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Do not be afraid. Just have faith. Mark 5:36

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Offer It Up! April 30, 2012

Acts 11:1-18

The Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God.
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem the circumcised believers confronted him, saying, 'You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them."
Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying, "I was at prayer in the city of Joppa when in a trance I had a vision, something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me. Looking intently into it, I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth, the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky. I also heard a voice say to me, 'Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.'
But I said, 'Certainly not, sir, because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'
But a second time a voice from heaven answered, 'What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.' This happened three times, and then everything was drawn up again into the sky. Just then three men appeared at the house where we were, who had been sent to me from Caesarea. The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house. He related to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying, 'Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, who will speak words to you by which you and all your household will be saved.'
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning, and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, 'John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?" When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, "God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too."

‘Well, do you want the long play version or the short story of what happened?’ We’ve either said something like that or heard it often enough to recognize the veracity and sincerity of the person who is about to impart their erudition with us. Their sincerity or lack thereof even.

Peter gave it all he had. He not only had the sincerity and the veracity of his on volition, he had The Truth working for him as well. The Holy Spirit was fully alive in him and those he reached out to as he brought them the Good News, ‘the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.’

And just as Peter noted, who was he to hinder God—who are we to get in His way? It was not all easy for Peter though many were transformed if not converted by the message he shared from Jesus Christ. It is not always easy for us. Still no reason for us to ‘hinder God’, to call our plans into play when we don’t care much for what He has in store for us.

As Peter continued to trust in God’s way for him, we too must submit to God’s will and follow His way. Be with Him on His way, not get in His way. As Peter lived and breathed the life he saw in Jesus Christ, we too can live what we have come to know much the same way. God’s will. God’s way. God’s way. God’s will.


Offer It Up! April 29, 2012

1 John 3:1-2

See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

He has given what we need-and continues to do so. The gifts, the talents, most importantly, His Love. He would not be calling us His children were that not the case. We may not be so clear on the concept of it all as God’s Love is most often beyond our understanding. But there it is written.

Some of the world may know of His Love more than others. Some of us may even say that we do and there is some truth to that. But for any of us to say that we have the Love of God all ‘knowed-up’, to have the mystery of His ways and His Love completely understood… I would have to offer then those people would have to seriously rethink their position.

God gives us what we need only what we need now. Written another way, think of what He could be protecting us from, keeping ‘beyond the veil’ so that we are not overcome with so much that we could not understand and lose our way. He has called us to be His children, this much we know. That is what He wants us to know. For now. The more we come to know Him, the more we come to know who He wants us to be for Him. And as this is revealed to us, just as He has told us, we will find ourselves in His image and His likeness.

Let us imitate Him more now so we will be more so then.


Offer It Up! April 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Carolyn!


Acts 9:36-42

Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which translated is Dorcas. She was completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving. Now during those days she fell sick and died, so after washing her, they laid her out in a room upstairs.
Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, "Please come to us without delay."
So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs where all the widows came to him weeping and showing him the tunics and cloaks that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said, "Tabitha, rise up."
She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He gave her his hand and raised her up, and when he had called the holy ones and the widows, he presented her alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many came to believe in the Lord.

It may have looked as if Peter did it all but reading the verses again, what is it that he did before Tabitha came back to life? He cleared the room and prayed. He was not seeking to do this on his own power but on the will and power of the One who sent him. He had put his faith and trust in Him to do His will. If it were His will to heal her, to raise her from the dead, then so be it.

Faced with conditions and challenges in our own lives today, how do we first respond when we are called to be there for someone in need? How do we respond to our own concerns and needs? Do we slow down enough (or at all) to ‘clear the room’ of our minds and hearts to put ourselves into the presence of God? Do we seek His will or do ask for what we want? Often, the hardest part is to pray for the will of God, not ours.

Realizing our faith and our call as children of God, we can at any time be in a position to serve as Peter did. We may be called to pray if not to act as the source of personal healing for those in need. Think of those whom you have called on in your life. Think of those who have been the source of comfort and prayer. For everything that we share with others, we are told always comes back to us.

As a result of the actions of Peter, ‘many came to believe in the Lord.’ As a result of any one action or prayer we share, if but one person is transformed into the image and likeness of Christ, our lives have been worth it.

Isaiah 40:31

They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.

Offer It Up! April 27, 2012


Acts 9:1-9

Now Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priestand asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

Sometimes we are led.

Sometimes we are pushed.

Sometimes we are knocked down first then we are dragged, kicking and screaming to places we don’t want to go.

Well, we did when we were three or four years old anyway.

