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

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OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, JULY 31, 2013

Matthew 13:44-46

Jesus said to his disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

 

What meaning does your life have for you today? Does it carry more than the treasure in the field? More than the ‘pearl of great price’? What then about your spiritual life? Or the spiritual life of your family? Your friends? Some tough questions to ponder but if we put the emphasis of our faith and trust in Christ—to gain all that He has given us and has planned for us—then they eventually will be easier to answer.

 

Sometimes we are surprised what we find when we are looking for something else. It might be that we put our own lives on hold for the sake of another life only to find that God delivers us His a ‘magnificent treasure’. Other times we may even stumble across His gift as we live one trial or tribulation after another and He delivers us from evil. And just as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, we celebrate the coming of His kingdom not only in heaven but here on earth in thanksgiving for that deliverance.

 

The more we come to know the fullness of a life in Christ, the more we come to know how little our lives matter here on earth. John 3:30—‘He must increase; I must decrease.’ reminds of that insignificance. Let the treasures we find in the love of Christ, in the love and lives of those we love and who love us bind us forever on a path to our salvation.

Matthew 13:36-43

Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

 

In today's gospel we are asking Jesus to explain the parable of the weeds and the wheat. What then, do we understand how God sows?  In the midst of the crop weeds sewn, Jesus says, by the Devil. They grow together until harvest time when all is gathered and separated with the weeds being thrown into the fiery furnace. What do we gather from all this? Is it a question of good against bad? What about the weeds of humanity?

 

In our call to evangelize are we convinced that God longs for all to be saved, and depends on those who do His will to reach out and evangelize and perhaps be an agent of change in the life of one who is headed on the path to destruction?

 

Baptized, filled with God's Spirit, we are called to live as witnesses in the faith, our lives clearly demonstrating our belief in the Paschal mystery. Spirit guided, we are alert for opportunities to tell the Good News. Jesus the Christ who died is risen and is pleading for all at the Father's right hand. And, even in a wondrous way, remains in our midst sustaining us feeding us spiritually with His body and blood. Our response to love beyond all imagining is to learn to love, and to learn to love, we discover our need to constantly seek the Lord where He may be found.

Deacon

Remembering Martha is to remember one who loved the Lord Jesus deeply. Her example of hospitality is for us to emulate. Martha models discipleship for us in her confession of Jesus as Son of God, the Christ. While we live in ‘time’, much of what Martha demonstrates for us is to be admired and imitated. Jesus’ comment that Mary has chosen ‘the better part’ in allowing the Lord to feed her on His word can also be accepted and appreciated. Saint Augustine in one of his homilies points out that when we enter the presence of the Lord in Heaven we will not have the need to be hospitable and serve as Martha does now but rather we will receive from the Lord the reward of His abundant love. How awesome is that?

 

There is so much for us to ponder today as we listen to the voice of the Lord, as we reflect of the experiences of Israel in the desert, as we reflect on our own experiences where we find we too, create false gods, and forget about the wonders God has done for us. May we discover in our prayer and reflection the wonder of God, the wonder of life, the path to eternity.

Deacon


How many times, if ever, have you put yourself in Abraham’s sandals as a prayerful ‘negotiator’ with God? He asks for mercy and gets a response.  He feels the need to ask for God’s mercy even more so he prays and asks again. And again. And again. And even a fifth time he persists for the sake of the innocent. And God answered each time. And bade His mercy each time. Abraham asked in faith; God shared His mercy.

 

What if God has such mercy in store for us? How would we know if we pray only as we want? If we were to put ourselves in such a position as Abraham, praying for the sake and mercy of others and himself-who knows what will bestowed upon us? And if we pray just as we think we should, could it be that God would take that as our own lack of real faith?

 

Fortunately, blessedly and providentially we have been shown how to pray in many ways, none more clearly than in how Jesus taught us to pray. The Lord’s Prayer is our model to give thanks and praise to God, our Father, and to ask—to petition—Him for His needs for us. As we pray, we do so in such a way that He is reflected in the way we pray and live our faith. More than just ‘repeating’ or ‘reciting’ the words, we can put our hearts in touch with God’s love for us as He accepts our praise and petitions.

 

As we continue to persist in prayer and persevere in our faith, we will come to see that it is not that God needs any ‘persuasion’ to change His mind. It will be our faith and prayer that is persuaded to change as we become more aware of His needs and wants for us. The more we pray, the more we know God. The more we know God, the more we know truly His needs for us.






