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

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Offer It Up! Thursday, March 31, 2011

Offer It Up! Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Forgiveness.

Today's scripture readings from Daniel and from Matthew's gospel are a reminder for all of us to reflect on and learn how to forgive. We have been forgiven so much, most of us, those failures or omissions that are truly an attitude of ingratitude to the gracious God creator and lover of us all. Then also, our actions have not always been without sin, and too often hurtful to others especially those close to us.


Forgive me as I forgive. What audacity I have to even pray this prayer. God, without you, without Your grace, I am unable to forgive. I am too frequently blind to my own sinfulness. Help me to see myself through your eyes, and to love myself as you love me, honestly accepting my warts and scars and always seeking to learn to live according to your will and plan.

May the desire to do you will become a fire within, and lead me to an understanding of knowing to always forgive. Truly in your creation the sun shines on all, and the rain falls on all. We are all images of you. But, I am blind to this truth most of the time. Heal my blindness and let the fire of your love energize my life and fill me with a desire for you in all circumstances of life.


Send forth the Holy Spirit to fill hearts that are open to His presence and enable us to renew and enliven the mystical body of Jesus, the Church.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Third week in the season of Lent. How are we doing? If we've slipped a little in what we intended to do during Lent, now is the time to renew our resolve to draw closer to Jesus. One thing we can be sure of is that we will hear within the voices of those spirits that long to lead us away from growing in holiness.

In the daily scriptures for the Liturgy of the Word, we meet Naaman the Syrian, and perhaps we can identify with him. Seeking to be healed of leprosy, he hears about the prophet in Israel from one of his servants and goes to seek him out. Sounds like our modern day gurus who tout remedies for weight loss, or cigarette smoking aid to quitting. When Naaman is given simple instructions to follow, go was in the Jordan river seven times, he is disappointed. He was looking for something more dramatic… this might sound a little familiar to some of us; our expectations sometime blind us to the simple solutions to our struggles.

I wonder sometimes if we are incapable of really imagining the awesomeness of God's love and mercy, incapable of believing, really believing in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. What does our body language, our behavior in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament say we believe?

As I enter the second half of this Lenten Season Lord, give me the graces I need to truly live as your child, as a brother to the Lord Jesus, as one who seeks to love as you love. I need your grace to strengthen me.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Monday, March 28, 2011
Happy Birthday Mary Clare!

Jeremiah 17:7-10

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.
More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.

Spring is just about here.It’s time to get out the lawn mowers, the shovels and trowels, and get to work on the yard.We turn the earth, we fertilize, we plant, and we water…and then we wait.If we plant seeds, we go out every day to see if something pops out of the ground.If we plant a seedling, we check on it every couple of days to make sure it is taking root and not wilting away.

We are responsible as gardeners to make sure that our little seedlings take root and grow.Some of us are better at it than others, but God, as the ultimate gardener, is perfect at it.Look at our earth.Look at the beauty of all He has created, including our own bodies and souls.Right now, I have a dog sitting in my lap who has a white body with a black head, a white nose, and black spots spattered around on his body.How perfect is that?And how amazing is our God who created such a creature to be my companion.

If we, as imperfect humans, work so diligently to keep our gardens in decent shape, just think how much better God is at keeping the garden of our hearts, minds, and souls in shape.If only we let Him!Let us strive to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and to be that thriving plant that soaks up His love, His courage, His strength to grow healthy and strong and be firmly rooted in our faith. lgboyd

2 Peter 3:18

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Offer It Up! Sunday, March 27, 2011

Life is but a stopping place,
A pause in what's to be,
A resting place along the road
To sweet eternity.

We all have different journeys,
Different paths along the way,
We all were meant to learn some things,
But never meant to stay.

Our destination is a place
Far greater than we know.
For some, the journey's quicker,
For some, the journey's slow.

And when the journey finally ends,
We'll claim a great reward
And find an everlasting peace,
Together with the Lord.

- Author Unknown

Offer It Up! Saturday, March 26, 2011

Galations 6:4

Each one should judge his own conduct... without having to compare it with what someone else has done.

A woman was riding on a train. Suddenly she caught sight of a white cottage on a hillside. Against the backdrop of dark green grass, the cottage sparkled in the sun and was a lovely sight.

Months later the same woman was on the same train. Now it was winter and snow covered the ground. The woman remembered the cottage and watched for it. This time she was shocked. Against the backdrop of the sparkling snow, the cottage looked dirty and drab.