Or maybe it was just three or four years ago. Or maybe it was just today, some three or four moments passed that you’ve found out where you’ve needed to be all along. Where God has meant for you to be and what to be. Oh the wonder and the majesty of His power and might.

Then you look back and wonder how you even ended up there. How you made it beyond your own ego. Your own stupid self and the trappings and messages of the world that kept you from doing and being what and who God has made you. But here you are. Oh the wonder and the majesty of His power and might when step out of our own way and get in and on the way with God.

As it was with Paul, his transformation was a dramatic experience, one that did not end with his being knocked down but only began. As it goes with our own experiences that lead us to being more on our paths to holiness. They are beginnings or maybe even continuations of where we may have left off when we made somewhat of a detour. When we thought we knew better what to do than the plan God had for us. Our egos being what they are...

Little matter. God takes us back just as He took Paul. And little matter only in that there is forgiveness and reconciliation that is shared as God forgives and sends us to do the same. Just as He did with Paul, it—the conversion—was not a one and done sort of deal. So it is that our transformation goes on day to day, maybe even moment to moment. Let us soak it in and live it and let others see how much we’ve grown as His messengers.


Offer It Up! April 26, 2012


Thomas Merton's Prayer


MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think that I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you

does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this

you will lead me by the right road

though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always

though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"


Offer It Up! April 25, 2012


1 Peter 5:5-14

Likewise, you younger members, be subject to the presbyters. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: “God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.”So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him be dominion forever.Amen.

I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it.The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son.Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Humble yourselves, give Him your worries, stay alert and clear-headed, resist temptation and remain steadfast in your faith. Here are a handful of standards that Peter encourages us to follow and keep in our hearts as we put ourselves through the paces of each day.

Some may say ‘I got it all under control. I don’t need no stinking standards. It’s all good.’ And that may work for them that have no clue and want no clue as to their salvation. For the rest of us though, it is up to us to carry out the mission as we have been given: exhorting and testifying to the true grace of God. As we go about our mission, living and acting on His Word, those who don’t know His peace may come to know it and we too may come closer to the peace that Christ has for us.

Peter encourages us to remain firm in our faith and continue to grow in it. None of us will ever know fully the Love and grace we find in Jesus Christ. We can only hope to gather what we can and share what we know. That is how we are nourished and how we nourish others, through an endless pursuit for the fullness of life found only in the Bread of Life. We will never hunger nor thirst for more.


Offer It Up! April 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Todd!


The Easter Season continues with the reminders from John's Gospel which is the highlight of the Easter Season. We are reminded over and over that Jesus is Risen and rules at the right hand of the Father. What does it all mean in the scheme of things for most? Who is Jesus to each of us?

Each day we have an opportunity to unite with Him in the Eucharist and to continue to be transformed. Each day we have the opportunity to offer ourselves with him as bread broken for the salvation of the world. With Paul we too can make up what is lacking in the suffering of Christ as we offer ourselves with him to be broken for others. I wonder do we want to even hear about being broken, sacrificed out of Love.

The demands of living in the world come upon us each day. We awaken often to the demands of the technical age in which we live. The world with its demands is a constant distraction, a constant alluring to the wonders of creation, so much so that it often puts us in a condition of forgetting about the Creator.

God, Creator can I see you more clearly if I look beyond the wonders that invade my consciousness day after day. It is so easy to look to other gods when assailed with all the marvels of creation, the work of your hands. Send forth you Spirit, O God. Let me be filled desire to do your will in all circumstances, and to live courageously in your will.

Deacon


Offer It Up! April 23, 2012


Romans 10:8-12

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”that is, the word of faith that we preach, for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. For the scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him.

Sometimes, we search for words and they just are out of reach. Other times, we can’t find the off button or we don’t know where to jump off the track as we ramble and babble on. We may think we are in the grace and heart of our Lord yet the more we say, the harder it is sometimes for us to comprehend that. Spiritual dryness. It’s as if we are crossing the desert of unanswered prayers.

That is where more praying along with the cleansing of reconciliation comes in. We find ourselves grasping at whatever it is that will help us get through one moment to the next, only to find that we are still not any closer to God’s Word than we were when we first started praying. We thirst, not for what the world offers for us but fullness that results from the grace and salvation that only He can provide.

As He provides and as we believe, we must commit our lives and our hearts to His unconditional Love. When we do, we will find too that we will be committed to who He has called us to be, enriching our lives all the same.


Offer It Up! April 22, 2012


John 6:25-29

And when they found him across the sea they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?"
Jesus answered them and said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal."
So they said to him, "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent."

