Friday, December 22, 2006

The Manger Story

This was Pope John Paul II's Christmas Card for 2004

Mary descends from the donkey – not an easy task when you’re due any minute. Joseph stopped looking for a place for them to stay partly because everyplace was full but also because his new wife was beginning to feel labor pains and they both knew it was almost time. Mary, helped by her husband, stands on wobbly legs. She tries to adjust her large body to be able to walk into their temporary home. Two would enter but three would emerge from the stable. Both parents knew the new addition to their little family was to be the world’s – and their – Messiah. But for right now they could only deal with the situation at hand. Joseph looks around to see how he would arrange the new accommodations. There are cows, goats, a couple of horses and camels with a few sheep loitering near the doorway. Joseph sees a pile of hay, a manger and a woolen blanket draped on a mail…but that’s all. He removes his cloak and covers the hay he has smoothed into a place for Mary to lie down upon. He helps her walk slowly and carefully to the makeshift bed, the throne upon which the Savior, the long awaited Messiah would emerge.
Mary felt momentary relief from the long donkey ride but the contractions began almost as soon as Joseph gently placed the woolen blanket over her distended body. Mary couldn’t help but wonder what her first-born would look like. So far it had all been normal –except for his conception of course. Mary had back pain, fatigue, cravings and now the intermittent spasms of pain. As one contraction relaxed she heard Joseph say he was going inside the inn to look for help. Mary tried to stay calm and glanced around. The cows and horses were stirring and making sounds she hadn’t expected to hear while her child was being delivered. They were confused by all the commotion and about their new resident companions. They must sense something, Mary thought.
Joseph returned with a maid from the inn who saw Mary and realized her delivery was imminent…Mary’s deliverance and ours.
A few moments later – between the maiden’s last words of encouragement, Mary’s groans, between the baas of the sheep and the bleats of the goats, and Joseph’s ‘oh my, oh my’
He arrived.
He: the King of Kings.
The Savior of the world.
The Redeemer and Messiah.
Arrived: came forth from Mary needing to be wiped clean and uttering tiny cries.
Maiden and father, who had been kneeling beside Mary, sat back on their legs and stared at the infant. Like us, the maiden did not recognize Jesus to be other than an innocent little newborn with good strong lungs. Joseph, however, was utterly amazed. His smiling face moved from Mary to the baby boy and back again. Mary was smiling too, finally, once she saw her baby.
The long awaited Messiah was cleaned up. Our King of Kings was wrapped in a blanket brought along on the long journey from Nazareth specifically for him. His grandmother made it for him while Mary was visiting her cousin Elizabeth. And now the Savior of the world was warm and quiet lying with Mary. The helpful maiden now slipped away from the family, promising to return later to check on them.
Alone now in a stable Mary and Joseph kissed and held their tiny son. The animals were quiet again so Joseph’s prayer over his new wife and foster son could be heard.
“O Holy God, I thank you for the good health of our new son. He is a beautiful son – a gift to Mary and me from You, the God of the universe. As You instructed his name will be Jesus and his mother and I will love him, protect him and care for him everyday of our lives. This is a miracle O God; my wife and I can barely utter this prayer of praise and thanks to You. But we want to please You in all ways. Our baby Jesus will get the best I can offer him. I will work hard to provide for him and for Mary. We pray Father God only for your continued blessings.” Joseph then reached over to hold the baby. Still on his knees, Joseph raised Jesus high in the air. Through this gesture he offered the child to His real Father. “Look at your Son! Bless him and us. Amen.”

Silent all this while, a single tear fell from Mary’s eye along the side of her face. “Amen” she said.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


l I love the Newsboys new album: Go
Everywhere We Go, Like a Child, and I Dunno are 3 GREAT songs.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I Feel Chosen and Special

A dumb animal they call me.
They mock and use my name as a curse.
But I was the one grazing in the field that day when Joseph came.
He traded a carpentry tool for me and we began our long journey.
They were very kind to me on that trip to Bethlehem.
I didn't realize who the child in Mary's womb was.
But I felt chosen and so very special.

Three walls and a simple roof were all I had to offer.
No heat, no light, not even a door to protect them from the cold
But they seemed to be glad to find me and to rest here.
And I felt chosen and so very special.

All I really am is a container for food.
My name means "to eat".
Cows, horses, lambs - their mouths push into my center while they eat.
I wasn't clean. And I'm not very sturdy.
I had never carried so precious a bundle!
People were calling the baby boy an Infant King.
And I was his first throne: a manger.
I felt chosen and so very special.

None of them felt as unworthy as I.
I am the hay -course, cold and damp.
I am only good for animals to eat.
I was not the soft pillow or bed that a baby should have.
This infant has a rough beginning.
I wish I was softer, more supple and I smelled sweeter.
But I was the closest to his skin.
I felt chosen and so very special

He could have chosen a smarter, more faithful person.
He could have chosen a wiser, calmer, more loving soul than mine.
But I am the one he calls the apple of his eye.
I am the one he holds in the palm of his hand.
I am the reason that his last throne was a crucifix.
I feel chosen and so very special.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Love is Born

A cold world you enter
The coldest time: December
At this time you’re needed
Her Lord’s voice Mary heeded
And so Love is born!

Loneliness, pain and sorrow
They’ll all be gone tomorrow
Our lives feeling lost
You came – at great cost
And then Love is born!

Who can stand in the face of such love?
How will peace come? Only from above
Little child please show us
That you love us and know us
That’s how Love is born!

Jesus, Messiah, the Holy One
Prince of Peace. God’s only Son
I invite you into my heart
I promise my life will start to show
Love is born!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Psalm Of An Emerging Emmanuel

O Come O Come Emmanuel
I pray with upraised eyes.
Drop down, O Dew of Heaven,
that God might walk and talk on earth
might heal and feed our sin-soaked world.

O Come O Come Emmanuel
my prayers like searchlights
comb the starry winter skies.
Descend from the black hole of some neighboring galaxy
to green with your grace
our barren earth.

Such an Advent waiting prayer
can be a lifelong profession of patient longing
unless I know, with all my heart
that Emmanuel not only comes down
but also comes forth and emerges.

O Come O Come Emmanuel
come forth from deep within me
with Christmas luminous beauty.
For my heart has become the sacred crib,
the birthing place of God-among us.

Peace on earth and justice for all
will only become manifest in our lives
when enough of your sons and daughters
awaken to your divine design
that has made each of us
and emerging Emmanuel.

Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim by Ed Hays. copyright 1988. Forest of Peace Books, Inc. Route one Box 248 Easton Kansas 66020

Saturday, November 18, 2006

You're Welcome! from Jesus

So today I shall give you flowers
and tomorrow just for you -
I will bend and bow the fields of wheat
and waltz the daisies across the meadows.
I will tickle the bubbling brook
to make it laugh, and float sunbeams
across the waters to make them dance.
I will gently touch each blade of grass
with dew and whisper secrets
to each leaf upon the tree.
I shall throw stars across the sky
and drape darkness over the hillsides
and then at night...
just before you close your eyes...
I will smile as I hear your loving prayer
of thanks
And I will say quietly so that only you will hear -
"You are very welcome."
copyright 1996 S. Patricia Proctor, OSC

Thursday, November 16, 2006

...what she said....

