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

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Offer It Up! Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Take, O Lord,

and receive my entire liberty,

my memory, my understanding

and my whole will.

All that I am and all that I possess

You have given me:

I surrender it all to You

to be disposed of according to Your will.

Give me only Your love and Your grace;

with these I will be rich enough,

and will desire nothing more.

Amen.



Offer It Up! Monday, July 30, 2012
Happy Birthday Tony!

Matthew 13:31-35

Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. "The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'"
He spoke to them another parable. "The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened."
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.

The small things in our lives… how we should live small.

Little mustard seed, a large shrub for the birds to build their nests.

A little yeast, the greater the loaves of bread to feed us.

The widow gave her small amount… yet all she could give.

A shepherd goes to look for a small lost lamb, bringing it back to the fold.

A small baby boy, born in a small manger, changes the world in ways that we are still trying to comprehend.

A few fish and loaves of bread, the leftovers are enough to fill even a dozen baskets full.

A small group of men, hand chosen by one man to transform lives, still making differences today.

Little ideas, great things.

Living small. Living humbly.

Living in Christ and living with Jesus Christ as the center of our lives.

Live small.

A Birthday Note...

For his birthday, Tony would, for the most part, live small. It was not about him but about the celebration around him. The burgers, the music, the family and friends, the faith. He made it clear and he made sure that the purpose of his birth was not about the continuation of the material world and list of things to accumulate. It was but to further spread the Good News of salvation and faith by the way he lived and 'celebrated' his faith-his birth and baptism. By any view and any way you saw him or shared your life with him, he left little doubt about his belief, his love and how both were founded in an authentic, livable faith in Jesus Christ. That was Tony. That was his life as husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, and friend. That was Bear.

Happy Birthday Tony.

May we some day share in eternal salvation.



Offer It Up! Sunday, July 29, 2012

For those that are looking for ways to add to what you are already doing, here is something to consider in addition to your morning prayer offerings. If your prayers in the morning are needing some assistance, this is just as good a place to begin.

A Morning Offering

Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Joseph, and all the angels and saints, I offer you today all my prayers, desires, works, joys and sufferings. May I faithfully seek your will as you envision and reveal it to me in the present moment circumstances of this day. For through it, I will strive to accept each moment with gratitude and as a purposeful, precious gift from your hands.

Next, consider and meditate on the First Principle and Foundation from the introduction to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.
From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.
For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only that which is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.


Finally, seek protection throughout the day via the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in this day of battle.
Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and you, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Power of God - cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits, that roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

From the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius



Offer It Up! Saturday, July 28, 2012

Psalm 119:32-34

I will run the way of your commandments, for you will broaden my heart.

LORD, teach me the way of your statutes; I shall keep them with care.

Give me understanding to keep your law, to observe it with all my heart.

Take, Lord, and Receive

Take, Lord, and receive

all my liberty, my memory,

my understanding, and my entire will.

All I have and call my own.

Whatever I have or hold,

You have given me.

I return it all to You

and surrender it wholly

to be governed by Your will.

Give me only Your love and Your grace

and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.

From the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius



Offer It Up! Friday, July 27, 2012

Matthew 13:18-23

Jesus said to his disciples: "Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."

The depth of what is said and what is heard and understood. And sometimes it’s what we want to choose to hear and understand as if one has taken on an instant case of selective earlessness if you will.

As believers and as those of like faith, we know the Truth. We also know that what is sown ‘on the path’ as in the case of the parable, is what will lead us to sin as Satan will come and find his foothold inside our hearts. For the rocky ground, we have those tendencies to put on the face of faith and let it appear that we are what we present. Yet it’s about as thin as the skin on the tip of our nose. And just about as easy to see as well. If you don’t know any of those types, maybe you’ve lived a life like that as a part of your own journey. And if you have, sinners we all be!

From our path of rockiness to the thorns—the painful, piercing thorns that get under foot and into our hands and spike their way into our arms and legs... and that’s just the physical part of their pain. The spiritual pain they bring as we separate ourselves from the grace of God as we try to make things right on our own. We read the scripture and adhere to His Word. We pray and hear His reply. Yet when we lose sight of what He has planned for us and try our own will instead of His, ‘the lure of riches’ brings about the pain and anxiety found in the thorny path.

It is when we commit our lives and our faith fully to all that is sown in the richness of the fruitful soil that we can do what we have been called to do. Wherever that vocation or ministry has called us for however long we are called to serve: we hear the Word of God and respond to it and understand what He has called us to do. Simply putting ourselves in a position then to do what His Word has us doing. Without the rocky path. Or the thorns. But on good, fruitful soil.



