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

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Offer It Up! Friday, November 30, 2012
Happy Birthday Gayle!

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

As we come to the end of the liturgical year, we celebrate the feast of Saint Andrew, one of the first apostles called according to John's gospel. Andrew then brought Peter to Jesus. Perhaps we can marvel as we read and meditate realizing that Andrew walked and talked with Jesus, listened to him and was present when He performed many signs and wonders.

It is with a realization that in faith we too are privileged to have Jesus in our presence. Each day with each celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy we can unite ourselves to Jesus in that Holy Communion. Perhaps we become so accustomed to ritual we fail to be awed by this awesome mystery of faith. Jesus Christ, Body and Blood, soul and divinity, comes to us in form that we can bring us into a unity that is so complete. He shares our very life as truly as when he took flesh from the Virgin Mary at Bethlehem and walked the earth in Israel 2000 years ago.

In faith we are provided the same opportunities as were provided to the Apostles. Even more, the growth of the Church through the ages continues to reveal to us that Jesus truly is t he Son of God and is the complete revelation of the Father. What can we return to the Lord for all that he has done, and does for us? As we enter the Advent season can we discipline ourselves to truly look deeply within and seek the Lord? Can we do it with trust that he will reveal Himself fully to those who seek Him?

Offer up you days, your very life itself by seeking to love in all circumstances, working for the good of those God has placed in your life, that we may in communion with one another attain life.

Deacon


Birthday Notes...

As birthday celebrations would go, Gayle would be the first to be putting one on for the next person as it would never be about her. Therein is what you most need to know about Gayle-her selfless love for others. Be it parties, events, gatherings, meetings-she has the best for others in her heart and lives it in her faith. (But before we get too far down the line, let's be clear about it-she indeed likes to 'party' and will throw it down with the best of them... all the way to 10:30 if she has to-maybe even 11:30!)

Her life has touched many others just as the life of the saint she shares this feast day... St. Andrew. As did Andrew go about spreading the message and news of who he saw and who he had come to know, so has Gayle done much the same in her life and her ministries. I don't know that I have ever heard her say the words 'Come and see' as Andrew spoke but in her actions and in the love she has shared, there would be no need to hear them as they are evident in the way she lives them.

'Come and see' who is in her life and who she loves above all.

Jesus Christ.

'Come and see' who she then shares what He has given her in blessings and in grace.

Her faith and her family.

'Come and see' who she supports, leads, loves and even 'tells where to go' upon occasion...

Her friends and fellow parishioners.

Yes, come and see the woman as the modern day disciple as she shares the spotlight, even for just a while. It can be about her goodness and grace.

Happy Birthday Gayle. May this day be a celebration filled with the Love and grace of God, family and friends.



Offer It Up! Thursday, November 29, 2012

Instead of our response being ‘Oh well’ or ‘Whatever’ or ‘Never mind’, or 'Yeah right,' we might all take lessons as we consider Blessed Mother Teresa’s sign on the wall of the children’s home in Calcutta. Maybe you’ve seen it previously but maybe again—today, it is worth now a second look.

ANYWAY

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered,
Love Them Anyway

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,
Do Good Anyway

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies,
Succeed Anyway

The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow,
Do Good Anyway

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable,
Be Honest And Frank Anyway

What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight,
Build Anyway

People really need help but may attack you if you help them,
Help People Anyway

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth,
Give The World The Best You’ve Got Anyway.

Mother Teresa: A Simple Path



Offer It Up! Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quote of the day:

“What good does it do me if Christ was born in Bethlehem once if He is not born again in my heart through faith?”

As we approach Advent, the coming of Christ, and the celebration of the Incarnation at Christmas, we would do well to enter the season reflecting on this great mystery.

God incarnate, in Jesus Christ. God speaking to us clearly. God’s Love for humankind is so clearly revealed in the Incarnation. Perhaps for too many of us we are so absorbed with the self we fail to grasp the enormity of God’s Love, and we would be well served if we spent as much time as possible this Advent season examining the wonder of the coming of God in Jesus Christ.

Each Advent I am brought back to days of innocence when my parents and other parents brought us little children to the crèche to see the baby Jesus. When I see a young parents today (and that too infrequently) bringing their children to the manger scene I am filled with the wonder of life itself. Would that we could renew this Advent a desire among all to come and worship at this scene of Christ’s birth. The wonder of it all I pray can capture all imaginations and cause us to sing and rejoice at the amazing love witnessed in this scene. God in human form given to us for our salvation! Words cannot convey what that experience can bring to the person who meets Christ in a passionate embrace of love. God continues to choose us and reach out to us and we are so tentative in our responses.

As we enter the season of Advent, each of us would do well to ask ourselves whether our lives our actions, behavior, witness to the love of Christ. Do our lives reflect in any way the presence of God? Do my actions and lifestyle give witness that could be a spark for another to begin the journey of faith by opening to God’s grace? The door of faith in this coming year: am I by my life holding the door open so that others my see and enter and then experience the love of Him who died for them?