Work your fingers to the bone… what do you get? Boney fingers.

Work your heart to the core… what do you get? A spirit filled heart.

As Jesus reminded the crowds that were following Him, we too should not be working to fill ourselves with the substance of this world but with the Bread of Eternal Life—Jesus Christ.

While it is necessary for us to fulfill our physical needs with the foods, water and nutrients to keep us healthy and alive, how often do we find ourselves a little hungry? Maybe we go on a diet to shed a few pounds. Maybe sacrificing some for the Lenten season or just fast for our own good. Find a reason—we get hungry for a bite to eat.

Looking beyond the love handles that hang over our belts, there are hundreds of millions more who are starving for morsels and bites we often throw away. A half billion in fact go hungry every day, suffering from malnutrition or chronic physical hunger. There are those that do what they can to stem the awful tide of this horrific problem. God bless them all.

As Jesus pointed out to those that were with Him, the need is great for those that need food and the need even greater for those who are spiritually malnourished—those who are hungering for more of the Word of God yet cannot be fed. As we put plans in place to feed those around world, we may also put our prayers in place to bring about the Word that will give them the nourishment they need. And not just those that are seeking it but even those who have left and need a way to come back. They too can be fed again. They, like all of us, can believe in the One whom God sent so that we all may have eternal life.


Offer It Up! April 21, 2012


John 6:16-21

When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea, embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum. It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid.
But he said to them, "It is I. Do not be afraid."
They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.

When it starts to get dark around us—whether it is by our choice or the circumstances we find ourselves in—we too may start to look about and notice that ‘Jesus has not yet come’ to us or made His presence known. Maybe the waters are getting a bit rough or the road ahead may not be as clearly defined or lit as we feel it needs to be... still, no Jesus.

As it was with the disciples in John’s gospel and in other parables we are all familiar with, the fear they experienced was not just from the waters coming over them but also from the appearance of Jesus coming to them on the water. At that time, they may not have known whether to fish or cut bait, they were so confused and frightened at who they saw and what they were going through. Even then He told them to not be afraid. (Side note: some have said ‘Fear not’ or similar phrases appear in the Bible almost two hundred times.) ((Side note2: Being God’s Word, once should be enough.))

We are given the same admonishment in our prayer life and talks with Jesus when we open ourselves up to Him. When we have Him in our boat. When we have Him in our lives. When we live and do and be everything for Him, we can come closer to being more like Him and less like what the world wants us to be. Sure, sacrifices may be involved. Changes in our lives will come with them. But it will be worth it for us as it was worth it for the disciples. Like the shore that seemed so far away for those in the boat and yet suddenly-miraculously-the shore was upon them, our lives are can be miraculously changed with the presence and light of Jesus Christ.


Offer It Up! April 20, 2012


We marvel at the Acts of the Apostles after the risen Jesus has returned to the Father. Transformed by the Spirit, this band of men who at the suffering of Christ cowered in hiding, are now defying the authorities and willing to face death to spread the news: Jesus is risen! All that He revealed to us we now understand more clearly. He is truly the Messiah sent by God to reveal the wondrous plan of Salvation.

However, reading the story and being impressed is not enough. We baptized are now the bearers of this amazing news. We are now the evangelizers called to proclaim the message to the ends of the earth.

The successors of the Apostles, who lead the Church today, the Holy Father and the bishops throughout the world are reminding us of the New Evangelization. So many of our brothers and sisters have abandoned the faith, that is, do not participate in the life of the Church by receiving the Sacraments. They are not being fed on the Bread of Life, not being enlightened by the Word of God.

As we prepare for the year of Faith beginning in October 2012, we are being called to teach our faith, to be witnesses to the Christ life. Many voice the concern that they are not clear enough on the knowledge of their faith to teach. Perhaps. But none of us is so ignorant of Christ that we cannot begin now to "hang out with Him" and experience His presence in our daily life. One way is prayer.

Do you pray? How do you pray? Do you make time to really enter into conversation with Jesus? Or Mary? Or God the Father? The Holy Spirit? Do you reflect on the Scriptures often? Even daily? Do you read about the Saints those Christians who by their lives exemplify for us the way to holiness?

All of us, everyone, is called to holiness. Read John 17 and reflect on Jesus' prayer to the Father for us. Invite friends, relatives who have drifted away from the Church, to come and celebrate with you, with us. Assist them as fully as possible so that they do not feel they are strangely out of place. If anyone expresses interest in Catholicism, answer any questions you can, if they are willing refer them to the Church through the RCIA process. In all things reach out to them in Christian charity. So many remain outside the Church who would come and see if only someone would invite them. So many baptized Catholics who have drifted away from an active life in the Church are also wanting to be invited.

