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

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OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, AUGUST 31, 2013

Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one– to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’

Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’

Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’

His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’”

 

 

From Matthew’s gospel, we’re reminded not only of the popular parable of the distribution of talents, we are also reminded of the description of our last judgment—those who let their talents go to waste, not using them or following the use of them according to the will of God as they will be cast ‘into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth’.

 

A ‘talent’ was a huge amount of money in the ancient world. Imagine the value in having five of them—a veritable fortune in one’s hands. Even with two or one, there was responsibility on the part of the individual to do with them as they were supposed to do: use the gifts given to you. Even today’s meaning of the word ‘talent’ has its roots in this word, from this day and time in the gospel.

 

‘Well done, good and faithful servants’ as the first two reaped rewards with their talents, using them and turning them into even more, just as we are to do today. Then the third servant comes along and gives back only what he’s been given. On the surface, maybe not such a bad thing. Nothing ventured, nothing lost. Yet, that’s not how it was supposed to go, according to the master then, nor is it today, according to our faith.

 

As the first servants were given more because of what they gave back, the last was given nothing and thrown into the darkness because he did nothing with what he was given. He was fearful of what the master might do to him if he would have lost what he was given. So he buried—he hid away—what he was given, not wanting to risk losing or using what he had.

 

As the term was used for money back then and now refers to a gift or ability to day, we have all been blessed with certain talents, some with extraordinary abilities, some that are harder to come by. Regardless of where yours or ours or mine are, God has given us them to use, not to lose or hide away somewhere. As He has given them to us, we are to make use of them as best as we can to help others become the best they can become in their faith and service to Christ Jesus and the community of believers and those who are not there yet. Whatever gifts we have, whatever gifts we may soon realize or learn or improve, we are called to use them, actively and according to the will of God.




OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2

Brothers and sisters, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God–and as you are conducting yourselves– you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

 

Not only is Paul giving us his word on how to follow Jesus Christ, he reminds of the instructions we have through the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. There is holiness not just in the words but in the way he brings them to us; as much as he is filled with the Holy Spirit to share them with us, we too must be filled by the Holy Spirit to live such a holy and faith-filled life.

 

As Paul instructed the Thessalonians, the letters still hold their value and strength today: our integrity, our dedication, our spirituality all comes from a power greater than anything we can encompass or imagine in this world. It comes from beyond us in the auspices of the Holy Spirit as we submit to living a life dedicated to following Christ. That is how we stay centered on our faith. That is how we become even ‘smaller’ and He becomes ‘greater’.

 

Maybe you think being Catholic, being Christian today is not an ‘easy thing’ to be or do or a way of life to follow, if you will. Maybe your thinking is right on target. It was not easy for Jesus to lead us to this way of life yet He did so, so that we might have eternal life. That much is worth it, that much we should know, regardless of the obstacles and persecution we may face along the way. Oh, we may say we ‘get it’ and understand what the deal is some of the time but the truth is, we will never, ever, ever fully ‘get’ or understand the way of God. He’s God; we are not. He will continue to mold us so that we are more like Him but never Him.



OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, AUGUST 29, 2013

LUKE 13:6-9

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree.

And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”

How would you rate the way the year has been going for you so far? How would you rate it on a scale of 1-10? Business wise? Personally?  Faithfully and spiritually? Maybe you’re in the top area with 8-9 with one area and not so well in another. Maybe even closer to the bottom in some instances… poor health, poor relationships, a bit of grief here and there. How are things looking now?

 

What about things you may have done differently? Would you do something over again if given the chance? With only four months left, what would  you do differently? Would you say I love you more often? Would you slow down and smell the roses once in a while? Would you call instead of text? Would you go visit instead of call? Would you keep silent instead of criticize? Would you offer a hand up instead of putting someone down?

 

How about that prayer life and your communication with God or Jesus Christ? How is that working out for you this year? Is it like the fig tree—a bit barren? Perhaps waiting to bear fruit in another year or two with the proper ‘fertilizer’? Are you where you were last year? Are you standing next to a stake and it seems like the stake may have moved before you have? It might be that God hasn’t been as much in your life as He has in yours. If not, rest assured it’s not God that’s gone anywhere.

 

Look at the parable again.