Plan your Advent time now. Daily time with Scripture entering into the Advent coming of Christ so that we may be renewed in Spirit and in turn be part of renewing the face of the earth. Can you spare fifteen minutes a day. No? Then spare 30 minutes or more.

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus, Come.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The daily Scriptures offered us in the liturgy these last days of the liturgical year are intended to remind us of what is to come. Sometimes they lead to speculation about when and how ‘The End’ is to come. However, we should take solace in Jesus’ revelation that though these cataclysmic events come, it is not the end. These things that must take place are not necessarily harbingers of the end of time.

What we should take with us is the promise of the Gospels that God is a God of love, full of mercy and forgiveness. The invitation to all of us is an invitation to conversion. To metanoia, that is a change of course, that with God's grace we can shuck idol worship and worship God in spirit and in truth. Yes, stop worshipping idols. There are many in our lives and we even fail to see how we are worshipping created things rather than the creator.

This moment let us stop and spend some moments in God's presence; that is, quieting ourselves and letting God completely command even our breathing, our thinking, all of our functioning.

Listen.

Hear Him in your breathing.

Be still.

Feel Him in your heartbeat.

Pray.

Trust in His presence.

O God, I give you thanks for this day and whatever moments I have I ask that you guide all my actions so that I may give glory to you in all of my living. Amen. Deacon



Offer It Up! Monday, November 26, 2012

Today we are again offered from Luke's Gospel, the comment of Jesus about the poor woman who placed all she had in the treasury, as opposed to those who gave of their surplus.

How do we look at ourselves as we come to God who gave us all even life itself? Do we see ourselves in the woman who was giving all to God; or, are we like those who give from our surplus? I am afraid too many of us would find ourselves niggardly giving only from our surplus goods.

It seems there is nothing that can move churchgoers away more quickly than to ask that they give to the support of the Church. Many questions begin to arise to ease their consciences as they strive to decide what they are to share. Yet, when it comes to receiving from the Church often we find those who expect that the Church must supply their needs.

Struggle we must with these questions, for there are many who are in need and only God can provide their needs. We know in faith He has. We also know that what he has provided for many is often in the hands of others, His people whom he has blessed and hopes they will respond by making His presence known in the world. Prayer is often offered, but prayer is intended to unite us to God that we may come to know His will and what and how to spend the blessings he has showered upon us.

The poor widow the gospel indicates gave her all. Can we love passionately enough to give with great generosity? Can we love passionately enough in faith that our eyes are opened to see God present in those who are in need and suffering deprivation without trying to judge why they are needy?

As we celebrate this week, acknowledge that Christ is our King. Our lives totally devoted to serving Him in the myriad disguises in which he appears. May God Our Father hear us and may we be alert to the graces and opportunities given each day to reveal His presence in our midst.
Deacon



Offer It Up! Sunday, November 25, 2012

John 18:33b-37

Pilate said to Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?"
Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?"
Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?"
Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here."
So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?"
Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

Pilate is looking out for his own interests, even though he stands with his ‘earthly’ power before Jesus. Imagine his surprise as Jesus responds to his question about being the king of the Jews. Is Pilate aware of the news of Jesus—does he know about Jesus—on his own accord or is he taking what he has heard from others? What personal information would Pilate even have about this ‘king’ and how would he have come about it?

Similarly, we are challenged as was Pilate. If we were to be asked a similar question—‘What do you know about Jesus?’ would we know Him on our own or would we take what we know from others? Surely there must be a source be it study of scripture, RCIA, workshops, catechisms, homilies… yet the real knowing of Jesus Christ comes we when put into practice the words we’ve taken in and show what and how we have come to know Him. Know Him in His kingdom here on earth so that we may be with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom. For He IS the King of Heaven and of Earth. And as the psalm reminds us, He is ‘robed in majesty’.

That is when we submit ourselves then to the real King. Christ the King. Not to the kings of this earth, not to the things that keep us tied to this place. We put our lives in the hands Jesus Christ, to be subject to His rule. And when we do, that is when we experience the sort of freedom and peace we can get only from the truth in knowing and living in Christ Jesus.



Offer It Up! Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why ‘go’ to Mass? Well, why not?

Lots of people go every day and every weekend for whatever reason or for multiple reasons. Some legit and others not so much. Yet there are so many more that find hundreds more reasons to stay away in droves.

When we go visit family, why do we most often do that? To get some sort of ‘fulfillment’ from what they have for us and maybe what we might be able to give to them, right? Sometimes, it is a give and take sort of proposition. There is the love that is shared, the fun that is shared, the good times and not so good times recalled. Even if the reason to come together is not a timely one—a death in the family, a tragedy of some sort—still there is the oneness of the family that is brought together.

When we come together at Mass, we go for some sort of fulfillment on our own. Be it to fill a check box on our ‘Being a Good Catholic’ scorecard or just so that we are seen by the priest in our regular pew-filling spot. Even the best of Catholics have those days when they would just as soon be somewhere else… it happens. We wish it didn’t yet we know we are not perfect beings.