Offer It Up! Thursday, July 26, 2012

Matthew 13:10-17

The disciples approached Jesus and said, "Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?"
He said to them in reply, "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted and I heal them.

"But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

Because they sometimes don’t get what I’m telling them when I speak plain Aramaic, that’s why I speak in parables…Maybe Jesus didn’t say those words, probably didn’t even think them, either. Though He did tell the disciples that there were mysteries beyond their comprehension, the parables could help them get closer to seeing the greater picture. May have even helped the disciples as well.

They too were looking for more ways to see and hear what Jesus had to tell and show them. As well they should, being His disciples. With all that Jesus had shared with them in parables, in miracles, in just what He had to say to them and show them, there was still so much more to learn and understand. And it wasn’t that their hearts, the disciples hearts anyway, were closed to learning or their ears closed to hearing. It may have been they were so close to Him they didn’t see beyond Him.

Could be the way it is with us sometimes. We take so much time with the little things and forget about the greater good. We see the smaller picture and focus on it. Our little corner of the world. We hear our own voices sometimes only to ignore what we’ve heard in response to our prayers…

True, we must first make right those things in ourselves and the circumstances and conditions around will then change. But that does not mean to ignore or turn our backs to what we don’t understand. It isn’t Aramaic that Jesus is speaking to us now.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2 Corinthians 4:7-15

Brothers and sisters: We hold this treasure in earthen vessels that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

A treasure in an earthen vessel—our soul. And the power that is in us to grow in faith is not ours at all. Not anything we have is ours. It all comes from the ‘surpassing power’ that is of God, not of our own making. When we get into that mindset, that mindtrap of thinking it is all about us and for us and by us, our afflictions and persecutions become more prevalent. Life becomes less about our faith and more about the world.

‘For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus’

This has to happen so that in our death to self we may be emptied of all that is ‘us’ in this world and be filled with all that is Christ in His world. A lot times we get the emptied part done and are quite proud that we’ve put ourselves in that state of grace, if you will. Yet so often we begin to fill up on pride and ego for our accomplishments and forget that our objective was to empty the cesspool, not fill it back with what came out of it.

God has made who He has made and what He has made for those He made—and He has made it all good. He deals only in good and in grace ‘bestowed in abundance’. As we believe in His Son, Jesus Christ being raised from the dead, so too will we be delivered from the depths of our darkness of sin and death of this world to a life of eternity in His presence. And yes, more and more of us will give great thanks and praise—overflowing—for the greatness and glory of our God.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Micah 7:18-20

Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, and will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our guilt?
You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins; You will show faithfulness to Jacob, and grace to Abraham, as You have sworn to our fathers from days of old.

...does not persist in anger forever.

...will again have compassion on us.

Take just those two short passages from the verses and apply them to our own lives. Work them in and around all those times we shoulda, coulda, woulda, done something different with the anger we carried on for ourselves for someone else. For what purpose? Someone once said the only good to come out of anger was that it could made a mad cat’s back arch better... as if that would matter.

As if it matters for us to carry around our anger is the point being made about the cat’s back. What’s the use? What will it prove—or improve? Nothing. From Micah’s verse, God delights in forgiveness and so should we. As God puts beneath and behind Him our transgressions, so should we with those we have made and those made against us. As He has the seas swallow into the depths the darkness of our sins, we are washed clean from them through the waters of baptism of His mercy and grace.

There is no one like God.

There is only God.

One God, our Father, and we are His children.

From days of old, for now and forever.



Offer It Up! Monday, July 23, 2012

Why do we pray? We can't change God can we? This is a question recently posed by a person who celebrates Eucharist with us each day.

Why do we pray? God knows us through and through the psalmist says. He knows us, He formed us in the womb, no matter where we are, what we are doing. He knows our feelings, our thoughts, all our ups and downs.

Sooo, why pray? We know God doesn't need prayer but the question also involves you and me, the pray-er. We need to pray because we are the ones who need to gain perspective. We pray because we are the ones in need.

Perhaps the first need is to understand what prayer is. We easily let the words trip from our lips, or the meditations of the mind, often failing to acknowledge that God is already "in the know".

We come into God's presence. That is, we acknowledge we are always in His presence but are not always aware of that presence.

Prayer enables us to grow in awareness, prayer helps us to understand that faith is nurtured in prayer, we become more trusting and discover more fully the wonder of God's love and mercy.