There's a lesson here. We tend to compare ourselves with those around us. The story of the cottage shows how misleading this can be. It all depends on who happens to be around us when we make our judgment.

What criterion should we use to judge how well we are doing?

From the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius; Creation


Offer It Up! Friday, March 25, 2011

The 100 Dollar Bill

A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $100 bill in a room of 200 people, and asked,
"Who would like this $100 bill?"
Hands started going up.
He said, "I am going to give this $100 bill to one of you, but first let me do this...."
He proceeded to crumple the $100 up.
He then asked, "Who still wants it?"
Still the hands were up in the air.
"Well".....he replied,
"What if I do this?".....and he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe.
He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now who still wants it?" he asked. Hands still shot up!
"My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it...because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $100."

Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt, by the decisions we make, and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what
will happen, you never lose your value! Dirty....clean.....crumpled....or finely creased..... you are still priceless to those who love you.

The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE.

You are special-don't ever forget it. Count your blessings. NOT your problems.

Submitted by Reno V.


Offer It Up! Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Principles and Foundations

“In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some responsibility. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response to our life forever with God.

Our only desire and our once choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads me to God’s deepening life in me.

Source: Draw me into your friendship: A literal translation and a contemporary reading of The spiritual exercises (Series IV--Studies on Jesuit topics) (Paperback) by David L Fleming S.J. (Author)


Offer It Up! Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Matthew 5:2-12

He began to teach them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Don't Worry! As we sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to the Sermon on the Mount, are we struck by His words? Look around you—doesn't Our Father care for everything? The birds in all their wonderful colorful coats; the grass of the fields green—flying and full of life and lush one day, dried up and gone the next. All reminders of God's wonder, God's awesomeness, God's concern over the tiniest detail of the wonder of all creation.

I so quickly forget who is in charge in my sincere desire to "do good". I too often look at life through my own lens rather than continue to trust in Our Father's bountiful love. Too often I get caught up in what I think is right, failing to see that God inspires all. I must learn to listen, that is, to obey. I must strive daily to trust that God truly is pouring out his love. I hope that the recent response to the man on the street was sufficient, money can help at times. I thank you Lord, for the moment of Joy in being able to easily part with it and hopefully provide a need. His promise to return "a loan" was not necessary but I believe it is a moment of grace and perhaps growing awareness of your presence and love in the course of our striving to love one another.

It is in those ordinary seemingly insignificant moments that I find you Lord. All those plans and schemes on how to change things. What are they Lord but too often our own egos trying to do right. But we fail to truly understand the message you keep repeating: Love one another, love as I have loved and love you.

What is love but to embrace the good of the Other. All others. Beginning with the vocation to love my other self, my life partner, the one who completes me, the one who with me has shared life and love in creating new life. The new life that you have entrusted to our care?

How many opportunities missed to teach love as we have been called to do. We long to proclaim your gospel, we agonize over so many ways to lead others to you, yet we fail too often in the very essence of your call to Love. We place conditions, we write laws, all in a sincere desire to create a world that we believe you will to be. We ask the same questions that were asked when you walked among us in human flesh. The response you give is the same. Our response? In a million places and more you are crucified today and every day.
Today, the Lord's Day will be celebrated in Churches throughout the world. People will gather for an hour, for most, be offered the experience of your presence as the bread of life. It is estimated by some "experts" that some 70 to 80 percent do not believe you are present in the bread of life. If this is an accurate assumption what must be the response of the remnant who believe.

As my thoughts wander this morning, Lord, hear prayer of my heart. Mold me. Let Wisdom guide all my actions this day, and every day, that I may be immersed in your love and thereby able to love all others as you will, and as you love. Awaken in me with each breath of life a passionate desire to see you in every person and to love as you would love. Help me to die to the kind of self-concern that leads to pride and being judgmental. Purify my heart so completely that I may see the good in all. Amen.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Psalm 19:15

Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Words and Thoughts.It is near impossible not to have one or the other going on within ourselves throughout the day.Words and thoughts control much of how our day goes even though we rarely stop to think about it that way.Even in our sleep, we have thoughts and dreams that remain with us and sometimes interrupt our sleep for worry.

The Psalmist figured it out.We must focus on words and thoughts that please the Lord in order to serve Him effectively and sincerely…and to have pure joy in our lives.In order to do that, we have it give it all over to God.Until we do, we will struggle to figure out how to rid ourselves of negative thoughts about ourselves or others, about our jobs or our financial situation, about the weather or the traffic.