The liturgy, the Eucharist and the mass surrounding them is the central act of worship for all Catholics. Not only is it worship, it is a celebration. Not only does the priest celebrate but all those that are with him celebrate and worship, too. No one should just ‘go’ to mass. No one should just say they ‘went’ to mass to fulfill their obligation. They should actively take part in the Liturgy from beginning to being dismissed to spread the Word.

Imagine yourself going to get a haircut. You go in expecting to come out with something different than you went in with… hopefully something better, yes. When we celebrate the mass, we should be different in mind and spirit—hopefully for the better—than what we were before we started. After all, we have heard the Word of God and in most instances, received the Body and Blood of Christ. How could we not be changed? Just as the change is not visible for the bread and wine, it may not be something visible inside us but it can be something made visible in our actions and our lives.

Why ‘go’ to mass? Why not celebrate it every chance you get?

Lord Jesus Christ, You gave us the Eucharist as the memorial of your suffering and death. May our worship of this Sacrament of your Body and Blood, help us to experience the salvation won for us, and the peace of the kingdom where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.



Offer It Up! Friday, November 23, 2012

Luke 19:45-48

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, "It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves."
And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.

Can you just hear the people in the temple—‘Who is this that comes in here and runs us out of our marketplace?’ Who is he to tell us how to do things as we have been doing on our own very well thank you without him?’ They were getting so bent out of shape that they had plans to have him put to death. Yet it seemed the more they tried, the further behinder they got.

They could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.

Jesus was changing hearts and changing lives. He was doing it from the inside of the temple. He was doing it from the inside of the temple… the temple of the hearts and minds and souls of those who were there listening to Him. They had heard the Truth in His words, through His prayer, through His Love for them.

For sure there was resistance. There was then. There is today. Yet Jesus still goes about the transformation of lives much the same way. Changing lives from inside our temples, those places in our hearts and minds and souls. And we offer up our own resistance and He still is faithful to us and continues to transform us. Our lack of compassion. Our negative thinking. Our emptiness and lack of prayer. He charges back into our lives and runs out those destructive behaviors and selfish thoughts and secular desires and, step by painful step, brings us back to where and who He would have us be.

That will be our witness. He will take care of the rest.



Offer It Up! Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Father, all of Creation rightly owes you thanks and praise.

Your justice, love and mercy abound.

We thank you this day for all that you have given us:

For the Passion and Death of your Divine Son

we thank you Father

through the Cross, He redeemed the world.

For the Church

we thank you Father

it is our beacon for salvation.

For the martyrs and saints who give testimony to your Son

we thank you Father

their witness to your Son is our inheritance.

For our loved ones and friends who have died and gone before us

we thank you Father

their love abides with us forever

For loving spouses

we thank you Father

together we seek you.

For the gift of children

we thank you Father

they are your precious gifts to us and to the world.

For the gift of our families, loved ones and good friends

we thank you Father

through them we see the reflection of your Son.

For jobs, our homes and all that we have

we thank you Father

give us only that which we need, as we seek Your Kingdom.

For the bounty we are about to eat

we thank you through Christ Our Lord. Amen



Offer It Up! Wednesday, November 21,2012

Revelations 4:I-2a, 8c, 10c-11

John, had a vision of an open door to heaven, and I heard the trumpet-like voice that had spoken to me before, saying, "Come up here and I will show you what must happen afterwards."
At once I was caught up in spirit.

Day and night they do not stop exclaiming: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come."

They throw down their crowns before the throne, exclaiming:

"Worthy are you, Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created."

There could be those days when and where we’ve had a vision or two. They may have coincided with other incidents in our lives that may have brought on the ‘visions’ or vivid imagination. However it would be, John’s vision is quite clear in what he sees as he explains what he hears and what he sees. From the trumpets to the voice of God telling him to ‘Come up here’, John catches us up in the Spirit with him.

At once I was caught up in spirit.

The Lord God is mighty and powerful. We find that out the more we get caught up in His Spirit. We sometimes keep Him at that safe, Godly distance as we make Him less human and more God. Not too much ‘wrong’ with that either. He is God and we are not. Yet God did send His Son, His image and His likeness, though to be with us. In human form. He did that so we might (would) be able to have Him ‘not so far’ from us when we are more likely to need Him, likely as in all the time need Him.

As they proclaimed in the heavens, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come."

so should we proclaim His greatness and majesty for the kingdom about us. As we have been saved, are being saved and should hope to be saved in our eternal salvation, so is our God who was, who is, now and forever shall be, world without end. Amen.



Offer It Up! Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Revelations 3:20-22

"'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him,
and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne.
"'Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'"

Sometimes, (we think out loud), ‘If it were just that simple.’

Opening the door to Christ.

Hearing His voice.

Letting Him in.

Eating a meal with Him. And He would eat with us.

If it were only that simple. If it were only that simple, wouldn’t we all be sitting then with Him on His throne? Would we not open the door to let in the Light of the World? Wouldn’t we all take the choice then to have Him come in and share His life and love with us? Would we not be fools for Him to have all that He has for us right there in our own homes, within our own hearts and souls?