I see more Pharisees among Christians than there were around Pilate.
– St. Margaret of Cortona

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Thank You Card to God

I’m bound by human words but they are so limited and useless for expressing thanks to You, my Savior. Lord I’ve used many of those words before like a 4 yr old who doesn’t grasp the degree of sacrificial parental love. That child will go into the garden her mother planted, break off a beautiful blooming rose and present it to her parent along with a big smile.
But it wasn’t the child’s work that produced the rose. And mom may even have preferred it to remain exactly where it was planted. Like that child I use your gift of speech and give it back to you. Thank you God, I say repeatedly. I praise you God. While a nice gesture, better thanks would be more active: a life of love, an attitude of gratitude. In all humility and with apprehension about my own ability to follow through I say simply, “Watch me. I’ll show you my thanks. “

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Parable of the Talents cont'd

God knows what talents and potential He gave you.

  • what are those talents/gifts ?(please don't deny them!) He gave me faith, family and friends. A healthy body and good mind and a decent income. He gave me staff to work with and an agency to help grow.
  • how can you increase what God blessed you with? I can improve the quality of my relationship with Him and help others to do the same. I can develop the potential I see in my staff and complete the work done in our non profit agency to the best of my ability, expanding it where possible.
  • what will the effect of that increase look like? I will praise and thank God more for His generosity. I understand that God, rightfully, expects a just return on His gifts. I will try to be more detached and less possessive appreciating that I am completely dependent on God.

To whom much is given, much is expected. The lazy servant only returned back to the Master what was given to him. For that the servant was condemned. What will your choice be?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Parable of the Talents

Reflect on this as a means to prepare to offer appropriate thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day!

Parable of the Talents
The Parable of the Talents is a parable of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew Matthew 25:14-30
The parable is apparently the origin of the use of the word "talent" to use a skill or ability, from the common interpretation of the story to teach that we are under a moral obligation to use our abilities rather than bury them.
1. The real point of the Bible Study is to recognize that we are renters and not owners of anything we have. God gave us gifts to use for HIS purpose. Based on that reflect on the the loss of each of the following:
+ Your reputation is not your own. Imagine it’s loss.
+ Your parents and/or kids are not your own.
+ Your mental health
+ Your physical health
+ Your friends
+ Scripture
+ Eucharist
+ Your financial security
+ What if God decided not to offer Reconciliation and mercy
+ What if God’s love was conditional
What do you think God wants back from you out of all the talents and gifts He gave you?
2. God was not required to give us anything at all be He gave us all of the above listed items simply out of His generosity. How do you plan to show God your gratitude in the future?

Friday, October 20, 2006

God's Garden

St. Therese of Lisieux said that in God’s garden everyone can’t be a rose. That would simply be boring. For God to be truly delighted with His creations variety is needed. Some are beautiful roses while others are pure lilies. Yet some are like fragrant violets while others have the simplicity of the daisy.

Daisies can’t wish themselves into roses. First, that’s impossible to do and second, the wasted effort would eventually wear down and destroy the daisy.

The Little Flower also said that perfection doesn’t come in doing God’s will but in being God’s will.

So, if I am only a tiny buttercup or a mum that is what I must joyfully be to the best of my ability. Sure I can see the beauty of the regal rose but all the wishing in the world will not make me that. For my own salvation and humility God allowed me to be the lowly buttercup. Neither must I become a weed in God’s garden, giving bad example and destroying others in my path with my negativity. Dandelions trick the eye into thinking it has seen a flower when in truth it too is a weed. I cannot deceive others into believing I am (or the truth is) different from what I am. To give God true joy ~ and I’ve just defined that as my life’s purpose~ I must be the buttercup that reflects it’s beauty back to the Creator.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Why Me

Trace Balin is a Christian singer and she wrote and sang a song in 1989 called “Why Me.” I was reflecting on that song and wondered why the Lord would indeed choose to watch over, bless and save me. I’ve done nothing to deserve that. I’m average and the Book of Revelations says, “ I wish you were either hot or cold but you are not. You are lukewarm and therefore I vomit you from my mouth.” I’ve prayed a lot of words about my desire to do better and to please God. I’ve talked, written and sung about it. But the truth is I’ve lived an adequate life only. I’m not the saint I wanted to be. I haven’t saved hundreds of souls. I can’t even keep 10 Commandments. I’ve begged for forgiveness and promised the Lord I’ll try harder – which I do temporarily. But over time He can’t count on my. I’ll return to average. My life is about me and my schedule and my needs rather than living a life of reflective gratitude. And I do that over and over again. So the question remains. Why me?
I’m old enough now to know that the answer has nothing to do with me. It’s all about you, Jesus. 1Cor 13 says God is Love. You can’t be resentful or angry with me. I know you are a just God and you expect back the fruits of the seeds you’ve sown in me and everyone else. I know I’m only a tenant on this earth. You are the Owner and Creator of it all.
But I know b/c of the way your eyes beheld the widow who gave her last dime that you are Love. I know b/c you cried when your friend Lazarus died. I know b/c you lived with and helped your Mother Mary for 30 years before your public ministry. I also know you are kind and merciful b/c of my own life experiences. When I was very sick you provided the right doctors. When I lost my job You provided the contacts to get me a new one. When I attend Mass you more than generously share Your Body and Blood to feed me.
So I don’t need to focus on the question Why Me. I only need to focus on and praise you for the answer~ God Is Love.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

To You from Jesus as you prepare to pray together

This is something Jesus wants to say to you as you prepare to spend time together with Him in prayer and reflection~