"Listen," Jesus says. "A man has a fig tree and plants it in his orchard. Three years later he’s making his way up and down his vineyard, he is looking forward to the taste of a ripe fig but he sees that the fig tree still doesn’t have any fruit. He calls to his gardener, ‘Hey! Get over here. Why is this tree still here? It’s taking up soil and moisture and space. Cut it down, right now.’

 

What if you were the fig tree? What if the owner of the orchard was God the Father and He told the gardener—His Son, Jesus Christ—to ‘cut you down’ since you were not producing. Three years is plenty of time to show whether or not you’ve got something to give. You’re just taking up valuable air and space. Then the ‘gardener’ steps up and saves your bark—buying you some time to be cultivated and grow and produce what you should be producing. And He does so with His life. He gave His life so you, as some dead in the woods, non-bearing fig tree, wouldn’t end up as a stack of firewood in somebody’s backyard.

 

Jesus got it right, thankfully, for us all. What keeps Him from having us all turned back for not producing as we should? Given the gifts we have, we should be bearing more fruit, more grace, more faith. Jesus wants that for us; we should want it for ourselves. We should be putting ourselves in such a position to do just that: to return to Him the love and gifts He has shared with us, so much more than we deserve. May we all be trees of forgiveness and generosity, giving back the kindness Jesus has bestowed upon us.

Remember Saint Augustine.

Today we remember one of the great minds and holy men of the early Church, St. Augustine who I am sure benefitted greatly from the prayer of his Mother Saint Monica. I would encourage any person to read the Confessions of Saint Augustine. To enter into dialog with one who shared his spiritual journey so eloquently and honestly.

 

As we go through our own struggles in life, our times of unbelief, our times of doubt, times of joy, times of depression, times of fear, we are so in need of the counsel of those who have struggles and entered finally into a deep love affair with the God who is love.

 

Today, take a moment to sit quietly in prayer, and if possible learn something from the life of Augustine. In the age of technology, a few moments of searching on our thinking machines can yield some good thoughts and revealing insights on the saints who have gone before us.

Give yourself a gift of time with the Lord.

Be at peace.

Deacon

Many of us, the first thing we do as we wake is to offer a prayer of thanks for another day this side of the grass. And from there, our prayer lives extend some more with our minutes or half-hours or hours of dedicated communication with God. Not a bad plan or routine if one already has it going on; keep up the good work, good and faithful servants. As with many other facets of life, more prayer begets more prayer.

 

The challenge with the routine or practice of a steady prayer life is the dryness or desolation that sometimes comes along with it. The words and the faith goes up but the returning favor does not seem to come in such a timely fashion. We keep our prayers and life focused on what is important yet the results seem to fall on deaf ears as we struggle to maintain the depth we want to keep with our prayer life. And that’s when things are going pretty decently—imagine the grief when things are not so hunky-dorey!

 

So it was with St. Monica, the mother to St. Augustine. Not only did she continue to pray for his ‘conversion’ but she also was married to a pagan who had little if anything to do with the sanctity of life for her or for their son. Yet she would not waver in her trials or her dedication of her faith. For years she prayed and in return, some seventeen years later, not only did her son make a turnaround, so did her husband! How good is God!

 

What we say in our prayers and do with our prayer life does not go unnoticed, regardless of the dryness or desolation we may feel or experience. There is communication whether we hear it back from God or not. He loves us whether we feel it or not. He commands us to love whether we feel it or not. And just like our prayer life, what we practice we become, our love will soon become more of who we are as we share it with those we love.

 

None of this is possible without the cooperation of Christ in our lives. We don’t get that if we don’t cooperate with Him. As He wants the best for us, we should also give Him the best that we have to give Him, including the love and hope and faith that He has blessed us with.

Sixth graders from Notre Dame School were at daily mass as part of their retreat for the day. It is wonderful to see that they are given the opportunity to consider God in their lives at this young age, and to celebrate Eucharist, receiving Jesus in Holy Communion.

 

What is the impression on their young minds? We can't know for sure, but one day in some future moment, we may know the effectiveness of God's grace in their lives. A comment was made during the brief homily about putting away childish things, and also reference to Jesus' comment that the 'childlike' would be the inheritors of heaven. Not childish he pointed, out but 'childlike'.

 

The world in which we live feeds on the future of children. Businesses that long for profits to feed the coffers of their investors develop techniques in advertising that seek to lure the children into a world of consumerism. They are not satisfied with sufficient profit but look to the future with hungry ideas for bigger and more profitable days. It is the rare business that finds ways to profit sufficiently while insuring their workers are granted a living wage.