Let the Holy Spirit reveal the wonder of life in God through prayer!

Deacon



Offer It Up! Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ephesians 2:13-18

Brothers and sisters:
In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.
For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.
He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

We are brought together through Him. Those that are with us—with Jesus Christ and the Church, are still in His peace. Those that are not—those who are against the Christ and those who do not believe, may still be in His peace. For we all may come nearer to the Father through His Son. And that can only be done in His Peace.

Bitterness, anger, distrust—those things that keep us from the peace of Christ within us and the peace of Christ between us—must be first reconciled before we may truly find ourselves in His peace. Yet as simple as it sounds, we often choose to carry with us those very things that prevent us from the very thing we seek. We humans are such smart animals… how far off must we be before we hear Him calling us back to Him?



Offer It Up! Saturday, July 21, 2012

My people, what have I done to you?

Or in what have I offended you? I Answer me.

What more should I have done, and did not do?

I led you out of the land of Egypt, and you prepared a cross for me.

I opened the Red Sea before you, and you opened my side with a lance, I gave you a royal sceptre, and you have given me a crown of thorns. With great power I lifted you up, and you have hung me upon a cross. My people, what have I done to you, or in what have I offended you?

Answer me.

Had the occasion to go through the Stations of the Cross today… this twelfth station overwhelmed me.

What has He done to us that we do the things we do to Him? How is it that we find ways to blame Him for the things that go wrong with us? And then, when things do get a bit a little better, we still find ways to put more blame on Jesus for not taking care of everything we asked Him to.

How dare us. How could we. How is that He offends us when the world itself dares to offend us with offensive behavior and stances for abortion, quality of life and even religion… yes, how dare we.

How will we answer Him today?

Better yet, how will we answer Him when we are called to see Him face to face?

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.



Offer It Up! Friday, July 20, 2012

From the Diary of St. Faustina, No. 267

Jesus told me that I please Him best by meditating on His sorrowful Passion, and by such meditation much light falls upon my soul. He who wants to learn true humility should reflect upon the Passion of Jesus. When I meditate upon the Passion of Jesus, I get a clear understanding of many things I could not comprehend before. I want to resemble You, O Jesus,-You crucified, tortured and humiliated.

Jesus, imprint upon my heart and soul Your own humility. I love You, Jesus, to the point of madness, You who were crushed with suffering as described by the prophet [cf. Isaiah 53:2-9], as if he could not see the human form in You because of Your great suffering. It is in this condition, Jesus, that I love You to the point of madness. O eternal and infinite God, what has love done to You?...

How do you best meditate on the suffering of Christ? How do you best handle your own suffering? How do you best enjoy your own successes and gifts that have been given you?

As noted in her diary, we are to learn our own true humility through not only our suffering but through the suffering Jesus bore on the cross. From 2,000 years ago to today, we are still called to carry our own daily crosses. For those days that they become too much for us, those days that even when we ‘switch shoulders’, He is there to carry with us that cross of our humility.

We are His humble servants brought to this world to bear witness and to bear our crosses as we do. Through our trials and sufferings we can do both. Through His mercy and grace and the eternal Love He has for us all, we can become more like Him even if it must be that we are persecuted, humiliated and brought to our knees. As it was with Jesus, His Father was there to lift Him, so it will be for us.



Offer It Up! Thursday, July 19, 2012

Isaiah 26:7-9, 12, 16-19

The way of the just is smooth; the path of the just you make level. Yes, for your way and your judgments, O LORD, we look to you; Your name and your title are the desire of our souls.


My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you; when your judgment dawns upon the earth, the world's inhabitants learn justice. O LORD, you mete out peace to us, for it is you who have accomplished all we have done.

O LORD, oppressed by your punishment, we cried out in anguish under your chastising. As a woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pains, so were we in your presence, O LORD. We conceived and writhed in pain, giving birth to wind; salvation we have not achieved for the earth, the inhabitants of the world cannot bring it forth. But your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise; awake and sing, you who lie in the dust. For your dew is a dew of light, and the land of shades gives birth.

If we could just get that to settle squarely in our hearts once and for all—the way of the just is smooth… for it is You who have accomplished all we have done. We all have our moments if not our days and weeks of God’s fullness. Those opportune paths along our journeys where all the pieces are fitting and the winds are fully beneath our wings. Even our peaceful moments are really peaceful, not contrived to make them as peaceful as we can get, or even tolerate if you will. (Tolerable peace???)

