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

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Offer It Up! January 31, 2012

Each day we are offered by the Church a serving from Scripture to nourish our spirits. Today we have a sandwich from Mark's Gospel to stimulate our exercise of faith. The synagogue official comes to Jesus fully believing that his daughter will be healed. As Mark recounts this story he interrupts the story to reveal the woman healed of a hemorrhage because of her deep faith. Simply by touching Jesus' garment and acknowledging she touched Him, she is healed of a long suffered illness. The story of Jairus' daughter is then completed as Jesus restores her to life.

Faith is the issue in both instances. Faith leads us to deeper understanding of who Jesus really is and into deeper relationship with Him. Faith not only brings healing of physical illnesses, but courage and strength to live daily making choices that open before us the path to holiness and to divine life.

Today we also are reminded again our humanity as we follow David's life in the Old Testament. David chosen by God. David fully human and capable of sinning boldly and repenting sincerely.

Today we can perhaps sit quietly and mourn with David over Absalom and see in our own lives how we are to react to life and to even those who make themselves our enemies. Though Absalom was David's son there is no doubt he was seeking to become King. Can we show the same love David shows in the face of enmity and even danger of life? Can we come before God with the honesty of a King David and acknowledge our sinfulness and cast ourselves onto the mercy of our loving God?

Spend time today in the presence of Jesus and seek clarity of vision of self. May we receive the grace we need to advance in holiness of our lives.


Offer It Up! January 30, 2012

Mark 5:11-13

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.And they pleaded with him, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.” And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned.

Have you ever had a headache and wanted to take something for it but never got around to it and then finally realized the headache was gone? Maybe it wasn't a headache but some sort of other ache you may have had that was equally burdening you. Something physcially. Something emotionally. Something even spiritually. Whatever it was that was bringing you heartache or body ache, or both, was gone.

Sometimes when we find ourselves holding onto things, things like pain, anxiety, or even sorrow, they manifest themselves more than they would if we were to, as the saying goes, offer them up. The simple headache could turn to migraine proportions. A little stress in the shoulders turns into a pinched nerve. An upset stomach turns itself inside out and an ulcer develops.

All of these things could be a result from not letting ourselves be guided by our God who loves and cares for us. As Satan manifests himself in so many ways in our lives in temptation and sin, so do the pains of our lives happen when we have those tendencies to control what we cannot. When we latch on to what we should give to God. And when we fail to trust and have faith as He has so often called us to do.

Legion obviously had his hands full with all the demons burdening him. Thousands of them. Jesus took care of them by running them into a herd of pigs. We should be so fortunate to have our own demons done the same way. Yet we can; maybe not from having them charged into the swine but from recognizing Jesus as Legion did and putting ourselves at the mercy and love of Jesus Christ. Who knows? Maybe those that know us will be as amazed today as they were then.

Offer It Up! January 29, 2012

1 Corinthians 7:35

I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

‘Let me give you a bit of advice.’

‘I’ll tell you what you should be doing…’

‘This is how you ought to do that…’

If you are like me and maybe so many other people, about the time you hear those types of admonitions, the mind pretty much goes into shutdown mode. Friend or family, co-worker or employer, the words carry with them a certain sting of rebuke as if to say whatever it was or is we were doing, we are incapable of handling.

Jesus’ gives us His guidance, not so much as advice but direction, instruction but not an opinion. And He does so more for our freedom than He does to’ impose a restraint’ on us. For without His leading us on His path, where would our sense of respectability, our ‘propriety’ be?

Though spoken in a few words here, His message is throughout scripture: we are to be faithful to His commandments, be obedient to what He has taught us and to live as He did. But how do we do it without distraction? Not such an easy task some times. Matthew 5:48 even tells us: ‘So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ We may never get to that point in this world but for all of our efforts to do so and be so, we may live perfectly with Him in our eternal glory.

Offer It Up! January 28, 2012

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: "Let us cross to the other side."

Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"
He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!"
The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?"
They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"

Do you think that Jesus may have had in mind what was going to happen as they crossed the sea? Well, yeah, one would have to imagine since Jesus is Who Jesus is.

Mark’s gospel says that ‘they took Jesus just as he was’, maybe to indicate that after the long day, he may have been tired and a bit worn out. He also said that the other boats were with them but there is no mention of them as the storm broke and the waves came on to fill the disciple’s boat. Yet there Jesus was asleep as the boat was being tossed about and the disciples were clamoring for safety.

It had to be in desperation that they woke him, maybe because whatever it was they were doing was getting them nowhere fast as they were taking on more water than they could bail out. What was he going to do that they had not already done?

Once they gave up what little control they had of the situation, he showed them what he could do.

Not only did he take the wind to task but one might think he did the same with the disciples. Where was their faith? Why would they be afraid—even to the point of thinking he didn’t care of their impending doom—when he was with them all the while?