 

The world of strange gods as a result continues to grow. The wonder of creation, those fantastic things God has given too often become idols that supplant the image of the creator. What to do?

 

Turn to God in prayer individually and with family and friends. Imagine a world where God becomes the center of life, where everyone is longing for the peace only He can give and pray fervently for it.

As Catholics, can we imagine what the effect would be if Catholics, all of them turned to Our Lady of Fatima in response to her request and prayed for peace? Have no doubt as to the effect!

Do not be afraid! Pray, invite those close to you to pray with you...pray for your family, pray for your Church family, Pray for our Nation, Pray for the World.

Deacon


"Lord will only a  few  people be saved?"

This question from the gospel was posed to Jesus. I am sure it has been posed over and over again throughout the history of the Church. Likely it is in the thoughts of many who struggle with their spiritual lives today. It appears that many develop their own idea of salvation and cope with life in their own way.  In Catholic circles, one sometimes hears the words "Cafeteria Catholic", a reference for one who selects what they will observe and what they will ignore with regard to what the Church teaches in the ways of faith. 

 

Jesus clearly states in John's gospel who will be saved, it seems, in Chapter 6 on the bread of life. Those who accept Him as Son of God, who follow Him, He will acknowledge before His Father.  As Catholics and followers of Jesus, we are included in the body of Christ the Church. How can we follow Christ and not live according to the guidance of the Church He left us?  How can we express our Faith in Him and live according to our own plan of life that so often allows us to ignore the guidance of the Holy Spirit?  Perhaps we even fail to consider the Holy Spirit in our living. When Jesus speaks of the narrow gate, should we not reflect in prayer often and seek to know as best we can in faith, what that means? 

 

In the Eucharist we have the fantastic life of Jesus, fully present to us, calling us to transformation of life, to a deep, if not deeper, relationship with Him.  What can separate us from this opportunity? What in our journey of faith can or will keep us from being present each week? Present to a life more fully in tune and involved with this great banquet, this sacrifice? What is the golden calf in so many of our lives, where we choose to continue to revel and party as our covenant with God is once again violated?

 

Please God; hear our prayer for one another that we may grow in faith each day.

Deacon




 

Maybe in today’s time it may have gone something like this:

You won’t believe who we just saw! You just gotta come and see this guy! Like, he is the real deal!

And then after that, just like we would have done today… ‘Man, I don’t want to go see him. Besides, you know there ain’t nothing that’s any good from there!’

But your friend persists and you go and then you are forever different for having met whom you met.

 

Not to over-simplify the Gospel—unable as we are from these pages—yet how often do we subscribe to lesser options when given opportunities to greater ones, only to find out that there is so much goodness and faith in what that opportunity has for us?

 

As Jesus had already known Nathanael, He already knows us. He knows the moves we are to make, even as we have the gift of free will. Imagine the sense of humility that Nathanael must have felt as Jesus called out to him, ‘Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.’ Sure there would be wonderment and shock probably at first but then the humble heart kicks in and the selfless soul realizes that he is in the presence of God.

 

‘How do you know me?’ he asks.

Jesus tells him He saw him under the fig tree, before Philip called him. Long before Nathanael had a clue about Jesus, Jesus had Nathanael in His sights, up close and personal. He knew his path, his heart, his very soul as he came to know and believe in Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus knew him personally, yes even before He called him; Nathanael was on his way to knowing Jesus.

 

Maybe we should all be as Nathanael, letting our hearts and souls be open to knowing the Truth of Jesus Christ within us. Oh wait, we are like Nathanael… He does know us already, He does know our path, for He has seen us all under our own ‘fig trees’ and heard us all with our doubts and questions. May we all come to believe and live so that we too may see the heavens opened up and the angels of God ascending as we begin our eternal salvation.





St. Ignatius of Loyola offers this from his Spiritual Exercises, in the section entitled "Principle and Foundation":


"Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save their souls. The other things on the face of the earth are created for the human beings, to help them in the pursuit of the end for which they are created ... Consequently, on our part we ought not to seek health rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, a long life rather than a short one, and so on in all other matters. 

Rather, we ought to desire and choose only that which is more conducive to the end for which we are created."

