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

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Offer It Up! Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hebrews 10:23-25

Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works.
We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.

So is that what it's all about? We have to keep each other on our toes? Keep each other alert? Keep each other aware of what is going on around us? Besides all that and maybe even above all that, keep us all going to where we need to be going—as is the custom.

Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.

As we find ourselves holding on to that confession of hope, we will find ourselves also holding on to the salvation of our souls. Yes, we can trust in His promise. As we keep our hearts clean and sincere and we focus our lives on an absolute trust in Him, we will remain steadfast and confident of our everlasting life with God.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mark 4:1-20

On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

‘Hear this’ and ‘Whoever has ears ought to hear.’

What goes on in between those two pithy phrases speaks volumes, more than the disciples were grasping and way more than you and I can sometimes understand.

Jesus let those within earshot know that whatever He was about to say had something of some weight to it, hence the emphasis. (Some would say-rightfully-all Jesus had and has to say carries weight.) Even the disciples were to listen up. Jesus was putting Himself in a position to let them know what it was He meant by what He said... in a boat, in the sea—separated from the others so as to be the focus of attention and better understand what is being said.

Listening at this point would be a good thing, as it is in any sort of exchange of communication. It is also a good thing in our relationship with Christ. Just as it is to have Him at the center of our focus. ‘Anyone who has ears ought to hear’ could be another way to say that we should all be listening to His words. Actually heeding them, not just letting them roll around our tympanic membrane till they fall in. And then there is the part about understanding what we just have heard so we can actually do something with it—breaking down to our level of thinking sometimes if that helps.

From there, that’s when we really become an active part of the message, a living example of the parable even. Art, or in this case scripture, imitating life and life imitating what we’ve seen and read in scripture, can be seen in our response and behavior. How wonderful is that to live a life focused and Christ-centered like that?

Hear this.

Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What shall I return to the Lord for all that He has done or given to me? In the ordinary life of one dedicated to following Jesus Christ, we place Him at the center of all of our living. In this Year of Faith we are seeking to deepen our relationship with the Lord and with our brothers and sisters. Like Jesus we can ask who are my brothers and sisters and mother. Hopefully, we can daily chip away at the distractions, the attitudes, the self-love, all those tendencies within us that lead us into sin.

It is so easy to get caught up in the pursuits of the culture which surrounds us. We are lulled into ways of living, into behaviors that entice us into believe we are the center of our universe. We respond to God's call to proclaim the message of salvation on our own terms and often grudgingly give back a portion of all that God has given us as gift. Gift? Do I truly see how much God has given as gift? What is it that I have that I have "earned", that I am entitled to?

Beginning with life itself can I in dialog with my creator come to a profound faith and understanding that is a gift. My creation, my having breath is pure gift and all that follows wonder of wonders is a result of God's gift of LOVE. Love willed me into existence, love sustains my life, love gives me freedom to choose how to respond to His love.

Each day I am faced with the challenge to live in love. Each day the challenge is to be a witness to the wonder of God with us. I rise each day to new possibilities. Each person I meet today Lord is a reminder of the wonder of your love and presents me with opportunities to see more clearly the wonder of you love. It is so easy to fall into self-righteous attitudes and fail to see that you came for the weakest in the human family. It is so easy to find comfortable places and isolate self from the struggle to overcome the powers that would destroy life.

Lord, guide me in all my actions this day. I give my all to you and ask that you give me clarity of vision that I may respond in all circumstances in a way that will give glory to you. Have mercy on us all, dear Lord, and inspire all your people to seek you with sincere hearts. Amen.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Monday, January 28, 2013

In this year of Faith there is much talk of New Evangelization. As we move on through Ordinary Time and soon into Lent we would be remiss if we did not listen to and try to come to a deeper understanding of this New Evangelization the Holy Father and the Bishops are speaking about.

In our efforts to live our faith, so very often we seem to equate faith with knowledge. We devote much of our energies to understanding doctrines and dogmas and laws that organize our religious living.

The New Evangelization, however, is repeatedly explained as coming to terms with a deeper relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. Not the Jesus of History, who walked the Galilean countryside two thousand years ago, but the Jesus who is alive and dwells in our midst—NOW. It is about living the kind of life of faith in communion with people of faith that makes Christ present in the moment we live in.

Yes, this includes knowledge, it includes loving the law, God's law. We are being challenged to proclaim Christ as living witnesses to His abiding presence. Each day we rise to new life. This is pure gift. The Creator, God, who creates all out of nothing is gifting us with each breath we draw. Perhaps we can each begin here, learning to develop such an attitude of gratitude that keeps us aware every moment that all is gift. Not only is all that I receive gift, but I begin to come to the realization that I too am gift. I am given to all others in some way to build up the body of Christ to be a witness to the wonder of His love. Whatever God has created in me is to be used up in the service of love, to be love, that I may live forever in love.