Not to make this so overly simple or to simplify anything that would be of Jesus Christ… yet it is a choice we can make every day. To open that door to have Him come in to the way we live our journey. Not to be lukewarm but to be hot or to be cold. And if we are not, we find our way out of where we are to get to Him completely. We open our ears to hear. We open our eyes to see. We open our hearts to love. And not to be just ‘good enough’ in what we go about doing or being. That would be too much like being lukewarm.

With all we are and all we do, we are to be and do through Jesus Christ. As He knocks, we open. As we open, we let Him in. As He enters, we become more like Him as He is in us. Simple? Simply because He loves us.



Offer It Up! Monday, November 19, 2012

Luke 18:35-43

As Jesus approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."
He shouted, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!" The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me!"
Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" He replied, "Lord, please let me see."
Jesus told him, "Have sight; your faith has saved you." He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.

How many times have you told yourself to keep quiet, not rock the boat? To keep things to yourself? It won’t make any difference anyway what you have to say, your thoughts and words are just that of a sinner—one who hasn’t ‘got a prayer’ at salvation. And if the words were not your own, how many times have they come from someone else who told you to keep to yourself? To mind your own business... as if they were saying that this has nothing to do with people of your sort.

So how many more times have you ignored the voices and kept right on going? How many more times have you helped yourself not only to ‘hear’ your own words but to let yourself be heard? How was it that you were like the blind man and persistent in your insistence? He too kept his voice loud to be heard when others were telling him to turn it down and or turn it off. Yet his resilience kept him going and he was rewarded for his faith.

We sometimes are our own obstacles and sometimes others get in our way to who or what it is we need for our salvation. Or at least we seem to think that it’s that way. Most often it is our own ‘self’ that traps us and keeps us from where we need to be or from what we need to hear when Jesus asks us ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ We would do ourselves a great service to be ready to answer Him when that time comes just as the blind man responded… ‘Please Lord, let me see. Let me see Your path for me.’

To follow His will for us, there would be no better request than that.



Offer It Up! Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hebrews 10:11-4, 18

Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.

Interesting that those same priests were practicing today what we call by definition, ‘insanity’. Just as they would time and again offer the same sacrifice and expect a different result, we sometimes do something over and over again and expect our outcome to change. And that, by definition, is insanity.

We can only change ourselves, not what others think of us or even what others think. Once we begin that process, then maybe, by our own example and witness, those ‘others’ may change as well.That is the sacrifice we must make. Must make if we are to be ‘made perfect forever’, ‘those who are being consecrated.’ And who among us would not want to be made such? Then we must make the effort—no matter the cost or sacrifice—to be made so holy.

The sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us, for our sins and for our lives, is not about a different result or even about insanity. It is about what He did for us so that we may have that opportunity to share eternal life with Him. That is our choice, our free will, our own path to holiness. A path that includes love and grace. A path that includes mercy and forgiveness. A path that will someday bring us to His compassionate embrace and everlasting love.



Offer It Up! Saturday, November 17, 2012

The follow is the reading from Today's morning prayer, taken from St Paul's letter to the Romans, Chapter 12:1-2

Brothers, I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect.

In our daily walk with the Lord what could be more good, pleasing and perfect than to be able to judge what is God's will. As I begin my day, my intention is to do God's will. Yet, if my past experience is any witness I falter so very frequently. Is it pride, ego, sheer human frailty, failure to return true gratitude to such a bountiful God?

Whatever the reason I must make a daily determined effort to be aware of the wonder of God's love. There is no time when God's blessings have not been poured out in abundance, only too frequent blindness to the wonder of it all. Here, in one so tiny a segment of all creation, we live and move and have our being all as a result of God's love. He willed us into being and continues each micro second of time to give us life and all we have. I, however, too often fail to acknowledge even the restlessness in life that can be filled only by the God who is my life.

In Jesus we have the fullness of revelation. The revelation of a love we truly must seek to understand, and will only come to full understanding when we meet face to face. Yet, God's grace gives us insight into this wondrous love. We are reminded in the prophet Ezekiel that God will give us a new spirit, and hearts capable of loving passionately. May this day be for all of us a day of grace and love.

Deacon



Offer It Up! Friday, November 16, 2012

2 John 4-9

Chosen Lady: I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth just as we were commanded by the Father. But now, Lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing a new commandment but the one we have had from the beginning: let us love one another. For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk.
Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist. Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for but may receive a full recompense. Anyone who is so "progressive" as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.

Chosen Lady... the Church to which this letter was written is how you see and hear the writer of John begins. He points out how well she is doing in that she and her congregation continue to live in faith and ‘walk in the truth’. And now they are challenged even more to deepen their commitment to love as they have been commanded to love, just as Jesus called for them to do and just as the Commandments called for them to follow. The writer, John is widely presumed, tells them to essentially not only ‘talk the walk’ but ‘walk the talk’.

It is one thing to say you believe in and love the Lord Jesus Christ. You can even talk and have others believe you by the ‘way’ you say what you say. Yet that can only go so far. After a while, you are gonna need some substance to go with all that you’ve been filling the others with. Your words are only as good as your actions that support them... or not. That is where the deceit or pretense comes in. That is also where the next challenge comes in: putting yourself where God has planned for you to be, progressively proclaiming His Word.