Even with my limited knowledge of gardening I am aware that good rich soil is important to yielding a rich harvest. And as we read again the parable of the sower, it perhaps gives us pause  to reflect on what kind of soil we can be compared to as we ponder the Word of God.

 

As the word is planted in our hearts, what kind of response is engendered in us?  Can we even remember the parable a brief time after reading it or hearing it? As we go about the tasks of our daily lives what kind of effect can be seen because of our response to God's Word?  

 

Word and Eucharist

Our minds are nourished with the very words of God made flesh in our humanity and we are then fed with the body and blood of He who gave Himself so completely in love. He comes in word and sacrament to transform our lives with His presence. Yet, it is our desire that opens the door to life in Him now and forever.

 

Today let us reflect on the direction of our own lives as we till  the soil of our life in Him. As parents perhaps we can think about what Joachim and Anne provided in teaching Mary the ways of God. With the help of God's grace may we devote our energies to being examples of faith to those who journey with us, especially those whom God has in His great love given us the opportunity to create life.

 

God  grant us the joy of experiencing your love in all the encounters of this day.

 

Lord, Make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred; let me sow love.

Where there is injury; let me bring pardon.

Where there is doubt; faith.

Where there is despair; hope.

Where there is darkness; light.

Where there is sadness; joy

O Divine Master grant that I may never seek,

so much to be consoled, as to console.

To be understood as to understand,

To be loved. as to love with all my soul.

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.

It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

May the cross be ever before me!

Deacon





 

A couple of days ago we talked about Matthew’s earlier reference to the sower and what he was sowing. Or more specifically, where he was sowing. From a little later in Matthew 13, we get a clearer explanation about the parable, how it focuses on the success—or lack thereof—of the sower’s efforts, his work, his mission, his journey.

 

We all may have heard of the story or the book ‘A Tree Grows In Brooklyn’ yet for that tree to grow in such a concrete and metal environment, it would need some nurturing. Without it, it would have been another seed on the path—no place to take root, no future to use its gifts. In such a secular world today, who of us can see where our seeds are sown likewise?

 

And what of the seed that ‘flourishes’ from the rocky ground? Some shallow root is established but lasts only as long as the fair weather does. Who of us has faith that comes and goes like the weather?

 

The seed among the thorns has even a better chance to grow as the thorns too need better soil to thrive. But the two cannot live together, at least not very well. Eventually the thorns will choke out the good seed, just as the world chokes out the cries of those who succumb to the anxieties and fruits of the world.

 

The seed in good soil. Wouldn’t this be all of us? Or wouldn’t we at least like for this to be all of us? We say our prayers. We go to mass. We do the good deeds with some volunteer work and serve in some ministries. Up to that point, all is good. All is good we say as we do it all on our time, our schedule, our way. Sometimes convenient. Sometimes a minor inconvenience.

 

The good soil seed affords no compromise and understands the ‘inconveniences’ along the way, minor or not. It is our commitment to nurture and to yield good fruit. Let us share then as we have been shared with—the gifts and talents we have received—and continue to sow and 'bear good fruit' in the rich soil of our ever-growing faith. 





 

Like all the apostles, James had his path to holiness. He and his brother John had their goal, albeit infused from and by their mother, to be seated on the left and right upon entering the kingdom. At least they had the good thought to presume they were headed that way, even if their egocentric actions might have kept them from getting that far.

 

Like all the apostles, we too should all have and be on our path to holiness. Also like the apostles, we should have some goals, eternal life being the ultimate. Unlike them though, we are not yet saints and we are not yet dead, at least not in the physical sense. Being in that condition allows us then the opportunity to put ourselves in the position God would have us be in to serve Him.

 

We may not always have to like where we are called to serve and who it is we serve—God knows better and best what we need and who we need to get there. He sent His Son to not only save us from ourselves but to teach us so that we would know better. That included a life of service—a life ‘just so’…





Matthew 13:1-9

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some 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. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

 

We have ears. We have eyes. We have mouths. We have a brain to use them with. The challenge and or problem manifests itself when the connection doesn’t work as it should.

We hear but don’t listen... or want to.

We see but don’t understand... or care to.

We speak but don’t say anything... or think about what we say.

 

For those who are alive in Christ, who find themselves as ‘seeds among the rich soil,’ we are challenged like anyone else, as we strive to listen, understand and spread the kingdom of God not just by our words and thoughts but by our life in Christ. Our witness in action in heart and soul.