Some of us like to talk and talk and talk about things, thinking that if we get it all out of our system, we will feel better.Some of us like to sulk, where the words become thoughts and the thoughts roll around in our heads until we believe we are going crazy (this would be me).The problem with just talking and talking is that we tend to say more than we should; meaning it soon becomes gossip of the worst kind.The problem with sulking is that we lose all perspective; meaning we end up with the proverbial mountain made from a mole hill.

One way of focusing on words and thoughts that please the Lord is to give it all to him as things happen.The minute you hear yourself grumbling, verbally or not, stop and thank the Lord for that person, place, or thing that has your attention.Thank Him for all that He is to you and for that He brings into your path of life.Blessings come from all that God sends in our direction.We might not see it that way at the moment, but we must believe that all things work together for good for those that love the Lord. lgboyd

Psalm 103:2-5

Bless the LORD, my soul; do not forget all the gifts of God,

Who pardons all your sins, heals all your ills, delivers your life from the pit, surrounds you with love and compassion, fills your days with good things; your youth is renewed like the eagle's.


Offer It Up! Monday, March 21, 2011

Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down and do not return there
till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

This is an object lesson.Just as a school teacher might use a ball on a piece of string to show the class how the earth rotates around the sun, our Lord uses the rain and snow to show us how His word functions in our lives.Just as the rain and snow come down to replenish the earth, making it beautiful and fertile for growing crops, so does God’s word in our lives.Just as the rain and snow create the right environment to grow the crops to feed us and keep us healthy, so does God’s word in our lives.Just as the rain and snow eventually evaporates and heads back up into the sky to replenish the system for more rain and snow, so does God’s word in our lives.What a perfect and beautiful way to remind us that His word is always being showered down upon us and is there for the taking.

But, we can only experience this cycle of God’s word if we are ready to receive it and act on it.The more we allow this cycle to be active in our lives, the more fruitful and fertile we are to be used by God to achieve His purpose.How sad to think that we might not listen and let God’s word sit around to collect dust.How sad to think that the Lord is there, waiting for His word to return to Him as a sign that we love Him and desire to do His will.We would do well not to keep Him waiting.

Lord, every time I see rain or snow or any kind of weather, let me be reminded of how You shower us with Your Word.Let me be reminded of the good Your Word brings into my life and give me the courage to share it with others. lgboyd


Offer It Up! Sunday, March 20, 2011

1 Peter 5:6-7

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon Him because He cares for you.

Be real, people. Just like that television doctor Phil guy says.

More importantly, be authentic. Authentic in that God wants us to be who we are for Him, not something made up for the rest of the world. How can we put ourselves in a better position to do His will if we are constantly conforming to the expectations of those around us? Who are we then-ourselves—our authentic selves—or someone they want us to be?

What are we afraid of? Being found out? Being something that no one else will like? Being unloved? Where is the sincerity in that? Where is the truth in following God’s plan in any of that? When are the questions going to stop?

The questions stop when we stop with the pretenses. When we stop the lies and sins and put on the reality of God’s Love for us. When we put ourselves on a path toward holiness with Him and in Him. Humbly and gracefully. That is our challenge then, to spend more of our time on things of eternity than on things of the world. There won’t be any concern then for being ‘found out’, as your life with Christ will be open for all to see. Your authentic personality just like the doctor ordered.


Offer It Up! Saturday, March 19, 2011
Solemnity of the Feast of St. Joseph

Matthew 1:18-21

When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

Where are the men like Joseph today? Guys who, given the choice to ‘fight or flight’, stand up for the truth. Who believe that what is right is right, even though it is not always popular and that what is always popular is not always right.

There was no chest-beating, look-at-me-I’m-staying. He assumed his role as the father to the Savior of the World as the angel commanded him to stay and be with Mary. He did as a father would do and provided for them and raised a Son. The Son for us all.

Remember St. Joseph today for all he was and is as a model of humility and strength and courage. Live like he did every day.


Prayer to St. Joseph

Oh, St. Joseph,
whose protection is so great, so prompt, so strong,
before the throne of God,
I place in you all my interests and desires.
Oh, St. Joseph,
do assist me by your powerful intercession,
and obtain for me from your Divine Son
all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power,
I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers.
Oh, St. Joseph,
I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms;
I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.
Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me and
Ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.
St. Joseph, Patron of departed souls - pray for me.

Amen.


Offer It Up! Friday, March 18, 2011
1947TONY2007

Ezekiel 18:21-22

But if the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced.

Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord GOD.

Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?

