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Offer It Up! Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Colossians 1:1-8

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the holy ones and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae: grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the holy ones because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. Of this you have already heard through the word of truth, the Gospel, that has come to you. Just as in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing, so also among you, from the day you heard it and came to know the grace of God in truth, as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow slave, who is a trustworthy minister of Christ on your behalf
and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

How nice would it be to have someone write those things about us, what Paul wrote about his brothers and sisters in Colossae? Not that we don’t get enough nice things said, but for one to identify another’s ‘faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the holy ones’ would have to rate as just about the kindest thing one could say about one’s spirituality, if not one’s life. He then allows of the ‘hope reserved in heaven’ for them. Just when you think it couldn’t get any better…

Yet Paul does not leave it out there just for the Colossians. He acknowledges that the Gospel and its truth has much to offer and will continue to help all grow and bear fruit. The whole world. Then for what he knew it to be. Now for what we now know it to be. God will use us all to accomplish His will for us all. What we get in return outweighs any thing we have to sacrifice. We must be confident and ready to be transformed through His power and might.

We should all be giving thanks for all that we have. Our faith. Our lives. Our families. Our friends—our entire world we live in not just within our reach but out beyond the farthest reaches of our hearts. Psalm 52 encourages us to trust in God’s mercy not just for when we are in need but forever and ever. We are to give thanks forever. We are to put our hope in His name for it is good, proclaiming the goodness to all that are faithful, trusting in His mercy forever.

And so it goes with our faith… the eternal hope reserved for us in heaven.

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better.


Offer It Up! Tuesday, August 30, 2011

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night. When people are saying, "Peace and security," then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.

Here, let me fix that for you. I’ve done this sort of thing before… as it appears you haven’t.

Looks like you’ve got yourself in a mess… again. I can fix it-get out of the way.

Well, all you had to do was ask and I would have done it for you. Now we have to do it all over.

Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of situations like those above. Maybe you’ve been the one delivering the ‘punch’ lines as you punch someone in the gut with your lack of sensitivity. Either way, the world sees these sorts of exchanges far too often- every day, in the work place, at schools, and worst of all, in the homes.

1 Thessalonians 5:5

All of you are children of the light and children of the day.

We should never miss an opportunity to build someone up, especially when the tide is going against them. Not in a Polly-Anna type approach with the proverbial rose-colored glasses where we brush aside and disregard the realities of the world. But with true and genuine compassion. With encouragement and empowerment. With prayerful discernment and active holiness. Even if the actions and the predicament is against the graces of God, especially if it they are, we must act as children of the light.

There is enough bashing and negativity going on as it is. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone who has this to say about that person as they tear them down, spreading gossip and innuendo. Indeed, we could grow jaded and cynical the more we hear. But that is no reason for us to cast lots with them. All the more reason for more light in the world. All the more reason to continue to deny ourselves and carry our crosses, if not theirs, and follow as we have been called.

So what are we waiting for? Why wait to build someone up? Booker T. Washington had this to say:

Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and let him know that you trust him . . . Every individual responds to confidence.

It has been said in many different ways that what we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains forever. How will you respond to being called into the light of Christ?


Offer It Up! Monday, August 29, 2011
The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Prayer to St. John the Baptist

O God,

You raised up St. John the Baptist

to prepare a perfect people for Christ.

Fill Your people with the joy

of possessing His grace,

and direct the minds of all the faithful

in the way of peace and salvation.

Grant that as St. John was martyred

for truth and justice,

so we may energetically profess our Faith in You,

and lead others to the Way, the Truth, and Eternal Life.

Amen.


Offer It Up! Sunday, August 28, 2011

Matthew 16:21-27
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you."
He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
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. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life" Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with His angels in His Father's glory, and then He will repay all according to his conduct."

Try to imagine what that exchange must have been like. First, Jesus began to show the disciples what was to happen in Jerusalem, the suffering He was going to have to endure. What was He doing to show them that they had not already seen or heard? Then, from Peter’s reaction, we might surmise that the devil indeed was in the details, as he refused to accept what Jesus was telling them. No one would harm Him or no such tragedy would befall the Messiah. And with that, the sudden and stark ‘slap in the face’ to Peter as Jesus told him to get out of His way and to begin thinking as God would have you think, not as the world would.

How often do we get our own slaps, our own wake-up calls, when we are thinking we have the world at our fingertips, thinking as it does? When we put ourselves before others, when life becomes all about us and the rest of those can find their own way? Besides, Jesus did say we should pick up our crosses and follow Him and that is the plan, right? Yup, but lest we forget, we must first deny ourselves then take up our cross then get on our way with Him.