As they asked who is it that even the wind and sea obey, they were becoming more aware of the faith they should have in Jesus Christ. So should we when we are bailing our own selves out of the storms we sail into. Our thoughts should not be about how big the storm is; our single thought should be about how big our God is.

Offer It Up! January 27, 2012

Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds: "This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come."
He said, "To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."

With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

There is enough we do not understand about our lives, our faith, our God. And granted, there are those things we do grasp and know and believe. Together, that gives us the smattering of wisdom to carry on with the calling God has called for us to live. And if it is that way for us today, with all we have at our disposal for information and learning, how must it have been for those with Jesus as He was speaking directly to them? Mustard seeds? Moving mountains? Bushel baskets?

We can theorize, theologize, or even ‘theor-ologize’ all we want as we try to make the Word of God fit what box we want to put it in. But that is not how it is to work. God’s Word is not meant for a box, one that it is neatly explained and wrapped up in. It is meant for us to live and understand as God sees for us as we live for Him. He sent His Son so that we might get some idea of what we could do to better understand and with Jesus Christ, we get the parables.

Maybe you’ve heard some people ask how do we know if God exists. How do we know if He hears our prayers? Not to over simplify their questions or even the answer or concerns, but putting it this way may help: if you go inside a building without any windows, preventing one from seeing outside, does that mean the sun has quit shining? Does that mean the world has gone away—all existence? Not hardly. Even should the sun find itself behind the clouds, it still shines. So it is with God. Invoked or not, He is always present. So it should be with our faith and trust in Him.

Offer It Up! January 26, 2012

2 Timothy 6-8

For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.

The reason is the sincere faith that lives in him as lived in his heritage. The gift with much the same flame that God gave him we have also been given to stir up in ourselves and in others. For much the same reason as was explained to Timothy, we can explain to others.

It has been handed down to us not with a ‘spirit of cowardice’ and we should not pass it on any other way but with our own sense of ‘power and self-control’. A power and control not of our own but all through the love and grace given to us from our faith in Christ Jesus, just as was imposed upon the first of the disciples. Ours comes to us from our baptism and is restored to us every day through prayer life and scripture and sacraments.

Hardships, yes. Easy way outs, of course. Even some moments if not times of occasional denial, oh my soul. But our single-focus, Christ-centered, solitary mission remains the same: our testimony to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Oh yeah, we are prisoners for His sake indeed. And that is where the growth and development of our faith and dedication to Him springs—His empowerment of our will when we choose to do His will for us and others. There is no shame in that life.

Offer It Up! January 25, 2012

Acts 26:16b-18

I have appeared to you to designate you as my servant and as a witness to what you have seen of me and what you will see of me. I have delivered you from this people and from the nations, to open the eyes of those to whom I am sending you, to turn them from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God; that through their faith in me they may obtain the forgiveness of their sins and a portion among God’s people.

So He tells them then and He is telling us now what to expect of His Word. As the disciples were witnesses to His miracles of healing and raising the dead, it was more than what they saw that made them followers of Jesus Christ. It was their faith in what He was telling them. It was His message of Light over dark.

How do we find ourselves today in similar situations? How is it that we place our own callings ahead of what we have been spiritually called to do? Reading from Acts, ‘have delivered you from this people and from the nations’—could be understood that we have been delivered from our own selfish ways. ‘To those to whom I am sending you’—why would it not be ourselves who would first need to change from the darkness of our ways to see His Light?

Paul was delivered from his darkness and was blinded by the Light of Christ. He heard clearly the message of Jesus Christ that changed his life from dark to light. Maybe we won’t need to be knocked down literally or even figuratively. It may be that we won’t even need to be blinded by His light for us to change our ways. One thing is for sure… that to further obtain the forgiveness of our sins, we must continue to turn from the dark and keep to the light. That is where we stay among His people and they among us.

Offer It Up! January 24, 2012

Today we remember a past bishop of the Church and a saint who provided many with Spiritual guidance. Saint Francis de Sales was known for his spiritual advice to those who lived "in the world". The distinction being that so much spiritual guidance had been developed for religious, those dedicated to religious life.

Francis de Sales is still popular today and his works are available to those who seek to develop their spiritual way of life. Especially since we now have such marvelous advances in technology we have available to us the writings, the lives, the guidance of many who have gone before us in fire with love for Christ.

Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales can be obtained through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and any number of sites that offer Catholic books for sale. It can even be found online—free! These classic works can be a source for study for all of us. Wouldn't it be great to come together with other like minded spiritual friends, brothers and sisters in faith to explore the ways grace?

We have in our community of Sacred Heart various avenues to impel us, gives us a jump start to exercising our spiritual muscles and turning our lives toward God. One could start with Christ Renews His Parish, and let that experience move into a fuller life of Christian exploration. Beyond that to be part of Why Catholic? to meet with a group of fellow Catholics and really come to a fuller, deeper understanding of this Faith we profess and live.

