Monday, September 26, 2016
Friends of Faith:
There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for everything under the heavens. ….a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecc 3: 1-11 (beginning)
Would you like to change the world, but feel like it is impossible? It is not a time to be silent, it is a time to speak. It is always a time to love, unfortunately there is a lot of hate. And we are in a time of war: against the devil in who is tearing down our Christian moral values, taking away our religious freedom and imposing Islamic terrorism, but God reminds us that if we speak to promote his truth it should give us peace.
But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession, to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ that the blessed and only ruler will make manifest at the proper time, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal power. Amen. 1 Tm: 6: 11-16
Just as I was ready to turn off the politics these were the readings I heard and then I heard a homily which I hope you’ll take the time to listen to as hopefully it will give you peace as it did me: Daily Catholic Mass - 2016-09-20 - Fr. Miguel.
Simply put God asks us to speak as our religious liberties allow – by voting –while making our decision as to how to vote using our faithful Christian conscience in making a just decision. We must not be discouraged and irritated by personalities or the current state of the morals in our nation. Instead, we are to use due diligence and form our conscience based on the Five non- negotiable Christian values -abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and same-sex “so called marriage". More at http://www.catholic.com/ .
Focus on the Family also reminded me that voting isn’t just about choosing a personality or the lesser of two evils in the presidential race, but rather it is about determining policies at all levels of society: local, state and national – because probably as important as the presidential race are races for our state representatives and the nomination of the judges made at every level, especially for the Supreme and District courts. www.Commit2vote2016.com
If you don’t know where to start here is the direct link to a simple comparative chart on the party platforms. How Do The Party Platforms Compare? We Break It Down. And if you want to verify the comparison copy and paste these direct links to the full platform verbiage. The democratic platform at https://www.demconvention.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Democratic-Party-Platform-7.21.16-no-lines.pdf (in particular pg 19 & 37); and the republican platform at https://prod-static-ngop-pbl.s3.amazonaws.com/media/documents/DRAFT_12_FINAL-ben_1468872234.pdf (in particular pg 31-32 & 36)
There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for everything under the heavens. ……What advantage has the worker from his toil? He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done. Ecc 3: 1-11 (conclusion)
Heavenly Father, bless our nations people and help them to wisely choose our elected officials. Guide our elected officials to uphold Christian moral values as they have been designed by God. Thank you for the gift of life at all stages from natural conception to natural death. Help us to trust in your timeless power and respect your design even when we cannot fully see it. Amen.
This is our appointed time to speak. It is our time to vote a well formed Christian conscience. May we as Christians do our part to change the world.
Monday, September 12, 2016
Friends of Faith:
I will be Courageous.
Jesus was crowned with thorns. Jesus stayed and ate with sinners while encouraging those sinners to change. Jesus told the Pharisees that it was better to speak the truth on the Sabbath, then to sit back and rest. He showed us how to be morally, ethically, and spiritually courageous.
I cringe whenever I hear someone say we should change something because “our culture says we should change, or the culture is different now than it was “back then.” I cringe when I hear “everyone else is doing it.” I cringe because the culture is far from seeming to follow God’s design. I cringe because the culture contains obvious lies that conventional wisdom is working to convince us as “normal,” “realistic” or “equalizing.”
I am not afraid of change, but when it comes to changing morals I am glad that I believe in the Word of God, that I trust in the path that Jesus Christ walked ahead of me, and that I have a Church to help me discern the Holy Spirit’s guidance as to what the truth really is.
who has given us the Spirit as a first installment. So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others.” 2Cor 5: 5-11
I CHOOSE to be courageous. I CHOOSE to pray in public. I CHOOSE to speak the truth to defend Church (God’s) teachings. It’s NOT okay to sit back and rest, even on the Sabbath, if that means that someone will go hungry or to be bullied into believing that they will be punished for choosing to attend a church service before going to a game. I CHOOSE to walk by Faith. I CHOOSE to be courageous.
And I am confident in my prayer that God will put in my path spiritual mentors who will help me “see” the truth (God’s judgment) rather than the way the culture (individuals) wants or is judging me.
And when I am judged by the culture to be weak, old fashioned or even too conservative I will be courageous and accept the criticism with the hope of the promise of Christ Jesus.
Over my lifetime the Supreme Court has ruled that it should be legal to kill a baby because in the womb it’s not yet a person; that it’s not okay for teachers to encourage prayer in school or to sing Christmas carols yet we must make accommodations for non-Christian cultural needs; that marriage is something other than God’s design as the union of a man and a woman; that in the name of equality bathrooms must be open to whatever “sexual orientation” I determine myself to be on any particular day; and it has protected pornography as freedom of speech.