As I come to God in prayer this day may all whom God has placed in my life in any capacity, even on a brief encounter be uplifted and blessed. Amen.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Sunday, January 27, 2013

1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 26-27

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.

If you’ve ever tried to put a pedal on a bicycle as you assembled it for a Christmas or birthday present, you may have found out after much hassle and time wasted that the ‘righty-tighty’ and ‘lefty-loosy’ deal just wasn’t working out for you. Indeed, it is a reverse-type thread for the pedals that keep them tightly in place. Something one learns from someone else or from actually reading the instructions should they take the time to do so.

Individuals as we are, how often is it that we would just as soon do things ourselves anyway? Without the ready assistance of instructions? Without the handiness of tools? Or even the availability of those who know better from education and or experience? Never mind all that; mule-headed as we are and get, we muddle along (or not as we trap ourselves) and tear things up, stick the pipes in the wrong way, or screw in what was not supposed to screwed in wherever it was screwed in. All of this because we are an individual. We are one.

As true as that is, as much as we try to manage on our own—as the commercial from way-back reminded us—‘I’d rather do it myself’—as Catholics and as Christians we are all part of a much larger picture. A larger body. It takes us all no matter what great or small role we seem to think we can play. And our roles can change from how we see them: as servant and as one being served. Like parts of the body serve their individual purposes, they also serve other parts of the body, helping the entire unit to operate as one. Like all of us as believers serving one another in faith and in prayer. In helping hand and spirit. Like Jesus Christ serving us in sacrifice and mercy, love and grace.

2 Timothy 1:6-8

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.

Of course nothing we have is our own—all is gift. And of all the gifts we’ve been given, those of that bring us the power of love and self-control have to be near the top, if not on the top, of our spiritual gifts list. To think of the self-control as free will gives u the freedom that God wants us to have to be His children. He calls us—we choose to have the courage to do as He calls.

Now comes the hard part: loving as He Loves; doing as He would have us do; being as He would have us be. All of this is His gift to us so that we could ‘stir into flame’ and proclaim our love for Him. This type of living does not come without its hardships, in spite of all He gives us. Along with the crosses we bear, God gives us what we need to carry them.

So go ahead, let Him know and others know boldly and with the flame burning bright from within: let the world know that you are not ashamed: your strength, your love, your faith, comes from God.

Acts 22:6-16

“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’ My companions saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me. I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir?’ The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything appointed for you to do.’ Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light, I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus. “A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law, and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me and stood there and said, ‘Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’ And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice; for you will be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard. Now, why delay? Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon his name.’

Who is it that you find yourself hanging around with most often? Do you have an allegiance to any groups or movements or to a nation even? What about a particular sports team—is there one you find yourself supporting, if not identifying with, more than others? Whoever it is that you find yourself with, whatever group it is that you support or team that you follow or even nation that you profess you allegiance to, you probably just didn’t jump on the their bandwagon yesterday. It took a little time to get where you are. God works that way to move us gradually, like a sunrise sometimes, to get us where He wants us. And then there are those times He moves in different ways… hammers and anvils come to mind.

Imagine what St. Paul must have gone through to get where God wanted him to be. Wait—we have a pretty good idea of what he went through: knocked down, a bit deranged and blinded, ‘they led him by hand to Damascus,’ where he went thirsty and hungry for three days. Picture the indignity of being led by those you were once leading to the city you were going to persecute. And now you hear the voice of Jesus that calls you to change your ways—completely—and to put your trust in another’s hands who will lay them upon you so that you will regain your sight.

Now imagine your own life and what you have gone through to be where you are today. There may not have been the deranged episodes or the blinding lights but there may have been times when you’ve been knocked down, figuratively if not literally. Times when you’ve been thirsting for that next refreshing breath of fresh air or cleansing water in your life. Times when the emptiness inside you could not be filled with any foods or substance. Imagine yourself with Paul being changed. Those around you leading you to where God needed you to be, as you hear His voice calling out.

Your trust is in Him. He has opened your eyes. He has fed your hunger. He has quenched your thirst. You are His disciple, calling upon His name.



Offer It Up! Thursday, January 24, 2013

A little behind this day to share thoughts on what we can offer up. The gospel yesterday about the Pharisees and Jesus healing the man with the withered hand allows us to be onlookers as Jesus confronts the Pharisees (and us) on the Sabbath by healing him. Of course, in the very presence of the Pharisees, those millennia ago, he stirred their hearts to action against him. How about us? We don't quite look at the Sabbath, our Sunday, with the same legal attitude as the Scribes and Pharisees, but how do we look at our Sunday. Do we see it as the Lord's Day? Perhaps we could take time in the days and weeks ahead in this year of faith to take a look at what Sunday should mean to us and honestly take stock at what it obviously means.

The Day of the Lord. Perhaps in your family or Why Catholic? group you could avail yourselves of Pope John Paul II's document on the Day of the Lord written late in his pontificate. Dies Domini. One can find it on the Vatican Web site. What takes precedent in our celebration of Sunday, the feast of the Lord's resurrection? Do I look at each Sunday as a little Easter, remembering that it commemorates the Lord's resurrection, my salvation?