 

And like anything planted, some of the seeds find it hard to produce from the soil they’re in, soil they may have chosen to be sown in. Like rocky ground. Like among the thorns. Like on the path.

 

As crazy as it seems, we do that to ourselves. With all the tending to, plowing, watering and weeding, we still find it hard to make ‘good fruit’. Small wonder, given the conditions and elements we’ve left ourselves in. And it will stay that way until we avail ourselves of the opportunity to really ‘hear’ His Word, listen to what He has for us. Until then, we will remain poorly planted, faithless even, with hardened hearts and deaf ears.

The summer time is almost half over. That signals it is time to consider how busy things will get in just a few weeks. Will we become so preoccupied with getting things done, getting the right squares filled, crossing t’s an dotting i’s. Perhaps we need to stop and consider what the Lord is calling us to do and not do. In our determination to get things done we perhaps often lose sight of what the Lord is already doing in all our lives. We are so focused on what we imagine things should be like we often miss the cues.

 

Walking with Jesus, seeing God’s wonders, may require that we slow down and really take time to enter into real heart to heart prayer with God. Jesus spent so much time in prayer, we need to learn from Him. Today’s gospel is a reminder that we are in the family, those who do the will of the Father are family. Do I really take time to realize, really understand that I am a child of God, a member of the family in faith?

 

What is the greatest commandment? Jesus says it quite plainly and unmistakably. How am I doing in response to all that Jesus helps me to understand? Am I really meditating on Jesus Gospel message and making the Word the center of my life?

 

As we gear up for week by week walks with those journeying in the RCIA process I suspect I need to know more about those who will come to see. We need your prayers, we need your response in love for all those who come to seek.

Deacon

Mary! Just by saying her name, Jesus has Mary Magdalene recognize Him. I imagine Jesus has called out my name more than once in this lifetime and too often I did not hear.

 

Today as we celebrated mass again we listened to the Word proclaimed: we’re at the Red Sea with Israel and we looked into the empty tomb with Mary as Father Jack pointed us in the direction of FAITH! All this and the presence of Jesus Himself in the Eucharist as He promised He gave us his flesh and blood to nourish us.

 

With love beyond our imagining when the words of consecration were pronounced, fully present as bread and wine, is the Lord Jesus Himself. “I will be with you always” “Take and eat” This is real food for our spiritual life. Faith! Love!

 

Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI both pointed repeatedly to the Eucharist as the source and summit of faith. We would do well to organize their thought and reflect on devotion to Christ present in the Eucharist. Our demeanor in the presence of these sacred mysteries becomes a teaching in itself. Our dress, our manner of behavior in the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist will do so much to open the eyes of faith for those who are having difficulty seeing.

 

As I reflect on my own life. I remember a time when dressing for Sunday Mass was practically a formal event. What has happened since? I remember the quiet in the presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, a recognition of His presence in our midst. I remember the full participation of the people. I marvel at the memory of their going forward en masse to receive the body of Christ, kneeling at the altar rail clearly in longing to receive the Lord into their beings. Now I sometimes wonder—what has happened? Why this seemingly lackadaisical attitude, sometimes over casual dress, an attitudinal posture that belies the awesomeness of the moment…

 

What can I do to witness to the awesome love that is being expressed?

Deacon



 

There are times that our burdens are lighter than others. Times when we should carry them and do the good works we are called to do. Martha seems to be experiencing one of those sorts of days as she makes ready the house and service for the Lord.


Mary on the other hand has her own idea of service for the Lord, tending to Him in conversation and thankfulness. Neither was in the wrong. They both were doing what they felt needed to be done. They thought they were giving to Him what He wanted… good works in good faith.

In contrast, we can find our own lives like Martha and Mary these days. Some of us scurrying about in good works and good faith, doing what we would think He would have us be doing as opposed to just being. Just being in His presence.


Being still. So still that Jesus would speak clearly to us, to do the one thing He would have us do: be with Him always in all we are and do.





 

There are those people that do things better than we do. Be it sports, cooking, work-specific things, art, singing—those that have skills and gifts often use them and improve according to their time and preference. And then there are the rest of us… lacking in those areas, we do what we can to improve in those things we want to be better at and pretend with the rest.

 

With all that we want to be better at and all that we pretend or presume we are okay with, one thing we should not put on the back burner is our prayer life. For all the sense it makes to mature and grow as an adult with intelligence and wisdom, we focus so much on the material aspects of life and often leave the spirituality behind. And then what happens? Life goes south and we start looking for what God had for us in the first place.