How about that? All we have to do is turn from the sins we’ve committed and we shall see the kingdom of God? Just like the commercial says ‘Oh wait, there’s more!’

We have to continue to on that same path then…

Obey His commandments…

Do what is right and just…

Forgive as we have been forgiven…

Seek to live at peace with everyone…

Have a heart of charity with all…

Deny ourselves….

Pick up our cross…

And follow Him.

Piece of pie or cake, right? Not hardly. As a matter of fact, the more we find ourselves living as God has called us to do, the more difficult it becomes. Our path to holiness is not nearly as broad as we’ve been accustomed. For sure, since we make this transformation, this decision on a daily basis to follow Him, it will make our lives clearer in that we know now what not to be doing. It’s the trust and surrender and giving the rest of our lives to Him and letting Him lead us—that is where the hard part comes in.

Rejoice as He rejoices with us. Know that you are doing good as you have been called to do. The efforts, the trials and the pains will all be worth your eternal gain. Isn't that right, Tony?


Offer It Up! Thursday, March 17, 2011
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Romans 5:1-2
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.
Fight fire with fire. Some do and some don't. Firefighters in the city don't. Why tax their resources any more than they have to? Why put at risk more lives, more property? Why not use the skills they have learned and have come to know, to bring the flames under control? Their years of experience and knowledge help them with all sorts of fires-what good does it do to cause further damage and potential harm?
Likewise, when we get sideways with others or they get sideways with us, we often want to lash out with our own torching, if not flame-throwing, venom. What's wrong with a little gasoline on what's already burning? And while they're at it, how about a strafing mission with a bit of napalm to really get things toasty? And with apologies to Robert Duvall, aren't there some that just love the smell of napalm in the morning?
What more is accomplished than just more desolation? More hopelessness as the flames continue to burn? So if they just let it burn, so goes the relationship. What is left of it when the fire finally burns itself out? What is left to pick up but ashes? Was it worth it? Is it worth it?
Hopefully, there are skills we have learned too, to move through these types of 'flame-ups. 'Take away any element of a fire-oxygen, fuel or heat-and you can't have a fire. Cooler heads will prevail as will God's will. And if that happens, you won't need to fight a fire with a fire. You may not even need to fight at all-you'll be dealing with putting the pieces of the relationship back, before you have to sweep up any ashes.


Offer It Up! Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jonah 3:9-10

“Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing wrath, so that we shall not perish.”
When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.

Next time you think your prayers might be falling on deaf ears, take a moment to recall the Ninevites and their plight. A big city full of all the debauchery and depravity one could imagine and look what happened. They prayed. They fasted. They made themselves ‘small’, as God had called them to do.

Not too much if any different than us today. Our lives may not have all the decadence and evilness that corrupted Nineveh but we can guess there is enough ‘stuff’ (that would be sin) that is keeping us from getting closer to living as Jesus has shown us. We can remain in that state or we can choose to take action as did Jonah and the others as they showed God how repentant they were with their actions, with their prayers and with their contrition.

Yes, we can do as they did. No one is saying the sackcloth is a must or the ash-heap is the real deal but we are saying that repentance takes more than just an intention to do better; it takes action and contrition and the faith to grow more into holiness. God was there then to help get us back this far. God is here now to help move us forward with His grace and Love.


Offer It Up! Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Isaiah 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

The nurturing ‘graces’ of rain and snow. The cleansing and purity they bring and present to us. With the rain, we expect and often see the softening of hardened hearts encased in dried sludge and muck; with the snow, a sacred and peaceful existence to soak up all the love God has to give us. And what comes down to us, we offer out and up in return.

We are called to do His will—Isaiah leaves little question about it, if we had one to begin with. And we have His goal to achieve, not ours. With even the smallest bit of Good News in prayer, we can be refreshed, transformed—renewed—by sharing our hearts, minds and bodies with Jesus Christ.

We’ve heard that we are what we eat. By taking more time with Him in the Eucharist, we can also be more like Him through His Body and Blood. We can also be what we read and think. By putting ourselves in a position to read more and pray more, we can become more like Christ, thinking like Him and acting like Him. He’s given us the plan, maybe not as clearly laid out as we would like sometimes. But if we put our trust in Him and hold fast to the grace and mercy and faith that He has shared with us, we can be confident of how it all comes together in the end.

Hebrews 4:15-16

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.