Saving one’s life by losing it is the way, The Way through the cross. The more we live and give of our lives that way, we will more fully believe as the disciples did that Jesus was then and is now, the only Way. As Paul noted in Romans, we can make our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. We can and should all be renewed and transformed daily by our crosses as we come to know God’s will for us all.

Romans 12:1-2

I urge you, brothers and sisters, 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! Saturday, August 27, 2011


Matthew 25:1-13
Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them,4but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Do you have a back up supply of batteries for your spiritual lights? Or are you in the habit if recharging your batteries? It's annoying when you've neglected to recharge your cell phone battery and it becomes useless. Annoying because you can correct it by charging the battery.
But, what about spiritual realities and spiritual 'batteries'? If the Lord comes at that unexpected time, and we are out of spiritual power, will we be able to recharge our batteries? Or will we find ourselves locked out, unknown...never to meet Him who gave us life and freedom, love and every thing of value?
What can I do today this moment to recharge my spiritual lamp? Where do I need to focus my attention and use the gifts and grace given to me by God to become all He created me to be?
Lord, may the light of Your love guide me this day in every moment. May all I meet be ever a reminder if Your work of creation. With Your help may all my endeavors and actions reflect Your love and may I see in all persons the image You impressed on each one.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and will be forever. Amen.
Deacon

Offer It Up! Friday, August 26, 2011

1 Thessalonians 4:3a, 6-8

This is the will of God, your holiness: not to take advantage of or exploit a brother in this matter, for the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you before and solemnly affirmed.

For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness.

Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.

How often is it that we forget or lose sight of our goal, our goal being God’s will and our holiness? Oh, it might be only for a little while or even in an ‘instant’ but for sure it does happen. And to be honest with ourselves—and we should, right?—we will sometimes find ourselves standing with our arms up and our hands turned out saying ‘What in the world am I doing in this situation?’

Matthew Kelly talks about having a car cleaned and detailed and bit by bit, piece by piece—day by day—the bits of trash and dirt begin to pile up in and on the car. More and more, the car becomes ‘less clean’ and we soon learn to accept and live in the environment of the ‘dirty’ car. Kelly goes on to say, ‘We’ll clean it later’, in reference to our procrastination practices in our lives not just in our material things but in our spiritual lives as well, as in reconciliation and confession.

God has called us all to be His. And to be His we must all steer ourselves as best we can on our path of holiness, narrow as it is. That is His Will for us. That is the way we have been called. He has given us the tools through our faith, through those in our lives, through scripture, but mostly through the power of the Holy Spirit, to help us as we are transformed in His light. We would do well to listen and heed their call.

Psalm 97:5

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.


Offer It Up! Thursday, August 25, 2011

John 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth."
But Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?"
Philip said to him, "Come and see."
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him."
Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?"
Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree."
Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."
Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this."
And he said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Saint Bartholomew. Nathaniel.

In John's gospel he is brought to Jesus by Philip and referred to as Nathaniel. Not much is known of him though after the Resurrection, he is reputed to have preached the gospel in India and was martyred for the Gospel and his discipleship.


Despite the fact that we know little about Nathaniel, we are recipients of his being one of the twelve who spread the Gospel. We live as members of the Body of Christ—the Church—which rests on the foundation of the twelve. For that we should be and are thankful.

We would do well to reflect on what Bartholomew did compared to our own place in the Church and the invitation from God to do our part in Kingdom building.What opportunities are ours today to bring the message of the Gospel, the Good News, to those whose lives intersect ours today?Moment by moment God continues to create wonderfully in our lives, moment by moment we either begin to see the wonders of His love or in our self-absorption, we fail to experience to wonder of His presence in and through the events in our own lives.

Today, Lord, help me to be open in mind and heart to any and all opportunities to see and experience the wonder of You.As You remain with us in the Blessed Sacrament and we have the opportunity to be in Your presence in that great mystery, stir our hearts and minds to passionately desire to be in Your presence and give us a listening heart that we may discern Your call and respond by living wholly in Your love.
Grant Lord, clear vision that I may transform my life wherever and whenever I must. Amen.

Deacon


And then there is this...
Seventeen years ago yesterday, our Dad died, beginning then his passing on to eternal salvation. He did leave us much but nothing greater than his faith and a mother who still loves us and God as much as he did. Oh, there are those siblings that are left and those they begat and then those that they begat... as much as they reflect all he was, they will still fall short of the love and faith that he left for us.
Our brother Joe shared a quote with us from Ruth Renker that sums the substance of the man our father was.
"Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance."
Yes indeed he did; thank you Dad for that.
Great was your faithfulness then and even greater is it now.

Happy Birthday Stephanie!