God is good all the time and all the time God is good. We have come to know that with all He has given us through the gifts we have and the trials we have suffered. All things work for the good of those who love God… we know that as we are reminded through scripture specifically and throughout overall. It is up to us then to carry out our practice of love and faith as we are called to do.

Salvation we have not achieved for the earth, that is not our aim. The things we suffer here and the things we pass through with joy are of little consequence or matter compared to the awakening and joyous praise we will experience in the salvation Christ is preparing for us. We may fall, we may fail, we may even stop and turn away. That will not keep us from the love that He has for us, even as we lie in the dust, as those of us who have been spiritually dead can be brought back to life. Let Christ’s light be our hope and our guide not only to show us the way back to Him but to fill us with all that is good for us.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, July 18, 2012

As we pray, so we believe.

As we believe, so we become.

As we become, so we are His.

Prayer of St. Bonaventure to the Holy Spirit

Lord Jesus,

as God's Spirit came down and rested upon you,
May the same Spirit rest on us,
Bestowing his sevenfold gifts.


First, grant us the gift of understanding,
By which your precepts may enlighten our minds.
Second, grant us counsel,

by which we may follow in your footsteps

on the path of righteousness.
Third, grant us courage,
by which we may ward off the enemy's attacks.
Fourth, grant us knowledge,
by which we can distinguish good from evil.
Fifth, grant us piety,
by which we may acquire compassionate hearts.
Sixth, grant us fear,
by which we may draw back from evil
and submit to what is good.
Seventh, grant us wisdom,
that we may taste fully the life-giving sweetness of your love.

Amen.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented.
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum:
Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the nether world.
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."

Jesus had had enough. With all that He had shared with them and even all that He had shown them in His miracles—His ‘mighty deeds’—they still were not turning from their sinful ways. What more did they need to understand? What else did they need to hear to know that what they were doing was against all He taught them?

Today, our sackcloths and ashes can be represented by our acts of forgiveness and compassion as well as through the sacrament of reconciliation and our contrite spirit. We can wear the real thing if we were so inclined and we can serve ourselves with acts of fasting and penance that would lead us to a more penitent life.

But more than what we wear, it is who we are in Christ that makes a difference. As Jesus makes His home in us, we can make our lives an example for others to see Him through our actions, done in a spirit of love and compassion. In so doing, eventually others will see and know who you are by the company you keep in Jesus Christ. There would be no better company to be in than His.



Offer It Up! Monday, July 16, 2012

Matthew 10:37-42

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward.And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.

There are these:

I will love you forever and forever.

I love you more than anything else or anyone else in the world.

You are the greatest thing in my life. Ever.

And there are these:

I can’t take this anymore.

This is too much for me to bear.

I don’t know how much more of this I can handle.

We may have heard these lines or said them once or twice along our journeys. Even as strong of believers as we find ourselves, those proclamations of our faith-filled love and the denials of that same faithfulness often fall out of our mouths in the same breaths. And if not in the same breaths, often in the same trains of thought.

God is Love. His Love is forever. That cannot be denied. The love we have for one another is secondary to His Love. All the love we have for all the people we love cannot come close to the Love that God has for just one of us. All the love the world has cannot compare to the Love He has for the world. Otherwise, with some of the things we have pulled, me thinks He would have pulled the plug on us a long time ago.

But on we go. Loving and giving. Giving and forgiving. Forgiving and loving. A veritable circle of blessings and grace. And even more wonderful: He rewards us with more as respond to His will for us. From something so small as a glass of cold water to the depths of giving one’s life for another, He rewards us with a new life in Him. A new life cleansed of our old ways, our old self, born into His spirit. This new way of life will lead us to that ultimate reward He has for us when He is ready for us to come to Him.


Ephesians 1:3-10

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of God's grace that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.

How is it that we are so holy then? Without blemish? Standing before Him in all our naked and embarr-assed glory, there we are.

In the fullness of His Love.

With all our blessings bestowed upon us, we can still find ways to tear up an anvil of gifts and beauty so graciously laid before us. And even in so doing, God still brings us back and fixes the anvil, as it were—our gifts, our hearts, our souls—and fills us with the grace and mercy He has reserved for us all along.

Fr. Jack noted the other day at mass that we don’t go to mass every Sunday or each time that we go to mass to be the same person we were before we went in the doors. How much of a waste of time would that be? We go to be emptied and filled so that we may be different—better—than what we were before we decided to take part in the liturgy. We made a choice to be there. Why not make the most of it.