If anyone was hurt by someone in the Church, we must find ways to hold out the healing power of the Spirit. YOU are called.

Can you say YES to God? His grace will strengthen all of us.

Deacon


Offer It Up! April 19, 2012


John 3:31-36

The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.
Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.

For most of us, we know the difference between up and down, left and right, north and south. I say most as some us may be just a wee bit directionally challenged. We move about in lives as we make our ways along our paths: turn right here, go down that road there, just south of the city limits. Yup, pretty evident stuff here to get us where we are going. And if we were to know that once we got to where we were headed what was in store for us—be it our home, a feast or the comfort of friendship—we might make ourselves more available to get there even quicker and with less encumbrances.

That is what God wants from us along our paths to our salvation. He wants us to believe that what He tells us and what He gives us as His directions, His testimony, will get us exactly where He wants us. And the more we do it without the extra baggage of disobedience—of sin, of earthly wants and desires, of our own will—the more we find our trust in Him and His in us.

God’s compassion and Love is unending: ‘He does not ration His gift of the Spirit.’As we put our lives into His hands, emptying ourselves and trusting and surrendering to His will, we will find out how our lives can be filled more with the Love and compassion He has for us to share.


Offer It Up! April 18, 2012


Romans 6:8-11

If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God.Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Just as Christ died for us to save us from our sins, we must die to ourselves to save us from our own sins. And not as Christ died once on the cross, but every day we must die and empty ourselves of all that keeps us from living in Him and being in the Grace and Love of Christ.

As it says in Romans, if we believe then that we have died, so must we live with Him. And to live with Him means we will also be raised with Him in eternal glory. As death on this earth had no power over Jesus Christ, so too will our death not be an end but a continuation of a life everlasting with Jesus Christ.

To do so means we must be and do as we have been called to do: ‘consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.’ And to do that means what? Giving up whatever holds us to our earthly bodies so that we may be purified in the light of His grace and mercy. Through Him, with Him and in Him, we may come to know Him so that we may walk then in the fullness and glory of His Light.


Offer It Up! April 17, 2012


Proclaim the Good News with boldness. As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus during this Easter Season, I reflect on our efforts at evangelization. Day after day we reflect on the Gospel account of those first disciples and how they, filled with the Holy Spirit, went from fear and seclusion to an outward display and willingness to face even death to announce the message of salvation. Jesus is Risen!

If we understand to some extent the wonder of this, we shout it to the nations. Somehow I hear myself and others who repeat the phrase attributed to St Francis of Assisi, "Evangelize, and if necessary use words." I can't help but wonder as I observe Christian living that we need to use words. It appears to me that we have become too silent, too worldly in many ways, too willing to fail to witness and perhaps we need to support one another in remembering the central message of faith and living demonstrably as Christ-bearers.

We have seen and celebrated the response of a number of men and women to Christ Renews His Parish. We have seen lives changing as a result of these encounters with the Risen Lord. As the Holy Spirit sets heart afire we must witness to the experience of Jesus Christ. Like the disciples of Emmaus, we need to announce to our brothers and sisters that He is Alive! That He calls us to New Life in the Spirit, life that demonstrates that we are progressing in learning to love and the Father loves us.

Last Sunday, April 15, was Divine Mercy Sunday. This feast is a call to celebrate our God who is Rich in Mercy. In the depths of our failures, our sinfulness, our Loving Father embraces us. Like the prodigal son when we have exhausted ourselves in worldly pursuits, we find the Father amazingly waiting for us with open arms, ready to embrace us and celebrate life.

Like Nicodemus in John's Gospel, we encounter Christ in the darkness of our sinfulness, in our searching for our heart's desire and we must open our hearts to Jesus, trusting that He is the Way, the Life and the Truth.

Ah yes, Fear. That nagging voice that leads to fear what God will demand of us—Love. How do we learn to love with the kind of Passion Christ demonstrated for us? Surely, we come to realize that our pitiful efforts to "do it ourselves, pulling ourselves along by our own wills" is not going to serve us well. We need to experience and grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Through constant prayer and meditation we receive God's grace and step by step we learn what it means to grow in holiness.