Offer it Up! Thursday, November 15, 2012

Luke 17:20-25

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, "The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is.' For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you."
Then he said to his disciples, "The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, 'Look, there he is,' or 'Look, here he is.' Do not go off, do not run in pursuit.
For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation."

Some of us may think it would be a good idea to know what God has planned for us, foregoing the mystery and looking straight ahead to what His Divine Providence holds for us. Based on their question, it seems as though the Pharisees thought it might be pretty decent to know what was around the next bend, particularly when it had to do with the Kingdom of God.

Taking things from His hands and trying to salvage our eternal glory on our own is not a good idea, as Jesus noted when He told them not to run here or there in search of the Coming Kingdom. For sure, we’ve all tried to make it happen, particularly when we care little for what we are going through according to God’s plan. And another for sure, we’ve all thought our plans were better. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

It is hard enough to live out a life as ‘holy’ as we can with God’s help. What makes us believe we can presume something even holier on our own without Him? Did it work for Adam and Eve? And what about Moses and the Israelites when they chose their own gods? How about Job and his wailing? What they all have in common with us even today is that they all changed as they allowed themselves to be changed in God’s holiness. Same goes for us, even if we don’t see any ‘overnight success’ stories. The transformation takes time. Besides, we couldn’t handle everything He had for us at once... well, we could but that would that beautiful day when He calls us to share in His Heavenly Kingdom.



Offer It Up! Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Confession: It puts you straight with everyone

Penance, aka confession, is the sacrament of the forgiveness of sin. You can’t beat it for convenience. It’s available practically whenever. Tell a priest you want to go to confession and you’ll get his attention. One bishop I know was cornered on an airplane. Another passenger figured out what was going on and asked if he could confess too. It must have been an interesting game of musical seats. An interesting question for priests might be: Where was the strangest place you ever administered the sacrament of penance? The answers I’ve gathered include “in a sports bar, at a graduation party” and “on the golf course, walking up the fairway.”

The "act of confessing" is only a part of the Sacrament. Reconciliation is a process of conversion. "Confession" without conversion does little. We need to first prayerfully realize our sinfulness, then have a desire for metanoia (a change of heart), then confess and do penance. If we could really grasp the rich beauty of this process, there would be less "laundry list" confessions and more conversion through the Sacrament.


Confession has benefits. Here are ten:
1. Confidentiality guaranteed. There’s nothing like confessing your sins to someone guaranteed not to tell anyone else!

2. Housekeeping for the soul. It feels good to be able to start a clean life all over again. Like going into a sparkling living room in your home, it’s nice when clutter is removed – even if it’s your own.
3. A balm for the desire for revenge. When you have been forgiven you can forgive others. If the perfect Jesus forgives me, who am I to want to avenge the slights in my life.
4. Low cost therapy. It’s free, which makes it cheaper than a psychiatrist for dealing with guilt.
5. Forced time to think. To examine our lives and acknowledge failings marks the first step of making things right with God, others and ourselves.
6. Contribution toward world peace. Peace of soul leads to peace of heart; peace of heart leads to peace beyond oneself… maybe even the world.
rooted in the heart of man.”
7. A better neighborhood. Confession leaves you feeling good about yourself, thereby cutting back the inclination to road rage and aggressive shopping cart driving.
8. Realistic self-perception. Confession helps overcome arrogance when you have to admit you’re as much of a sinner as anyone else.
9. One more benefit of being Catholic. There are lots of benefits, including the sacrament that leads us to inner peace along with a sense of community, liturgical rites and the wonderful sense of humanity exemplified in the saints.
10. Closeness to God. Confession helps you realize that you have a close connection to God and receive his grace through the sacraments. What can be better than knowing God’s on your team, or, to be less arrogant about it, that you are on God’s.

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, adapted



Offer It Up! Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Titus 2:1-8, 11-4

You must say what is consistent with sound doctrine, namely, that older men should be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love, and endurance. Similarly, older women should be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers, under the control of their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.
Urge the younger men, similarly, to control themselves, showing yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us.
For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.

Good idea for Titus, don’t you think? How about a good idea for us guys? For men to be ‘consistent with sound doctrine’? Especially when it comes to being dignified, self-controlled and sound in faith in love? And how about how women should be—reverent in their behavior, teaching what is good? All of this leads to train their children to love their husbands... not a bad idea in the bunch. Including the not addicted to drink concept.

Though the genders are separated, we could all take a cue from this reading and put ourselves in a very good position and state of behavior. What we would be doing is preparing our path of holiness for that day when it ends and we journey homeward to our salvation. Sure there will be sacrifices, if one can call ‘being cordial’ or ‘behaving nicely’ any sort of sacrifice. But for some, it is indeed a stretch to do good and well. Facing the facts, we all have enough challenges as it is to keep ‘holy’ without the naysayers and cynics beating us up.