Late Have I Loved You
St. Augustine

Late have I loved You, O beauty ever ancient, ever new!
Late have I loved You!

And behold, You were within, and I without,
and without I sought You.

And deformed I ran after these forms of beauty You have made.
You were with me,
and I was not with You.

Those things held me back from You, things whose only being
was to be in You.

You called; You cried; and you broke through my deafness.
You flashed; You shone;
and You chased my blindness.

You became fragrant; and I inhaled and sighed for You.
I tasted, and now hunger and thirst for You.
You touched me:
and I burn for your embrace.


A Birthday deal...

Psalm 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18

Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD, and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom and speak of your might.

You’ve got a friend in me… the song from one of the Toy Story movies goes something like that. And in Stephanie, if you know her, you do have a friend in her. For as noted in the Psalm, the Lord’s friends make known His kingdom and that is what Stephanie is all about. Indeed a faithful one, she comes from good stock, (favorite uncle included?), her blessings are many and she gives and shares hundreds more than she has been given. Faithful and faith-filled. Straightforward. Refreshing as a spring shower each time you visit with her, she loves and lives her faith and family.

That is Stephanie, Your friend, O Lord.


Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Making known to men your might and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages, and your dominion endures through all generations.

Some folks you meet and come to know and sometimes wonder where they stand on some issues or concerns. Not so with Stephanie. As quickly as she will tell you of the ‘glorious splendor’ of God’s plan for us all, it won’t take long for her to tell you which path you will be better off taking than the one you are on. She is that vibrant. She is that truthful. She is that much in love with her faith and God. Oh, she won’t always hit you over the head with a two-by-four… it will just feel like it. Other times, and mostly, her heart and compassion bring out the best in others and then they come to know the plans God has for them, living in them as He is in her.

That is Stephanie, Your friend, O Lord.

Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
The LORD is just in all his ways and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.

God puts a fire in all of us to do His good works. For some, that fire burns just a little bit brighter than it does in others. All good, but still the flames are brighter and bigger. For her faith, her family, her friends, her gifts and talents and sharing, Stephanie’s flame of the Holy Spirit burns brightest. With all she has and is, she challenges herself and others to go beyond ourselves to not only do all we can do but be all we are called to be by God’s plan for us: a humble, loving servant.

That is Stephanie, wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend and above all, Your friend, O Lord.

Happy Birthday, Stephanie.

We love you.

1 Thessalonians 5:23

May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ


Offer It Up! Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Romans 13:10-14

Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

Love your neighbor as yourself, as we have been told and commanded before and now again. We do this not just because it is the right thing to do but because God tells us to. We’ve been using the ‘sleep’ excuse for too long now, saying we’ve put our love elsewhere than in the love of others. Love for the things of the world. Love for the dollar. Love for everything but who we need to love. That is where and how we live in the darkness.

And how we see the ‘great light’ is to shed those ways of love for the worldly things and clothe ourselves in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Paul noted, our salvation is a lot closer than we might know. No sense in putting off our preparations and laying an even better foundation for that time.

Wake up. The day is at hand. Let us all walk more in His light, shedding ourselves from the darkness we find ourselves in. We must live as and be in accord with what we have been told in scripture, being His chosen people, concentrating our interests on the fulfillment of His Love.


The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Catholic Church has provided us for centuries with remembrances of Saints.Those stalwart men and women of faith who blazed the path of living in holiness.Practically each day of the Liturgical year we are treated to some tidbit of our spiritual history in the Church to inspire and lead us to deeper relationship with Christ and a deeper awareness of the wonder of God and what He has done for us. Today we are reminded of the Queenship of Mary. In 1954, Pope Pius the XII, inaugurated this feast in honor of Mary. This feast was a logical step after the declaration of the Assumption of Mary as a Church Dogma.


How will I celebrate the Memorial of Mary's Queenship today? Will I find time to spend some moments reflecting on the role of Mary as the Mother of God, of Jesus, and Queen of Heaven. I can imagine standing with Mary and John at the foot of the Cross and hearing my Lord, say Behold your Mother. I can reflect on Mary's intercessory powers, beginning at the wedding at Cana, and soaring through the centuries acknowledging Mary's countless visits to her children exhorting us to pray, to repent, to listen to her Son.


Mary truly is our Queen, Mother of the King of Kings, loving us so deeply she constantly tells us "Dowhatever he tells you"and we see water turned into the choicest wine for the feast of life. May we not be distracted by too many things this day, and find at least a few moments to enter into the presence of Our Blessed Mother, be embraced by Her, and embrace her and together spend time in the presenceof her Son, Our Lord.