The same goes for the life and redemption we have in our life with Christ. Through our baptism we have been cleansed and through reconciliation and the Eucharist we continue to be renewed and transformed into His likeness. Just as Paul wrote how we are His, in accord with his favor that he set forth… to sum up all things in Christ. All things He gave us to be better at being like Him. For Him. And in Him. So that we could spend our eternity with Him. He gave us His best and His life. We could do for Him our best by giving Him the rest of our lives.


Strive to see God in all things without exception, and-acquiesce in His will

with absolute submission. Do everything for God, uniting yourself to Him

by a mere upward glance, or by the overflowing of your heart towards Him.

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.

Do not lose your inward peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole

world seems upset. Commend all to God, and then lie still and be at rest in

His bosom. Whatever happens, abide steadfast in a determination to cling

simply to God, trusting to His eternal love for you; and if you find that you

have wandered forth from this shelter, recall your heart quietly and simply.

Maintain a holy simplicity of mind, and do not smother yourself with a host

of cares, wishes, or longings, under any pretext.

St. Francis de Sales

One of those quotes that goes around that is anonymously attributed speaks about how the darkness in our lives cannot put the light—it should only make God brighter in the way we live. Upon closer examination in the words from St. Francis, with complete submission to God’s will, how can we not then find more light in our lives?


New Evangelization.

As we approach October (it’s only a couple of months till the weather is cooler!) and the beginning of the year of Faith, the theme of New Evangelization takes on a more frequent emphasis. Hopefully, the Spirit of God will inspire all the baptized to take up their role in the effort to re-evangelize in our time. As you read this, may the Spirit of God fill you with His presence that you may hear his particular call to you. What are the gifts and talents that God has blessed you with that you may proclaim His love and presence in all the events of life as you experience them? May your time of prayer be a revealing of the presence of God with each breath of life.

During the recent years, what was inaugurated by Blessed John Paul II, has been continued under Benedict XVI. His first encyclical "Deus est Caritas" God is Love, has set a tone for all Christians. Recognizing in our own lives the Wonder of God's love as it is revealed in Jesus, we are each of us called to reveal His presence to a world longing for the truth. Not by words alone will we evangelize but by the daily living out the very call to love, loving by seeking at all times to see in all circumstances the movements of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer, deep sincere, honest dialogue with God, present in our very being, leads us into an awareness of God's presence—ALWAYS. We continue in prayer to become acutely aware that God loves us, has always loved us, loves us even in our ‘unloveliness’ and we continue to be transformed as we respond to the Call to Holiness.

Holy! Holy! Holy! YOU are called to be holy! Imagine that. Holy, whole, fully human and alive in Christ. How? By living in His presence and making Him the center of our lives, loving God with all our mind, heart, soul...and because of His love living in us loving our neighbor who is for us an image of the Creator.

Let us pray for and with one another that in our oneness we may be truly messengers of love and hope wherever we may be...always.

Deacon


Hosea 11:, 3-4, 8-9

Thus says the LORD:
When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the farther they went from me, sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; yet, though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer.
My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. I will not give vent to my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again; for I am God and not man,
the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you.

Could be that something like this has happened to you—the more you called someone or chased after or looked for something, the farther away they went or the more ‘lost’ they became. A family member who would not call you back to patch up some sibling rivalry. A disagreement you had with a co-worker over some trivial project matter. A friend who distances their relationship no matter how many times you call or reach out. No matter what you say or do, nothing seems to work.

The anguish you feel within can eat at you for some time. You begin to doubt what you feel for them and what they may feel about you. The longer you carry it around, the heavier the load becomes. Soon, the weight becomes more than you can bear and the anxiety turns to anger and you lash out at the next one in your path, whoever it is that gets in your way. All because you let the anxieties overtake you.

God is bigger than all of that. All that overwhelms us and consumes us. He is God and not man. The Holy One present among us. Once we decide to hand our lives over to Him, the anxieties and anger we have become His. His Love is such that we cannot imagine the depth and width and breadth. We should be less anxious and more peaceful in our living examples.

Matthew 10:1-7

Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.

The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, "Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"

He could just as easily be calling out our names today, giving us as much ‘say-so’ or clout to carry out His word. As a matter of fact, He already has and continues to do so as we read and speak. Maybe not as He did with His disciples over 2,000 years ago yet He still beckons us to do His work today.