These are cultural lies. These “laws” do not make us free, these “laws” take away our freedom, our dignity, and our choice for God.
L, show me your way; lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Do not abandon me to the desire of my foes; malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me. I believe I shall see the L ’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the L , take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the L
Heavenly Father, Please help me to be courageous, to discern your truths, to be open to hear and follow the Holy Spirit. Help me to be strong, on guard and to stand firm in faith. Help me to stand firm for the truth and to not be afraid to spread that truth to others with compassion, with mercy and with the confidence of Church teachings. I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Amen.
Don’t believe the lies the culture is impressing upon you. To walk by faith, not by sight means to follow the culture of Jesus, that which is unseen rather than the culture pushed upon us by the propaganda of popular media. Be hopeful and be courageous for our faith is being openly tested.
Monday, September 5, 2016
Friends of Faith:
God First! This may seem like a no-brainer, but if we really think about it – do we really, truly and always put GOD First?
That’s what Jesus meant when he said: ‘Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Lk 14:25-26
Wow – he really does mean we are to put HIM first. Of course, he doesn’t really mean that we are to hate our family, he just means we are to put HIM BEFORE even those we love. And if we are to put Him even before our family and friends then what does that say about all of the “things” we appear to love so much, things like money, cars, furniture, boats, sports, vacations and even abundant food and drink.
How often do we let something besides God make us happy in the moment? How often do we set aside prayer and never get back to it? How often do “things” take away our time with God? How often do we listen to a lie of the culture instead of making a decision based on God’s answer?
Earth is the devils playground. And the devil has been given all the time in the world to tempt us with money and materialism; a “me first,” feel good, culture; and technology which fills our time-- ultimately all of which can lead us to sin. The devil keeps us entertained so that we don’t have time to educate ourselves about God thru the Church or share God’s message of love with others.
The devil uses our selfish human nature and fights us with fire, storms of nature, illness, injury and even death by leading us down a path of despair instead of sacrifice. He uses whatever tactics he can to lead us in a godless culture down an easy street of degradation to our bodies and souls.
It is a constant challenge to remain with God: to take a tough line with our children by standing up to the sports and entertainment gods who insist on using Sunday morning as their playing field and where resources are spent by the millions. It is a fight to spend our time and resources helping the poor, caring for our elderly and encouraging our neighbors when our cell phones and computers keep us from getting to know our spouses, family and friends. It is a fight to choose deep, meaningful, conversations which can lead others closer to God when we are constantly interrupted by our cell phone. And it is easy to lose ourselves in a culture defined by sexual immorality, a lack of discipline and a desire to be materialistically happy.
If everyone truly put God first (the no brainer) then we would all be on or searching for the same path in seeking truth and compassion. And with the help of God’s grace we would show each other mercy and forgiveness, healing and understanding while growing closer Him, to holiness and to each other. This is how God wants us to win the war against the devil; against powers, principalities and politics.
Putting God first is not just for Sunday morning. It means continuous prayers of thanksgiving and blessing before we eat and before we sleep, before we do anything of any consequence. It means a constant realization that we are here to make each other holy, that God has given us much and that whatever it is we are doing, we should be doing it without regard for our own happiness and comfort and for His greater glory.
If God was first then we could never forget that our time, our talents, and our treasures, our very lives are all a rich blessing, a blessing which no one can truly live without?
Several years ago I heard this wisdom: Happiness is fleeting, Joy is forever. God brings joy!
“Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord. They are happy, who dwell in your house, for ever singing your praise. They are happy, whose strength is in you, in whose hearts are the road to Zion.” Psalm 84
I know I am happiest when I am putting God first. I feel the most joy when I give up my time to help a friend in need; when I take the time to pray the rosary while I am traveling; and when ministry work comes before my job.
“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ …. And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Mt 25: 34-40
Without putting God first I cannot be instructed in his ways and without putting God first it is difficult to walk in his path. “That he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” Is 2: 3
“Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his marvelous deeds. For great is the LORD and highly to be praised, to be feared above all gods. For the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and power go before him; power and grandeur are in his holy place. Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and might; give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bring gifts and enter his courts; bow down to the LORD, splendid in holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth; declare among the nations: The LORD is king. The world will surely stand fast, never to be shaken. He rules the peoples with fairness. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them. Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice before the LORD who comes, who comes to govern the earth, To govern the world with justice and the peoples with faithfulness.” Amen. Psalm 96
Am I really putting God first? Be joyful, not happy. Be for God, not for yourself. For if God is for us, who can be against us?