In this year of faith, with its call to new evangelization do I consider what needs to be transformed in my life? Do I arm myself so I can bring the Good News to others in my life circle? Am I praying and learning the faith so that I can proclaim the message to those who have forgotten, or failed to hear it, or never heard it? What is the mission God has called me to be part of during my journey through time?

Why am I here? I have been given life and gifts to impart to others the very love God has poured out on me. I look in the mirror and ask the Lord, and I ask myself "How am I doing?" Unfortunately in the course of life there have been many falls. With God's help, however, also many risings. There are many distractions, the call of the world is strong and presents alluring alternatives. All the gifts you have received, the mission given at baptism, are a call to JOY that has no end. We are on a path to life of eternal bliss if we choose life. What will you choose? Can we follow the way of our ancestors in faith... obedience to the Lord?

Look within, look deeply at the community of faith, look to the Eucharist and in faith see Jesus in our midst, Lord of lords, King of kings seated at the right hand of the Father. Respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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.

How often has it happened to you (or maybe that you’ve seen it happen to someone else of course) that you get a little bit of power and the first thing that happens-pow-it goes right to your head! Maybe a newly appointed position at work, maybe a committee someplace, maybe an opportunity to work with some volunteers on a special project—any or all may fit. Whatever the situation, you have it ‘on good authority’ that you are the boss with all the rules and what you say, goes.

Or maybe it’s just your personality, the way you’ve been brought up. Maybe you’re just that ‘way’. Maybe, like the Pharisees, you have it all ‘knowed-up’ and the rules is the rules and they are not there to be broken but to be followed and obeyed. Love, mercy and compassion be damned—sometimes our own religiosity gets in the way. It gets in the way and our hearts become hardened instead of being Christ-like, the way we should be with ‘the rules’ we have come to know.

Jesus was grieved at the hardness of the hearts of the Pharisees, even as He knew of their plans to put Him to death. He grieves for us at the darkness of sins and the hardness of hearts as we choose to do likewise and turn from Him. As much as we would like to think we are the ‘boss’, there is a greater, the greatest authority, in His Word. Let us continue to turn to Him for His Love, His mercy and compassion.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prayer for the Unborn

Lord Jesus,
Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life,

make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb

the miraculous work of the Creator,

open our hearts to generously welcoming

every child that comes into life.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies

with the light of your Spirit, so that peoples and nations

may recognize and respect

the sacred nature of life, of every human life.

Give creative charity to administrators and economists,

so they may realize and promote sufficient conditions

so that young families can serenely embrace

the birth of new children.

Together with Mary, Your Mother,

the great believer,

in whose womb you took on

our human nature,

we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior,

the strength to love and serve life,

in anticipation of living forever in You,

in communion with the Blessed Trinity.

Pope Benedict XVI



Offer It Up! Monday, January 21, 2013

Words come easy too often. OFFER IT UP!

OFFER IT UP! These words are like a flag over the lifetime of living in the Catholic tradition of my experience. These past few weeks when moving or doing anything seemed like a herculean task I have had to ponder these works.

Offer __ Up! What? Gratitude? Long-suffering illnesses? The wonder of love? Petty annoyances that we ascribe to others but are really our inability to love in imitation of Jesus?

During the past weeks now, I have had occasion to reflect on these words. Physical weakness, emotional emptiness, lack of desire to do anything. When I did push myself to do and perform certain tasks, I had to truly place myself in the Lord's hands. Perhaps I experienced in a sense what Paul refers to ‘as when I am weak Christ is my strength.’

Gratitude is offered up in these moments primarily for those who so graciously demonstrate God's love and presence by their actions. I pray that God will pour out His grace and love on them now filling them with deep JOY. God is always present, in faith I trust in that truth. Yet, in times when the will to function is not there, one is left feeling abandoned and God's presence is known only by faith. Prayer is dry and God seems absent. One even wonders if prayer is dialog with emptiness.

My prayer becomes a plea for those who share life with me at home, at work, socially, offering gratitude to God for having placed so many loving persons in my life. Primarily my other self, my life partner who is belabored with all the tasks and concern for my well-being. Then there are those who so quickly take on any extra tasks that result from my inability to perform them. As I spend much time in physical inactivity, it presents me with time to pray, although at times the mental effort to pray seems burdensome and empty.

Offer It Up! Easy words sometime difficult to achieve. Divine Mercy! Jesus, I trust in you.

In a few weeks we will be in the Lenten season. May God in his mercy accept my poor weak pleas....and my intent to offer up all for His Praise and Glory!

GLORY BE TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT; AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING IS NOW AN WILL BE FOREVER. AMEN.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Sunday, January 20, 2013

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 the 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.”