So on we go, through the fog sometimes, through and by the Holy Spirit. Temptations be that as they may, we still call out in prayer and in praise to God our Father in hope and in faith. With free will and with His grace and mercy, we can overcome and rise above all we face in challenges and trials and live out His will and life for us. He will continue to save us, train us and give us hope as He delivers us from this worldly life to His eternal salvation.



Offer It Up! Monday, November 12, 2012

Titus 1:1-4

Paul, a slave of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ for the sake of the faith of God's chosen ones and the recognition of religious truth, in the hope of eternal life that God, who does not lie, promised before time began, who indeed at the proper time revealed his word in the proclamation with which I was entrusted by the command of God our savior, to Titus, my true child in our common faith: grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior.

"Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face!"

This morning we rise and sing out with the psalmist to the Lord with longing. As we come together to worship, truly we desire and long to see the face of God. With hope inspired by the Good News revealed in Jesus, we in faith see presently with the eyes of faith the face of God in the world God gives us.

We see as Paul sees, though sometimes dimly, in the face of brothers and sisters who graced by Our Creator, who love and give themselves as disciples, the face of God in our temporal world. Despite the weeds that are always present in the garden of life, we are able through God's gracious love able to respond to His constant reaching out to us. We express our longing and yearning in our daily turning to God in prayer, in our loving concern for all who are part of our life's journey.

May we each find in the events of this day an awakening experience of the boundless love of God for each of us.

Deacon

Psalm 24:5-6

Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD, a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.



Offer It Up! Sunday, November 11, 2012
Happy Birthday Eric!

A Prayer from St. Anselm of Canterbury

O my God

Teach my heart where and how to seek you,
where and how to find you.

You are my God and you are my All

and I have never seen you.
You have made me and remade me,
You have bestowed on me

all the good things I possess,
Still I do not know you…

I have not yet done that for which I was made….
Teach me to seek you…

I cannot seek you unless you teach me
or find you unless you show yourself to me.
Let me seek you in my desire,

let me desire you in my seeking.
Let me find you by loving you,

let me love you when I find you.

Amen.



Offer It Up! Saturday, November 10, 2012

O God, by Thy mercy

strengthen us who lie exposed

to the rough storms of trouble and temptations.

Help us against our own negligence and cowardice

and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts.

Succor us, we beseech Thee,

and bring us to Thy safe haven of peace and felicity.

St. Augustine

Through his prayers and the many prayers of others, St. Augustine was converted. As he faced temptation along his path to conversion, he was also noted as saying that though he wanted to be made chaste, he wasn’t sure if wanted to be made so right at that time.

Even today, as we choose to take the higher road to holiness and salvation, how often do we think about leaving a ‘forwarding address’ as we escape the snares of whatever was leading us away from our goodliness to some ‘badliness’? As if we might consider it at another time?? Consider yourself as trapped already.

As we face the obstacles that Satan puts before us, we can exercise our free will to follow the path that God has for us, not what we think we might enjoy for the while. Through prayer, perseverance and through the mercy and grace of God our paths will bring us closer to everlasting life. May not get any easier but indeed closer and stronger in faith.



Offer It Up! Friday, November 9, 2012

Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person, for the temple of God, which you are is holy. (1Corinthians 3:17)

Taken from the second reading in today's liturgy, we hear Paul reminding us that God dwells in his people. What does it mean to me to be referred to as a temple of God? How am I to live my day, breathe the air, enjoy the beauty of creation, when I come to realize that the Spirit of God dwells in me? If I fail to acknowledge that the Spirit of God dwells in me, if I fail to accept that I am a temple of the Most Holy, what then? Ah, the mystery of it all even when we fail to acknowledge Him, our Merciful Father honors the free will He has bestowed and continues to hold us up in His "steadfast love". I long to understand fully the mystery of such love, mercy, forgiveness and a long for that moment when I encounter LOVE face to face.

Symbolically in today's Gospel when Jesus clears the Temple is he not longing to do the same with grace in our own lives? Can I imagine Jesus clearing the temple of my life by driving out the demons that possess me, the false gods that control my actions, my life? When I allow consumption to be a guiding factor in my life, amassing things I don't really need, storing up goods, coveting my neighbors goods, caught up in the world of advertising looking for sales and bargains to the extent of ignoring those at the door who are truly in need? It is likely time to draw near to Christ Jesus and allow Him to day by day help me to jettison those attitudes and behaviors that close me off from the Joy of eternal life.

When I encounter another person I am in the presence of one who is a temple of God. If that is what I believe, why am I too often uncharitable in my behavior toward another whom I silently look down upon? As I reflect on all this my prayer becomes a pleading to my God to enlighten me and strengthen me to live in weakness that the power of God may be clearly in evidence in all the events of my life.

Today, Lord help me to seize any and every opportunity to strip away sinful attitudes and to truly be transparent so that your light may shine. May all who claim to be disciples of Jesus, be a source of light to banish the darkness that too often threatens your children. Come Holy Spirit; fill the hearts of the faithful with your divine love.