Mary, mother of Jesus, and mother of the human family, guide us in the course of our daily lives, and teach us to ponder the mysteries and wonders of God always there for us to see.
Strengthen us in weak moments, give us songs of praise to sing joyfully in gratitude for God's abundant gifts of life. With the help of your intercession may we learn to live as God desires loving one another and seeking the fulfillment of His Kingdom.Amen.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Saturday, August 20, 2011

Each day the Church, following the Holy Spirit's guidance, presents us with a portion from the word of God. Are you following the spiritual diet being offered?
Just a few moments each day in the quiet of God's presence, at a time of the day or night when you are alert enough to be truly present to the Giver of all good gifts.The gift today and each day is Himself.As we ponder His word, we acknowledge all that He is and has given us beginning with life itself.


For example, when we read the gospel from the 22nd chapter of Matthew, we again are given a parable on the Kingdom of God. What is it like? A Wedding Feast, in which all are invited.But, we are free to send our regrets. And in the parable many do.The chosen ones first, have other more important pursuits.The King then sends out his messengers into the highways and byways, welcome all to the feast.Then, even at the feast, the wedding garment must be worn.

Perhaps we all need to reflect on the condition of our wedding garment, the status of our spiritual well being. How relevant is God in our lives? I believe in God! Really? How does that infect my life. Do my actions reflect my professed belief?Do I take time each day and frequently to take notice of God's participation in my life?


Where is my treasure? The Bread of Life, does it sustain you? Take a few moments right now, quiet the mind and body and be present to the Lord of life let Him hold you close. Hear him in the depths of your being, breath in the Spirit He promised.
Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Friday, August 19, 2011

I have not been very keen on emails and the requests to forward them. But of late some of the emails I have received not only make me rethink the need to be selective, but to be open to sharing thoughts and guidance that point to our need for God and our need to be in conversation with Him.

There is no hiding the fact that there is evil in the World.Also, as Christians we are aware of how Our Lord prayed to the Father and frequently. Recently I received an email seeking prayer for our nation. Seeking also to build a prayer chain around the World encouraging us to seekothers to join us in prayer DAILY. I believe that all of must develop an active prayer life.Whenever possible be present at Eucharist and take Christ to the world.

In that light I would ask anyone who reads this, to consider contacting as many persons they are friends with to join us in prayer for Our Country and the world.

Prayer. Take it to heart. First as soon as you become aware, pray.

And encourage others to pray!

The Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Thursday, August 18, 2011

Romans 8:18-21

The sufferings of the present are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us. Indeed, the whole created world eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God. Creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but by him who once subjected it; yet not without hope, because the world itself will be freed from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

How many times do we not get it? Not get that whatever it is that we are going through is not a permanent condition? As we are reminded in Romans, there is nothing that can compare to the glory that we will see upon our salvation.

God has made it so for us to suffer—‘creation was made subject to futility’—to bear our cross, so that we would choose to follow Him. Living then in His presence will lead us to grow in faith and hope of sharing in that eternal joy. But it will not come without cost. Every day we must put ourselves to the test of our love for Him, sacrificing our lives for those of others. That is how we are ‘born to eternal life.’ That is how we put ourselves in position to live as we have been called to live, by the compassion of God’s grace and mercy.

Dieterich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theologian in Germany who died for his faith under Hitler's Nazi rule, had this to say about our lives, living in grace, contrasting "cheap grace" and "costly grace":

"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves ...the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance ...grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. ...Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life."

Grace does cost. But a cost worth whatever it is we pay.


Happy Anniversary Cyndi and Michael!

We are fast entering the last part of the liturgical year.Soon school will be in full swing; Fall hopefully will usher in the comfort of cooler weather and blessed rain. In the midst of it all we can only truly strive to connect with the awesome God who watches over us, gives us life and the wonders of His love expressed in the world around us.

The marvels of creation and the marvels of all those wonderful human persons created in His image. It is too often easy to forget that each of us were created in God's image. As we make decisions that reflect our lack of gratitude or understanding, as we choose to ignore the God who gives us life and all the riches of creation, we too often become immersed in sin-filled behavior or omit actions that need to be taken to live fully human lives.

It is past time for Catholics to take action to become aware of the need for evangelical living.There is a need, to first of all, evangelize those who routinely come to Mass.Paul VI in His encyclical on Evangelization pointed out the need to evangelize first of all Catholics who are in the pews. That was decades ago, five decades in fact.So now the need is likely even greater to reach out especially to those who have wandered off and proclaim the Good News.

The fire of Pentecost needs to be rekindled and spread with enthusiastic fervor.

Let us Pray
Father, fill us with the fire of the Holy Spirit.Inspire us, strengthen us, may the flame of your love ignite our minds, hearts and souls; and in our desire to serve you grant us unfailing enthusiasm.