If you’ve been around a wedding or two, you’ve probably heard the question asked at least once, rhetorically or not, ‘Don’t you just love weddings?’ And with all the beauty and grace and charm and the feasting and celebration, sometimes it is hard not to get caught up in the festive spirit and respond favorably, regardless of the true feeling you may carry for these types of ‘social events.’ Jesus, His mother Mary and His disciple were at such a feast at the wedding in Cana. One can imagine the joy and love being shared as the events unfolded throughout the day-the wedding and the feast-as the friends and family joined in the celebration, Jesus, Mary and the disciples included.

Celebrating. Enjoying. Life. Love. Genuinely. Abundantly. All those at the feast were there to celebrate the lives being brought together in love. Jesus was a part of that love and life in what He shared with them. Maybe, given the option—as it appears He was—He could have done nothing and things could have gone from bad to worse. Yet He chose to extend the joy and happiness of the celebration with an abundance of ‘life’ as He changed the jugs of water into wine. His gift to the wedding party was a gift joy and of life in its fullness, to be celebrated, not be quickly and hurriedly run through, as if it were an ‘okay-we-did- that-let’s-go-home-now-or-go-do-something-else’ approach to life.

As Catholics, as Christians, we cannot do that. We are born as such to live, love and laugh and celebrate the abundance of the Love of Jesus Christ. Yes, our sins are serious business but more so, so is living life in a state of grace. And in that state of grace, it is state and life of peace, joy and happiness in abundance. We continue to live and stay in that grace by leaving behind the old ways of life that kept us in the darkness and move toward the new life in Christ… every day. Just as Jesus was changing the water at the feast, He can change what we need changed in our lives—in abundance. How can we not then enjoy our lives as Catholics, as Christians with that type of Love and grace?



Offer It Up! Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hebrews 4:12-16

The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

One paragraph. Two sentences, verses. Some fifty-six words. Laid before us—living and effective, active and breathing within us. Just as the Word is ‘alive’ on the pages we read and words we hear, they bring life to us in spirit and our faith. The more we delve into the scriptures, the more we can find the effectiveness of it in our lives, the ‘cutting edge’ as it leads us toward our salvation.

The ‘cutting edges’, if you will, that can cut us both ways if we do not take them as they have been given to us. We’ve talked previously of paralysis by analysis and how we can get caught up in thinking too much about what God has called us to do. As Catholics, as Christians, the Bible is the tool for us to live our daily lives and comes to us in the lives we live, the lives of others and through the Holy Spirit taking an active part in our spiritual lives.

With that help, we are better able to identify what will lead us to closer to Him, to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.



Offer it Up! Friday, January 18, 2013

Mark 2:3-9

They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?

Paralysis by analysis. The scribes were way over-thinking what Jesus had done and was doing. And He knew it much to their surprise. As much as they knew God was forgiving of their sins, they were not about to buy in to what Jesus was telling them. Yet He knew what was still in their hearts as the man picked up his mat and walked away, right before their eyes.

Instead of rejoicing over what they had seen and believing in the miracle power of what Jesus could do, they chose otherwise. Instead of being taken up with those who helped bring in the man on the mat-those who carried him and opened up the roof so he could be lowered to Jesus-they chose otherwise. Instead of taking Jesus at His word and acknowledging Him as the Son of Man ‘with the authority to forgive sins on earth’, they chose otherwise. More paralysis by analysis.

How often are we locked in our own ways when faced with the circumstances that appear so good to be true for us? So good to be true of the mercy of God right before us? So many people in our lives there to help us-miracles or not-to break through the roofs for us? To lower us or raise us up closer to Jesus Christ? Look at the lengths the ‘four men’ went to so that the paralytic could get the help from Jesus. He was there only through their help. Look at where we are in our own lives. As much as we would like to think we are here where we are because of something we did, let us rethink that concept.

We are all where we are now because of what Jesus Christ did for us. And for what He did for us—sacrifice—someone else also did for us. Sacrifice. His heart. His body. His blood. His life. He showed us the way through His life; the disciples carried it on and we carry on what the disciples showed us as the Church. As such, we can all pick up our mats and walk with humble and contrite hearts through the mercy and grace of forgiveness Christ gives us.



Offer It Up! Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

I read recently a bit about where a friend described his friend-a Jesuit priest- in that ‘He lives to bless other people.’ There would be few praises greater than that. Maybe if said another way, it could be that we live to be a blessing to others. As Jesus imparted His blessing on the leper, in health and wholeness and as a part of society, we too may impart our blessings upon those in our lives.

Wherever He went, they sought out Jesus. For healing, for comfort, for grace. So too will others seek us out, not so much for the miracles that Jesus performed but for the way we live as they find in us the blessings of grace and strength. It makes sense then that we should be prayerful as He was and put ourselves in such a position then to share those gifts given to us.

And so it goes; such a sharing and prayerful way of life for a friend of mine, celebrating the anniversary of his birth today. On the surface, you might hear him talk about it and try to convince you otherwise but he is always the one to share the goodness of his heart and the conviction of his faith.