Our faith—the Universal Call to Holiness. In our examination of our own faith life, I pray for wisdom and courage, and fortitude and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit given by a gracious God at Confirmation so many years ago. Gifts that sadly I left lying unopened in a dusty corner of the little room in my heart reserved for little efforts at a life of faith. Even despite my unwillingness to trust completely, to live lovingly, to forgive and ask forgiveness, to be patient, to be kind, to consider the other rather than pursue my own selfish dreams, God has remained ever faithful. In the course of life He has loved, protected, showered me with graces I often refused, and even then His steadfast love was always freely available.

As this Easter season provided opportunities for new life, I pray Lord, open my eyes, purify my heart, strengthen my desires to live according to your will in all circumstances. In thankfulness I meet each new day, recognizing that you call me to be. Believing in faith that you will, if I am truly observant, reveal to me all the possibilities to recognize your act of creation each moment, even with each breath.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on me! Have mercy on us.

Deacon


Offer It Up! April 16, 2012


John 3:1-8

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him."
Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."
Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?"
Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

3. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.

4. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

5. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.

6. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.

7. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.

9. You cannot establish security on borrowed money.

10. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.

William J. H. Boetcker


Offer It Up! April 15, 2012


St. Francis de Sales... this guy is good!

St. Francis de Sales

On the Love of God

Book III

OF THE PROGRESS AND PERFECTION OF LOVE.

CHAPTER IV.
OF HOLY PERSEVERANCE IN SACRED LOVE.

Even as a tender mother, leading with her her little babe, assists and supports him as need requires, letting him now and then venture a step by himself in less dangerous and very smooth places, now taking him by the hand and steadying him, now taking him up in her arms and bearing him, so Our Lord has a continual care to conduct his children, that is such as are in charity; making them walk before him, reaching them his hand in difficulties, and bearing them himself in such travails, as he sees otherwise insupportable unto them. This he declared by Isaias saying: I am the Lord thy God, who take thee by the hand, and say to thee: fear not, I have helped thee. [147] So that with a good heart we must have a firm confidence in God, and his assistance, for if we fail not to second his grace, he will accomplish in us the good work of our salvation, which he also began working in us both to will and to accomplish, [148] as the holy Council of Trent assures us.

In this conduct which the heavenly sweetness makes of our souls, from their entry into charity until their final perfection, which is not finished but in the hour of death, consists the great gift of perseverance, to which our Saviour attaches the greatest gift of eternal glory, according to his saying: He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved: [149] for this gift is no other thing than the combination and sequence of the various helps, solaces and succours, whereby we continue in the love of God to the end: as the education, bringing up and supporting of a child is no other thing, than the many cares, aids, succours, and other offices necessary to a child, exercised and continued towards him till he grow to years in which he no longer needs them.

So, Theotimus, following the advice of the holy Council, we ought to place our whole hope in God, who will perfect the work of our salvation which he has begun in us, if we be not wanting to his grace: for we are not to think that he who said to the paralytic: Go, and do not will to sin again: [151] gave him not also power to avoid that willing which he forbade him: and surely he would never exhort the faithful to persevere, if he were not ready to furnish them with the power. Be thou faithful until death, said he to the bishop of Smyrna, and I will give thee the crown of life. [152] Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, do manfully, and be strengthened. Let all your actions be done in charity. [153] So run that you may obtain. [154] We must often then with the great King demand of God the heavenly gift of perseverance, and hope that he will grant it us. Cast me not off in the time of old age; when my strength shall fail, do not thou forsake me. [155]


Offer It Up! April 14, 2012


Mark 16:9-15

When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either.
But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature."

There are those that can get things pretty quickly, within the first go-around usually. There are those that it takes a bit more time for the concept to sink in than it does for others. And then there are those that just can’t get it till they are staring it face to face.

We do have doubts; Mary Magdalene had hers when she first arrived at the tomb. The disciples’ eyes were not quite ‘open’ enough to see who was walking with them on the road to Emmaus. And even Thomas had to put his hand in the wounds that Jesus bore.

As present day believers, disciples and current doubters from time to time, how often is it that our own hearts are so hardened that we cannot see the Love Christ has for us? How do we look past the sacrifice He made for us and dwell more on the anxieties and worries we bring on ourselves? Yes, can’t we just hear our tiny inner voices getting louder now... ‘O ye of little faith.’

As His children, God will not force us to do His will. With our gift of freedom and free will, we can choose to answer what He has for us or we can wallow in the misery we call our plans for life. I just heard this again last night-if you want to get a full HD, 3-D image of God laughing, let Him in on your plans for your life. There is depth in what He has for us. Let’s not be afraid to find out how deep He wants us to go and let us not doubt He will be with this every step of the way.


Offer It Up! April 13, 2012


Romans 14:7-9

None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.8For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Easter.