 

The problems we face, we learn now to face with God. In prayer, in faith and petitioning for His forgiveness and asking for His guidance and help. He takes us as we are even in our frailties, our sinfulness and our oneness and ‘me-ness’. He forgives us so that we will forgive others-just as He has taught us to do, no matter how much we have hurt Him, no matter how much we have been hurt. He does that with His love for us. We do that for others through our love for Him and for others.





‘Come to me all you who are heavy burdened.’

Jesus reminds us to turn to Him. We all bear burdens at one  time or another.  Now he offers us another burden. Jesus the master carpenter knows how to make a yoke and he offers us a yoke that is easy, a burden that is light.

 

In the course of life we seem very often to ignore that message. In fact, it seems we are tempted to think that the opposite is true; that the burden is hard, heavy, difficult. Too often we look at life in Christ as a set of rules that infringe on our “happiness”.  We can come to truth only if we are willing to meet  the Lord of life in prayer, desiring to know Him, desiring to love Him.

 

In our Church, and all Catholic churches, Christ is present in the Eucharist.  We know he is present no matter where we may be, but He has chosen to remain with us in Eucharistic reality. How often do we avail ourselves of this reality and spent a few moments in adoration?  What would it take for you to find time to make a stop at the Church and sit with the Lord of life for a few moments?  Or, on Wednesday each week (at Sacred Heart) to plan ahead and spend some minutes with Jesus who is present in the Eucharistic in the Chapel waiting for many of his brothers and sisters to simply come to acknowledge Him, to spend some minutes with Him, to pray with Him, to adore Him. Faith makes us ready to express ourselves by bowing down before Him who loved and loves us beyond what we can ever begin to fathom.

 

In an age where the Church is more and more coming under attack, where sin abounds and is ever regarded as sound behavior acceptable because of cultural changes, more prayer and more grace is needed. An age where children in the womb are being murdered because we have decided it is a valid choice for a woman, an age where at the waning of life it is simply easier to make a decision to end life on our own terms. More love and more prayer and more grace and more forgiveness is needed. In an age where some redefine marriage, ignoring evident truths that clearly define marriage as a union that can create life. More prayer, more love, more grace, more forgiveness, more Christ is needed.

 

Lord, pour forth your grace to strengthen faith, give us courage to live as disciples willing to bear the weight of the cross in our time.

Deacon




The burning bush got Moses’ attention and he responded to God’s messenger. For Moses, the call to return to Egypt caused Him to ask “Who am I that I am to go to Egypt to rescue this people? God’s answer was ‘I will go with you.’

 

Who am I? Any of us can ask this same question and God will respond ‘I am with you.’ On the day you and I were baptized we became children of God. Temples of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it takes some time for us to truly realize that God is with us always.

 

He is My Shepherd! He loves with a love I struggle to understand! He blesses my life in so many ways I forget too often to be grateful. He calls me to live as a disciple of His Son, one who calls others to discipleship.

 

How am I doing, I ask in quiet moments of prayer. Despite my failures and inadequacies He always responds in love. The body of Christ, the Church, a community of disciples is calling us to reach out and bring others to discipleship.

Pray for us.

Deacon

Matthew 11:25-27

At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

 

We are to follow Christ, to have a life centered on Him. That is our call to holiness and someday—who is to say—maybe even sainthood! Shortcomings and sins—all that we have now, all that we have experienced and all that we will have to deal with—God will bring us to His providential potential. What He wants from us is our commitment and trust.

 

As His children, we may not yet have learned all that we need to learn. That’s okay with Him, provided we don’t quit trying to find out more about His love for us. We don’t need to be intellectual giants or scriptural scholars. We need to trust and know in His love and faith in us and our surrender and faithfulness in His will and way for us. Those are the gifts we have from Him and in Him. Let us open them and use them as best and fully as we are able.

Matthew 11:20-24

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

 

If Jesus were to do today what He did in Matthew’s gospel, where do you think He would start? New York? L.A.? Las Vegas? Wichita Falls? Some place besides the U.S.? Which of those cities listed ‘has not repented’ as we have been witness to our own present-day ‘mighty deeds’ Jesus has done for us? The gospel goes on to remind us that other communities would have repented accordingly had Jesus shown His mighty works in their midst. Yet even then, the Day of Judgment will tell on us all.