The Memorial of a man of Faith like Saint Francis de Sales is intended to lead us deeper into prayer as we thank God for the gift of this man's life and faith. He is part of our Church family history and it is well for us to know our family history. Why not begin with getting to know more about Francis and others, about how the Church developed over the centuries, how the Church molded Western civilization over the last 2000 years.

We are being called through the Church by God Himself to a time of New Evangelization. It is a time for repentance, which is turning to God and proclaiming the Gospel and the Culture of Life. Each of us has gifts, talents, personality, all given by the creator whom we call Father. All that is given is to be used to live full lives, co-creating with God a world that reflects God's reign, God's kingdom.

Perhaps in our midst is another Francis de Sales for our time, and when we discover such, will we listen to the voice of God coming in and through His servant(s)?

Francis de Sales' spiritual advice was tailored to the lives of people like you dear reader. People with busy lives who wanted to live Holy lives. We all need help at times to discover if we are on a path that is right for us. We need to find our way of prayer and being open to God's presence always. How about a few minutes today, or whenever you read this to investigate and learn from Francis de Sales.

Really when we have a moment when we discover something in print, or hear a message that alerts us, a song that touches us and brings tears of joy or sorrow, stop..God is is the time to pause and say “Speak, Lord..your servant is listening.”


Offer It Up! January 23, 2012

On the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, the church in the United States has designated today as a day of penance and prayer.

We are all being called to repent, even if we are not directly involved with abortions. These are “violations to the dig­nity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.” and impact us all. As we do offer our penance, we are called to pray and pray for the “the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.”

We all have a right to life and a right to prayer.

As we began the Third week of Ordinary Time, the first reading on Sunday was from Jonah. It would be a good exercise for us to take a few minutes to read this short story in its entirety. I would encourage those visiting us here to take your bible and read those 3 short chapters of the book of Jonah.

Read with the author of this story and look for the message, the meaning behind the narrative. Let your mind take you on the freighter with Jonah, running from God in the opposite direction of Nineveh, heading West when Nineveh is East.

Be Jonah, recognizing moments in your walk or faith when you fled or were tempted to flee from God's call. How we ignore acting or speaking out in difficult moments. Often God is calling us to action and we flee for inaction.

Some of us have become experts at avoiding God. We give Him one hour on Sunday and it better not spill over into our time for other activities or… or… we just might leave early or something. Some of us become philosophical and develop arguments and discussions that force God to prove He exists. We blame our disinterest or skepticism on teachers or parents or any others whom we may even call hypocrites.

Instead, we could and should spend more time reflecting on the Jonah moments in our lives and how all of us are in need of repentance, listening and turning to God as the Ninevites did when Jonah finally obeyed and preached to them.

It would also bode well for us to avoid Jonah's narrow theology. And see in this story the wonder of God's mercy, the wideness and universality of his love and mercy that expresses His desire that all men and women be saved. Focus on what the author of the story of Jonah is telling about God—may our time of reflection gain for all the grace to live freely in God's love, allowing His mercy to be seen in all our endeavors.


Offer It Up! January 22, 2012

Jonah 3:10

When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.

Start spreading the news…

Though initially somewhat reluctant, Jonah eventually got pretty excited about getting the word out to the city of Nineveh. God had given him some pretty specific instructions and now he had to get through the city to tell the people the news. Not exactly Frank Sinatra and New York, New York, but Jonah got his message across: repent or suffer the consequences.

As it was for the Ninevites, repenting is more than remorse for the sins of our lives. Repenting is also changing the way we put things together in our lives: our way of thinking, our attitudes, our choices—our hearts and minds and souls. Yes, there is all that involved. And in return, we get God’s grace. So much so that we get all the good He has for us, according to His will and how we follow it.

It will take sacrifice, as Jesus did. It will take suffering, as Jesus did. It will take being rejected, as Jesus was. It will take everything we have to give, as Jesus gave. In the end, it will be worth it just as He promised us it would be.

The fishermen dropped what they were doing to follow Him, to hear His message, His Good News. What are we going to give up to do the same?

This weekend is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade decision. You can make a difference now. Support life at every stage. Pray for the sanctity and quality and protection of life.

Jeremiah 1:5

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you

Offer It Up! January 21, 2012

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Praised be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all consolation! He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation we have received from him. As we have shared much in the sufferings of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in his consolation.

No matter, He will always love us. Yet how many times do we put ourselves in positions where we forget that? How often do we renege on that promise that He made to us… if that were even possible to back out on a promise someone made to us.Humphf. We do.

We choose to go the other way. We choose to pull the covers over our heads and holler out for demons to go away, cursing the darkness, without so much as a thought about prayer or petition. Living or existing really, in the ways of the world instead of the mercy of His ‘abundant consolation.’ Oh let us suffer and wallow in misery. We deserve it, and so we might. Though the current that flows against us is not one we should drown in when the hand to save us is so close, so near, so here.