So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help


Offer It Up! Monday, March 14, 2011

Psalm 19:15

Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Words and Thoughts. It is near impossible not to have one or the other going on within ourselves throughout the day. Words and thoughts control much of how our day goes even though we rarely stop to think about it that way. Even in our sleep, we have thoughts and dreams that remain with us and sometimes interrupt our sleep for worry.

The Psalmist figured it out. We must focus on words and thoughts that please the Lord in order to serve Him effectively and sincerely…and to have pure joy in our lives. In order to do that, we have it give it all over to God. Until we do, we will struggle to figure out how to rid ourselves of negative thoughts about ourselves or others, about our jobs or our financial situation, about the weather or the traffic.

Some of us like to talk and talk and talk about things, thinking that if we get it all out of our system, we will feel better.Some of us like to sulk, where the words become thoughts and the thoughts roll around in our heads until we believe we are going crazy (this would be me).The problem with just talking and talking is that we tend to say more than we should; meaning it soon becomes gossip of the worst kind.The problem with sulking is that we lose all perspective; meaning we end up with the proverbial mountain made from a mole hill.

One way of focusing on words and thoughts that please the Lord is to give it all to him as things happen. The minute you hear yourself grumbling, verbally or not, stop and thank the Lord for that person, place, or thing that has your attention. Thank Him for all that He is to you and for that He brings into your path of life. Blessings come from all that God sends in our direction.We might not see it that way at the moment, but we must believe that all things work together for good for those that love the Lord.

Psalm 103:2-5

Bless the LORD, my soul; do not forget all the gifts of God,

Who pardons all your sins, heals all your ills,

Delivers your life from the pit, surrounds you with love and compassion,

Fills your days with good things; your youth is renewed like the eagle's.


Offer It Up! Sunday, March 13, 2011

Genesis 3:6

The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

The first Sunday of Lent and so far so good… we made it to the first weekend without any ‘missteps’ in our Lenten promises, right? Well, for the most part then didn’t we? Not to worry if you had to reconsider the sacrifices you initially made—trust that God is generous and knows what is in your heart.

He told Eve and Adam what was to be expected in the Garden and they too had a change in their hearts. But He still loved them, even though they turned their backs on the plan He had for them. Just like us, God does not turn His back to us, we are the ones who do the turning away. And as with all situations that we find ourselves off of path toward holiness and out of His graces, God is not the one who moved or made the choice…

So what do we have to do? The answer is obvious. Get back on the path, turn back to Him. He’s there waiting for us to trust in Him again. Just as He had explained it early on to Adam and Eve, He will explain to us again. And will continue to do so till we get it right. As long as we hand over to Him our hearts and souls—and plans for our own lives.

Matthew 4:11

Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him


Offer It Up! Saturday, March 12, 2011

Isaiah 58:9b-14

Thus says the LORD: If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; Then the LORD will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails. The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up; “Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you, “Restorer of ruined homesteads.”

If you hold back your foot on the Sabbath from following your own pursuits on my holy day; if you call the Sabbath a delight, and the LORD’s holy day honorable; if you honor it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice then you shall delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

There is that insurance commercial campaign that reminds us that life is full of ‘ifs’, with the obvious ‘if’ right in the middle of the word, life. The approach they take is that their company will be a safety net of sorts for those types of ‘ifs’ in life that cause a person or family hardship, mostly of the financial kind. If the market doesn’t do well, if your company restructures and you are ‘restructured’ out of a job, if a family member were to get sick—those are some very painful ifs for sure.

Isaiah gives us some ifs of a different slant—some that may keep the aforementioned at bay and if not, will help us find our way through them as best as we can. Following God’s plan for us as He has laid out—keeping His day holy, seeking His interests-not ours, speaking with kindness and not with malice—if we do these things, our lives will be nourished to even greater heights. As in life there is an if, also in the word gift is one. We should treat His gift to us as Isaiah has reminded us.

We know there will be challenges, lots of them at times. Those are the time for us to call out to Him for His guidance and not to trust on our own ways to get us through. He brought us this far to begin with. We should be sure that He will get us the rest of the way as He wills us.


Offer It Up! Friday, March 11, 2011

Isaiah 58:1-9a

Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

Giving up this and quitting that for the duration of Lent. Really, what does it get us if we don’t recognize what we are sacrificing? Won’t smoke? Drink alcohol? Give up candy? Do we give it up only to inhale, slam down, and scarf up the stuff the moment Lent is over—who are we really kidding here? No one. At all.

It is not about the show but it is all about the glow from within. What Isaiah talks about when ‘keeping a day of penance’ a person does not make him or herself acceptable so much with the ashes and sackcloth. Probably doesn’t hurt but there is more to it than that. Much like our faith—there is more to it than just having it: what we do with it is also important.