 

How are we responding to His word today? Are we submitting to His will rather than to the will of others or our own? How much on our path to holiness to do adhere to when the going gets tough? Do we let the gospel reflect how we live in Christ or do we live in such a way that others are hard-pressed to see our faith in us? As Jesus has noted elsewhere, we are either for Him or we are against Him.

 

We do have that choice. God is with us and will be forever. We have to make the call to be with Him. Better are our chances on our judgment day —maybe even better than that of the land of Sodom—then should we choose a more Godly life.

 


OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, JULY 15, 2013

Today on the Church calendar is the Memorial to Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Bonaventure was a Franciscan who distinguished himself by His writings and teachings. In the Office of Reading today, we have an offering of Bonaventure’s thoughts, a reminder of the wonder of the Glory of God in Jesus the Christ.

 

Bonaventure reminds us of the love of Christ, and the importance of our relationship to Him. Too frequently we seek knowledge as the basis of faith, and fail to realize that though knowledge is certainly needed, that what is truly the core of our faith is the love relatio0nship in Christ that we are called to live.

 

Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote beautiful about the love of Christ, and we would do well to read and reflect on his writings for present day. Each day of life offers us opportunity to develop our relationship with Christ and His Church. In daily prayer, in the celebration of Eucharist we become more aware of what it means to be part of the body of Christ, the Church. Slowly and steadily we come to realize that the Church is not simply an institution but truly is the Body of Jesus Christ and as members of that body we truly function as Christ in the world. Each of us is called according to our gifts and talents to function in that body. Paul in Corinthians tells of different functions as he refers to priest, prophets, teachers,and on. We are all to discern how we are to give back to God in gratefulness for all He has done for us.

 

Worldly concerns, created things, so often distract us from the goal of life. When we make the effort to see the creator in all things, when we make prayer a centerpiece of each day, when we come to share in the bread of life and live what we become in Eucharist we are more able to retain our focus on the ultimate purpose of life. What could be more glorious than life eternal with love?

Deacon

 
 


OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, JULY 13, 2013
 
                                              
 


OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, JULY 12, 2013

James 2:14-17

Faith and Works

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

 

Free will.

Free to think.

Free to then do what we think we should do, following our conscience.

Even if that ‘thought to action’ process of our conscience may fall outside of what God would call us to do. And since God would never call us to do evil, then it would be our choice—our free will—to go against Him. Simply stated, that’s what is called sin.

 

In a homily I heard recently, for some believers, they would prefer their religion to be easier, softer and less of a struggle. In a sense, fewer if any crosses.

“Believe in Jesus and your life will be easy from here on out!”

“Jesus knows your sins-that small stuff, its okay. It’s the big stuff He’s worried about.”

 

Not for those who believe as we would believe. There will be crosses to bear. There will be suffering, sometimes long-bearing suffering. Jesus did not ever say following and believing in Him would be easy; He did say it would be worth it. That is what we believe as Catholics. Not as a shopping, ‘I’ll take some of this and leave some of that’ Catholic either. But as the Catholic Church teaches, so we believe. Not blindly but with full faith and trust.

 

As Jesus Christ as our guide, the Church as our Tradition, and Scripture as the basis for all what we believe, we have thousands of years to trust and have faith in.

Matthew 10:11-13

Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave.As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.

 

One can wonder how there can be ‘inner peace’ with so much technology around these days. In the mainstream, in the streets, in the workplace, in the homes, we are surrounded if not distracted by, the avenues of staying in touch, sound bites and messaging. Even in many churches and ecclesial communities, it’s hard to distance one’s self from the display and the array of this message or that display of scriptural communication. Yet is it really communication or is it distraction?

 

Jesus took off to the hills to get away. He would go to the far side of the sea to find peace. He would do what He had to do for His prayer and spiritual welfare. With what and who He had to deal with and work with, one could presume He would have done that quite often. He instructed His disciples to do the same wherever they were sent. Should they find some there, stay there with them and share. If not, wish them well and move on.

 

How are we any different as His disciples today? Way different, in that we have all that stuff mentioned in the opening paragraph keeping us from doing what we’ve been called to do. This new app, that new device, this new program, that new app. We all succumb to them in the name of and sake of time, fun and just plain ignorance sometimes. Yet we know we need more of the spiritual balance and peace that Jesus sought instead of the distractions and idleness we find ourselves in at times.

 

We know what the spiritual peace feels like. We know because we’ve been there and have experienced the presence of Christ with us. We also know the challenge that it takes to get there. We have to be willing to accept it and hear Jesus and respond to Him as He calls. As humble and ‘unworthy’ as we are, He will take us the rest of the way.