Deacon


Offer It Up! Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Matthew 19:24-30

Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

A camel through the eye of a needle? Even if it were not taken literally, it would still give one cause to pause as to the possibility of an event such as that taking place. And as for the disciples and their own salvation, Jesus helped them with that too, giving them the basics of what they would have to be and do to inherit His kingdom. Giving up houses. Giving up brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. Children. All for the sake of His name.

Though the words were spoken over 2,000 years ago, what more can we give up than the disciples? We are all challenged to live and be as they were, giving up and sacrificing just as they did. That is how we will come about inheriting our eternal life. But what about…? That’s right—what about….? When given our gift of free will, the responsibility is ours to do what is right, choosing to follow God’s plan for us. That plan will lead us to eternal life. Why then would we worry about anything else?

Jesus is calling us all to respond to Him, giving up all that the world has to offer. Deacon Roland mentioned that the disciples came back to Jesus, with the difficulties they were facing, saying, ‘We’ve given up everything to follow You Lord.’ And Jesus said in return, ‘That’s okay. Look at what you get in return. You will have so much more not just in eternity but even here on earth. ‘ As true then as it is today, we do get so much more, even on earth with deeper friendships and closer relationships, finding out the love we were meant to have here and eventually, in eternity. That’s what we have to look forward to-His presence in our lives not only now but upon our salvation.


Offer It Up! Monday, August 15, 2011
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1:46-48

And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Feast of the Assumption is a reminder of God's awesome love. Mary the Mother of Jesus and Our Mother is taken body and soul into the Glory of Heaven. She remains for us a model of holiness. She remains for us a model of loving concern.

In the history of Christianity, her motherly love and concern are evident over and over again as she comes to plead with her children to live holy lives. Perhaps there is no greater assurance of the truth of Heaven, the truth of her Assumption than the visitations of Mary to her children in various ages and various places across the planet. As we remember Mary on this Feast I hope many of us will reflect on where we need to change our lives to grow in holiness, and pray for the grace we need to grow into that holiness.

Despite the fact that this year it is not a Holy Day in some places. We can still make celebrating this feast a holy day.Perhaps today you could set time aside to spend some minutes in prayer with Mary. Just a few moments in a quiet place at home, before your day gets too involved or as it gets involved or while waiting for an appointment, just a few moments. Maybe a few moments more with a rosary.
Pray.

Listen.

Let Mary show us the way to Her Son.
Deacon

Offer It Up! Sunday, August 14, 2011

St. Theresa of Avila said: ‘Never address your words to God while you’re thinking of something else.’ As profound as that is, it is also so very difficult; at least it is for me.

There are those times when the focus of my prayers is fully and centered on Jesus Christ as He deserves nothing else but my undivided attention. If not, He may find ways to get mine in fashions I would rather not have to respond to.

At work, at home, on the road, we can offer our prayers to Him provided we keep Him the center of attention, not just an ‘oh-by-the-way’ sort of offer it up prayer. If we find that distractions are becoming more of what is on our minds that what our prayers should be, maybe then those distractions should be offered up in prayer. Then, as they are silenced in our hearts and prayers, we may move on to the matters we have set out originally to pray for.

St. Therese of Lisieux prayed for her distractions that way; ‘I have many distractions…I pray for those people. In this way, they reap the benefit of my distractions.’ Maybe those distractions that we have are notices to us that we should pray for them. Maybe they are indications that we need some work on our patience. Whatever they might be, we should be persistent in our prayer and continue to offer to Him our prayerful ways, regardless of the disturbances or to-dos going on about us. He is there listening.


Offer It Up! Saturday, August 13, 2011

Joshua 24:14-15

“Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve him completely and sincerely. Cast out the gods your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

If it is displeasing to you to serve the LORD, choose today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling.

As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Choose which god it is you will serve.

Where your heart is where your treasure will be.

A man cannot serve two gods.

As for us, we will serve the LORD our God.

All the above lines you recognize somewhere from scripture. The passage we have out of today’s reading from Joshua is also a popular one in that all of our homes, our workplaces, our lives should be built around service to our God.

Yet with our gift of free will, we have that choice. Who will or what will we serve? Football season will soon be here. Baseball season is nearing the playoffs. Will those be your gods? How about work—will stacking up the hours and staying at the office do it for you? Will your god be the television and what’s on it—soap operas, cop shows, talk shows, reality series… all the socially redeeming stuff with all the morally acceptable values?