 

Might it be than we live then with the end—our salvation—in mind? 

Imagine then what our eternity would be without that? 

Oh maybe on the other hand, no, let’s not.




Come to the Feast! Are we listening to the invitation to come to the King's banquet?

 

Today we celebrate as we remember the Queenship of Mary. Chosen by God from the beginning to be the Mother of Jesus, she now reigns as Queen of Heaven and Earth, given to us as our Mother. She is the model of discipleship. She is our intercessor with her Son pleading for us always.

 

Today, hopefully we can all find some quiet time to reflect on the wonder of all that has come to be. Some of us have been blessed with the time and opportunity to daily celebrate Eucharist. We have the fantastic privilege of being able to enter into communion with Jesus, to intercede for all our brothers and sisters who for some reason cannot exercise this privilege. We are not concerned with reasons, only love. We may with God's grace be witnesses to His boundless love and even without knowing, our response to Him may be a sign to another of His love and call to discipleship.

 

Let the light of love, shine on our path this day as we give honor to Mary our Mother in faith, as we meet one another on the way to glory.

Deacon

 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.



OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2013

Those who have preceded us in faith and have been canonized include Pius X whom we remember to day. Elected Pope in 1903, he was active in combating Modernism and renewing all things in Christ as his motto held.

‘Instaurare Omnia in Christo’, or "To restore all things in Christ."

He encouraged frequent Holy Communion and was known as the Pope of the Blessed Sacrament. He lowered the age of discretion from 12 to 7 to impress early on in children the wonder of Christ in Holy Communion. As always there were those who disagreed and had arguments as we do today about the effect of lowering the age of discretion. The argument was that parents would remove their children from religious education sooner.

 

Be that as it may, here we are. The challenge is to respond to God's call whatever the status of our life. We are to use the gifts that God has given us to Glorify God. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam—All to the greater glory of God. For us the challenge is placed before us when we have our children baptized. You will be the first teachers in the ways of faith.

 

Throughout life we are the witnesses to Christ’s presence in what we say and do. The home, the family, is at the heart and soul of the Church. All of us must reflect and respond to how we live so as to give witness to the presence of Jesus in all of life. It remains then for each to love God with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul and my neighbor as myself.

 

God pour forth you Holy Spirit into our hearts and grant us the courage to live in holiness of life always.

Deacon

 
 


OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, AUGUST 20, 2013

The saints who have preceded us on the journey of faith shine like stars in the history of the Church. As we remember the Abbot Saint Bernard today, Doctor of the Church, I can't help but wonder at how little we honor those stalwart men and women who have left us a model to emulate in their love for Christ, and their work of evangelization.

 

We become preoccupied with so many things that interfere with our opportunities to share the wonder of what God is doing in the common events of everyday life. How we need to stop at times and simply share the fantastic moments of His presence in seemingly uneventful moments of life. How blind we can be in our desire to accomplish so much and achieve success. In our good intentions we fill our lives with all sorts of activities, mostly with the best of intentions and hope for doing God's will, yet with so much distraction and placing our trust in the created things rather than the Creator.

 

In about 9 days, Real Men Pray the Rosary begins a 33 day Rosary challenge. Any men reading this, women also, why not join in the challenge to experience the effectiveness of praying the Rosary? Invite others to this challenge. Then perhaps we can share this experience of how it affects our own life of prayer and spirituality. Take a moment beginning today to engage someone in sharing the love of Jesus Christ.

Deacon

 


OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, AUGUST 19, 2013

And, come follow me!

These words in today's gospel are an invitation to love with all that we have. After telling the man to get rid of all that possesses him, when you are unencumbered then come follow me, that is what Jesus told him.

 

That invitation is for you and for me. Yet, the demands of life each day are still a priority for all of us. What is the pearl of great price? The treasure in the field? Is it that I just can't quite see the goal? Do those doubts creep in and keep me from seeing the light and being set aflame with the desire to come to life forever?

 

Like the man in today's gospel, doing what the law commands is a priority. So much so that I can get caught up in laws and procedures and lose sight of the God of love and mercy. Our God who is longing to embrace all His children, especially those who have wandered into a wasteland and are often oblivious to His deep love.