Before you were born, I knew we would be sharing this time together. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time and I am so happy that it is finally happening. There are so many things I have wanted to tell you about my love for you. I needed this moment to gather you all together so I could have your full attention. Please listen to what I have to say to you. I have asked my Father, the Holy Spirit and many of my angels to be in this room with me to help you understand my message. I want to speak to your heart and to your heart alone. I am waiting at the entrance to your heart. I am at the door. It is up to you to let Me in.
Can you remember the time you took your first two steps? I can because I was with you. Oh, you were scared all right. With your baby way of thinking it was much safer to crawl than to try to walk. It was a lot faster, too. When you crawled, you could visit every room in your house. But trying to get to one place from another on just two could you manage such a stupendous achievement? And what if you fall down and break your nose? And what if your family laughs at your clumsiness? And what if you never learn to do it right? Such was the beginning of your fears, remember? Even so--even with all those anxieties hovering over you--you set your face steadfastly toward the arms that were waiting for you and you mastered the most difficult art of walking on your own two legs. See how well it turned out! You still know how to do it! Aren't you glad you trusted life? Aren't you glad you tried--even though you were frightened at the same time?
Then came other challenges. Can you remember how you met them? Do you remember the people I sent into your life to help you? Think about all of the good things that have happened to you. It is the story of your life at its best.
There were other times too. No one in all of creation has ever said life would be fair. I know and I understand and I still feel what it's like when your world turns against you. In the Garden of Gethsemane, everyone turned against me that night. Everyone. All of my followers left me and ran away. Peter did exactly what he said he wouldn't do. I called Judas, friend, when he approached Me.
That night, I looked to my friends, and my friends did not look back. Where there is opportunity for love, there is opportunity for hurt. I know you have been hurt. That's why I so deeply desire to speak to your heart. I love you more than you will ever understand on this earth. Your mind and your heart cannot contain the depth of my love for you. Please believe me, I love you. I chose to die for you because I love you. I was surrounded by enemies and betrayed by friends, because I love you. I was abandoned on this earth because I love you. Are you slowly beginning to understand when I say to you, I love you? All I ask is that you love me too. I want you to keep your eyes on me when all of earth begins to turn against you. My father's loyalty to me is my Father's loyalty to you. When all of earth turns against you, all of heaven turns toward you. You are not walking alone. I promised you that I would always be with you. Stand on that promise. I have given you myself in the Eucharist. Please allow me to enter your heart. I left you my body and my blood. It is my most precious gift to you. Please do not reject me again. I want to live within you and help you to trust me and have confidence in me. You cannot do that on your own. I am here to help you. I am begging you to love me. There is nothing more that I can do. It is your choice to put me first in your life. And until you make that decision, I will wait and I will wait. And my friend, I will never stop loving you...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Book of Job

“Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work only, I should save Job.” (Victor Hugo)
I copied this section from the Internet….
While Job’s questions and complaints often come close to charging God with wrong, he never crosses the line and humbly submits to God when told that the answers to his questions are beyond his ability to understand. Thus the book shows us how the righteous should bear up under suffering (“You have heard of the perseverance of Job” - Ja 5:11).

Man is unable to subject the painful experiences of human existence to a
meaningful analysis - God’s workings are beyond man’s ability to fathom. Man simply cannot tie all the “loose ends” of the Lord’s purposes together. We must learn to trust in God, no matter the circumstances.

Suffering may be allowed as a compliment to one’s spirituality - God allowed Job to suffer to prove to Satan what kind of man he really was. What confidence God had in Job!

Why did I choose this Book?
1. We will learn more about God’s omnipotence and artistry so we can offer an awed and grateful response
2. We can examine the relationship between God and Job as insight into our own relationship with God.
3. We can understand our need for humility when considering how we fit into Gods’ Big Picture

Relationship Issues Job was a sound and honest man who revered God and shunned evil. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters. When his kids had parties Job would get them up at dawn the next day and pray for their purification and then offer up a sacrifice.

God really believed Job would never turn on Him and that Job would continue to lead a good life no matter how he was tempted. God bragged about Job. He felt so strongly about it that God allowed Satan to test Job.
Would God have as much confidence in your faithfulness? Would you like God to brag about you? What would you like Him to say? What can He truthfully say now?

In Job 42:7 God gets really angry with Job because He thought Job knew better. God saw Job’s potential and believed in him.
What could your potential produce?

In the beginning of the story (2:10) Job says: “If we accept happiness from God’s hand must we not take sorrow too? Job uttered no sinful word.” Then by Chapter 3 vs 1, Job curses the day of his birth.
Job is 42 chapters long and much of that is filled with complaints and arguments from Job. What percentage of your life have complaints been?
Job had a choice and responded by moaning with his friends and answering God back saying things like: “Not for nothing, but…” and “ With all due respect…”
Job thought he could speak as honestly as he wanted with God… and did. Job’s complaining was described as “long-winded blustering” in 8:2. Would you want God to describe your conversations with Him that way? Have you ever been this honest in your conversations with God? What’s your normal choice about how to deal with extreme frustration or suffering?

(Ch 7 vs 20) Job moans to God: “What have I done to you, you tireless watcher of humanity? Can’t you overlook my fault?” and in Ch 10 vs 1 Job goes on, “I will let my embittered soul speak out and say to God ‘Is it right for You to injure me? You know very well that I am innocent.’ “
When did you ever doubt God’s actions and question Him about it?
The people of the times thought that suffering was punishment for guilt.
(Ch 13:15) “I have no other hope but to justify my conduct in God’s eyes.”
Do you perform this practice? Does it work for you? (It didn’t seem to do so well for poor ole Job.)
Job pushes on in 16: 12 “I was at peace until God shattered me. He took me by the neck and tore me to pieces. He made me a target for His archery and shot arrows at me from every direction.”
Are you thinking:
That’s right Job! Speak on the issue! Right is right!
Ooooohhhh you’re gonna be in soooo much trouble! You’d better shuttup Job and take it like a man!

True friends aren’t necessarily people who moan with you (as Job discovered). Give an example from your own life.

God’s Creative Artistry as Described in Book of Job
1. He shakes the earth and moves mountains (Job 9:6)
2. The sun rises at His command. (9:7)
3. He set the stars and stretched out the skies (9:8)
4. God keeps the raindrops back from spilling over in floods onto humankind. (36:27)
5. The nations are filled with food. (36:31)
6. His thunder gives warning of the lightening in His hands. (36:33)
7. He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth.” (37:6)
8. God breathes and ice is there. (37:10)
9. He Himself directs the seasonal changes. (37:12)
10. God says “Who decided the dimensions of the earth?” (38:5)
11. What pillars support the earth? (38:6)
12. Who keeps the sea pent up behind closed doors? (37:8)
13. Have you ever given orders to the morning? (37:12)
14. Have you an inkling of the extent of the world? (37:18)
15. From which direction does lightening fork when it scatters sparks over the earth? (37:24)
16. Have you seen where snow is kept or hail is stored up? (37:22)
17. Can you guide the morning star season by season and show the Bear and its cubs which way to go? (37:32)
18. Is the wild ox willing to serve you or spend a night beside your manger? (39:9)
19. Are you the one who made the horse so brave and covered his back with flowing hair? (39:19)
20. Does the eagle soar at your command? (39:27)
21. Has your arm the strength of God’s? Can your voice thunder? (40:4)

6. Are you committing cosmic plagiarism, i.e., taking responsibility and accepting thanks for work God did through you during the day? How can you rectify that? (or do you want a repeat of Job Ch 38 that starts out with God saying “Who is this obscuring my designs with his empty headed words?”)

7. Spend some reflection time appreciating God’s artistry. List your favorites from among all of God’s creative marvels.

8. What things has God done in your life or the lives of your immediate family that show his omnipotence?

9. A grateful heart is a heart that is humble and can say WOW. It can be awed at the wonders beyond itself. From all that you know about the person of God, what gives you awe?