Make a list of those things that may lead you away from our true God. Find those things you are doing that you ‘choose’ to do or would rather do and replace them with things that will better serve the LORD. For sure, I would rather not clean the kitchen and choose to watch the game or take a nap. To better serve my spouse and the LORD, cleaning the kitchen would help her and be serving Him, strengthening the bonds of our relationship and our marriage. And once you have that thought and don’t do the better thing, the guilt sets in. Good old Catholic guilt—we will all have to deal with it. The sooner we do, the better off we will be.

Make the right and/or better choices. Choose today and every day the Lord our God. He’s been the same yesterday, the same today and will be tomorrow and forever.


Offer It Up! Friday, August 12, 2011

God has deemed it His will that He, which has given you more time, to live it fully.

Sometimes in our modern tech age we receive in the glut of meaningless forwards in our email one that can provoke thought and effect change in our behavior.

One I received yesterday is a model of that.Sudden lost of a life partner, close relative, dear friend can be a challenge to us.All of a sudden there is no one there, no more hugs, no more laughter, no more tears, no intimate moments that make us aware of the awesomeness of being alive.

Perhaps, more meditation is needed to recognize what is truly of consequential importance in our lives, what truly enables us to become fully what we were created to be.

Take a little time today to sit in the quiet silence of God's presence, enjoy His being present to you, and wonder at all God has given you. Especially those persons who God has placed in your life to enable you to become all you were created to be. Those who care and help you to find the path to holiness.

Father, on this day hear our prayers for mercy, guide us to new life in You, help us to be attentive the promptings of the Holy Spirit in all our endeavors.Amen.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Thursday, August 11, 2011

Proverbs 7:7-12

And I saw among the naive, I observed among the young men, a youth with no sense, crossing the street near the corner, then walking toward her house, in the twilight, at dusk of day, in the very dark of night.

Then the woman comes to meet him, dressed like a harlot, with secret designs.

She is raucous and unruly, her feet cannot stay at home; now she is in the streets, now in the open squares, lurking in ambush at every corner.

How often do we put ourselves in positions that we know are outside those parameters we have set for ourselves? If not for ourselves, what about those parameters we have set for others—our children or family—those boundaries that were not meant to be crossed? We rationalize, we compartmentalize, we fail to realize the dangers we find our hearts and souls in when we walk that particular tight rope of temptation.

Solomon’s admonition in this passage should give us all a heads-up as we go about our ‘innocent ways’ what with the trappings and trimmings we look add to our lives. Not to mention the certain bit of naïveté that no one will be the wiser for them, either. Really, who are we kidding? Kind of like cheating at golf—you play the ball where it is and write your score down as it is, no matter who is or who isn’t watching. Anything else takes away from what you really scored.

Also like golf, putting yourself in a position—the wrong club, wrong shot sort of position—can only lead to wronger outcomes. Making poor choices, poor decisions and poor judgment will put us in positions that we would rather not, nor should not, be in. Sometimes it seems so clearly obvious. Sometimes not. Conversely, putting ourselves in positions that lead to better outcomes with ultimately better results, those all come from better choices and better decisions surrounded with sound judgment. Trusting that the Lord Jesus Christ knows best, submitting to what He has set out for us, we won’t need to worry about our outcomes. Or what we shoot at golf, for that matter.


Offer It Up! Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2 Corinthians 9:8-10

Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written:

“He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;

his righteousness endures forever.”

The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

That kind of talent is best reserved for someone else.

Not me—even if I had the time, I have not the skill set.

Nope, I could never do that.

If these words are not yours, then maybe you’ve heard them elsewhere or maybe even had similar thoughts like them once or seventeen times.

We don’t know what we can do at least until we try. At least until we sow the seed. At least until we see the abundance that God has already planned for us.

As a seed dies in one form to live in another so must we die to our old ways to be transformed to receive His abundant Love and grace. Yet it is then that our pride and ego gets in the way, in either form, positively or negatively. Getting out of our own way and letting God have His way will lead us to more of His abundance.

Every grace is already made available to us. We have to be the ones ready to take it, accept it and use what comes with it. Scatter it, as it has been written and as we are encouraged to do. Often done is way better than often said but to say it here again: God does qualify the called. He has called us all to reap what He has for us to sow. Let’s all get busy then doing as we have been called.


Offer It Up! Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Many parts of the country and the world are experiencing catastrophic drought conditions. Join us in prayer as we offer in praise and glory and petition to our God and Father that He may soon bless our lands with His abundance in rain and respite from the heat.

Prayer for Rain

God our Creator,

Maker of all things and protector of your people,

In your love look upon us in our time of need

and give us your help.

Open the heavens for us and send us the rain

we need for our lives and crops.

As our hearts long for you,

so we seek rain to refresh the earth;

as we long for life,

so let the earth produce its harvest in abundance.

May we rejoice in the good things of the earth

and raise our eyes to you the source of all blessings.