Deacon


Offer It Up! Thursday, November 8, 2012

Revelations 3:15-16

I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.I wish you were either cold or hot.So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

You are lukewarm if you carry out lazily and reluctantly those things that have to do with our Lord; if deliberately or 'shrewdly' you look for some way of cutting down your duties; if you think only of yourself and of your comfort; if your conversations are idle and vain; if you do not abhor venial sin; if you act from human motives.(The Way, 331, St. Josemaría Escrivá)

‘Cuz I have to.

It’s Sunday and everybody else does.

It looks good to others when I do.

My parents always did so I guess I should.

Just a few of the things people might say if called upon for their reason for celebrating the Eucharist or attending the service of their choice. And one could respond ‘Well, at least they are there.’ And one could say that maybe they retained something. Maybe there was a tidbit that they absorbed. Maybe through osmosis the Word came upon them. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

If they were to alter their approach to the way they chose to attend and took a more active involvement, ‘maybe’ they would not feel so obligated to attend. Instead of being ‘neither hot nor cold’, they could find out what it is like to feel the fullness of the Love waiting for them once they commit to Him. To think not for about what is in it for them anymore but for what Jesus Christ has in store for them. That will move them from being a tepid, listless ‘bystanding’ believer to one who has more to give and more to share. Well there is that.. and as they move, we can all move along with them as we all become a little less lackadaisical and more passionate in our faith.

Philippians 2:12-18

My beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.

We would like to think that we’ve all been as obedient as Paul notes. Yet the truth and substance of that obedience is in our hearts: that just ain’t the case nearly as much as we would like.

When was the last time you offered something up without so much as a grumbling thought or questioning doubt? Or the last time you put something off just because… just because… just because you wanted to be holding all the cards, the one in control? Put in that light and perspective, we will find our lives not so ‘blameless and innocent.’ We will be God’s children, yes, as He forgives us and grants us mercy yet we will still have a blemish or two to clear up. And it’s those types of blemishes that no acne medicine can hide or make go away.

The more we go to Christ, the more we find we become ‘like lights in the world.’ That is the plan for us all. And the more we have His Light in our lives, the more we can see Him working in us and for us. As much more Truth we have, it is also true that we see more of what needs to be cleaned up—the recesses and corners of darkness we’ve put aside or ignored. Places we haven’t acknowledged or have not wanted to go to because of the pain they represent. That’s okay. That’s what His Light is for.

Paul goes on to say that if all he was, all he had—his life—was poured out for our sacrifice and our faith, he would be sharing and rejoicing with us, in our salvation. We should also do the same. Pour out all we have for others. Rejoice in what we can be for them and give them. For all that we have comes from God. All that we are to give, He gives us to share. Then as Paul had done, as he ‘did not run in vain or labor in vain’, neither shall our lives be given up, given over, sacrificed, for nothing.


Luke 14:15-24

One of those at table with Jesus said to him, "Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God."
He replied to him, "A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many. When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, 'Come, everything is now ready.'
But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, 'I have purchased a field and must go to examine it; I ask you, consider me excused.' And another said, 'I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them; I ask you, consider me excused.'
And another said, 'I have just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.'
The servant went and reported this to his master. Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.'
The servant reported, 'Sir, your orders have been carried out and still there is room.' The master then ordered the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled. For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.'"

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Maybe you’ve heard it said that excuses are sometimes like elbows… we too often lean on when we should instead be using the ‘elbow grease’ that’s in them. (And if you haven’t heard it before, well you’ve heard it now.)Said another way, we spend too much talking about doing stuff instead of actually getting off our anatomies and getting in gear and getting stuff done.

Jesus identified such people. He did not necessarily identify with them but He certainly pointed them out in the crowd. They all said they had something ‘other’ to do. One had to go survey a field. Another had to check out some cattle. Yet another just got married. All in their own perspective were ‘legitimate’ reasons however smug or even arrogant they may have been. In any of those situations, any one of them would have done their homework before said purchase or rite and could have found time to attend. So the master invited any and all comers to fill his house and banquet table. They would be served what others rejected. They would taste the foods made for others and be welcomed while the others would be turned away.

We are not any different than the ones who turned down the invitation when we turn down the invitation from Jesus Christ to come closer to Him.

"Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God."

It is quite evident that if we do not respond to His call, those that do will be at His banquet without us. Those that recognize Him in others when we see only ourselves and not what He has given us for our own good. As those who were invited from the streets—the marginalized, the poor, the disabled—as they came to feast without us, let us better recall our own sins and blindness so that we may someday reach that banquet table with them.

We are fast approaching a new liturgical year. The Scriptures we read each week and day to day are pointing us toward our ultimate destiny and revealing to us the wonder of God with us. Christ, the Word of God made flesh, has revealed the glorious love of God for all mankind. The word of God this Sunday and onward calls us to greater charity, to love. The words fall easily from the tongue, "God is love", ‘Love one another’, ‘I love you’. Yet though the words come easily the action of loving can be a challenge.

Caught up in our own selfish needs and desires, we want to control our destiny and our relationships. We choose and decide who is lovable and worthy of our love… until we begin to see and understand (at least a little) what God's love truly is. Entering into a relationship with the person of Jesus begins to open us to the meaning of love, and hopefully as we begin to truly love we give our very selves to the Lord seeking to settle our restless hearts.