The names may change or some may stay the same: there could still be the Johns and the Andrews, the Simon Peters and the Matthews, along with the Philips and the Thomases. Add to them the Lindas and the Lilis. The Brads and the Pauls. The Ritas and the Renes and Erics, Rolands and Amys. None are exactly fishermen or carpenters or tax collectors. Yet all are still called and sent to proclaim the Good News and ‘gather the lost sheep.’

No, they/we may not necessarily lay hands on and drive out the unclean spirits but through prayer and proclamation, they all may change lives and bring others to a new life in Christ. (That in itself may lead the unclean spirits to leave.) Just as the first disciples found themselves transformed in Christ, we as disciples today are renewed and transformed, too, committed to sharing our lives as Catholics, as believers.

Don’t let what we don’t know get in the way. The first apostles had little to begin with. For sure we are qualified—we have faith and we believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church and the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. Let’s get busy—The Kingdom of God is at hand.


Hosea 8:4-7

Thus says the LORD: They made kings in Israel, but not by my authority; they established princes, but without my approval. With their silver and gold they made idols for themselves, to their own destruction. Cast away your calf, O Samaria! My wrath is kindled against them; how long will they be unable to attain innocence in Israel?
The work of an artisan, no god at all, destined for the flames? Such is the calf of Samaria! When they sow the wind, they shall reap the whirlwind; the stalk of grain that forms no ear can yield no flour; even if it could, strangers would swallow it.

Currently, we give authority and ‘power’ to those in offices to do what is supposed to be for the good and best of all. And this is to be done within and with the spirit of the Lord’s blessing and approval, just as our country was founded on. The Constitution allows for it and states it. Yet on we/they go, building the golden calves and idols, insisting that we all heed them and ‘bow’ to them. As written in Hosea, if we were to do so, indeed we are all destined for the flames of hell.

The work of these ‘artisans’, crafty craftsmen of sorts at best, is sowing for us all the ‘winds’ of discontent and obvious lack of trust. What we shall reap are the tempests and storms—the tornadoes and hurricanes of God’s wrath—already on the horizon. What more will it take before we are led all to slaughter, literally and figuratively, for the sake of those who have no heart for the sanctity and quality of life?

Of course God is not pleased. How could He be? Those that look at the miracle of life and call it a choice do so at the risk of His punishment. We must live as He has called us to do, with faith and with love and respect for life, growing life not destroying it.


Matthew 9:18-26

While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward, knelt down before him, and said, "My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live."
Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples. A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. She said to herself, "If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured." Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, "Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you." And from that hour the woman was cured.
When Jesus arrived at the official's house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion, he said, "Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping." And they ridiculed him.
When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose. And news of this spread throughout all that land.

So the official has so much faith, he interrupts Jesus as He is speaking and kneels before Him and asks that He come and bring his dead daughter back to life. Imagine the faith-the depth of faith he had. So much that it stopped Jesus from what He was doing that He and His disciples went with him to see his daughter. Think of the man’s faith—my daughter lays dead and this man, this teacher, is coming to save her from the grips of death.

Along the way, a woman’s faith is also exhibited as she wants only to touch the tassel of Jesus’ cloak so that she would be healed of her bleeding. That’s all she wants to do and she knows she will be cured. How many of us would have such courage and faith today? She reached out and touched only what she believed she needed to touch and she was healed.

Jesus and the disciples arrive at the home of the official and the music is playing and folks are making ‘do’—a big ‘to do’, if you will. It seems they are bringing attention to themselves instead of recognizing the life of the young girl and the life she shared with her family. And not just her life but also the life of her family. Jesus dispenses with all the extra-curricular activities going about, having everyone ‘go away.’ And accordingly, this made Him the brunt of their ridicule and derision. They had little, if any, faith, especially compared to that of the official and the woman who touched His cloak.

Our faith we hope is closer to the believers than those of the nons. Yet there are those days we find our hopes shattered and dreams dashed and we are closer to having little, if any, faith of our own. Like the official, we need to have the faith to ‘interrupt’ Jesus and ask for Him to come to us when all is hopeless, even appears dead to us. Like the woman who touched His cloak, we need to have the courage to reach out for any touch of Him we can get that will help us from any point in our lives. As the touch cured her, as He raised the young girl from the dead, Jesus will come to us and raise and cure us as we believe and have faith in Him. And with that, look how the Good News will spread.