Even when the path he’s is on is filled with its own struggles and pains, Paul is filled by the Holy Spirit to share what God has given him in talent, time and treasure. Not with just family and friends and those he knows but with the stranger on the street, the ones in need, the ones who are more forgotten than known. That’s Paul.

One of the most faith-filled men I know.

One of the most dedicated, ‘living-the-Gospel-and-if-necessary-use-words-evangelizer’ I have ever come to know.

One of the most Christ-centered men I have ever called my good best friend.

That would be Paul.

Happy Birthday, my friend.

May God continue to bless you and all those you hold in His Love and faith.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, January 16, 2013


This first week of Ordinary Time as we listen to the Scriptures given to us daily in the liturgy, we are reminded of Jesus' life and His saving action. We are drawn into the life of Jesus as he begins the years of announcing the Good News of salvation, of performing signs and wonders that underscore the pronouncement of God that Jesus is the Messiah.

In the letter to the Hebrews we are reminded by the early Christian writer that Jesus became one of us, obeyed God the Father in the plan for His life even though fear, fear so great he sweat blood in the garden, he trusted in the Father and faced the agonizing death by crucifixion. He chose this out of love for you and for me, that we might have life for all eternity.

We meet Him in prayer as did those first followers who walked the paths of Galilee and wondered and were astounded by Him. We meet Him in the midst of so many distractions and attractions that often tempt us to doubt. We are confronted with the mystery of faith and the temptations of the culture of death which is presented to us so often in a glittering package that promises a life of pleasure and riches.

The victory of life over death has been won. For each of us, the call of Jesus Christ to follow Him is as real for you and I as it was for Peter, Andrew, James and John and every disciple who has accepted the call of Jesus. As he entered the synagogues in Galilee, he now enters our midst as we gather to celebrate the supper of the Lamb. He enters into dialog with us in prayer if we open our hearts and minds to His presence always and everywhere.

Pray to day that each of us may experience His presence in a way that transforms us and purifies our hearts.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jesus enters our life in as many ways as he entered the life of those who shared life with him 2000 years ago. The people of Galilee, Caesarea and Jerusalem—all the places where Jesus walked and healed and taught and loved—met him in the ordinary moments of life. He dined with them, he worshipped with them, he played with them, he walked with them, he worked for them as a carpenter.

For the three final years of his young life he taught them about God, he healed the sick, drove out evil spirits, and comforted them in times of sorrow, laughed with them in moments of joy. Finally, he died for all men and women who had lived, who were living and would ever live. After his suffering and dying he astounded the world by rising from the dead, appearing to some of his close disciples, and finally ascending to heaven in order that He might send the Holy Spirit to mankind.

We are familiar with the story, and we continue to tell the story hopefully with passion and conviction that Jesus is alive. In the course of each day we meet him in myriad places and circumstances, sometimes we are aware of His presence, but unfortunately too often we are preoccupied with our own ego need and we remain blind to His entering our life moment.

Some of us are privileged to be able to meet Him in the sacrament of the Eucharist on a daily basis; more are free to gather each Sunday to celebrate Eucharist and the Resurrection of Our Lord. Sadly, many are blind to the awesome mystery being revealed and do not come into His presence or unite with Him in this wondrous mystery of grace and love.

As we continue to encounter Jesus in Word and Sacrament may we be transformed into messengers of the Good News and alive to every moment offered us to proclaim the Good News. May God be glorified by our lives.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Monday, January 14, 2013

Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they left their nets and followed him.

He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

Today we begin Ordinary Time. The Christmas Season ends with the Baptism of the Lord and we find ourselves now reflecting on the adult Jesus' life in ministering to His people. When we read and hear in the Gospel that the Kingdom of God is at hand we too are being called to respond to the Lord Jesus who is revealing fully the brilliant light of God's saving love.

It is perhaps fitting we begin today's reflection on the Word, by walking along the Sea of Galilee with Jesus and are present as he calls Peter, Andrew and James and John. Perhaps we can examine our own reactions as they leave their livelihood behind to follow Jesus. We can ask Jesus in prayer to enlighten us in our lives: are we being called to leave anything behind or perhaps simply to remain where we are and become more deeply aware of the call to follow Him in our daily walk?

How can we know if we do not enter into relationship with the Lord, communicate with Him, discern the choices being presented to us and coming to the realization we can do all things in Him who strengthens us to do the Father's will?

Make time today to sit in the stillness of God's presence. Be still and know that He is God.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Sunday, January 13, 2013

John 3:27-23

John answered and said, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete.
He must increase; I must decrease."

"He must increase; I must decrease."

John the Baptist's words echo through the centuries and are relevent today as they were when John spoke. These words apply to all the baptized in their role as evangelizers, messengers of the Word of God. Each of us is to learn to the walk humbly realizing as Paul did that it is in weakness the the Power of God is revealed.