 

Yet so very often one can see the goodness and love that is present in those who it seems are carving their own journey. Can I walk a mile in their shoes? If I could, what would be the result? It is so easy for the righteous to be overcome by pride. Walking with the Lord requires that we learn the lesson of mercy. The struggles of our brothers and sisters in all circumstances are seen in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord who took all humanity to the cross, restored life on the first Easter. Now all the baptized are called to announce His salvation, all the baptized are called to discover what following Him entails, all of the baptized are called to love and witness.

 

In our Catholic faith we have the fullness of all that Jesus left the Church He founded on the Apostles. Sadly, we are too often hesitant to celebrate fully the wonder of God with us, too hesitant to reach out the hand of welcome to those in darkness, too hesitant to keep the light of faith burning brightly.

The enemy of our faith constantly urges us to be quiet. Don't annoy others with your beliefs! We must keep Jesus’ command before us: Go out to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 

Saint Paul gave us the example go out evangelize; be ready to give away all that gets in the way of following Jesus the Christ.

 

AMDG

 

Deacon

 


OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, AUGUST 17, 2013

Matthew 19:13-15

Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

 

It seems that the families had it right, not only bringing Mom and Dad along but the children too. They knew what Jesus had to give them and what it was they wanted their children to have some of it as well. Exactly what the ‘it’ was, maybe they were unsure of that but that did not keep them from coming forward.


Jesus would have none of what His disciples thought He needed, as they were keeping the children away from Him. ‘Let the children come to me’, and one would gather children of all ages would fit that category. All that are open to His teaching, open to learning and ready to accept the message He proclaims. Those are the children who will come to Jesus.


Two things: as disciples, are we getting in the way of having the Word proclaimed, to the children, to any that will hear the gospel? And the other: are we learning from those who, as children, have heard the Good News and are living it for us?




OFFER IT UP!     FRIDAY, AUGUST, 16, 2013

Lord, teach me to be generous;
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil, and not to seek for rest;
To labor, and not to ask for reward -
except to know that I am doing your will.
St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for difficult times, because they give you the opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary, because it means you made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they become your blessings.



OFFER IT UP!     THURSDAY, AUGUST 15, 2013

Luke 1:46-55

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”

 

Who among us today would do the same as Mary did then? Can we or would we commit ourselves to ‘proclaiming His greatness’ by giving our lives over to Him as Mary did? Our calling would almost certainly not be as Mary’s—almost certainly because all is possible with God—yet would we respond with such rejoicing as did Mary? Though we may not be so ‘blessed’ or even ‘full of grace’ as she, we are still in a state of grace to live and accept what God has for us.

 

What great things has He done for us? For our families? For our friends? For our nations and the world? We are humbled by the vastness of His power and the wonder of His might. Whatever it is we think we have accomplished, none of it would have been done  were it not for the grace of God for making us who we are. As great and complicated as it might seem, it really is that simple: without God, nothing. With God, everything.

 

 
 


OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST, 14, 2013

Wisdom 3:19

The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For if to others, indeed, they seem punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.

As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their judgment they shall shine and dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the LORD shall be their King forever.

Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with the elect.

Often read at funeral liturgies, this beautiful passage from Wisdom may also reflect on the lives we see in others, if not ourselves. How often has it come about to us, in full-blown 1080 HDMI, 3-D, 80-inch screen with theatre sound, our afflictions we thought were too much to bear? Even from the perspective of others, they may have given up on us for dead—not so much in the literal sense but certainly in how we were suffering. What have they done to deserve such a cross to bear? Will God ever have mercy on them? How long, O Lord, how long?

 

Though whatever the cross might be, most of the time ‘utter destruction’ it is not. And beyond that for many, their crosses are not the burdens that they may seem to others. For sure there is grief, sorrow or pain or all of the above associated with them yet there is also the peace they know that comes from the hope within for the blessings in that ‘God tried them and found them worthy of himself.’

 

He is doing that every day and in every way for us all as we give our lives over to Him, purifying us as the gold is proven in the furnace. As we continue to trust in the plan God has for us, as we continue to search more for the Truth within that plan and as we make ourselves available to receive His mercy and grace, we will find greater comfort with our faith, our hope and our love. Greater than anything the world may weigh us down with, God’s love will be infinitely ours.

 


OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, AUGUST 13, 2013

I feel as though we are hurtling through time at warp speed. The daily readings in Scripture I have heard so many times in 7 decades, and yet, seem to be heard anew.