We are like the blind man begging for God's grace to heal our blindness. We too cry out Lord, that I may see! Offer it up, the feeling of needing to be in control, of any other controlling desire in your life, and seek to make God the center of your life. To follow Christ is a call to conversion. Daily we seek to know him more clearly and learn to love as He loves.

The Church Jesus left on earth is the same Church the Apostles passed on to us, the same Church that struggles in its human form to build the Kingdom and guide all mankind in the way, the truth, and the life. It is a home for sinners, a place of refuge for all those in need of the healing power of the cross.

Deacon

Mark 12:29-34

Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

No one dared to ask because they knew He would call them out again. And again. Jesus was telling them really what they didn’t want to hear but what they needed to hear. Sort of like us when we are in the throes of our own misery and pity and want nothing but that—misery and pity. Instead He gives us love. Just as we need. Unconditionally. Just as we should give. And have.

Those are our weaknesses and Jesus knows them way better than we know them. When things are not our way, when we don’t measure up to what the world thinks we should be or what we think the world thinks of us. When the family dynamics are not so dynamic and more dysfunctional than the neighbors. And let’s not forget them either—the neighbors. Their lives are better than what we have… cars, house, clothes. What all that is is not love. It is of the world and the world is not about love.

Once we get beyond that and find the Love that we were born into—the Love of God—that is when we begin to recognize the weaknesses and inadequacies and realize how insignificant they really are. God sent His Son not to make well those that are already healthy. He sent Him to heal those of us whose needs are great, those of us as sinners who are in need of His forgiveness and mercy and grace.

This requires acceptance of what He has for us and choosing to do His will, not our own. We become first lovers of God then love those in our lives, denying ourselves to follow Him. That is what it means to truly love God with all your heart, with all your mind and all your strength. That will do it.

Just as St. Augustine said: ‘Love God. Then do what you will.’



Offer It Up! Saturday, November 3, 2012

The following is from the Office of Reading on November 3, 2012.

An excerpt from the dialogues of Saint Catherine of Sienna.

Deacon

From a dialogue on Divine Providence by Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin
How good and comforting is your spirit dwelling in all men, O Lord

With a look of mercy that revealed his indescribable kindness, God the Father spoke to Catherine:

Beloved daughter, everything I give to man comes from the love and care I have for him. I desire to show my mercy to the whole world and my protective love to all those who want it.

But in his ignorance man treats himself very cruelly. My care is constant, but he turns my life-giving gifts into a source of death. Yes, I created him with loving care and formed him in my image and likeness. I pondered, and I was moved by the beauty of my creation.

I gave him a memory to recall my goodness, for I wanted him to share in my own power. I gave him an intellect to know and understand my will through the wisdom of my Son, for I am the giver of every good gift and I love him with a father’s constant love. Through the Holy Spirit I gave him a will to love what he would come to know with his intellect.

In my loving care I did all this, so that he could know me and perceive my goodness and rejoice to see me for ever. But as I have recounted elsewhere, heaven had been closed off because of Adam’s disobedience. Immediately after his sin all manner of evil made its advance throughout the world.

So that I might commute the death consequent upon this disobedience, I attended to you with loving care—out of provident concern I handed over my only-begotten Son to make satisfaction for your needs. I demanded supreme obedience from him so that the human race might be freed of the poison which had infected the entire earth because of Adam’s disobedience. With eager love he submitted to a shameful death on the cross and by that death he gave you life, not merely human but divine.



Offer It Up! Friday, November 2, 2012

In reading below, consider the wisdom of St. Ignatius in that “All is Gift”, even difficult circumstances.

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.

If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something.

For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for difficult times.

Because they give you the opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for your mistakes.

They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary.

Because it means you made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.

A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for setbacks.

A life positive.

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

Author Unknown



Offer It Up! Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Saints.

Today we celebrate all those who have preceded us in faith and now enjoy the life of eternal joy in God. What a joyful celebration to give honor to all those who have been sanctified by the blood of the Lamb. We are the true recipients of this honor; they have won the victory and in remembering them, in honoring them, we are inspired by their lives of holiness and encouraged to seek to live in holiness ourselves.

Today as we celebrate Eucharist we join with all the heavenly hosts in giving Thanksgiving and in desiring the graces we need to become all that God created us to be.

May all our prayers this day rise like incense to the Father of mercy. Remembering the saints and all those saints in our history, Mothers, Fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives who in some way touched our lives and now have gone on to their rest. Pray this day that through the intercession of these Holy Ones we all may live graced lives.

Deacon


On another ‘saintly’ note:

In his homily today, Deacon asked if we know any saints. I missed that opportunity to identify one who was sitting next to me. My wife.

For her faith, her love, her holiness—those virtues all expressed by the presence of Jesus Christ in her life—may not qualify her for her canonization but for all she has carried and ministered and persevered through, someday... as saints have done, passing on their faith and love, she has done that and lives that.

Yes, some day, that just may do the trick. Just not any time soon I pray. You are my saint and my hero. And I love you and always will. No matter what.