Today in our land one of the debates before all is "gun control". The debate rages in the storm over the number of armed attacks on persons who were practically helpless. How do respond? Strident voices are being heard with varying partial solutions to the dilemma. Fear it seems is a cloud hanging over the entire aim at preventing violence and clear evil. Some voices shout out that arming potential victims is the answer. Power lies in obtaining similar weapons that with "even the odds" so to speak.

Yet, this is only it seems an admission of failure in our society. We live more and more in a culture of death. So many popular decisions involve attacks against life itself. Abortion has long been at the fore as the right to life of the unborn is denied in so many instances. Care for the weak, the handicapped, the elderly, those who lack the means for fully caring for themselves are either places in "storehouses" or in some instances are victims of euthanasia. We use phrases like, "quality of life" or "quality time" to cover our lack of willingness to be concerned with the very real call to learn to love as God has loved us.

He must increase, I must decrease.

As I accept the call to discipleship, the call to walk in the footsteps of my Lord who has loved me to the death, I must be willing to be transformed. I must be willing to name my own sinfulness, my own unwillingness to walk humbly, to love justice and to be life giving in all circumstances of my life.

How can I live this life if I fail to truly come to the realization that I am loved beyond my ability to describe. When I begin to realize how I am loved I can begin to love also, realizing that I live in an ocean of love that embraces all others.

If I am one with Christ, who prays that we may be one, then I can make those movements that lead me to becoming one who loves in Christ.

He has chosen you and me. He chose us. It is not that we choose Christ rather it is our response to His loving us first.

Not only were we given life God's plan of creation but even after our sinfulness in the depths of our missing the mark, Christ died for us in atonement for sin and rising from death opens for us the path to life forever. Each day our gratitude for God's awesome mercy and love can lead us to holiness of life. Today, how will I meet life?

Deacon



Offer It Up! Saturday, January 12, 2013

As we near the final days of the Christmas Season we prepare for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and the beginning of Ordinary Time. Time to live in holiness united in our own baptism, born again, living as adopted sons and daughters of God who are inheritors of the Kingdom.

Baptism opens the door to the Church and to life with God. As Jesus told Nicodemus that it is necessary to be born again, of water and the spirit. When Jesus was baptized a voice from heaven...announced: "This is my Son, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased." We too in baptism are united to Christ and share this same pronouncement, beloved son or daughter pleasing to the Father.

As this Christmas season ends and Ordinary time begins, will you take time to reflect on the wonder of the incarnation of Jesus, on what your own baptism is in God's plan for you? During these days take time to be in the presence of the Lord and listen to him.

Despite your efforts that sometime seem to the contrary, know that you have been chosen. The entire plan of salvation calls for life in holiness. Live that life by seeking to strengthen the virtues in your pattern of life. Know that you are loved beyond all understanding even in if you are mired down in unforgiven sins. You have been chosen... live as one chosen.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Friday, January 11, 2013
Happy Birthday Brandy!

Luke 4:16-20

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custominto the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has sent me... We can sit in the synagogue at Nazareth and hear the Lord as we listen to His reading of Isaiah. Jesus the Son of God, the Son of Man is receiving the Spirit of God as one of us. Jesus became incarnate so that we might receive the Spirit and be restored to life in God.

When Jesus announces the Spirit of God is upon me, we too are as members of his body filled with the Spirit. We are the one sent to bring Good News to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to bring justice to circumstances where people are held captive by sin. As we ponder the words of Scripture we gradually begin to realize we are truly heirs to the Kingdom as God's adopted children fully heirs with Christ in the resurrection which brings new life, life forever.

As we reflect on the Word today, let it be with hearts and mind open to God's revelation. Our own agendas are dropped as we seek to know God in Christ Jesus and to obedient to the Father. As Jesus came to do the will of His Father so we seek to live in the Kingdom fully obedient to God's commands. John's writings in Scripture are focused on learning to love as God loves. Let that focus be ours.

Deacon

1 John 4:19-21, 5:1-4

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love Godwhom he has not seen.This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the father loves also the one begotten by him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

Raise your hand if you think the Commandments keep you from doing the things you think you want to do? Okay, I’ll put mine down with you. In truth, though, we know that the Commandments ‘are not burdensome’ as they are there to free us from the temptations and bonds of slavery that the world prefers to offer us. The writer of John lets us know that with the statement—‘the victory that conquers the world is our faith.’

Without the Love of God to bring us into the world, we would obviously not ‘be’. We owe then all we are to His Love. What then should our gift be back to Him? More love. More faith. More of what He has given us in those around us, in the world we live and the lives we touch. He Loved us first and will Love us last and in between we are to love others as we have been commanded to. If not, we’ll be seeing each in line at the reconciliation services as often as need be to reconcile ourselves with Him for if we say and do the things that look like we love God and then ‘turn off’ the love we should have for our neighbors, for the poor, for those in need, what good is that?