Afflictions, troubles, sins, pains, trials. They don’t go away until we do something about them. Like an infection you get with a cut, the sooner you treat with something, the sooner it heals and goes away. What makes us think our spiritual wounds, our emotional maladies are any different? Jesus has told us that He has come for those who are in need, not for those who are intact. Hence, our ‘issues’ or ‘concerns’ as some of us may call them—and there are even sins that we may have to deal with besides these—need to be addressed.

There is comfort in prayer and in His consolation. Some are profoundly encouraged by this. Others need more time with it. Wherever you find yourself, know that it is for the abundance of His glory. There is no limit to His mercy. There is no limit to the power of His Love. There is no limit to the comfort He gives us all when we come to Him. Let there be no limit in your love of Him.

Offer It Up! January 20, 2012

The Resurrection Prayer:
I am the resurrection and the Life, Saith the Lord: He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.

I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though his body be destroyed, yet shall I see GOD: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger.

We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

I’m Free
Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free
I’m following the path God laid for me.
I took his hand when I heard him call
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day.
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I found that peace at close of day.
If my parting has left a void,

Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
Ah yes, these things I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
I wish you sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full, I’ve savored much,
Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief;
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts and share with me,
God wanted me now;
He set me free.

Offer It Up! January 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Jacob!

Ephesians 3:30

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.

We really ought to post a sign outside every church door that reads “No Whining Allowed.”We sometimes come to church to bring our requests before God.Too often, though, we think that means we need to whine and plead and beg and cry before He takes us seriously.It sounds a little like a child who wants the candy at the grocery store that mom has already said “no” to more than once.Is mom withholding the candy just to be mean…or just to hear the child whine and plead more?I kind of doubt that.

Does God withhold answers to our prayers or does God say “no” just to hear us whine and plead and cry more?No.For the same reason that a mother would withhold candy from a child that has probably had his fill for the day, God may say “no” to us. God knows what we need and what we want even before we ask.He anticipates it.No whining needed.Sincere prayer happens when we pray in honesty before the Lord and then wait and listen. Might we shed a few tears because of the situation?Of course.But then we wait and listen.And, along with our petitions, we pray for peace and joy at the outcome.When we come before God with our petitions in confidence, and with an inner peace and joy that our prayers will be answered in best possible way, no whining, begging, pleading or crying is needed.A simple “thank you” will do.lgboyd

The Anticipatory Love of God is a thing mortals seldom realize. Dwell on this thought. Dismiss from your minds the thought of a grudging God, who had to be petitioned with sighs and tears and much speaking before reluctantly He loosed the desired treasures. Man's thoughts of Me need revolutionizing.God Calling

Offer It Up! January 18, 2012

Mark 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up here before us."
Then he said to the Pharisees, "Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?"
But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

Jesus looked around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart.

Imagine that for as long as you can. If you’re like me, it probably won’t be a very long thought. But you might be thinking about the times others have been angered at you for the things you’ve said or done to them that have made them go off into that state. Maybe the anger was just a flash or moment that came and went. Maybe it didn’t amount to much more than a few words or minutes of grief. Anger can be that way and probably should.

Say it and get done with it. There is no martyrdom in angerdom. As a matter of fact, it’s just dumb to carry it around. Yes, Jesus did get angry. No, He did not carry it around or carry a grudge. Yet we seem to find some sort of honor in it, like flaunting some sort of badge of resentment or bitterness that we’ve been wronged. Like our latest victim story that we want to relate but nobody really wants to hear.

Well no one except Jesus Christ. And when we bring it to Him, when we stretch out our wretchedness and sickness in humility and prayer, He does more with it than we can imagine. Just as He did with the withered hand, He does with our withered hearts and souls. He restores them to His making and His condition of beauty and grace. Now imagine that. Imagine that His hand has yours and your heart in His. That is something we should all hold for a very long time.

Offer It Up! January 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Paul!

Mark 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the Sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.At this the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"
He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?"Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."

I often think of the Pharisees as the ultimate busy-bodies.They spend their days wandering around the town, looking for something to point a finger at.It must have been exhausting work.After all, there had to have been more people breaking rules than they could keep up with.It must have also been exhausting for them to make sure they weren’t breaking any rules throughout the day either.What a tremendous waste of time and energy!

Jesus wants us to realize that whatever “rules” we are to follow were made for our benefit, not so that others could point the finger at us.God created the Sabbath so that we could have a day of reflection and worship with Him and a day of rest.He did not create it so that we would analyze every move we make on that day and paralyze ourselves in the process.He also wants our obedience to these rules to come from the heart and not from some misguided attempt to be perfect.If we desire to honor and obey the Sabbath, then doing so is not a burden, but a pleasure.The same goes for any other “rules” we have set before us as believers. lgboyd

Our actions, our obedience to the rules has to come from our love for God.Otherwise, it is a tremendous waste of our time and energy.

Abide in My Love. An atmosphere of loving understanding to all men. This your part to carry out, and then I surround you with a protective screen that keeps all evil from you. It is fashioned by your own attitude of mind, words, and deeds, towards others. God Calling

Birthday stuff

It's his birthday... and there is no way to sugar-coat it! He won't want us to be making a big deal about it or him, but that's just the way Paul is-he is always about everyone else.