So as we fast and abstain and don’t do stuff over our days in the desert, we should remember that we should also being doing stuff to replace what is not going on. You may not be setting any one free from their chains at the prison but you may set someone free from their grief by visiting them. You may not be able to give your meal to the hungry but you may work the food line at the mission and . You may not be able to see all those on the sick list at your parish or church but the one you do see, you may save their life for one more day. You’ll see then that it is not about the more we do but the less we are, with God’s glory as our salvation.


Offer It Up! Thursday, March 10, 2011

Luke 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”

He didn’t say it to be taken lightly. He knew what His life was meant to bring for them. And they—we—were still not quite clear on the concept. If there were a wake-up call to start out the 40 days of Lent, this passage would serve as good as any.


It may not be quite as simple for some us as a-b-c, but He tells to a: deny ourselves-this life is not about us so get beyond that and on to living for others; b: take up our cross-and it may be more than one from a daily one to a momentary one to a seemingly life-long one… the crosses are ours to shoulder and to share with Him; and c: follow Him-don’t make your own path. Choose the one He has brought you to.


We may put into practice any of the three at different times in our lives and things may seem to be going well but when we have all three together, we then know we are doing fully as He has called us to do. That is where the rubber meets the road on our paths—losing our lives for the sake of our salvation. What else is there to gain beyond that?


Offer It Up! Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

Brothers and sisters: We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

'Are you hungry?'
The question came out of my mouth and soon as it did, I realized that there are not many questions that could be asked that have such an obvious (read here: stupid) answer as this one.
I was there to drop off some food at the mission. No one had come out to take the pans of chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetables, rolls and salad we had left over from our volunteer dinner at our parish. I did not want to throw the still warm food away and had just said a prayer to help me figure out what to do.
Prayer answered but not without a bit of smallness-humility-learned. He had walked up to the dumpster about 10:05 and started scrounging for whatever it was he could find when I offered my brilliance in communication. Oh, he would have been excused for any sort of quick repartee or retort along the lines of 'Well, yeah', 'Duh!', or even 'What the hell do you think?' but simply replied, 'Yes sir' and went on about his search.
So, since once was not enough for it to sink in... 'Are you hungry?' came out again. Still the gentleman, he came over and again said he was in fact in need of some food. I asked if he was feeding his family and he replied he was and then his eyes seem to light up as I asked if he could carry all that was here and he assured me that he could. He noted that he was within walking distance and it would not be a problem to carry the food. I stacked the aluminum trays and bags in his arms and just as the last bag was placed, I said 'God bless you.'
I don't recall him saying anything after that but I do recall catching a glimpse into his eyes as he looked up. Words were not necessary to see into what God had planned for the start of this Lenten season for me. It is all providence. Prayer. Trust. Blessings. Surrender. Renewal. It is a very acceptable time for us all put ourselves in that position.

Offer It Up! Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday. Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday and Lent begins.

The season of Lent signals a time of introspection. We adapt our schedule to a regimen that will focus on time with God, time to examine our lives and to clean up our act. Lent, Spring. Fittingly in many households we spoke of Spring cleaning. Lent is similar to that. It is the season prior to Easter when we do our annual spring cleaning to prepare for new life when we rise with Jesus Christ to live that life in obedience to the Father.

For many Lent signals, giving up something, perhaps some habit that interferes or blocks our participation in the life of Christ. Giving up, sacrificing, and making time or open space for the Lord to enter in. What to give up? This I believe demands some thought. We don't just pick something to see if we can do it? We probably shouldn't be giving up a sinful habit without the sincere desire to permanently change.

Perhaps a better way to live Lent is for instance, to schedule daily time with God, e.g. reading scripture, praying, reading a particularly helpful spiritual book, spending time frequently before the Blessed Sacrament, each Friday joining fellow parishioners in praying the Way of the Cross. Getting to Mass during the week if possible, and certainly every Sunday. To accomplish placing a priority on time with Jesus, with God, with Mary it will undoubted require effort and sacrifice.

Do we desire a closer relationship with God. Do we seek the graces God has for us to deepen our faith, our ability to love as God loves, and to seek the truth. What Joy awaits us when we enter into a life filled God’s presence. As we simplify our lives and find the wonder of God's love in the everyday events of life, in the awesomeness of God's love being poured out moment by moment. Wake up to the presence of God in the ordinary moments of your day and life. See his presence in the people who daily come into our life. Are we alert to the face of the crucified Jesus, when he comes to us in so many disguises?