10. What did Job teach you?

For more info on the Book Of Job~ (very easy reading)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Are You Awed?

A grateful heart is a humble heart. It's a heart that can say WOW! It can be awed at the wonders beyond itself. Of all God's wonders what gives me awe?

  • His unconditional love despite my ingratitude
  • His constant mercy
  • His hope and confidence in each of us
  • His Body and Blood in Eucharist.

What makes you say "WOW, God! Great work" ?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Mary and Cinderella

If God had asked me to be the Mother of God (I'm just making a comparison between my own weaknesses and Mary's fiat) it would have gone something like the story of Cinderella and her mean, ugly stepsisters. Mary is Cinderella, of course. She is the quiet gentle one whom the Prince of Eternal Life embraced. She is hidden, humble and self sacrificing.
I, like the stepsisters, am selfish. I am concerned about my own needs and wishes. Example: I'd not have settled in giving birth to God's Son in a manger for animals. I'd have pushed Joseph to find something more befitting. But that would have been more about my desire to do a good job than acquiescing to God's will. God wanted the manger so as to display Jesus' glory and co-inciding humility.
In every Bible story Mary responds gently and gracefully. Indeed she was gracefilled. Like Cinderella she was obedient and willing to let her own will go. And in the end she lived with the Prince of Eternal Life happily ever after.
I have much to learn if I'm ever going to change from my self-appointed role....

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Friday, September 01, 2006

Surrender and be at peace

My heart is pained and shriveled. It is dry and crusty. I feel like I've been walked over by hiking boots. Emptiness within except for the heaviness of my heart. To work is a struggle. To smile is great effort. Calm and peacefulness seem like far away dreams. I accept that sometimes life on earth is hard. So I go to my Jesus for strength.

Lord, I need to be infused with your grace. I need to be surrounded with your protection. Like a child's toy tossed around in the ocean I feel lost and useless. Jesus, I know you love me and that you see my pain. I've tried to heal myself. I've tried to control and not be so needy. But I recognize finally that I am nothing on my own. I am useless and empty without your love and grace. It's OK to be dependent on You. And so at this moment, my Lord Jesus I surrender. I submit my all to you.

Jesus responds: When you submit you allow me to help you and you offer no resistance. My daughter I want to love you and hold you in my protective arms. Can you believe that? I really want to support you. So rest here daughter. Just put your head on my shoulder and rest peacefully. I promised my unconditional love when we began our relationship and I will keep my promise. Let me do that for you. Surrender and find your rest in Me.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

An Astonishing Offer

I quiet myself and relax in the presence of God.
I declare my dependency on God.
I ask for the gift of experiencing God's care, goodness, kindness and faithfulness to me.
"God called me before I was born. From my mother's womb God pronounced my name." (Isa 49:1)

  • I reflect how, in my life history, I have been carried and sustained by the love I have received.
  • I recall the many ways in which this love was made visible e.g. thru provision for my physical needs, thru supportive relationships, thru the enjoyment of life and a sense of purpose.
  • I become aware that these gifts have been a part of God's plan for me. I allow myself to experience the security and freedom of God's particular care and choice of me.
  • In light of this experience of all God has done for me, I imagine and record in my journal how the contract/commitment God has offered to me might appear if written

I, God, as your creator, do hereby agree to love you ____ unconditionally. I will manifest this love within the circumstances and reality of your life.

I will support you by ________________.

I will nourish you __________________.

I will give you ____________________.

I will __________________________.

The conditions of this commitment have been effective from the moment of my first thought of you. This offer is exempt from ever being terminated.

Love, God.


I ____________ as your creature and beloved, do promise to respond to your love and generosity. I will manifest this generosity to you within the circumstances and reality of my life.

I will support you by _____________________.

I will nourish you ______________________.

I will give you ________________________.

I will _____________________________.

The conditions of this commitment are totally dependent upon your grace in my life. This commitment is conditioned by the discernment of Your will in my life.

Signed _________________________

Thursday, August 24, 2006

From Jesus on the day you were born

On the day I breathed life into you, when you first began, I smiled. You were special, I knew. You were mine. The seed of my love was planted in your heart tho you may not have known. There was a stirring in my heart that sychronized with your own on the day you were born. And I have never left you.
I remain within your heart at this moment. Today I renew my love for you and celebrate you. I am in the breath you take. Become aware of my presence surrounding you. Feel your own heartbeat. I am there in your center. I am within you. I am a part of you. We share your breath, your heart and your soul.
We are one.
(dedicated to Barbara on her birthday)

Monday, August 21, 2006

by Teilhard

We are impatient of being on the way to something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made
by passing throuh some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.

Our ideas mature gradually~ let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Don't try to force them on, as though you could be today
what time will make you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you
will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you
through the obscurity and the becoming;
and accept for love of Him
the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

Know your activity has to be far reaching,
it must emanate from a heart that has suffered...
We must offer our existence to God, who makes use better than
we could ever anticipate,
of the struggle in which we are enveloped.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What Every Mother Wants

The Hidden Life of Our Lord as told to Gianna Sullivan and as reprinted by the Foundation of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary
Some of my reflection on the above:
Every mother wants her child to be loved and respected in the minimum. If they could, moms would absorb every ache and pain. There'd be no illness or accidents in the world that moms design for their babies. Little Johnny or Susie would be well and happy every day of their lives. Their friends would always be good influences, their neighbors would form a welcoming community. To a mom, they'd want teachers to give only good example, dads to be good parents and the world in general to be kind to their precious newborn infant.
Mary was just like every one of those moms. God asked her to be the mother of the world's Savior, so of course she wanted to be the best mom God's baby could have. Everything was fine until that trip to Jerusalem when he was 12. She'd never forget his exact words when they finally found him. "Didn't you know I had to be about my Father's business?" That sentence was like a shock to her system. "This is the beginning," she thought and she recalled Simeon's prophetic words.
When he told her at age 30 that he was leaving the family house she
hadn't been so surprised. After 30 years of living together she sensed his time was coming. She could only be grateful for all the years they did spend together. Jesus had lived physically in her body for 9 months and in her home for 30 years. No one else in the recorded history of the world would be able to say that.
But then, of course, came his arrest, torture, death and burial. Like other moms she had wanted to take his place. She knew he'd be the Savior since she was 14 years old but did it have to be like this?
"In her humility she bowed her head in silence." (ibid) Mary didn't make this about her but silently and painfully held in her own feelings. In "The Passion of the Christ" movie we see Mary wiping up Jesus' blood from the floor where his scourging took place. Her reverent action was a symbol of her respect for her precious Son and for his body. It was the body she had carried within her. At the foot of the Cross she held him one last time. The first time was in Bethlehem's manger. The last time on Calvery's hill.
"In her humility she bowed her head in silence."