Hear our cry for mercy and answer our prayer,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.


Offer It Up! Monday, August 8, 2011

Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Now, therefore, Israel, what does the LORD, your God, ask of you but to fear the LORD, your God, to follow in all his ways, to love and serve the LORD, your God, with your whole heart and with your whole being, to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD that I am commanding you today for your own well-being?

There are only a few things that can impugn the dignity and decorum of a man more than those things that make themselves obvious to the rest of the world through his clothes. Zippers at half-mast, split in the seat of the pants and conspicuous spots on shirts and pants, these are just a few that will keep one’s dignity in check for the day, if not for awhile afterward. With all the laughter and razzing one might have to endure and the embarrassment once one realizes their ‘tragic’ condition, it is often that there is only a shred of that dignity left.

And that’s just for stuff on the outside… what about those things from the inside? What about those things one has to look at that in his heart? Those things that make up his character? How do the things of the world—the clothes and such—measure up then to one’s true character and dignity from within? Some say it is the clothes that make the man. If that is true then some of us are in deeper stuff than we ever imagined.

Having experienced my share of ‘those things’ both inside and out, the worse of the two is what happens inside when one’s character and heart are purposefully left open to the behaviors and beliefs that keep them from the graces of God. ‘Those things’ we choose to do that are deliberate, actual sins against His will for us. No sugar-coating it—sin is what sin is.

Poor judgment? Still have to live with it.

Sin by omission? Still a sin.

Sin against yourself? It’s still a sin against God.

Just as we are all sinners, we can all be cleansed from our sins. It takes the character to wear our faith outside our heart and let those see who we are by what we are and believe, not by what we wear.


Offer It Up! Sunday, August 7, 2011

Matthew 14:22-33

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Recently heard about a guy that had gone through one of the renewal programs that some of the parishes are doing. From ACTS, Cursillo, and Christ Renews His Parish, these are but a few of those that are available to those congregations that are looking for the jump off point to help revitalize their parishes. This particular fellow had every intention of not attending but finally heard the Holy Spirit direct him to attend.

After the transformative weekend and a few follow up meetings, he found that he had undergone a change. A change he was accepting but one that was not so accepted at home. His spouse was looking for the man she had before he went—not the one who returned with a softened heart and a renewed spirit of faith. I’m not sure exactly what else she thought she needed before he left but what she had when he returned, according to what was said, was a weaker husband, one who was not as masculine, not as manly.

Huh. Transformed in his spirit and faith by the Holy Spirit, his shell didn’t change so much as what was inside it. Even then, compare his masculinity to that of the disciples and one would be hard pressed to see where they were not so ‘manly.’ These guys were real fishermen. They did their work with nets and pulled them in by hand. They didn’t have the luxuries we have today. They didn’t have much more than what they were told they could carry. Where is the softness in that? Where is the easy living and soft heart?

Our transformations are from within. What we have outwardly is a product of that what we have and show from inside. If there is light, if there is faith and love, what will we show? If there is pain and sin and darkness, we can rise from them and be renewed as we give it over in faith and love and in His light.

As the disciples were transformed and acknowledged Him as the Son of God, we are also transformed by the Son of God as we submit to His will for us. As the winds and storms ceased when Jesus got in the boat, ours will too as we trust in Him more deeply and keep Him as the center of our lives, in our own boats.


Offer It Up! Saturday, August 6, 2011

Matthew 17:5-7

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."

When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.

But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and do not be afraid."

How good would it be for us, present or past, if we were there with Peter and the other disciples at the Transfiguration? How would we have responded—like Peter and be the ‘perfect host’ and tent maker? Would we have been less obliging and more afraid of what was happening? Would we have been as the Israelites were in the desert and not responded to His Voice and commandments?

Not that we see the Transfiguration every day or that we are in our desert every day, but we are given daily the gift of the Eucharist and the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Body and Blood in it. We do get to see and experience His transforming power in us and in others through the acceptance of His Body and Blood, renewing us in His grace. With free will, we are allowed to choose. This is what we must know and fix in our hearts.

Fix in our hearts that He is our Savior, He is our God, and there is no other. Allow yourself to be transformed, to be renewed in all that God has given you and continues to give. Listening to Him and know in our hearts so that we may prosper and live.

Deuteronomy 4:33, 35, 39-40

Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? All this you were allowed to see that you might know the LORD is God and there is no other.

This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other. You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever."


Offer It Up! Thursday, August 4, 2011

Matthew 16:13-23

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Growing up, our little league baseball coach would ‘comment’ to us after a particularly good catch and a not so good throw-‘That’s a million dollar catch and a ten-cent throw!’ Building us up in the first part of his breath and taking the wind out of our sails in the next. True, we probably deserved the admonishment with our errant tosses and equally true, he meant well with his praise with the catches we had made.