Lent. How will you spend the season of mercy. Each day we can begin with Jesus words, Seek, and you will find! Knock, and the door will be opened. May your Lenten walk be a journey with Christ. Meet Him, heart to heart. Let the Holy Spirit guide you path each waking moment.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Monday, March 7, 2011

Tobit 2:8

The neighbors mocked me, saying to one another:
He is still not afraid! Once before he was hunted down for execution because of this very thing; yet now that he has scarcely escaped, here he is again burying the dead!

Maybe you have not been chastised for burying the dead, but along those lines, you may have been ‘beaten up’ for something else you have done that was the right thing to do. Not to show off or because someone else was watching. Not because you knew there was a payoff for you because you were doing it. Nope, it was being done solely and simply because you were called to do it as it was the right thing to do.

There are those instances when we may opt not to pick up our cross. There may be a time or two that we may even take the lower road and not choose at all… just do nothing. But we can’t do that forever. Some thing or some one compels us to reconsider our situation, review our plan, or just ‘do the right thing.’ To not be afraid for following Jesus Christ.

As we are all called to serve, we must all be ready to be challenged when we do. We should continue to say yes when called and to not be afraid when we serve. We may even His voice telling us that though it may not be an easy path right now, it will certainly be one well worth the journey in the end.


Offer It Up! Sunday, March 6, 2011

Deuteronomy 11:18, 26-28, 32

Moses told the people, “Take these words of mine into your heart and soul. Bind them at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead. “I set before you here, this day, a blessing and a curse: a blessing for obeying the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today; a curse if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, but turn aside from the way I ordain for you today, to follow other gods, whom you have not known.”

Are you ready?Are you willing?Are you able?There is a phrase we use in the real estate world when we want a seller to know that a buyer is a good risk. We call them a “ready, willing, and able buyer.”The phrase indicates to the seller that this buyer is ready to buy a house right now, is willing to put at risk some of their own money in good faith, and is able to follow the deal through to the end because they are financially qualified to buy the home.

As believers, we need to be ready and willing to take God’s word into our heart and soul.We need to keep His word right in front of our eyes so that we don’t forget it.We need to to show our God that we are willing to put at risk our time, our treasure, and our talent for Him.It is our job to be ready and willing.

The best thing about it is that we are always ‘able.’It doesn’t matter what condition we are in or what our circumstances are. God will accept our obedience to Him regardless of our human condition.So, in the end, we have no excuse, do we?It is our job to be ready and willing so that God can take our abilities and use them as a blessing for us and for our world.

lgboyd

Matthew 7:24-27

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”


Offer It Up! Saturday, March 5, 2011

2 Peter 3:13-15a

What we await are new heavens and a new earth where, according to his promise, the justice of God will reside. So, beloved, while waiting for this, make every effort to be found without stain or defilement, and at peace in his sight. Consider that our Lord’s patience is directed toward salvation.

Sounds pretty clear from here.

Get on the path. Stay on the path. Keep to His ways while on it. His Love and patience will do the rest. Even if we were to find ourselves a bit ‘effortless’, taking these a little easier than we should and falling into a previous way of living that does not conform itself ‘according to His promise’, He will bring us back.

As clear as it may sound and as easy as it may sound, we all know that theory and practice sometimes fail to connect. What sounds good or reads well is not enough-we have to move with them toward our salvation. Will there be some grief and pain? Most likely, as in all change and growth, we do find that there will be. But what would you rather have—the pain of staying where you are or the healing pain of new life in Him?

As Jesus lived and challenged His disciples to do something different, He is calling us to do the same today. He dared to be different. He is daring us to do the same in His name.


Offer It Up! Friday, March 4, 2011

Mark 11:12-14, 20-24

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.
Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it.
When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs.
And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!”
And his disciples heard it.

Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots.
Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart
but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him.
Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.

We’ve all had those moments where we get frustrated and say something under our breath in reaction to a less than pleasing situation.I guess we should all be thankful that we do not have the same perfect power that Jesus had to make something happen in an instant. Or should we?

Rather than being thankful that our faith is not that strong, perhaps we should pray for a stronger faith to make those mountains move and those fig trees wilt. And, perhaps, along with it, we should pray that what we say under our breath is something meaningful and helpful to the situation rather than something destructive.