Through our prayers and through our liturgies it is easier for us to be with God. Nothing wrong with that. Yet when we bring God into our lives and make Him real with us in the presence of another human, it can make it harder for us to respond in love. Do they need a hand or do I just say a prayer for them and hope they get help as you pass by them on the street? Does my witnessing involve action or is it seen only in the pews every Sunday, same pew, same kneeler, week in and week out? Am I committed to all the teachings and commandments that the Church stands for or do I window shop to pick and choose what to believe and follow and what to let others fight for?

So which battles do you want to fight? What is important to you? As we are all made in the image and likeness of God, we should all carry out then the paths He has laid out for us. We do that by surrendering to His will as we transform our lives more to His image of the world than ours.

And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mark 6:45-52

After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them.
About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!”
He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely astounded. They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.

The more you hear and read, the more you listen and understand, especially with Scripture. For all the numerous times I’ve read or heard the accounts of the storm at seas, you may come to know that Mark’s gospel has two of them. And in this particular account in Chapter 6, (the other is in 4), of the storm on the sea, today is the first time the sentence ‘He meant to pass by them.’ ever came to my attention.

No letters, no words, no phrases or sentences are wasted in Scripture. They are not there to fill up a page (like you might think these words might do some time.) In this translation, as the storm was about them, Jesus appeared to them and all they could think about was the storm. In the frantic and anxious state they were in, His very appearance and proximity led them to believe they were seeing a ghost. So now they were dealing with raging seas and something or someone in the form of a ghost! Where was Jesus when they needed Him?

All they had to do was ask. All they had to do was recognize that He was near. And was always near even when He was on the shore and they were sent by Him to cross to the other side. All they had to do was realize that Jesus was with them, not so much as physically with them, but within them. In their hearts and souls. For when they would come to realize that it was Him and when He did get in the boat, the storms relented and the seas calmed. Maybe it was in their hearts too that the storms left them and they were not so afraid.

That sort of stuff happens when we let Jesus in our own lives. When we find out that a life with Jesus within is better than a life without Jesus. And just as the disciples hearts were hardened as they did not understand what Jesus was doing with the loaves, we don’t necessarily understand all that Jesus is doing with our lives, with others, with the world. We just have to know that He knows what He is doing. With His Love, we must not be afraid. We just have to keep Him in our boat.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Give them some food yourselves."

These words of Jesus in today's Gospel ring through the ages to all generations who long to follow the Lord Jesus. So often when we are faced with the poor and tired and the hungry we look on almost helplessly wondering what we should do. Spend some of our hard earned good to feed them. Like the apostles we beg off saying we just can't meet the need. And as in the Gospel Jesus says to us what do you have available, and proceeds to set out a feast with plenty left over.

We are constantly being reminded to trust, to turn to Jesus himself who will provide all we need. The feeding of the multitude with a few loaves and a couple of fish are what Jesus always does. He takes our meager offerings and creates an abundance. The sufficiency in the world is apparent to those who love and trust in the Lord. To those who turn to themselves and their own needs, who fail to love as God asks us to love there seems never enough. No matter what there is always a need for more.

In our choosing to follow Jesus the Christ may we discover each day the wonder of love that we are blessed with when we continue to seek life filled with the fruits of the Spirit.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Monday, January 7, 2013

In the midst of this Christmas season, a score of our young people celebrated in prayer on Sunday evening that they were deciding to follow Christ as they prepared to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation later this year. These are the hope of the days and years to come. These are the receivers of the faith we are to pass on that the building of God's Kingdom may continue. Despite their energy and willingness to respond to God's call, still we cannot ignore the apparent lack of faith by some of our generation who are not present to support these young men and women as they accept the call to discipleship.

In this Year of Faith the challenge is to evangelize; to proclaim the Good News to those who are lost in the morass of worldly attractions that cloud the light of God's love in their lives. We are a people who have been blessed with an abundance of God's gifts. God's presence is revealed in the simple events of every life and in also in the trials of life. Christ still suffers His passion and death and rises to new life whenever sin is conquered.

We pray for vocations. Our voices plead with God to touch the hearts of His people that they respond to the need of serving the Church and the world in imitation of Christ Himself. Our voices mouth the words but too often our lives belie our pleading.

At the very core of our living, we see families decimated, we see the words of Jesus fulfilled mothers and daughters at odds, mothers in law against daughters in law, fathers and sons against one another....the god of consumerism too often becomes the god who is held as the pearl of great price.

This Year of Faith remains a call to each of us individually and collectively to proclaim the message of salvation and to live as disciples of the Lord, Jesus Christ. How can we live as His followers if we do not know Him? To know Him we must live in His word, relate to Him in prayer and learn to forgive in love.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Sunday, January 6, 2013

You, LORD, are all I have
and you give me all I need.
How wonderful are your gifts to me;
how good they are.

Psalm 16:5-6



What God Gives

I asked for health,
that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity,
that I might do better things.

I asked for riches,
that I might be happy;
I was given poverty,
that I might be wise.