 

My world has been changing so rapidly I sometimes feel adrift and lost in the confusion of "progress". I sometimes long for a day long past when life seemed more measured, time passed at a pace that was more comfortable. It seems in looking back there was time to just relax and be… and now it seems that everything has to be done now, that we need more to the technological gimmicks to make life easier, or perhaps we might better say faster. Was it as hectic in Jesus’ sojourn on this planet, among those early disciples?

 

I am trying to imagine Him speaking to the disciples this morning, holding a child in His arms and telling them that the Kingdom belongs to such as these. We are so conscious today of children and we do all we can to protect them. Was it so in His Middle East culture of two millennia ago? What are we to make of His teaching today? Become like this child!

 

Then He goes on to the parable of the Shepherd. Can you really see yourself leaving a flock of sheep unattended as you go in search of one who is lost? As we reflect on His words to the disciples and to us (and we are not shepherds) we perhaps can expand our thoughts and let God's love speak to our hearts and minds.

 

Love for each ONE so great that we can say—How much does God love us? Enough to leave the 99 and go after the one?

How much does God love you enough to take your place (the sinner) and die a horrible death on a cross? Arms outstretched, nails in hands and feet, a crown of thorns piercing his head, marred, scarred from head to foot due to a horrible beating at the scourging...

 

Love. That ‘Love’ needs to be recognized by each of us in faith, love that transforms, that demands from each of us a response.

Jesus Christ, bridegroom of the Church, that body of believers of which we are a part. Loved beyond our ability to even begin to comprehend. It calls us to relationship, it calls us to recognize the dignity God intended for every human being, a dignity reflected in the image of our creator God.

 

Come let us sing to the Lord, and shout with Joy to the God who saves us! Alleluia.

Deacon

 


OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, AUGUST 12, 2013


Grant me, O Lord,

To know what I ought to know,


To love what I ought to love,


To praise what delights Thee most,


To value what is precious in Thy sight,


To hate what is offensive to Thee.



Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight of my eyes,


Nor to pass sentence according to the hearing

Of the ears of ignorant men;


But to discern with a true judgment

Between things visible and spiritual,


And above all,

Always to inquire what is the good pleasure of Thy will.


Amen.

 

Thomas a Kempis





OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, AUGUST 11, 2013

Luke 12:32-48

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. 

Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.

Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.  And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. 

Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”  And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 

That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

 

An inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach.

What do we have to worry about then here on earth if we put our efforts more in faith and trust in what God has for us? No, this does not mean we throw babies out with the bathwater and not do anything to keep ourselves safe and live in peace as He would have us live. Far from it.


The gospel goes on to say that we should in fact ‘gird our loins’, ‘light our lamps’, and be prepared to open the door for the master upon his return. In this humble opinion, that means to put our lives in order—spiritually, faithfully, in families, in friendships, in our vocations and our ministries and even in our treasures here on earth. Indeed, we must be vigilant—not to a worrisome state but one that keeps us faithful and ready for His return.


Peter might have had some concern as to who among them ‘needed to be prepared.’ Jesus responded that as a servant, we must all be accountable to our master and his will for us. However much we have or however little we have been given, we are all called to be ready when the Master comes.




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, AUGUST 10, 2013

Matthew 16:24-28

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 each according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”


Quite the challenge indeed but for some of us, we may have the tendency to ‘shop’ around or pick and choose what we find comfortable for us. We might take two of the three, for instance-maybe deny ourselves a little bit and follow Christ but choose not to take up our crosses as we should. Hhmm. Not sure about the outcome of something like that…


It is quite clear that we are to do as prescribed just as Jesus prescribed: deny ourselves, and take up those crosses and follow Him. That is how we come to be smaller in our path to holiness and greater in our spirituality and faith. Less of us, more of Him and others. Many priests, clergy, holy and wise people understand this—like ain’t about us. The sooner we put ourselves in that position to learn more and gain eternal life, the better off we will be.




OFFER IT UP!     THURSDAY, AUGUST 8, 2013

Luke 9:57-62

As they were going along the road, a man said to Him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But he said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

 

Follow Him wherever He would go, even if it meant that there was no place to rest or sleep.

Follow Him even if it would mean to leave behind the burying of the patriarch of your family, one’s father, so that the kingdom of God could be proclaimed.

Follow Him wherever He would lead as you do so without the benefit (?) of saying goodbye to those you love at home.