 
 


OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, JULY 10, 2013

This past weekend saw the publication of Lumen Fidei, (The Light of Faith), the first encyclical of Pope Francis. It was a joint effort of an encyclical begun by Benedict XVI and completed by Francis. In this Year of Faith it is a pertinent letter to all the faithful. Hopefully many will avail themselves an opportunity to read and reflect on their words. I was able in this age of technology to download this letter and read it on Saturday afternoon. Take time to get a copy and sit and read. Once we have read it, then we might can share our own insights as to how this Year of Faith will be a benefit to us as we ponder the insights of both Benedict and Francis on the Light of Faith.

 

There are so many distractions, so many idols competing for our life of faith. Are we able and willing to spend time daily reflecting on the faith direction of our lives? Are we a people of prayer? Do we have a time each day where we consciously and deliberately come into the presence of the Lord and seek to know and understand His call to us? No matter who you are, where you are, God is present in your life. He gave you life! He sustains that life and in love remains ever available to you. Can you gaze for any time upon an image of the crucified Jesus and fail to have an inkling of immense love? Can you ponder the incarnation Christ becoming enfleshed in the womb of the Virgin Mary and not realize something wondrously mysterious is taking place?

 

Birth, life among us, ignominious death on a cross, RESURRECTION, Ascension and now pleading for us at the right hand of the Father! The same Lord Jesus, who walked the earth in Galilee, who performed miracles, signs and wonders, died, was buried and rose from the dead is present to you now. Daily when the Eucharist is celebrated the mystery occurs, Christ is offered to the Father along with all our needs and ourselves united to Him. We the baptized are clothed in Christ; truly we are his body, Christ visible to the world. Each day the decision is before each of us. Do I live this day for myself or like St Paul says, I live no longer for myself, Christ lives in me.

 

How I work, play, relate, love—does it come closer each day to reflecting Christ in my corner of the world? By my own strength, my own power, it is not so but with God's grace, with constant awareness of His eternal presence in all circumstances holiness can be attained. Praise Him. Make Him a constant companion. As noted by Blessed Lawrence, ‘Practice the Presence of God.’

Deacon



OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, JULY 9, 2013

The “sorrow of the world” disturbs the heart, plunges it into anxiety, stirs up unreasonable fears, disgusts it with prayer, overwhelms and stupefies the brain, deprives the soul of wisdom, judgment, resolution and courage, weakening all its powers; in a word, it is like a hard winter, blasting all the earth’s beauty, and numbing all animal life; for it deprives the soul of sweetness and power in every faculty. Should you, my daughter, ever be attacked by this evil spirit of sadness, make use of the following remedies. “Is any among you afflicted?” says St. James, “let him pray.”

Prayer is a sovereign remedy; it lifts the mind to God, Who is our only Joy and Consolation. But when you pray let your words and affections, whether interior or exterior, all tend to love and trust in God.

St. Francis de Sales

 

When we are overwhelmed by the seemingly insurmountable odds that sometimes overtake us, our first response is often to run for cover… and not the cover of the arms of our Savior. Not to speak for everyone else but so often we, (I), reach out for a family member, a friend or confidant to entrust our worries and fears. When the walls are caving in and the water rising, it is easy to forget about prayer as one tries to shore up the remaining structure and keep the water from flowing in.

 

As St. Francis notes, ‘sorrows of the world disturb the heart’ and in turn, disrupt our way of life with anxiety and fear. Our own world and its sorrows impact us in ways beyond our comprehension. And we find little solace in the sense of healing that the passing of time brings. Eventually, if not ultimately, in a worldly sense and with regard only to the pain within, we step outside of the pain within and into the pain of healing found in prayer. Prayer for our forgiveness. Prayer for the forgiveness of others. Prayer for the healing and the closeness and the joy to replace the emptiness and the pain.

 

Were it not ever for any sadness, any emptiness, any pain, we would never know life with joy. Yet, that is our choice with free will. God sent His Son to save us from our choices of sin and death and with Him, we can choose that life, that joy of salvation. It’s not so much that we go out seeking the pain and suffering for the sake of pain and suffering but we do seek to have a better understanding of it when we are called to carry that cross. That is how we grow in faith, in hope and in God’s love and mercy.

 

ROMANS 5:1-5

Faith, Hope, and Love

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.