He is about his faith.

He is about his family.

He is about his friends.

And even though he would tell you otherwise, he really is even about his work!

Not a day goes past that he has not given of himself for the sake of someone else's life to be better. From his wife and children to his grandchildren-especially his grandchildren-and to his mother and father and brothers and sisters, friends and co-workers, Paul shares his love and his life in the spirit of his faith and love of Jesus Christ.

Humble yet determined.

Resolute yet flexible.

Passionate yet compassionate.

A giving, grateful servant, at the service and in the service of the lives of so many others.

He gives without thought of the cost, just as Jesus did.

He loves without condition or thought, just as Jesus does.

He would sacrifice in the same way Jesus did should that be the mission at hand.

There is no sugar-coating this: you are indeed in His image, my friend, my brother. Many lives are better for having you a part of them. I know my life is better for having you in it.

Happy Birthday, Paul. My very good best friend.

May God bless you this day and always.

Offer It Up! January 16, 2012

Mark 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to Jesus and objected, "Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"
Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins."

So often we go to God in prayer and want to have what we want without necessarily letting go of anything we are holding onto or emptying ourselves of anything we may need to pour out. We want to keep what we have and let God work around it. After all, He is God and really, who better to do such things than He, right? Yet we do know that is not so much the way it should work.

Like when we get the oil changed in our cars, they have to take out all the old oil first to put in the new and cleaner oil. Helps the car run better and cleaner. In most cases, it helps make the engine lasts longer. Get better gas mileage. Save some money. All these things just by doing some minor maintenance work on the inside of the engine.

The same can be true for us. With some minor maintenance work on our souls from time to time, with some reconciliation and forgiveness, we too can find ways for our own spiritual lives to run a little—nay, a lot—cleaner if we would just take the effort to do so. We empty ourselves of the things that don’t do us any good and prepare ourselves for what can do for us so much more: the Way, the Truth, the Light and Life of Jesus Christ.

For some, it will mean a slight change from the usual way of thinking than before. For others, a rather definite transformation will take place. Whichever way you go, old habits will be in the past and the newness of Christ’s Light will guide our paths. We will all be filled with ‘fresh wine’ in ‘new skin’ and we can all toast to God’s plan for us!

Offer It Up! January 15, 2012

Todd C. Pullam


To Todd

Wisdom 4:4-15

The virtuous man, though he die before his time, will find rest.

Length of days is not what makes age honorable, nor number of years the true measure of life; understanding, this is man’s grey hairs, untarnished life, this is ripe old age.

He has sought to please God, so God has loved him; as he lived among sinners, he has been taken up.

He has been carried off so that evil may not warp his understanding or treachery seduce his soul; for the fascination of evil throws the good into the shade, and the whirlwind of desire corrupts a simple heart.

Coming to perfection in so short a while, he achieved long life; his soul being pleasing to the Lord, who has taken him quickly from the wickedness around him.

Yet people look on, uncomprehending; it does not enter their heads that grace and mercy await the chosen of the Lord, and protection, God’s holy ones.

Offer It Up! January 14, 2012

Mark 2:13-17

Jesus went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, "Follow me."
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
Jesus heard this and said to them, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

The kid’s got potential!

Just look at him run!

Look at her shoot the basketball!

Look at this applicant’s education and experience! With a little refinement, this one can be our best hire in a long time!

And those are just the references in our worlds outside our families. What about those when we experience the birth of children? Holding them for the first time? Recognizing what God has given us to care for and to bring up in His world and His faith?

What about relationships and marriages? What about our accountability in them? What God has given us to be held, carefully and trusting in them, we should tend to accordingly.

With the gift of free will, we are given choices to spend our time as we would like. How then should we spend it? How did Jesus spend it? In the gospel, He chose to spend bringing His message to those who needed it. In the same way, we too can choose to bring His message to those we meet and those who need it.

Who needs it? Well, we can start with ourselves and see where He takes us from there as we ask Him to open our paths for His guidance. From there, just as He did with Matthew and those in need of His Word and touch, He will let us know who we need to reach out to. As we do, we find out more that it is not about us but about the love and grace of God that we share.

Offer It Up! January 13, 2012

Even today, this guy is so good.

St. Francis de SalesIntroduction to a Devout Life

CHAPTER VIII. How to resist Minor Temptations.

WHILE it is right to resist great temptations with invincible courage, and all such victories will be most valuable, still there is perhaps more absolute profit to our souls in resisting little ones. For although the greater temptations exceed in power, there are so infinitely more in number of little temptations, that a victory over them is fully as important as over the greater but rarer ones.