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Hidden Life

I'm amazed, Jesus, that you chose to spend 30 years hidden, from a total of 33 years on earth.
(I worry about my work product being cost effective and time efficient.)
88% of your life on earth has nothing written about it in the Scripture. NOTHING. What you did in 3 years people are talking about 2000 years later. But for 30 years you remained quiet...hidden…average. No one noticed you. No one recorded the words you spoke or where you went.
(I have a cell phone just in case someone needs me)
There's something to be said for being "little" and silent in your heart. I have so much to learn yet, my Lord!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mary's thoughts on the Glorious Mysteries

1.The Resurrection

Mary felt a close bond with her Son Jesus after being the only person on earth to live with him for 30 years. They had an intimate bond.
"I held him tenderly when they took him off the cross. I guess I knew he was dead, but I didn't want to hurt him. When they took him from my arms and laid him in the tomb, I thought my heart just stopped beating. I tried to believe and to understand but I was his mother first. I was angry, grieving and empty, all at the same time. Then we waited. It seemed like forever, but they tell me it was 3 days. I was devastated, I don't remember those days clearly. It's all just a blur. But then, I had an opportunity no other mother will have.
My Son came back from the dead. I had hoped for it and prayed for it, but I didn't allow myself to really expect it. Then, one day I went for a walk. I reached the farthest well by the trees beyond the buildings.
As I pulled up the water, I felt a hand on my shoulder. But it wasn't a stranger's touch. I recognized it. I was almost too afraid to turn around because I didn't want to be disappointed. But then He said my name, "Mary". My Son called me by my name. and that's when I realized He was different. He was alive. He was smiling. He wasn't in pain. He was GLORIOUS. It was GLORIOUS to see him. All of a sudden, the whole day was Glorious. Life was Glorious! He said my name again. Mary. That's when my Son became my God and all the pieces of the puzzle came together in my mind. Here is my Son. He is alive. Here is my God. He is glorious. And he hugged me.

2.The Ascension

The time finally came when Jesus had to move on. He had to return to his real Father in heaven. I sensed it was coming. He was going to leave us again. But I wasn't as sad this time. He was safe and well and happy. Yes, I sensed He was really happy to be going. Selfishly, I wanted to hold on to him, but I knew, like every mother, I eventually had to let go.
He taught us about the Holy Spirit during these last few days and he kept saying we would never be alone. That was the hard part between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I felt desperately alone. But not this time. I believed Jesus. He had filled me up with hope and convinced me he would always be with me.
And, as his Mother, I wanted him to be happy. I had to let go so he could return to his real Father. I had to humbly remember that I was only the vessel God used to bring his Son to earth and so I let go.
"Get going", Jesus told us. "Go where I send you and tell the people about eternal life and confidence and hope. And remember," said my Son and these were the last words He ever spoke,"remember I am with you always, until the end of the world."

3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit

After Jesus returned to his true Father and his true home in heaven, the Apostles and I gathered for daily prayer together. We met in the room where Jesus appeared to us after his death. We met there and prayed and tried to figure out what each of us would do. So one day we were in that room praying and asking for instructions. I guess we should have known what to do next, but to be honest, we were unsure. Jesus had always led us. Since he told us to remember that He'd always be with us, we were hopeful and we waited. We were confident God would hear our prayers, but we never expected what happened next.
We all stopped whatever we were doing because someone thought they heard something. In the quiet, I felt a sense of presence..someone was there with us. Anticipation grew within me and my eyes widened. When the angel came to me to say I was with child I had felt the same anticipation. My heart raced. It seemed like a great silence overcame us and I fell to my knees. The disciples all did the same. An energy filled the air - a divine energy. It filled the space in that room and it filled me. I wasn't afraid at all. I haven't been afraid since Jesus rose from the dead. I was eager. What was God going to do with this humble group now? And then the energy seemed to brighten the entire room. I felt like I was aflame. It felt like power. Power from heaven had come over us. It covered us and filled us. I tried to be open. I tried to receive and be filled. Whatever my God was offering me, I wanted to receive it. The sacred power seemed to overcome us all and I remembered to last words my Son said to me,"Remember I am with you always." I knew it was Him. He shared his power with us so we would not be alone. He gave us his own Holy Spirit.

4. The Assumption
At the foot of the Cross John promised my Son he would care for me and he did that for many years. I got very tired as the years moved on and one day I passed from this life in my sleep during an afternoon nap. I thought I was dreaming. I felt like I was floating on a cloud, yet being transported somehow. I can't honestly say I know how it happened, but I came here to this Sacred Place. I'm living in Heaven now, totally and perfectly. What I mean is, I am here soul and body. Everyone else here only has a soul,for now. They will experience the resurrection of their body one day soon. I've also been able to see Jesus and to hold him tight like I used to. But the most wonderful blessing of all is that I see God! HE is the One for whom I lived my life. I see God who is the person I dedicated my self and every single action I performed on earth. I carried his Son and raised him. I did it all for God and now I can enjoy everlasting happiness here with him and with Jesus! Can you imagine my joy?
There is one more thing you must know. Since I am here in heaven I get the chance to meet your loved ones who have died. I know you miss them and I remember what that feels like. But I must assure you, they are in peace! It is beyond the peace that you know on earth and I probably cannot explain it well. You need not worry for them. On the contrary they look after you. They intercede for you and they are very proud of you. They are all happy. Everyone here is happy and we look forward to the day when we will all be here together.

5. The Coronation
When I was a young girl, the Lord sent an angel to speak to me. The Angel said, "Rejoice, O highly favored. The Lord is with you." Truthfully there were hard times for me on earth during which those words comforted me. They made me feel very special and loved. But my God is even more generous than that. They call me the Queen of Heaven, now. God gave me everything I needed to fulfill His Plan on earth. All I did was to remain faithful. Yet they call me the Queen. I do, indeed, feel like a Queen, surrounded by God and angels and saints in eternal joy and with no needs or wants. I am richer and more blessed than any person I know. My God is a very generous and loving God. I am not worthy of this title or his extreme generosity. All I did was listen for His word and remain faithful to it.
I beg you to do the same. I'd love you to be with us one day so you can share in our joy. The words that gave me strength can help you, too. "Rejoice. The Lord is with you."