2 Corinthians 12:7-10

That I, Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness."
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Like Paul, before we get too happy about the way things are going in our lives, we often get a dose of reality that opens our minds up to a bit more clarity to the bigger picture around us. Though we may be enjoying the closeness of our faith, family and friendship, others close to us may be suffering through their own hardships and trials that we choose to ignore and stay only within our circle, our little neighborhood of hope.

If we do as Paul did and beg and pray for the thorn to leave us—so we don’t have to deal with it, so we don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t have to be held accountable for it—that will only cover our sins for the little while. The more of life we attempt on our own, we soon find out just how weak we are and how much weaker we are becoming as we rely less on God and more on what we think we can do on our own. Indeed, God’s power is made greater in us the weaker we become, the emptier we are of ourselves.

The emptier we are, the more of the power and love of Christ then will be able fill us and dwell within us. It is not that we want to be lazy and give in to our temptations and weaknesses; no, not at all. It is however, that we must know that Christ will be there with us as we are made aware of them just as He is with us through our trials and sorrows, our pains and suffering and our insults and persecutions. And just as we align our lives with His, throughout all His power and might, it is then that we are made strong through Him. His grace and power is enough. Let us pray then that we are emptied enough to hold all that He has for us.




God loves me? God is calling me?

Do you sense God calling you? At this moment as you read these words what is your relationship with God? There are so many ways God speaks to us in our world, and so many ways we ignore his promptings. You are reading this, is this a God moment for you? This morning you awakened to a new day, new life in a sense, for this is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad!

If I began every day with this in mind, with this prayer in heart and mind and soul, would this make me more aware of life, grateful for each opportunity to grow in holiness? Where am I in my relationship with the Lord?

In Matthew’s Gospel yesterday, Jesus’ called to Matthew the tax collector, ‘Come, follow me!’ That call echoes in our own minds and hearts doesn’t it? Jesus is speaking not only to Matthew but to each of us. Are you aware of the depth of his love for you? What response shall I make to the Lord?

Moment by moment God continues His work of creation. Moment by moment you are privileged to agree to take your part sharing in the building of the Kingdom. The kingdom of God is at hand. The work of bringing the Kingdom to its fullness continues with each breath we are given, and God has given us the freedom to be involved. Today spend some time in the silence, simply be aware of God present in your life, in you and see the wonder of His love for YOU!

Deacon

The last part of the meditation series... put into practice, meditation exercises can make a great difference in the way we accept, or not accept, the gift of free will and love from God.

Principle and Foundation (3 of 3)

The following is Part III of a three part meditation on the Principle and Foundation from the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius

The spiritual exercises provide a system to lead a person to spiritual freedom in which they then can then make decisions based on an ordered set of values rather than any disordered desire. The trust is toward action, not just reflection. Additionally, an inner balance results such that once fundamental values are determined; a person is not distracted or led astray by contrary temptations. This inner balance is what brings the freedom to choose rightly. Just as regular physical exercise conditions the body so do spiritual exercises condition the mind and soul. The foundation for the exercises is the core base which is an ordered set of values called the “First Principle and Foundation.” It provides guidance to answer “In what context, should I base decisions and actions?”

The following is the First Principle and Foundation. For Part III, just consider the underlined text for your meditation.

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.

And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.

From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.

For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only that which is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

Consider for meditation the principle of “indifference” and how this allows God’s direction.

Principle and Foundation (2 of 3)

[The following is Part II of a three part meditation on the Principle and Foundation from the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius]

The spiritual exercises provide a system to lead a person to spiritual freedom in which they then can then make decisions based on an ordered set of values rather than any disordered desire. The trust is toward action, not just reflection. Additionally, an inner balance results such that once fundamental values are determined; a person is not distracted or led astray by contrary temptations. This inner balance is what brings the freedom to choose rightly. Just as regular physical exercise conditions the body so do spiritual exercises condition the mind and soul. The foundation for the exercises is the core base which is an ordered set of values called the “First Principle and Foundation.” It provides guidance to answer “In what context, should I base decisions and actions?”

The following is the First Principle and Foundation.

For Part II, just consider the underlined text for your meditation.

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.

And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.

From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.

For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only that which is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

Consider for meditation the “other things on the face of the earth” and how a person uses (or not uses) created things to help one draw closer to God and thus facilitate the creative cooperation with God.


Adapted from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius



Offer It Up! Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Happy Birthday America!
Let Freedom Ring Out and On!

