which are creating divisions in relationships and ultimately that are the result of the fall of others because our failure to lead by the truth influences and teaches others to believe that we deserve happiness and if “everyone else is doing it” it must be right. This in turn perpetuates the sin and evil doing.

As a Christian I need to remember that it is not only my goal to get to heaven, but it should also be my goal to HELP OTHERS get to heaven—most importantly starting with my own family.

From another reflection: “Jesus is not the cause of, but the answer to, all of our problems. The cause comes from the values of the world, from the evil one, and from our own weaknesses.

"The modern Christian family is often tempted to be discouraged and is distressed at the growth of its difficulties; it is an eminent form of love to give it back its reasons for confidence in itself, in the riches that it possesses by nature and grace, and in the mission that God has entrusted to it. Yes, indeed, the families of today must be called back to their original position [the foundation of society, the domestic church]. They must follow Christ. It is through the cross that the family can attain the fullness of being and the perfection of its love." USCCB Daily Reflections

Secondly: We fail to continue to search for a greater understanding of the truth. We think we know it all because we have our own “personal” relationship with Jesus Christ. We hold back when we are asked to share our Christianity and are intimidated and made to feel like we are judging someone when we offer a suggestion for change or improvement of a moral lifestyle—even though God says we are to do exactly that:All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2Tim 3:16-17

And thirdly: Being good, living as a Christian isn’t enough. We need to boldly proclaim the Truth. We need to respect the Church and we need to form a unity between all Christians.

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 one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one the many will be made righteous. Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 5: 17-21

Heavenly Father: Please help me to be a better listener and a better example. I pray also that I will be unafraid so that when you place it on my heart to do so I will be ready to boldly proclaim the truth and to stand up for you. Because where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more. Amen.

Seek Him, Hear Him, Live for Him and Proclaim Him to all,


Monday, October 12, 2015

Filling the Emptiness

Friends of Faith:

As I woke up this morning I started thinking about all I have to do and all I haven’t had time to do, like writing this meditation – and I realized that I have filled many empty spaces and a fairly disciplined routine with “junk” – meaningless and/or unstructured and unfulfilling busyness. Instead of my mission bringing me peace it is bringing me stress because I know it is incomplete and is missing flavor.

One of the things that I heard repeatedly at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago (yes, we did get to see the Pope J) was that if we didn’t take what we learned back out into our families and our communities, then being in the presence of “religion,” having faith, was meaningless. It would have no taste and result in no lasting change for the better.

You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Mt 5: 13-16

As I think back over the last couple of years I realize that before being displaced at work by the fire I had a routine, everything had a place and for the most part my time was pretty structured. I had disciplines that put God first like getting up to go to mass, praying daily before we left the house and reading scripture daily (when my computer screen opened up).

Everything seemed to fall into place, to flavor each other, to carry out a God given purpose.

During the year we rebuilt I adopted a somewhat new routine in order to get new duties accomplished. And despite the fact that life was busier God seemed to always be at the center – not only did I need him to get through all of the decisions that needed to be made but I was very aware of all the blessings he was reigning down on us, on the many prayers that were being answered.

Both routines left me, for the most part, fulfilled and at peace. I got both house work and client work done in both a timely and orderly fashion-- answering messages and meeting deadlines. Life had a God given purpose.

But lately, especially this summer which has been filled with family, visiting friends and a very memorable trip to Philadelphia I have felt something missing – like the salt that had gone tasteless.

And most of you would think that moving into the new building would have “freed” me – given me more time, less stress etc, etc. However, I can’t seem to get as much accomplished and the routine days look a little like ground hogs day. I feel myself lacking the fulfillment and peace of what I know my faith should provide even when I accomplish most of what I put on my list for the day.

What I am realizing is that many of those “freed” up spaces haven’t necessarily been filled by Godly actions, by faith or especially by disciplines that put God first. They have been filled by me wanting “me” time, by “me” wanting “freedom,” and even by “me” wanting to hide.

Religion [cannot] be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life. 
     -Pope Francis, 
Evangelii Gaudium, 183

God has a different purpose – a purpose I was reminded of yet again this week when several of you reminded me that you had not seen this message in a while.

God doesn’t want us to hide. God doesn’t want our faith to be left inside of us, or just inside of our houses, or just at Sunday mass. God wants us to give to others, to think less about ourselves and to remember everyone of our blessings every day.  

He wants us to spread his Gospel message every day. He wants us to pray in thanksgiving, to ask for forgiveness and to ask for all our needs. He wants us to be filled by him and He wants us to fill others With Him—not through our words, but by our actions – by loving and serving our families and our friends.

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.”

That is what gives me the most satisfaction, the most fulfillment – when I see those I love receiving what they truly need and thanking God for what they are being given. But without each of us doing our part, without each of us praying for, helping and being there for one another then we are the light under the bushel basket (hidden) and the tasteless salt that is searching for flavor.

May each of us fill our emptiness by serving and praying for one another. May all of us find our freedom in the discipline that puts God first.