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Growth in the Spirit for Teens

Growth in the Spirit

Do you have your drivers’ permits or a license yet?
Soon you’ll be graduating from high school and going on to college.
You’ll probably have a big party for your 21st birthday.
These are all social indicators of growth. You will have achieved a certain age in society at which driving or going to college or drinking is allowed. But all that means is you’ve been alive enough years to be able to do those things. It’s physical growth but arguably doesn’t require a lot more from you.
To learn how to drive responsibly….to go to college and achieve your full potential…to be allowed to drink but know your limits…that’s a better kind of growth.
Let me talk about a different example of growth. It’s one Jesus gave in John 15:5:
“I am the Vine. You are the branches. With me you will bear much fruit. Apart from Me you will do nothing.”
Obviously the strongest part of the tree is the root b/c it keeps the entire height of the tree and all its branches alive. God is our Root and b/c God is holy, we, the branches, are holy. If the branches stay close on the tree and get their energy from the root they will continue to grow. If a branch breaks off- it doesn’t get fed. It withers away and dies. It’s useless. A branch that remains on the vine not only continues to grow but bears fruit…BECAUSE it got fed from the root, not b/c of anything the branch did itself.
Jesus used that story as a way to explain to his disciples that they should stay close to Him. They should let him feed them so they can grow and “bear much fruit.” That should really give us confidence and self esteem if you think about it. You aren’t some twig growing up in the wilderness all on your own. You lucky people are a part of the Vine. The Vine. And simply b/c of that you are valuable and important. We may all be different branches (oak, dogwood, maple, weeping willow) but we’re connected to the Vine and b/c the Vine is holy so are we. We didn’t do anything to deserve that, God is just that generous. God’s holiness flows through us b/c He is our Root. Remember God said this in John 15. I’m not making this up.

And if we stay close to the vine we will ‘bear much fruit,’ Scripture says. It doesn’t say you stay close to God only – you, yes YOU will Bear Much Fruit. Not a little fruit – MUCH fruit. So that’s all you have to do if you want a great life. Stay close to God. And it works well for God, too b/c you bear fruit for him and the gifts he gave you get shared. Everyone’s happy J
How do you make sure you stay a part of the Vine? How do you feed from God the Vine so you, the branch can grow?

They say CPR saves lives. Well I’m saying the real answer is CPS.
Communion. Prayer. Scripture.
Communion is Eucharist. Eucharist IS Jesus. It’s not bread. It’s not just something we Catholics do at Mass on Sunday. It’s not symbolic. It IS Jesus. We’re the only religion that can say that. No other faith believes the bread is Jesus Himself. For them it’s only a symbol.
One non Catholic woman in a wheel chair said that if she really believed that nothing would stop her from crawling out of her wheel chair up the aisle to receive the Body of Christ.
If you were home everyday and your mom made you 3 meals a day that you refused to eat, what would happen to your body? Same thing can happen to your hungry soul if it doesn’t get fed with the Eucharist.
I believe God made me.
I believe God put certain ingredients together inside of me and those ingredients make me unique. They make me me. Eg: I am extremely organized. I love Tina Turner, Cher and Rod Stewart. I also love reading the lives of the saints. These are strange ingredients but God made me so I don’t question them.
Anyway if I’m made by God then I should return to him – my Maker – to develop my potential with the ingredients he gave me. It’s like there’s a warranty on me – so for all repairs I have to go my Maker. Receiving the body of my Creator fills me and repairs me. It takes me back to who I’m meant to be. It’s home. I’m fed. I’m strong again.
If God knit me together in my mother’s womb as it says in the Psalms, where else WOULD I go to get fed, fixed up, strengthened and ready to face the world again?

Remember I said CPS was the secret to life, not CPR. C is Communion and the P is Prayer. Don’t get me started on this one. It’s my favorite topic. Let me start this way:
You’ve all got friends right? Friends talk to each other, right? The minute you stop spending time with and talking to your friend your relationship begins to weaken. Like what might happen with your friends at home if you go away to college. Relationships are fragile and need a lot of attention. I’ve heard kids say after a retreat, “Oh, I don’t know how I’m going to keep this alive” The minute you stop spending time with Jesus, your relationship will begin to weaken…but not b/c of God. B/c of how weak we as humans are. It’s like we’ve got spiritual ADHD (know what ADHD is?). We always want to be entertained. That’s not real though. At some point we have to give back – listen- or even just hang out with God. That’s all prayer is. It’s no big deal. It’s just promising God you’ll spend time with Him even if He’s not entertaining you. Friends share. Sometimes you entertain him. Sometimes you listen. Sometimes He does. Sometimes you sit together quietly or you listen to music. But I warn you: the very minute you decide to spend less time with Him your relationship with Jesus will begin to weaken and then the spiritual you will weaken too b/c its not getting fed.

Now we’re up to the S in CPS. Scripture. Eucharist is Jesus’ body and Scripture is His words. If you want to get to know about someone who died you do some research. Maybe you read their biography or autobiography. I’ve never met Princess Diana but I sure feel like I know a lot about her. There are TV shows, movies, magazine articles and books written about her. It’s the same thing with Jesus, only we have one very special extra thing: His exact words. Yes there are also movies, magazines and TV shows but we have Jesus’ own recorded words to learn about who He was and what he said and did. I’m in a Bible Study group that has been meeting once a month for almost 10 years and we still haven’t run out of things to learn about Jesus!
There’s this line: The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. That’s in Luke 6. And do you know the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit? If you don’t know what they are how can you use them or ask God to bless you with more of them?

A lot of people stop praying b/c they don’t know Jesus as a person. Of course! Why would you spend time with or try talking to someone you barely know? Scripture is the best way to get to know Jesus the human being. The apostles could follow him around and listen to his teachings. We can’t do that but we can read about what he did and what he thought. When you know him better then you’ll want to spend time with him faithfully and not give up on him.

So~ that’s the way to grow into a strong Christian whose gifts develop fully and help others. The branch has to stay on the vine to be fed. And if it stays on the vine Jesus remains in you and you bear MUCH fruit. Take His word for it~ literally.

Prayer and
Scripture are the gifts God gave us. Big presents just for you. Open them up and use them. God went to a lot of trouble to make sure you get them.

…and good luck with your drivers’ tests.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


A Reflection on Simeon, the Man who Waited for Jesus
Jesus was circumcised and then taken to the Temple by His parents for the purification. They met Simeon.

Simeon, Luke calls you righteous and devout; the Holy Spirit was with you. What were you like? You must have really been hungry for the coming of the Lord. You were so hungry and prayerful that God filled you. He had promised you'd see Jesus. What a faithful, holy prayerful man you must have been. Hungry yet patient. You lived such a good obedient life God promised you Jesus. You were one of God's extra-ordinary people, Simeon. You made God smile. You must have perservered in your prayer...maybe you were just stubborn! Or were you just so simply good and faithful that God offered you this gift? How excited you must have been when you sensed Jesus was coming.
It might have happened before - you thought he was coming but it wasn't really him. This time the urging is stronger. You get excited and hopeful. Is this the One? Is this really Him? You went to the Temle, prayed and waited. How long did you wait? Did it feel like forever? Did you feel unworthy? Did you straighten up the Temple? Fix your hair and robes? Then, did you finally calm down and wait?
As soon as Mary and Joseph brought the baby in, you knew! I bet they hardly got one sentence out. Did they lookl ike you thought they'd look? Poorer than you'd imagined? Simpler? Younger? You reached for the baby Jesus. You reached and Mary handed him to you. You must have been elated. You knew, really knew this was Jesus. I imagine you lifting Him up to God, His Father. Your heart must have been singing! Holding Jesus, the Savior. Did it confuse you that He was just a normal baby? Or did this miracle just fall in line with other ways God worked in your life? Finally you hold the baby near to your heart. What a sacred moment! All your hunger, fulfilled. All your longings met. All your fears calmed. What a picture that must have been. Simeon holding the baby Jesus, the Savior of the world. Jesus may have looked like a normal baby at that moment, but Simeon, how your eyes must have danced. Your body was elated. What a precious Sacred site. No words are in the Scriptures to describe this moment...its an intimate union of hearts. You are silent holding the baby Savior Jesus for a while. I can feel your elation, comfort and deep peace. Then you pray, "Now Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace."
We must also reflect on the fact that Simeon was the first one to predict the death of Jesus. Simeon told Mary that her own heart would be pierced. As any mother identifies with and feels her child's pain, Simeon said Mary would experience the pain her son Jesus endured. Anyone who truly identifies with Jesus and shares in his mission can and should expect to experience suffering. The less you identify with him, the less you share in his suffering.