For the following three days, take a look at the Principles and Foundations of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. If you have a decent prayer life, this can be something you may want to add to it. And if your prayer life is already great, then another moment or two with meditation will only add to it. This and more practices like it can be found at silentinsight.com

Principle and Foundation (1 of 3)

The following is Part I of a three part meditation on the Principle and Foundation from the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius

The spiritual exercises provide a system to lead a person to spiritual freedom in which they then can then make decisions based on an ordered set of values rather than any disordered desire. The trust is toward action, not just reflection. Additionally, an inner balance results such that once fundamental values are determined; a person is not distracted or led astray by contrary temptations. This inner balance is what brings the freedom to choose rightly. Just as regular physical exercise conditions the body so do spiritual exercises condition the mind and soul. The foundation for the exercises is the core base which is an ordered set of values called the “First Principle and Foundation.” It provides guidance to answer “In what context, should I base decisions and actions?”

The following is the First Principle and Foundation.

For Part I, just consider the underlined text for your meditation.

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.

And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.

From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.

For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only that which is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

Consider for meditation the concept that we are created and continue to be created by God on a moment-to-moment basis through the circumstances of our daily life.


Adapted from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius



Offer It Up! Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ephesians 2:19-22

Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

As our faith journey takes us along the will of God (and not so much of our own), we often find ourselves in the midst of those ‘fellow citizens’, those who believe and think and live more like we do. That in itself is somewhat of a comforting thought, being with those whom you trust and see living as you live. Indeed, ‘members of the household of God’.

Not only would you be keeping pretty decent company with them but think about those that have gone on before you to get you where you are today. Think and pray of the Communion of Saints. The prophets, apostles and martyrs and saints who have put themselves where God had called them to be the foundation for what we have today. They believed and followed. They lived more a life of holiness. All of them together, serving as a core of what we have come to know today—that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Yes, He is the capstone, holding together all that we know and will come to know. Just as He built within those before us, He can and will build in us the fire of the Holy Spirit to carry forward what He has given us. Each of us a ‘dwelling place’, all of us a temple of God. As believers, as Catholics, as Christians, we cannot deny that. Every day we are invited to share in His banquet. Let us all come to the feast and share in His glory.



Offer It Up! Monday, July 2, 2012

Matthew 8:18-22

When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side. A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”

Of course we would follow Jesus wherever He asked us to follow. Just let us take care of the few things we normally have to tend to before we make these life-altering decisions.

If we are married, did we have any ‘if’ clauses or ‘but first’ assessments to make prior to proclaiming our eternal love for our spouses?

Before landing and starting that new job that you really needed and wanted, did you first tell the new boss ‘Hey, thanks for the great job—I’ll be back in three weeks after my vacation in Hawaii.’

When sharing emotions and deep feelings face to face with our best friends, do we put ourselves in their shoes or are we waiting for that first opportunity to tell them... ‘Well, this is what you ought to do.’

Jesus’ point was that He wanted the disciples to understand that to follow Him meant just that—not to be ‘lukewarm’ about it. And once that commitment was made, the time to care for family, for friends, for vocations and for all of life would be more easily attained. He wanted them as He wants us to put Him and keep Him first and foremost in the way they lived.

Maybe you’ve seen the t-shirts going around that make the sports statement: ‘Baseball/football/Basketball (take your pick) is life.

Everything else is just details. Putting Christ at the center of our lives, He will become our life. And He will also be in all the details. Just as He should be. And just as we should have Him be.



Offer It Up! Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mark 5:22-24, 35b-36, 38a, 40b-42

The president of the synagogue came up, named Jairus, and seeing Jesus, fell at his feet and begged him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her that she may be saved and may live.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.
Some people arrived from the house of the president of the synagogue to say, ‘Your daughter is dead; why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus overheard what they said and he said to the president of the synagogue, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’
So they came to the house, taking with him the child's father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At once they were overcome with astonishment.

The miracle of life is at the heart of the gospel, not the darkness of death that overtook the daughter of Jairus before Jesus could come to her. God created us for life; He did not create us for death. Nor did He create death—and the darkness surrounding it.

Yes, we are submitted to suffering and pain throughout our journeys. Yet it is in His infinite wisdom that we are called to trust Him for those things we cannot understand. Good or bad. Difficult or easy. Shared burden or going it alone. Regardless of the walk we are on, God has made us all in His image for His good and that of all the world.

When we are in that darkness—the death of sin, the pain of grief, the sorrow and misery of broken relationships—God is still at work in us and for us. His Love is everlasting and all-encompassing. Whether we see it or not, understand it or can’t get our heads around it, that Love covers us beyond our comprehension.

Do not be afraid. Just have faith.