I’ve read a lot of interpretations of this story about Jesus and the wilting fig tree. The one that makes the most sense to me is that Jesus’ actions were meant to be an object lesson to His disciples. He was still in teaching mode with them.He wanted them to see that all they needed was enough faith to say something and it would happen. He also wanted them to see that weneed to be careful what we say and what we wish for.When we allow our own impatience or sense of vengeance to take the place of walking humbly with our God, the result might not be in anyone’s best interests.

So the next time you find yourself in that situation where you want to curse the person with the 20 items in the 10 items and under line, perhaps you could say something a little different.Perhaps, instead, you could pray, ‘Lord Jesus, please teach that person how to count.’I guess it sounds a little dorky, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could have the faith to believe that it could happen and we would all happier for it. lgboyd


Offer It Up! Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mark 10:46-52

They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me."

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me."

Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage; get up, he is calling you." He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.

Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see." Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Sometimes we don’t see nearly as clearly as we should. Sometimes we just don’t see. Things get in our way or we put ourselves in the way of those things that keep us from seeing what we need to see. We may think we have a clear enough vision of where we are and where we are going but…. we wonder why it is we get off track or lost or lose sight of our initial objectives. So we look for some help, trying to clear things up to see where we are, only to find out things still are not as clear as they need to be or as we would want them to be. And maybe even ask ourselves, ‘Now what?’

That’s a good indication for us then to admit the situation is pretty well out of our control-‘out of sight’, in a manner of speaking. Out of sight in that we have no sight or not enough to see what we need to see—who we need to see. Bartimeus couldn’t see Jesus yet he knew Jesus had what he needed so that he could see Him. There was a lifestyle he was living that he wanted to change, throwing off his cloak. He then sprang forward—leaping in faith as he was still blind to his surroundings—to be with Jesus so that he could see. Reading the gospel, we know what happened next:

Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

We could do worse than Bartimeus and we probably have. We could succumb to the naysayers who tell us that we should stay to our own selfish ways and follow our own paths, or ruts if you would call it that. Or we could persist as Bartimeus did and pray for our eyes to be made open. We can be ready to answer Him when asks us what it is that He can do for us. We can shed ourselves of our ‘cloaks’ of our past sins and lives and accept the forgiveness He has for us. We could then get ourselves out of our own way and back on God’s way, seeing more clearly the path He has chosen for us.


Offer It Up! Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mark 10:35-37, 42-45

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”

Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Do you ever have those moments at work, at home, or during your volunteer efforts that you feel invisible?

James and John seem to have had one of those moments. In the midst of current events and all that was happening amongst the disciples and Jesus, they suddenly felt like they needed to be recognized. Perhaps, with all that was happening, they were afraid that they would get lost in the crowd and Jesus would forget about them. If they didn’t jockey into position now to get the best place among the disciples, they might end up doing the dishes instead of leading the pack.

Jesus, in His usual godly and humble way, takes them all aside and explains that He has no intention of “lording” His authority over them. We have free will to be with Him…or not. He is not going to beg us to continue following Him, but He will always make Himself available to us. He will always welcome us into His kingdom with open arms.

He also wants it to be clear…there is no room for jockeying into position in the kingdom of God. With God, we must bow our heads, make ourselves invisible, and just be available to do whatever needs to be done, no matter the cost. In God’s kingdom, making ourselves invisible means we are on the right track. It means we are not doing something for the sake of getting recognized, but because we know it is what we are meant to do. No, Jesus did not get His disciples to follow Him by lording His God-power over them. He did it by loving them and teaching them how to love others and serve invisibly.

Lord Jesus, help me to go about my daily activities in silent and humble service to You. Help me not to get caught up in the world’s need for recognition. Instead, help me to recognize who You are and all that You mean to me.

lgboyd


Offer It Up! Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Happy Birthday Jeff!
Happy Birthday Cary!
Happy Birthday Fr. Albert!

Sirach 17:19-21, 24

To the penitent he provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope!

Return to the LORD and give up sin, pray to him and make your offenses few.

Turn again to the Most High and away from sin, hate intensely what he loathes.

How great the mercy of the LORD, his forgiveness of those who return to him!

Deny yourselves, pick up your cross and follow Him.

Love your neighbor as yourself as you must Love the Lord.

Pray with an expectant heart.

Think and pray more of things not of this world, of heavenly things.

Forgive one another.

Forgive yourselves.

Turn from those things that cause you to lose faith.

Take and accept the mercy and grace the Lord provides.

Know that all is possible regardless of the circumstances.

Be still and know that God is God.

Mark 10:27

Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.

All things are possible for God."