 
 


OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, JULY 8, 2013

John 12:24-26

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

 

For a seed of wheat to do any good, it has to change from what it is into something else. It has to die from and of itself so that it can grow into even more wheat… ‘much fruit’ as noted in John’s gospel.

 

It is not quite that simple for it just to fall to the ground. There is some nurturing involved; the planting, the watering, the weeding, the fertilizing, the watering again, more weeding. It would nice if the plant would grow just by itself but if it did, there would be no telling what all that would grow with it besides what was originally planted.

 

As much as it is up to the seed to give up its life, it still needs to be tended to. Jesus wants us to give up our life for Him so that He may better tend to us—not as the world would tend to us. That is why we should choose then to follow Him, serving Jesus Christ as our Savior and not the things of the world as our master. We cannot serve them both. Let us surrender our lives as grains of wheat to grow in service and love for Him.

 
 


OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, JULY 7, 2013

Luke 10:1-4

At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.  Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.

In the gospel, Jesus sent out seventy-two ahead of Him, to the places He intended to visit. He made mention that the harvest was great but the workers were few… but with some seventy disciples to carry out His message, that would seem like a decent number of folks—at least six times more than the twelve He started with.

 

Today, He calls on us to do much of the same thing. Not so much in groups or teams of twelve or twenty-four or seventy-two but one by one. We are the laborers in the field where the need is great, in a society where the values of before have been ‘de-valued’ and  a life is considered a scientific entity, not even sacred, to many, even those who claim to be Christian and Catholic. So, yes the work before is great and we are being sent out like lambs among the wolves.

 

And that is okay. For He is greater than all that we will face. His love, His Word will prevail as we continue to bring His Word to others and proclaim the Good News. By ourselves, it may seem overwhelming but that’s the beauty of it—we are not doing it alone. He is with us every step of the way. He was with the disciples then, He is with us now as we go out to all the world, one by one. As Jesus made a difference to each one of His disciples by His presence, we can make a difference in the lives of others with ours. Even if it’s just one life at a time… one life can change another.

Let the work—and the harvest—begin.

 
 

OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY,  JULY 6, 2013

The Necessity of Prayer.

PRAYER opens the understanding to the brightness of Divine Light, and the will to the warmth of Heavenly Love—nothing can so effectually purify the mind from its many ignorances, or the will from its perverse affections.

It is as a healing water which causes the roots of our good desires to send forth fresh shoots, which washes away the soul’s imperfections, and allays the thirst of passion.

St. Francis de Sales

 

How do we spend our time when we have time to spend—or wait… like waiting in lines, at stop lights, at the dentist office—any place that you would usually have little else to do but, you know, pray?

 

As noted by St. Francis, prayer opens us up to God’s divine light and the warmth of His heavenly love. What a beautiful description—enough alone to bring us closer to a prayer life. That alone may not make us experts but it will open doors and windows to pass through and feel the air of the Holy Spirit as we learn more how to pray every day.

 

It is God that calls us to Him. In our response, the Holy Spirit helps us answer and listen to what He has to give us and will for us. St. Paul notes in Romans 8:26—‘The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.’ Without a doubt, without even a word, our thoughts then are made known even as we bring ourselves and make ourselves open to Holy Spirit.

 

Like anything else, it takes commitment to make a life of prayer. And, like a lot of those other things, we may never fully realize a ‘perfect’ prayer life. Not a problem. As long as we continue to transform, continue to grow, continue to find ourselves in a better position to pray and be the things God has willed for us to be and do, we are well on the way to living—and praying—a life in His presence.

 


OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JULY 5, 2013

Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

 

How many times has it happened to you that you’ve spontaneously answered when Jesus called? Like Matthew did in the gospel today, have you just dropped what you were doing and set out to do what He asked you to do?

 

For sure the answer is yes, and yes for the many times Jesus has called us to be His instrument of peace, His messenger of comfort, His disciple of salvation. Those times we’ve experienced His love, His comfort, His peace so deeply at work in us, we could not deny the power of His grace within us. That is what happens when we commit our lives to living with Him, fully and completely; giving of our first fruits, not what we have left over or to be with Him when it is convenient.

 

Jesus knows our schedule. He knows our plans—He knows what we need. And by calling us to Him, we become more like Him, not Him like us; there is nothing that we can do or say or give Him that will make Him any greater than He already is. That is why we need of Him.

 

As the disciples Jesus first called, from fishermen to tax collectors, all had their weaknesses and sins. We are no different today from administrators to zookeepers, we are disciples of different breeds, ordinary, yet with extraordinary faith.