I asked for power,
that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness,
that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things,
that I might enjoy life;
I was given life,
that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing I asked for
but everything I hoped for.

Almost despite myself,
my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.



Offer It Up! Saturday, January 5, 2013

St. John Neumann was the first bishop in the United States to be canonized. Like so many holy men who preceded us, we do well to remember the accomplishments of these men of God.

We are nearing the conclusion of the days of Christmas and we are aware of the call of Jesus to those first apostles, ‘Come and See.’ Andrew, Peter, James and John, and in today's gospel we meet Philip and Nathaniel.

Come and See.

That invitation still rings out to people of today. This invitation goes out to you and to me. As we reflect on the circumstances of our lives, the gifts that God has poured out upon each of us, as we ponder the mystery of Christ with us, we discover the wonder of God's love.

But, we must open our minds and hearts to this wonder. Can we be awed by the presence of God in the simple occurrences of life? Why not take time this day to sit in the silence, the stillness, and be open to God's invitation?

Deacon



Offer It Up! Friday, January 4, 2013

John 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?”

He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah,” which is translated Christ. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas,” which is translated Peter.

Come and See!

This is Jesus' invitation to all as well as to those first apostles who asked Jesus where he stayed. Come and meet Jesus the Christ in the ordinary moments of every day.

Recently while picking up groceries in a local store with my wife we were encountered by a woman who spoke to us about cherishing one another. She recounted that Christmas was brought some amount of sadness because her husband had died. Then, she assured us that it had been 11 years and she still missed him terribly. ‘Cherish each moment you have,’ she reminded us. In addition a man, who said he was a widower overheard her message and he also reminded us to love one another cherish one another.

As I reflected on those moments later that day, I realized that these strangers were messengers from God. Two people who had no apparent reason to speak with us and share these thoughts were truly what I regard as angels. In an earlier day in my life these incidents would have passed, I likely would not even have given them a second thought let alone realized that God speaks in the ordinary moments of life. Where will I encounter the Lord today? That remains to be experienced.

But that encounter will be missed if I fail to acknowledge that God is present always in every moment with every breath and with abiding love.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Thursday, January 3, 2013

There is the Lamb of God!

John the Baptist knew well the Spirit of God and was able to point to Jesus, the Lamb of God. The Holy Spirit had stirred his soul while still in the womb, and now in the waters of the Jordan God reveals to Him who is the Lamb of God.

We too have been stirred by the Spirit, when in baptism we were anointed priest, prophet and king. We were received into the family of faith, were reborn as children of the Most High God. The dignity we received at baptism was to be nurtured and revealed to us as we were to be welcomed into this family of faith. Unfortunately we often were exposed more readily to culture that revered created things over the Creator.

In this year of faith we are being called by the Church, by the successors to the apostles, to a New Evangelization. It is recognized that sin has taken hold in our family of faith and we are being called to recognize who we are and to take a new look at the message of those first apostles. The message that revealed a person, Jesus the Christ, Son of God, who came to redeem us.

This New Evangelization is a call to renewal of life, to recognition of our need as sinners for a redeemer. Each day there is an opportunity for all of us to avail ourselves of the graces being poured out for us in the celebration of the Eucharist. Certainly, each Sunday we are to come as God's people united in faith, One with Jesus, One with the Father, One with each other that we may be continually strengthened to don the armor of God to combat any evil influences we encounter in our world. Adam and Eve encountered evil in the Garden of Eden, and we, no less than they, are tempted to exercise our own egos and to deny our need for a redeemer.

Will I begin anew this day to see all the moments of awareness in the light of Christ? May I be aware of His presence with every breath of life.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Wednesday, January 2, 2012

2013.

A new calendar year.

For many in our world it suggests resolutions. Resolutions to lose weight, to quit smoking, to do this or that for myself. The portrayal is a world view focused on the self.

The season is still Christmas. It is focused on love beyond our understanding. A love that is outgoing, forgiving, all embracing ...life giving.

We that are baptized are reminded that we are the family of the Most High God. His love for us is always revealed in the mystery of the Incarnation and is continually signaled to us in the mystery of the Eucharist. Christ remains in our midst. Each of us called to be living temples of the Holy Spirit, messengers of peace to a world too often suffering from violence and a failure to achieve Peace.

The culture of death becomes more evident in the events of each day, and we are in the name of religious liberty as the world sees it, invited to go ahead and worship if you desire but do it quietly and privately. And, too frequently we cease being evangelizers and become almost closet Christians.

Will 2013 be a time for you and me to be the witnesses to the Gospel message we are called to be? God strengthen us in our resolve to live as witnesses to His love which is beyond understanding. May our constant prayer be for deep faith, enduring hope and boundless charity. May our lives be a light to all who encounter us and an invitation to all to eternal life.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

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!

Numbers 6:24-26

May this New Year be the filled with the peace, joy, wisdom and grace that God gives you so that you may know more fully His will for you.

God bless you all and keep you in His Light.

Afraidnot.org