There are occasions we put ourselves into these days where we do something similar to those catches and throws. We may say the exact, the most perfect, sweetest, loving thing to a loved one and then with every good intention, find a way to turn it sour in the blink of an eye as we open our mouth before we engage our brain. Just like Peter did.

He wanted the best for Jesus the Messiah. He did not want Him to suffer at the hands of the ‘chief priest and elders.’ But Peter, just as we often fall, wasn’t getting it. Wasn’t getting it that Jesus came to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah who said that the Anointed One would come to atone for the sins of the world. We would have wanted the same thing. At least we should have and we should today. For all He did for us then, we can give of ourselves now. As He died for us, we can die to ourselves and share now in the glory of His resurrection.


Offer It Up! Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Psalm 106:6-7, 13-14, 21-22, 23

Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
We have sinned, we and our fathers; we have committed crimes; we have done wrong.
Our fathers in Egypt considered not your wonders.

This may come as a surprise to some but we are not too unlike the Israelites then or anyone else now; we are all sinners. We have done wrong as we put the world first instead our faith. If our fathers failed to acknowledge fully the wonders of the LORD, we too then have put ourselves in the same position every time we take for granted the life we are given everyday.

Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
But soon they forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel.
They gave way to craving in the desert and tempted God in the wilderness.

We would rather ‘casually forget’ and take a lower road to sin than listen to what He has to say to us. If you don’t believe that, think of the times you’ve chosen not to go celebrate the Eucharist, you’ve hurried through some prayers or just chose not to say any at all. Think then of the times when tempted with choices when no one else was around and it was between you and God… and you ‘won.’ That would be in the wilderness.

Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham, terrible things at the Red Sea.

We get to those points in our lives when all seems to be going our way and we feel bigger than we ought because ‘we’ got us here. ‘We’ were the ones that made all the deals, saved all the lives, donated all the money… we act as if it were all about us and not about our God who brought us here and our God who has given us all we have to be all we are.

Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Then he spoke of exterminating them, but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath.

What happens then when the pieces don’t fit or worse yet, they start crumbling around us? All this while, we’ve done it on our own and now we call on God to bring us out of the depths. ‘Where has He been when we need Him?’ we cry. Will anyone be able to save us? More to the point, where have we been?

God will save us. Our faith will save us. We must go to Him in our weakness and humility so that He may make us like we were meant to be.


Offer It Up! Monday, August 1, 2011

Numbers 11:4-15

The children of Israel lamented,
“Would that we had meat for food! We remember the fish we used to eat without cost in Egypt, and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now we are famished; we see nothing before us but this manna.”

Manna was like coriander seed and had the color of resin. When they had gone about and gathered it up, the people would grind it between millstones or pound it in a mortar, then cook it in a pot and make it into loaves,
which tasted like cakes made with oil. At night, when the dew fell upon the camp, the manna also fell.

When Moses heard the people, family after family, crying at the entrance of their tents, so that the LORD became very angry, he was grieved. “Why do you treat your servant so badly?” Moses asked the Lord. “Why are you so displeased with me that you burden me with all this people?
Was it I who conceived all this people? Or was it I who gave them birth, that you tell me to carry them at my bosom, like a foster father carrying an infant, to the land you have promised under oath to their fathers?
Where can I get meat to give to all this people? For they are crying to me, ‘Give us meat for our food.’
I cannot carry all this people by myself, for they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you will deal with me,
then please do me the favor of killing me at once, so that I need no longer face this distress.”

Maybe the menu could have been for the Israelites something like this:

  1. Take it.

  2. Leave it.

How quickly they have forgotten how far they have come! What have they been brought from? What have they seen and how have they been saved from the bonds of slavery? For all of this, they were complaining with their collective mouths and bellies full. It was their hearts that were empty of gratitude and full of small-mindedness and selfish ways. They were being delivered out of slavery and into freedom and they were not getting what they wanted.

Some things—and people—just never change. How quickly do we forget when we are delivered from the chains of our past, our sins, and then open our mouths and disengage our brains and ask for our own ‘meat instead of manna?’ Or worse yet, we try to do the ‘fixing’ on our own, without the assistance, without the direction, without the very prayerful guidance from the One who would deliver from our condition, our suffering? We, just as the Israelites did, just don’t get it sometimes.

Scripture tells us time and again—do not be afraid. Just have faith. That is how we can ‘get it’ by putting ourselves in a position to receive it, by having faith, by believing that we will be delivered from our ‘desert.’By trusting in what He has given us each day. He will be there to feed us. The choice is ours: we can take Him or leave Him.