 


OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JULY 4, 2013
INDEPENDENCE DAY

Psalm 115

Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name give glory because of your mercy and faithfulness.

Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”

Our God is in heaven and does whatever he wills.

 

On this day of our national independence, let us recall those that have gone before us that are now with us and those that will come after us to further our cause for our freedom.

 

Let us also make note more importantly that our independence is of this worldly life, not of our spiritual life. For all we have and all we are is truly and fully dependent on our Loving God. Our life, our love, our very freedom we have today is from the abundance of His grace and love and mercy.

 

As we give thanks and praise to those who fight for our continued freedom, let us give glory and praise to our God of power and might Who makes all things possible. Indeed, our God is in His heaven and does as is His will. Let us all trust in His will, His way and may we all be blessed in His mercy and compassion.

 

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

                                 

 

May you be blessed by the LORD, maker of heaven and earth.

The heavens belong to the LORD, but he has given the earth to the children of Adam.

It is we who bless the LORD, both now and forever. Hallelujah!



OFFER IT UP!    WEDNESDAY, JULY, 2013

John 20:24-29

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

 

Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle

It seems there are times in our lives that we need to be like Thomas—we need to have Jesus take us by the hand and lead us to where He wants us so we can see what He wants us to see to believe in Him. We pray and petition for guidance and yet we doubt and miss our answers. We have faith but it is something wide and encompassing yet it might not be so deep and strongly rooted in Christ.

 

Thomas eventually saw, felt and believed. Jesus was there for Him to show him what He needed from him. Without all that Jesus had for him, he would not be His disciple. Without all Jesus has for us, we would not be His disciples, either.

 

Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.

 

Though our hands have not felt the wounds of Christ, though our eyes have not seen the fullness of the Risen Lord, we do see Him in the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament, the Body and Blood of Christ. We do grow in our faith as Jesus does take our hands to lead us in our journey to the glory of eternal life.

Peace be with you.

 
 
 


OFFER IT UP!    TUESDAY, JULY 2, 2013

Matthew 8:23-27

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.

The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

 

What’s the first thing we (the singular ‘we’ here in this case) often do when all hell is breaking loose around us? ‘We’ certainly don’t take much consolation in the peace and comfort we had come to know just prior to the storm we are currently experiencing. The storm becomes our focus either through poor planning or just as being in the path of the wrath at the time.

 

The apostles were in a similar situation as their boat was being overtaken by the waves of the storm. They wanted to follow Jesus so they did. They were not prepared so much for what was to come on the sea. Maybe they should have been. Yet as it was, poor planning on their part constituted an emergency on the part of Jesus. Or so they thought. In their fear and anxiety, they woke Him up as if to say ‘Do something!’

 

And He did. He calmed the storm.

Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.

 

And the disciples were amazed at what happened. As we seem to be amazed when Jesus responds to our calling, our prayer, our faith when it seems that all hope is lost and we are about to be taken over by waves of doubt and fear. They went from being afraid to being amazed. They were changed by what Jesus did for them. We are changed by what Jesus does for us. Through our prayers, through our faith, through His love, grace and mercy for us, our storms are calmed and His peace is ours.

 


OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, JULY 1, 2013

Matthew 8:18-22

When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other shore. A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”

Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”

 

We talked about this a little bit yesterday, from Luke’s gospel. Today, the scribe had intentions of following Jesus, telling Him he would ‘follow you wherever you go.’ As well intentioned as he might be, Jesus wants him to be prepared for what lies ahead as there will be no place for him to lay his head as the Son of Man will no such place to do so either. In other words, this is no easy trip you are about to set out on my friend.

 

It is not such an easy trip for us either as we make our choice to follow Jesus Christ. What that means is to give up what we ‘think’ we need to have as our own. What that means is to quit ‘having’ for ourselves and start ‘giving’ all for others. What that means is to serve our only one true God and not what the world would have believe and serve.

 

As much as we have come to love our family, we have come to love Jesus Christ more. And loving Him can be more than a priority for us; it can be a way of life, one that we can grow into and become so unconditionally in love with Him. A love that is so engrained, so fulfilled in us that we don’t have to choose to love Him, we just ‘are’ in love with Him all the time. A love that refuses to falter; a love that finds ways to grow and mature; a love that reflects our total commitment to Him, our family, our friends and all we witness to. Let us continue to thrive spiritually in the love Jesus has called us to in Him.