 

Remember, He said it would be worthy, not necessarily easy. Sacrifices are necessary to attain those things God calls us to be for Him. Just as Jesus had to sacrifice for us so too must our sacrifice be great to follow Him and proclaim the greatness of His kingdom.

 

We don’t know who or how many came to follow Christ as He spoke to them that day. We do know we have our own opportunity to not only make our paths narrower and to bring others to Him today by the way we choose to follow Jesus Christ right now. So whether there is a place to lay your head, or how we choose to grieve the passing of family or how we share our goodbyes with family and friends, let the commitment and sacrifice be real and trust in the plans God has made as we follow Him.

 


OFFER IT UP!      WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7, 2013

The scout party that Moses sent came back with the news they wanted him to hear, as good or as bad as it might have been. They were even making the native a bit more restless with their accounts of giants, so big they would appear as ‘grasshoppers’ compared to them. Caleb had the sense to at least have a plan to make things better than what they were experiencing yet to little avail. The Israelites were destined to have their pity and the Lord was to see them to it.

 

Small wonder for us then at those times when we wail about and complain of those things small and great that go against our will.

Lord, I want this.

Lord, we need that.

Lord, we pray for rain and how about now?

Compared to the crowd that Moses was leading, right now where we are does not seem too bad a deal. (Well, it is a bit hot and dry, Lord and we do offer up our prayers for Your will for rain. Yet we do know it can be way hotter and drier elsewhere…)

 

And that is it—God’s will, not our own. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies as we stack up our wants and ways versus those that God has laid out there before us. Jesus prayed for another option yet took what His Father had for Him, for us, for our salvation. We pray for another option and when it doesn’t happen, make our own. Another small wonder God doesn’t smite us… or has He?

 

We don’t know and won’t know in this world. All we can do is trust in our prayer and faith. As the Caananite woman did who called out for Jesus to heal her daughter. Her love and faith was made clear in her steadfast spirit. Ours too can be lived in the same way.

 


OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, AUGUST 6, 2013

2 Peter 1:16-19

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’* We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

 

‘Eyewitnesses of His majesty.’

Peter was there to see the Transfiguration so there was no need to cleverly devise some myth of ‘power and coming’ of Jesus Christ. He heard God say about His Son—‘My Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ To see or hear either of the things he experienced would have been enough to seal the deal for any of us, let alone those already on the path to sainthood like the early disciples. Yet there they were; Peter, James and John, witnesses to the glory of Jesus Christ in His Transfiguration. And the voice from the cloud that terrified them—who could blame them really?

 

As noted in Peter’s epistle, ‘You will do well to be attentive to this’. We would all do ourselves much better to be attentive more to the things less of the earth and more of the things heavenly and scripturally. Whatever we find ourselves doing or being, our witness should be made of those things holy and pleasing to God. Not that we may ever experience any ‘transfigurative’ moments as did the disciples but we will certainly experience transformation to a more Christ-like life.*

 


OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, AUGUST 5, 2013

The Israelites grumbled loudly about the manna that they were finding a poor substitute for the food they enjoyed in Egypt. Just as we are often capable of doing, they forgot the slavery and drudgery of working in the mud pits, in gathering straw for brick making, and were remembering the food they now longed for. They forgot what God had done at the Red Sea; they forgot how he cared for them on their trek toward the Promised Land.

 

This can sound so familiar if we reflect on our spiritual journey of faith now. How often do we find reason to complain at least inwardly and silently? Do we understand and remember all that the Lord has done for us? What does it mean to be baptized into Christ? What do I really understand about the Resurrection? Is Christ really the center of my life as I come to the realization that he has given me life? Am I clear that on the cross I died with Christ, in baptism, and now my life is reborn in Him? He comes to me as the Bread of Life, the manna that is the source of strength and grace to live in discipleship. Despite all this, I so often am capable of doubt and sin.

 

The wonders of the universe, all God's creation are there to sustain faith, hope, and love. One reflects to wonder of God who loves me, who loves each person beyond their ability to begin to comprehend. In my ‘unloveliness’, I too often forget the wonder of that love, too often make my desires the center of life. As I begin a new day, once again I dedicate my every action in hope that I will fulfill the will of Our Father.

 

May the Lord, pour forth the grace to enable seeing his presence in every situation, His image in every person.