A time of renewal. A time of cleansing. A time of purification.

Through our baptism, we are made clean. Through our faith, we are guided to and along a path of holiness. As believers, as Christians, as Catholics, it is incumbent upon us all to live as such to keep not only ourselves on such a path but to further the purification and holiness of those new to the glory of God’s power and might of their new birth in baptism.

Through prayer, through word, through deed, through love. Through our faith and forgiveness, we may all come to know that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. As those that have been baptized have died to their old selves, we too can share in the new life they celebrate. We must continue to die to our old ways and lift our hearts and minds in praise and thanksgiving for all that has been given us, walking in His Light.


Offer It Up! April 12, 2012


Acts 3:14-21

You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you.
Now I know, brothers and sisters, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Christ already appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.

Peter cut to the chase as he spoke to the people at Solomon’s Portico. This is where many gathered as the Church began as many came to see and believe in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. It took some convincing and faith and prayer—as we have all come to believe—but the results were in the numbers of those who followed Peter and John and the rest of the disciples.

As many of us may have had to rub our eyes in disbelief at something we had witnessed, those who saw the lame man dance in praise to the Lord must have been doing something along those same lines. Peter gave them an out as he admonished them for their ‘ignorance’, or their lack of knowledge as for Jesus being the Messiah. He followed that with an opportunity to come clean from the errors of their ways and be renewed in Christ Jesus.

Jesus was and is the ‘author of life’ for us all. Knowing that, we have but to give Him our minds, hearts and bodies to let Him write for us what He wants for us, not what we want for ourselves. As nice as it would be to write our autobiography—such a heroic epic with the happy ending and all—how much better would the story be in the hands of someone who knows us better than we know ourselves?

As Jesus looks at us and loves us and graces us with mercy unconditionally, let us love, live and forgive as He has done for us.


Offer It Up! April 11, 2012


Luke 24:32-35

Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Through Divine Providence, everything happens.

Think about it. God does have His hands in everything. As simple a movement as it is, He opens our eyes each day and closes them at night. To the most complex of atoms and universal and incomprehensible mysteries, He is equally and inexplicably still there and still God.

Each revelation we are allowed to witness, each miracle we come to understand, each of His Words we more fully grasp, that is the wonder and power of His Divine Providence. That is how God will come to provide for us the evidence—as if He really needs to—that all that happens is His doing, not ours.

He, by Divine Providence, will ‘provide evidence’ of His presence in our lives. We, by our acceptance of His will, may come to know more of what His Providence will provide for us as we recognize the evidence of His transforming power in our lives.

Acts 3:9-10

When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him.


Offer It Up! April 10, 2012


John 20:11-8

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don't know where they laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?"
She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me,for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
Mary went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and then reported what he had told her.

Mary Magdalene heard His voice with an unhardened heart. In her grief, she felt alone. Ultimately, she recognized Jesus was with her as He called her because she had known Him and was with Him before. She really never, ever let go of her relationship with Jesus.

Through conversation and through prayer, we too can come closer to knowing Him as He calls us, just as He called Mary and the other disciples. As they may have doubted at times their own calling, just as we do, we can rely on what we have come to know from our relationship with Jesus.

That He was always with us even when we were not with Him.

That He was always ready for us even when we chose not be ready for Him.

That He has always chosen us even when we have not chosen Him.

Every day we hear His voice, our hearts are open to Jesus and to His plan for us. It is not too late for a soul ever to turn back to Him and hear His voice, no matter how hardened a heart has become. Lives can be changed through prayer. Let our lives be changed with prayer and with the calling of Christ in our hearts.

Psalm 95:7-8

Oh, that today you would hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts


Offer It Up! April 9, 2012


Ezekiel 36:24-28

For I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land.

I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I gave your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

By the Risen Lord, God has and is doing these very things for us. We may not be fully aware of it or we may not be as open to His plan as we should be.

For the times we have gone the way of sin, those foreign lands of darkness and desert, He has brought us back to His land and home of forgiveness.

For the times we have felt empty and unworthy of His grace and mercy, He has washed away that emptiness and unworthiness with the water of baptism, cleansing us from what ails us.

For the hearts that are broken, the hearts that are left saddened and grieving, He has taken them and given them the Hope only God can give and renewed them with His Spirit. Not just for once but forever with the pure and open and comforting hearts.

For those spirits that have been crushed, led astray by worldly treasures and idols, He has given them a new birth and a new life with the reminder and the guidance of His commandments, in them and in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.

For all of us now and forever, He has let us know then, now and forever, He is our God and we are His people.