Do you anticipate seeing Jesus during your daily life as much as Simeon did?
Have you recognized his presence in your life? Are you as fulfilled by that presence as Simeon was?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Be humble enough to laugh

“Laughter is a divine gift to the human who is humble. A proud man cannot laugh because he must watch his dignity; he cannot give himself over to the rocking and rolling of his belly. But a poor and happy man laughs heartily because he gives no serious attention to his ego.”
The Comic World of CS Lewis by Terry Lindvall

Sunday, July 23, 2006

on House Cleaning (?)

on House Cleaning
I know I'm a sinner and if Jesus walked through that door right now I'd fall on my knees. On my own, I'm not good enough to stand and reach out for his hand or to let him touch me or hug me. I know my heart and you know yours. When was the last time your soul was absolutely clean? When was it a place good enough to welcome Jesus the Savior into?
What if we were interrupted right now by a phone call from Celene Dion or some other famous singer/star? She and TV crews are at your home right now. They're ringing your doorbell at this moment and they want to know what time you can get there. Is your home ready for National TV? Are you ready for the world to sit in your kitchen? Would you happily welcome them in? Would you focus on Celene and her crew's comfort and needs? Or would you be distracted by the dish someone left in you sink...would you be worrying about the smudges on your mirror...or the fuzz ball under your coffee table? You wouldn't be focused on Celene because you'd be worried about your house being on TV for the world to see. But the truth is, in 50 years no one will care!
Name me something you did on January 16 in 1983. Tell me about any movie you saw or novel you read in 1985. What did you wear after school or to work in the spring of 1989. In August of '96 what were you worried about?
We can't remember any of those things now and they don't even matter. They seemed to matter very much at the time, though. So even if Celene Dion herself was at your house right now you'd be worried about something that would eventually be forgotten. In 5 years, you won't remember what you wore here today, nor any book or TV show. No one will really care if your dishes were done or your beds were made. But these are the things we DO with our lives. We prepare meals, wash dishes, go to work, and have conversations with friends. We shop, we clean, and we go to Baptisms, showers and weddings. But none of these things have lasting impact.
The one thing that could have an impact on your eternal life is being offered to you right now. The Sacrament of Reconciliation could make an eternal difference not only because it forgives sins but because in this Sacrament Jesus gives you the strength you need to live your life. So you need to make a decision. We are going to give you a written examination of conscience. The Joshua 2 group has used this examen once before. Review it very carefully and examine your soul. Then, make your decision. Will you spend your eternity with Jesus and your loved ones or will you choose something else? Do you choose- not to receive this Sacrament of God's mercy for some silly reason like pride? Or for some self righteous reason like you don't think you should have to tell your sins to another human being? If you're going to risk Jesus' completely loving presence in your soul for those reasons or any other, you're really taking a risk that could have everlasting results.
My suggestion is to clean your house, your soul-house. If you'd run home to prepare your human house for a star, they stay here and do some really important house keeping. Your soul is Jesus' home. I wouldn't invite any guest into an unwelcome place, would you? Clean up your soul now!
Sins are like burnt toast, let Reconciliation scrape away the bad parts. Scrape your soul clean and white. Make it pure and new. The Virgin Mary was blessed with a pure soul since her own conception. Then God decided to live inside her body for 9 months so she could give birth to his Son. Jesus can live inside our bodies, too, but we have to make our souls clean.
As Catholics we are blessed with a sacred ritual, it's a Sacrament that allows us the chance to start all over again. We get to clean up and become brand new. We get to scrape away our sins simply by being honest with ourselves and with God. And when we've asked for forgiveness, we receive the blessings of Jesus' love and mercy. He takes our dry, crusty old self and fills us up again. He gives us strength for the journey and peace for our souls. He fills up those empty holes our sins left behind and we are rejuvenated. We are made healthy and whole. We are again, the pure and innocent persons God created us to be. We get to start over WITH Him. Our souls are brand new like they were when we were baptized.
Can you imagine being brand new again? With your soul as whole and pure and white as a baby's? It can be clean and new because of this Sacrament. That's the kind of soul-home Jesus can get welcomed into. He can live in you completely and he won't be crowded out by your sins. Jesus Christ our Savior will make his home in you if you want him to. That's where he belongs. That's where he wants to be - as close to you as he can get.
He knows how hard this life is. He know all about your struggles. He knows you judge yourself and that others judge you harshly sometimes. People categorize us and place limits on us. We all do that to each other.
But now Jesus wants to remove all those uglies. All the sins listed on the examination of conscience can be admitted and forgiven. Now, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation Jesus wants to meet you face to face. He wants to look at you the way he looked at the Adulterous woman after others judged her and, probably, she judged herself. He wants to take your face into his hands and look into your eyes so he can forgive you. However, he will do that through the priest who is consecrated in his name. When the priest looks into your eyes, it is Jesus gazing at you. When the priest hears your sins, it is Jesus listening. When the priest speaks the words of forgiveness, it is Jesus speaking to you.
The priest is not waiting to condemn you, but to welcome you home. It is his function to celebrate the forgiveness that has already occurred between you and Jesus. The priest formally wipes the slate of your soul clean. He offers you the chance to begin again. He blesses you and gives you the strength you will need to stay on the right path.
Go meet him. Meet your Lord and Savior in the face of the priest during this sacred moment of reconciliation with your God and yourself.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Imagery Prayer Experience


Get yourself comfortable. Make sure your body is relaxed and not touching anyone else. Make sure your clothes are not uncomfortable or tight in any area. Relax. Breathe slowly in and out. Take a slow deep breath in and release it very slowly. Do that one more time. Breathe regularly now, but with each release of your breath, release any tension you may be feeling. Try not to be conscious of anyone around you. Concentrate only on yourself and your body right now. With the release of your next breath let out your inhibitions, release your anger or tension. With each breath, let go of your fears. Be comfortable and relaxed.