Deacon

 
 


OFFER IT UP!     SATURDAY, AUGUST, 3, 2013

Ephesians 4:17-24

So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart, they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess. That is not how you learned Christ assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.

 

Practice makes perfect? Not exactly.

Practice will make permanent more than it will make perfect as we continue to carry out those things we want to change—make better—in our lives.

 

Think about it. Anything you want to do differently than the way you are doing it now has to start with a willingness to make that change. A commitment to…

A healthier lifestyle.

More (better) communication with family or friends.

Less time at work, more time away from it.

A more prayerful, spiritual path.

 

Any or all of these we have at one time addressed or may still be focusing on as we put ourselves in a better way of living. Oh there may be the stumbling blocks along the way and the occasional slip up that changes the path. But with confidence and clarity and vision—all focused on a life in Christ—one can resume the lifestyle commitment and trust that their efforts will be rewarded as they continue in faith.

 

The first few days may or may not bring too many positive results but the more you ‘practice’ the more it becomes ‘permanent’. That twenty minutes you dedicated to your change may become forty. That once a day will turn into twice. Two times a week will be a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. Before you know it, a month will be gone and so will that ‘old self’ as the permanency of your practice has become a way of life.

 

That’s the path God has for you with Him. A path of holiness that will lead to salvation. We get there by practicing His will for us the way He would have us live, not the way we would live it ourselves. Whatever your change needs to be, however big or small, mercy or forgiveness, love or grace, let it begin today.

Matthew 13:54-58

Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.

 

How many times have we looked with some amount of displeasure or disdain on someone who may have a bit more sense or sensibilities than we carry around? We know the types: those ‘learned’ folks with so much common sense oozing from them one can’t help but wonder—even aloud—why it is they have so much and we, by golly, have so little.

 

Could be that’s what was buzzing around the heads of those who were so incensed with Jesus’ teachings. Could be that they felt they were the ones who were supposed to know what to teach so that others could learn from them… the ones who had it ‘all knowed up’. This Jesus? Who was he but the son of a carpenter? What possibly can we learn from him? But there they were, asking ‘Where did this man get all this?’

 

God sent His Son to share the News, the Good News of salvation. In so doing, He would also use any means necessary to see that message carried out. Up to and including the death of His Son. To that end, Jesus would proclaim the message in His words and in His deeds. There were those that would ‘hear’ and ‘see’ His message. Others, as in this particular group, would have a more difficult time understanding Him. Maybe we could say the same about the way we see and hear His message today; God will use anyone to deliver the Good News. We must be open and ready to accept it as He sends them to us, wherever we are.

Looking at the news today, it’s easy to see or hear about people making ‘mistakes’ in their lives. From professional sports figures to politicians to actors and actresses, someone is coming out with some sort of ‘repentable’ statement for a mistake or a misjudgment they made. Some rebound. Some tend to fade away.

 

Maybe we’ve had moments in our lives when we’ve made such obvious mistakes that we wonder how we would ever recover from them. They might be professional or personal yet either way they leave a mark that lasts for quite some time, if not one that is indelibly dulled or stained our ego, our pride and maybe even our faith.

 

St. Alphonsus Ligouri had his own blunder to rebound from. Long before he began his ‘saintly’ path, or before he knew it was his saintly path anyway, he was quite the decent lawyer. Yet even decent lawyers don’t always get their summations just right. Ligouri overlooked some documentation in an very public and important case he was defending and the opponent seized the opportunity to have the case go in his favor, effectively bringing to an end Ligouri’s career as an attorney. And as that ended, so began the next step on his path to true holiness.

 

 St. Alphonsus went on to become the founder of the Redemptorists, a male, Catholic missionary congregation of priests and brothers, now some 5000 members strong. Their motto: "Copiosa ApudEumRedemptio" means: "With Him there is Plentiful Redemption".  He is also a doctor of the Church, especially renowned for his moral theology, learned from his life as a missionary and theologian. This second life began from a blunder in a courtroom, as many might think or consider cause for hopelessness and grief… and rightfully so.

 

Even if we are to have our blunders, to be persecuted, t0 make the poor judgments—all of our own doing or negligence—saints like St. Alphonsus reflect a life of hope and faith. Let us pray that we may overcome our own obstacles and find the grace and mercy to follow the path that God has laid out before us.