Come, let us adore the Risen Lord.


Offer It Up! April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday


John 20:6-9

When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

With all that Jesus had given them, the disciples still had a difficult time getting a handle on what He was telling them about His Resurrection. They had seen the miracles from the multiplication of the loaves and fishes to the raising of the dead to the walking on water—all of this may have even led to their uncertainty and lack of understanding. How could someone, even Jesus the Christ, do these things here on earth and come back from the dead Himself? All of this for them yet their doubts still remained.

Sometimes, there is more power in what we cannot understand than what we do. There is more majesty and might in the least of God’s wisdom than in the multitudes of think tanks and science labs in the whole world. The power comes from letting go of what we want we think we want to know and giving it over to the power of God. There is renewal and transformation; there is new life.

As in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is new life for us all. His life, death, resurrection and ascension over 2,000 years ago continues to change lives today. Those disciples whose lives were changed even more after His return left for us the message He gave them. We too can be like those messengers and share our lives of renewed spirit in Him. We don’t have to write it. We can just live it.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside.’ Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.


Offer It Up! April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday


Psalm 19:8-11

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul;
the decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the command of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eye.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true, all of them just.
They are more precious than gold, than a heap of purest gold;
sweeter also than syrup or honey from the comb.

As did the virgins wait for the bridegroom, we too are in waiting. Waiting for the transformation of darkness to light. Waiting for the renewal of what was old in our lives to new and revitalized. Waiting for the cleansing of all that we have made unclean to the fullness and glory of the forgiveness of our sins. The type of forgiveness found only in the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

Not that we are all cleansed and ‘pure’, for none of us are any cleaner or purer than the next person. True stuff. And not that any single one of us has been in the dark longer than another or at all. And it’s not even so much about those things old and worn and trite in our daily routines. All of those that we want so much to be strengthened and built up anew. Even those things we must learn to let go of and cast aside forever so that we may forever be strengthened more in His Faith and Light.

So we all must stay vigilant today. He promised then to return and did. He will do the same for us. Through trials and tribulations, He will be with us. Even as we mourn Christ’s death, we may put our hearts in His hands and let Him bring us to a resurrected life with His. His Words are everlasting life.


Offer It Up! April 6, 2012

Good Friday


Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9

Brothers and sisters: Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
In the days when Christ was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Jesus knew then what we know and are going through now. Our strengths. Our weaknesses. Our ins and outs. Where we are going and where we’ve been. He knew these things and knows these things because He’s been there.

He’s been there before us.

And not only has He been there before us, He continues to be here with us today. Not because of how good we are or because of how good we intend to be but because of how good and great He is.

While it is true that He came to save us from eternal death—save us from ourselves, really—He came only that we may answer Him as He calls us to come to Him. As a shepherd finds his flock and tends them, so too then does Jesus tend to us. We must ‘approach the throne of grace’ that awaits us as we humbly place ourselves at His feet. The feet at the foot of the Cross. That Cross that bore for us all the debt of all our sins and the mercy of our salvation.

Yes, He is the source of eternal salvation. He is there for us to obey and offer ourselves then as the living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to Him. As the holiest of days comes upon us, let us put on the Light of Christ then to live, love and obey as He calls us to.


Offer It Up! April 5, 2012

Happy Birthday Cassie!


John 13:12-15

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do."

Think of and look at all the dynamics of this day, this night, this Holy Thursday. One would have to wonder what the apostles were thinking leading up to this feast, this Last Supper with their Lord. Jesus had been talking about His sacrifice but-what did it all mean? Not that this list is comprehensive but...

There is community at the table.

There is betrayal from within that community.

There is a model of compassion and service.

There is love from within the service and compassion.

There is the breaking of bread.

There is the eternal life from within it.

There is Love that is shared with the apostles then.

There is our salvation through His Love for us today.

Who are we that we should be the ones to betray Him each time we choose to go against His will?

Who are we so insignificant that He would Love us and forgive us each time we do?

Who are we that He cared so much for us that He left for us the Bread of Life?

Who are we that we should find every opportunity to partake in this mystery of the Eucharist?

Dorothy Day once wrote: “To be a witness to Christ does not consist in engaging in propaganda, or even stirring people up, but in being a living mystery; it means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.”

We must put our own lives in such a position that whatever it is that we say, do and are, it would be clear that our lives are indeed a holy and living sacrifice, pleasing to God.

Romans 12:1-2

I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.


Offer It Up! April 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Mark!

Happy Birthday Derek!