No one will question but that wolves and bears are more dangerous than flies, but they do not worry and annoy us, or try our patience as these do. While is not a hard thing to abstain from murder, but it is very difficult to avoid all passing fits of anger, which assail us at every moment. A man or woman can easily keep from adultery, but it is less easy to abstain from all words and glances which are disloyal. While is easy to keep from stealing another man’s goods, but often difficult to resist coveting them; easy to avoid bearing false witness in direct judgment, difficult to be perfectly truthful in conversation; easy to refrain from getting drunk, difficult to be absolutely sober; easy not to wish for a neighbor’s death, difficult not to wish anything contrary to his interests; easy to keep from slander, difficult to avoid all contempt.

In short, all these minor temptations to anger, suspicion, jealousy, envy, levity, vanity, duplicity, affectation, foolish thoughts, and the like, are a perpetual trial even to those who are most devout and most resolute; and therefore, my daughter, we ought carefully and diligently to prepare for this warfare. Be assured that every victory won over these little foes is as a precious stone in the crown of glory which God prepares for us in Paradise. So, while awaiting and making ready for a steadfast and brave resistance to great temptations should they come, let us not fail diligently to fight against these meaner, weaker foes.

Offer It Up! January 12, 2012

Psalm 40:2, 5, 7-10

I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. Blessed the man who makes the LORD his trust; who turns not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood. Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, "Behold I come."

"In the written scroll it is prescribed for me. To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!" I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.

It is always such a battle, picking the right over the wrong, the good over the evil, the kindness over the selfishness.We’d all like to believe it is not that hard for us – we are good people who desire to do the right thing…right?

If you think about how many times a day you actually have to make this type of decision, it would probably surprise you.It’s not just about the big things–the things we hear on the news and wonder why someone would “do” such a thing.It’s about the little things.Did we take the time to encourage someone at work even though we were in a bit of a rush?When we pray for others and ourselves, do we truly seek God’s will or do we just want Him to fix it?When we get home at night and sit down to watch our favorite TV show, do we first check to see if another family member needs anything?When we are angry with someone do we sit and think about it until it permeates our being or do we pray for an attitude of love and forgiveness?

It’s about our hearts and whether or not we actually delight in doing God’s will for us.It’s about having our ears open to obedience and being ready to accept what that means.It’s about practicing this type of obedience until it permeates our being.The more we do so, the more we understand what it means to truly delight in doing God’s will for us.As we do so, we start to realize that God’s will for us is what brings joy and delight into our lives.


Offer It Up! January 11, 2012

I Samuel 1:9-11

Hannah rose after a meal at Shiloh, and presented herself before the LORD; at the time, Eli the priest was sitting on a chair near the doorpost of the LORD's temple.
In her bitterness she prayed to the LORD, weeping copiously, and she made a vow, promising: "O LORD of hosts, if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid, if you remember me and do not forget me, if you give your handmaid a male child, I will give him to the LORD for as long as he lives; neither wine nor liquor shall he drink, and no razor shall ever touch his head."

If we read the beginning of Hannah’s story, we realize why Hannah would make such a huge vow to the Lord and why she was so bitter.For years she had been tormented by her female counterpart – Penninah, the other wife of her husband, Elkanah.Hannah was barren; unable to have children, while Penninah was not.Penninah thought it only right that she should remind Hannah of this fact over and over again.Really nice of her, don’t you think?Elkanah tried to make it up to Hannah in other ways, but in the end, all that mattered to Hannah was that she wanted to give her husband a male child.

We all have those moments where we reach a breaking point.Sometimes, out of desperation, we end up on our knees, making a vow to the Lord in return for an answered prayer – just like Hannah.We will promise anything, do anything, say anything, to relieve ourselves of the bitterness and sorrow of a certain life situation.Hannah was ready to give her child completely over to the Lord, if only she could give birth to one.That would be a very difficult vow to make and uphold, I would think.Vows are not something to take lightly.

I Samuel 1:25-28

…they brought the child to Eli.Then Hannah spoke up: “Excuse me, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here near you, praying to the LORD.I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request.Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.” Then they worshiped there before the LORD.

For Hannah, her heart and motives were pure.She meant what she said and only desired to receive this gift from God so that she could then give it back to God again.God knows our hearts.He knows whether we “mean it” or not.He knows if we are praying out of anger or desperation, out of a desire to get even or to prove a point, out of a desire to do what is right or just to have a problem in our lives over and done with.If we are not receiving an answer; if He is not taking our vow seriously, it could be because we are not praying with the Lord’s will in mind, but our own.It does make a difference…


Offer It Up! January 10, 2012

Mark 1:9-11

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
"You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

Just yesterday was the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We close out the Christmas season and today begin the weeks or Ordinary Time until Lent. As we leave the beauty and love of the Christmas Season and, hopefully, with much reflection on the Incarnation, in the gospel encounter Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. Why? John's baptism was a baptism of repentance and certainly Our Lord was free from sin. But, He insists John cooperate with the plan. He came into our world as one of us. He took flesh from Mary, a young Jewish maid and was born just as you and I were born. And now he insists on being baptized like everyone else who was repenting of their waywardness and submitting to Baptism.