As we journey deeper into Holy Week we are enter into the mystery of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. The experiences of our life can lead us to an understanding of our own mystery of life. We encounter in the Gospels those close to Jesus who like us sinned, turned away from Him, denied Him, and betrayed Him. We have walked our human path and we too have discovered despite our resolve to live as His disciple we stumble and fall and as is said “miss the mark”.

Holy Week and our participation in the liturgy can be an opportunity for growing in faith, or can be a time for running away. The demands of the world encroach on our time with the saints of God, indeed with God Himself. We find our treasure is with God’s creatures and creation rather than with the Creator.

Who is the God I claim to believe in? Who is this Jesus who is willing to die for the life of the world? This Holy Week will I be truly open to God’s grace? Am I willing to die to self, to humbly submit to having my feet washed, to humbly washing another’s feet if need be? I know God is present in every moment and in particularly comes into our hearts if we are open. Come, worship Him. Come, with hearts, ears, eyes open to receiving the Grace he longs to pour into your life.

Let love overwhelm you!

Deacon


Offer It Up! April 3, 2102


Where's there's doubt, there's more prayer.

Where there's more prayer, there is more comfort.

Where there is more comfort, there is the grace and peace of God.

Psalm 86

A prayer of David.

I

Incline your ear, LORD, and answer me,

for I am poor and oppressed.

Preserve my life, for I am devoted; save your servant who trusts in you.

You are my God; be gracious to me, Lord; to you I call all the day.

Gladden the soul of your servant; to you, Lord, I lift up my soul.

Lord, you are good and forgiving,

most merciful to all who call on you.

LORD, hear my prayer; listen to my cry for help.

On the day of my distress I call to you, for you will answer me.

II

None among the gods can equal you, O Lord;

nor can their deeds compare to yours.

All the nations you have made shall come to bow before you,

Lord, and give honor to your name.

For you are great and do wondrous deeds; and you alone are God.

III

Teach me, LORD, your way that I may walk in your truth,

single-hearted and revering your name.

I will praise you with all my heart,

glorify your name forever, Lord my God.

Your mercy to me is great;

you have rescued me from the depths of Sheol.

O God, the arrogant have risen against me;

a ruthless band has sought my life; to you they pay no heed.

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,

slow to anger, abounding in mercy and truth.

Turn to me, be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant;

save the son of your handmaid.

Give me a sign of your favor: make my enemies see,

to their confusion, that you, LORD, help and comfort me.


Offer It Up! April 2, 2012


Isaiah 42:5-7

Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spreads out the earth with its crops, Who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk on it: I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set youas a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

As believers and as ‘a light for the nations’, we have been called and challenged to be the ‘eyes of the blind’ so that we may bring them out of the darkness and into the Light. It is not that we are perfect or have more than others or that we are sinless—no, not at all. We are sinners all and look and seek God’s forgiveness each day.

What we do have is a faith that helps us put aside our fears and step up and bring the Word of God to those who yearn to hear it and see it. This is how we grow and help others grow in faith and in our spiritual path to holiness… yes, to sainthood if you will. Why not have that as a goal—to be a saint? And if not us, to lead others to their own sainthood?

‘I have grasped you by the hand’ God says and He leads us by His will for us. He does so as we choose to follow it.

‘I formed you’ and continues to form us as we live according to the ways we choose as His will, not ours.

This is our relationship with Him; He has called us. Let us answer His call and be the spirit of life for those He brings to us.


Offer It Up! April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday


Isaiah 50:4-7

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

Could we be so steadfastly resolute in the face of this type of sacrifice? Our very lives on the line? Just as Isaiah prayed, ‘For the Lord GOD helps me’, we too would and will offer our prayers for His will and His way in all that we are living and loving. Not always easy yet always His path for us.

St. Augustine has this comment on the significance of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem:

"The master of humility is Christ who humbled himself and became obedient even to death, even the death of the cross. Thus he does not lose his divinity when he teaches us humility...What great thing was it to the king of the ages to become the king of humanity? For Christ was not the king of Israel so that he might exact a tax or equip an army with weaponry and visibly vanquish an enemy. He was the king of Israel in that he rules minds, in that he gives counsel for eternity, in that he leads into the kingdom of heaven for those who believe, hope, and love. It is a condescension, not an advancement for one who is the Son of God, equal to the Father, the Word through whom all things were made, to become king of Israel. It is an indication of pity, not an increase in power."

May we be so much more His servants this time than we have been. May we offer ourselves with Him not just as He is our Lord and Savior today as He processes into Jerusalem but also with Him as He puts Himself on the cross for our sins.

Philippians 2:6-8

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.


 
 
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