The gospel writer tells us the heavens opened and the Spirit descended like a dove upon Jesus, the Father's voice is heard, "You are my beloved Son with you I am well pleased"! All of who have been baptized---can we imagine God smiling down on us, filling us with His Spirit and telling us how much He loves us? We are loved, we are called, we are sent forth.

As we pray for vocations are we praying with the realization that we also have a vocation of the baptized? Yes, we pray that men and women who will enter the service of the Lord as His special agents, so to speak, empowered through the Sacrament of orders to be Christ in celebrating Eucharist and bringing Jesus to us as our very food. They serve us as ‘other Christ’ (alter Christi). Yet in baptism we become children of God, also sent forth to the world to reveal the Father's love. We accomplish that mission by discovering and developing the gifts and talents God has bestowed on each of us.

Therese of Lisieux in her brief life discovered or discerned that her belief in being without talent, was wrong. She heard God calling her to Love. And love she did. Despite the difficult personalities God allowed to be involved in her life, she loved all. We too need to develop our life of prayer, deepen our relationship with Jesus and the Trinity and listen attentively that we may discern what God has created us to do. What talents gifts do we need to develop and place at the service of God by serving those who come into our lives? God has a plan for you; something perhaps only you can accomplish.

Why not each day spend time in dialog with the Father, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit let God reveal His hopes for you. Begin today.


Offer It Up! January 9, 2012

In God alone

there is rest for my soul,

from Him comes my safety;

He alone

is my rock, my safety,

my stronghold

so that I stand unshaken.


Psalm 62

When we get fed up with the anxieties we bring on ourselves, we too often forget that true rest comes from God alone. As much as we will slow down, nap, sleep, take breaks—if not other ‘things’ to alter our moods—when we offer it all up and over to Him, nothing else will matter.

Stand firm.

Offer It Up! January 8, 2012

Matthew 2:8-12

He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage."
After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

He said one thing and yet really meant another. His intentions were certainly not honorable in the least. It was all about him and not all about the child. With all we have read about Herod, we can more than presume that he was more about himself than he was about anything or anyone else. Especially the newborn King.

Might be that we find ourselves like that from time to time. In a position where we put things all about us instead of others. Instead of making decisions based on what needs and should happen as we would find in the commandments and scripture. But noooo…we would just as soon take our chances on our egos being decision makers than what God has planned for us, regardless of what our experiences have been.

Herod’s thoughts were not so congruent with the actions he had planned. That is what happens when we sin. We place ourselves out of God’s grace. Out of the way of the gifts He has for us. The treasures of eternal life.

The magi brought their gifts to the newborn King. We can bring ours in tribute to Him and in forgiveness of our sins. And like the magi, instead of going back to our old ways, we can go another way, a way of change and transformation for our lives and hearts.

Offer It Up! January 7, 2012

John 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."

And Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come."
His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you."
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, "Fill the jars with water."
So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

Our plans don’t always go as we would hope they would. Maybe your resolutions for the New Year are already going a little south and you are looking for some ways to make them work out or not. Maybe you’ve had some celebrations of your own and didn’t quite have enough food or drink for your own guests. Look at what happened at the couple and their wedding party at Cana.

With all that they had put in place for their union and celebration, for whatever reason, the amount of wine they had was not enough. Maybe it was a larger crowd than they had anticipated. Maybe they were a bit ‘thirstier’ than usual. For whatever the cause, the wine was not enough and the embarrassment that would stem from any such shortcoming would be enough to redden any family’s collective face. So what do they do? It’s not as if they could run over to the local winemaker shoppe and pick up some jugs and bring them home.

Enter Mary. Enter the one who knows what to do and knows who will handle the situation for them. Enter the one who turned the water into wine. Turned their shortcoming into an abundance. Turned their embarrassment into extravagance. Enter Jesus.

The One who will transform us through the gift of His free will.

Offer It Up! January 6, 2012

1 John 5:11-12

And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
As some comedian noted, though in a way different scheme of things, ‘That’s some good information to have right there.’ Equally important to know is that them that don’t have such information and live by it, well, life may have a few more surprises for them than they would care to appreciate or handle.

I was reading some pages on Word on Fire the other day about the Italian phrase ‘bella figura’… somewhat literally translated ‘nice body’. More appropriately translated: beautiful figure. The article talked about those in Italy and their concern for the way their bodies looked—beautiful. Even beyond their physical appearance: to their foods, their shops, their homes.

Not to disparage the Italian culture or their health and beauty but remember how the Pharisees went about ‘talking’ a good game and would chastise those—including Jesus the Christ—for doing things outside the laws as they were written? It was as if they were looking good on the outside and had another thing going on from the inside.

The same can be said today for our belief and faith. How are we doing with what we say and do? With who we say we are as Catholics and as Christians? Do we have the bella figura going for us on the outside with the bruta figura (ugly body) within us? We are either with Him or against Him. The fight that we engage in as we have the separate ‘figuras’ only leads to disaster. One cannot live with the other. We cannot rationalize the bad into the good yet we try as we water down our faith.

True and long-lasting transformation is an everyday admission of our sinfulness and brokenness and is something we cannot do on our own. Our salvation will come only when trust God that He will shape us in the image and likeness that He has planned for us. There is no better shape than that.

Offer It Up! January 5, 2012


Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Offer It Up! January 4, 2012

Luke 24:32

Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”

At mass today, a man offered up in prayer another man who was sick with a serious heart condition. No mention afterward of what type of condition or illness he may have but the prayers were offered for him just the same, as all were offered for the other intercessions as well. God hears all our needs and petitions.

Imagine though, the conditions of our own hearts, even if we are not seriously physically ill or even on medication for any coronary constraints. What type of shape do we find them in when it comes to being prepared to have all the love God has for us—are we in decent enough condition to accept it or better yet, in good enough grace to give it back?

Most of us would like to think of the latter as our usual state of the heart: open and genuine, graciously accepting the path laid before us and loving the Lord with all our heart, mind and soul. Not such a bad place to be. And most often that is probably the case. The challenge to that case comes when we turn off the path and the genuine is not so genuine and the openness is more like prying our arms from across our chests as we hide behind whatever little bit they shield from the world. Sometimes even worse, with miles of nothing but bad road out in front of us.

The burning of the disciples’ hearts is the type of condition we should strive to attain. We can better do that as Jesus did for them—through prayer, through scripture, through discipline and through love. That would be the most serious of heart conditions to have.

Offer It Up! January 3, 2012

1 Peter 5:8-10

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

There are those that are always looking for an advantage, a way to find out how to do something (or nothing as it were) without having to ‘do something’. Yes it’s true we should look for ways to work smarter in cases where should not have to work so hard but it is also true that we should sometimes just put our collective noses to the grindstones and get to work. It appears in the passage in Peter that is whom the devil has his claws and teeth firmly clenched on—those looking for the easy way to spirituality and holiness.

Not so fast there, skippy. If that were the case, if it were just so simple as that, we would all be at Heaven’s gate in no time, with our eternal reward passport in hand, once we were called from the confines of the earthly kingdom.

If that were the case, if we all could pass ‘go’ and collect our $200 as we did, we would have no clue as to what was good and what was bad.

If that were the case, if we were all handed hall passes straight to the principal’s office to receive our diplomas for grade school, high school, college and grad school all at the same time, and the idea of suffering or tribulation would be but a figment of our imagination.

As a matter of fact, it is not the case. The darkness is real. Sin is real. Hell is real. Satan is powerful. And even more thankfully so, the Light of Christ is real and is greater. Forgiveness is real and can bring peace. Heaven is real and if filled with saints and angels who have gone on before us, those who were just like us. God is God and His reign is all more powerful than anything Satan is. Eternal glory and grace is ours as we have been called by Him. We must be sober and vigilant as His messengers.

Offer It Up! January 2, 2011

John 1:19-28

This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, "Who are you?" He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, "I am not the Christ." So they asked him,
"What are you then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No."
So they said to him, "Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?" He said: "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as Isaiah the prophet said."
Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?"
John answered them, "I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Maybe you’ve been mistaken for someone else. Or maybe it was the other way around. Maybe you’ve gone up to someone, thinking they were someone you knew. Maybe you’ve walked up to that person in a crowd only to find out upon closer examination and about the time of the handshake that neither of you knew each other. It happens occasionally that we think we know, or recognize at least, an individual as a friend or an acquaintance but as it turns out, our perception is not as in focus as we thought it to be.

John had that happen to him as he was proclaiming the Good News. A problem yes, but somewhat of a good problem to have. Right away he let be known he was not the Christ nor was he Elijah nor the Prophet. He was so good at what he was doing, they mistakenly expected him to be at least one of them. Their expectations were running high that he even was the Christ. Yet they could not turn their minds loose from what they had learned before. Not yet anyway. As John told them he was the voice in the desert and reminded them of Isaiah’s words—‘Make straight the way of the Lord’—he led them to Jesus Christ by his witness and example.

As a humble servant who baptized with water, John told them there was one to come after him that they did not recognize, ‘whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.’ The Pharisees were still not getting then but that didn’t stop John from his mission. We should not stop either in our evangelization or our missions. We must continue to recognize Christ in all around us, being the humble servants as John was. Let our lives be such witnesses, such examples, so that we too can be mistaken as John was mistaken.

Offer It Up! January 1, 2011

Numbers 6:22-26

The LORD said to Moses:

Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them:

The LORD bless you and keep you!

The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!

A Prayer for the New Year

God, thank you for a New Year. May everyone in our family be willing to begin anew with a clean slate. We know that you are always ready to forgive us. Help us to be willing to forgive ourselves and to forgive one another.

As we begin this New Year and each new day You give us, remind us of our truest values and our deepest desires. Help us to live in the goodness that comes from doing what You want us to do. Help us to put aside anxiety about the future and the past, so that we might live in peace with You now and forever. With this and all things we pray, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.