Get ready to clear your mind of anything that is filling it. Whatever happened today, wipe out of your mind. Whatever you're worrying or even just thinking about...forget. Clear your mind to the point that you see only a clean white space. The space is empty of words and thoughts. The space is free and clean. It is empty. You see only white space...air.

In your mind, fill your entire body with this clean white space. The inside of your body in empty...nothing is there. Your body is only a shell, holding inside of it the clean white air. From your toes through your knees there is nothing but white. The white air fills the space between your knees and your hips. Let the whiteness circle around inside you. The clean space moves from your hips to your shoulders. It then flows upwards through your neck, your jaw and mouth. The white air fills your nose and eyes then goes backwards to your ears and the back of your head.
Your whole body is empty and white.

Rest there for a minute.

Now imagine yourself standing at the intersection of a street. As you look down the block you see a clearing that you never noticed before and you walk toward it. When you get to the clearing you can see a lake surrounded by trees. The lake is peaceful and calm. There are no boats and no people there. It is just a calm body of water.

Everything inside you wants to run toward the lake. It is new. It was never there before and you want to examine it more closely. But you cannot get to it. You find yourself frozen there. Then, out of the corner of your eye you see someone walking toward you. As the man gets nearer, you realize that it is Jesus. You tell him how much you want to move toward the lake and see it more closely, but you cannot. You ask him to help you.

Jesus says that is not what he wants for you. The lake is not in his plan. He has other ideas in his mind for you. You disagree. You tell Jesus that the lake looks calm and peaceful. You tell him what a difficult day you've had. You tell him about the hard time you're having with your parents. You tell him about the argument you just had with your friend. You keep trying to convince Jesus that it really is a good idea for you to see the lake and experience it up close. You insist, almost, that it really is the best idea and ask for his help again.

Look into Jesus' eyes. He looks at you with love and understanding. His eyes are filled with love and patience. He just looks at you and you realize how agitated you have become. You were sure Jesus would help you. Now you feel disappointed and confused. You say to Jesus, if you love me so much why won't you help me? Can't you see that this would be good for me? Can't you tell that I know what I'm doing? Don't you want me to be happy and joyful?

Jesus says that there is nothing more he could want for you. But he has a better plan. He asks you to take his hand and trust him. He asks you to walk with him in another direction.

You respond by taking one long last look at the lake and wishing that this was the plan Jesus had for you. You have no idea where he may be leading you now. You are uncertain. But you look again into his eyes and you agree to walk with him. You take his hand and walk where he leads you.

Jesus walks with you past the lake and behind the trees surrounding it. His hand feels strong and large in yours. But you find comfort in the fact that he is leading you and so you go on with him. You walk behind the trees with Jesus. The sun had blinded you momentarily so you blink your eyes. When they open again you finally see what Jesus' other plan for you was.

It isn't just a lake. It's an ocean surrounded by a long stretch of beach. The beach is filled with your friends and they are all cheering you. Your family is there too and they, also, express their sheer joy at your decision to walk with Jesus to this wonderful place. There is food cooking on the grill and games being played. Laughter fills the air.

Finally you understand why Jesus didn't want you to go to the empty lake. He knew what was behind the water and the trees, but you didn't. He knew everyone was waiting for you. Jesus knew what you couldn't have known. He saw the big picture. He knew what was ahead for you.

You look at Jesus with your eyes big and filled with gratitude. You make your apologies to him and ask him to forgive your insistence on staying at the lake. You thank him for knowing exactly what you really needed and for not listening to you when you insisted on something else.

Jesus hugs you, then he fades away and you move toward the ocean, the beach, the games, your family and your friends.

Enjoy this experience.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A letter from Jesus to you

You don't belong to this world anymore than I did. And my prayer is that one day we will be united forever with my Father. That's the day I'm waiting for because I want you to finally meet Him.
But in the meantime I'm depending on you to love all others the way I love you. That's how you can show your love for me. Follow my example and stay close by my side. You will never be alone.
I know you. I know your weaknesses and your strengths. You can trust me to lead you. Don't hold back, don't hesitate or doubt. I will be your guide and your protector. My Father and I are looking forward to the day when we can be joined together. Just stay by my side until then.

Amateur Catholic B-Team Member


Amateur Catholic B-Team Member

A Maryknoll Mission Story

Written in the Maryknoll Mission magazine in September of 2005. The following takes place in the Sudan in Africa:

The army on horses came upon the house so the father met them at the door while mom and kids huddled outside behind the house. One soldier grabbed the mom and oldest daughter bringing them to the front of the house. They then set fire to the house and the remaining family.
After tying the father, the soldiers raped his wife and daughter in front of him. They then took a piece of burning wood from the house and branded the young daughter with it. When all that was done, they shot the father in the head, killing him instantly and rode off.
The branded young girl was scarred for life as an outcast and would never be able to be with a man or marry. The Maryknoll mission rescued these two women.

Please pray for peace.

Monday, July 10, 2006

On Pride

"Pride takes innumerable forms but has only one end: Self glorification. It is contending with God for supremacy. It is the sacrilegious arrogance of those who praise themselves. " Humility True Greatness by CJ Mahaney

  • Consider inviting correction or
  • Pursue opportunities to be humble

"It's serious business to say YES to the Lord and then not allow Him to transform our character." Dr Carol Razza, author of Sonblock.

Friday, July 07, 2006

He's Still A Carpenter

I hurt others. Jesus heals others.
I worry. Jesus works wonders.
I fear. Jesus faces situations head on.
I intrude. Jesus invites.
I brag. Jesus bears all.
I give bad example. Jesus gives.
I am a poor role model. Jesus was poor.
I'm proud. Jesus was pure.
I correct others. Jesus celebrates others.
I sin. Jesus suffered.
Despite my sinfulness Jesus continues to work in me and through me. He fixes my mistakes. As a carpenter Jesus created wonderful pieces out of wood. As our Savior Jesus created the doorway to heaven from the wood of the cross.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Poetry Praise

Faithful Forever Forgiving
Unbelievable Unforgettable Unrelenting
Deep Dependable Divine
Unending Undeserving Unmatched

sinfulness selfishness self centered

Extreme Extraordinary
Tender Timeless
Precious Perfect

talking taking

Suffered Surrendered Silent
Artist All Knowing Almighty
Wonderful Working Worshipping


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Humility: how do you do it?

Consider inviting correction and pursuing opportunities to be humble. Follow Jesus’ example. Jesus walked of his own free will into Gethsemane and said, “Father not my will but yours be done.” It’s serious business to say yes to the Lord and then not allow Him to transform our character.

Ask yourself, “How can I wash others’ feet?” Some examples below:

See others as better/more deserving than myself.
Be available and look for ways to meet others’ needs
be sensitive to others
deny my own needs
be patient and forgiving
listen more to others
encourage and motivate others

Readers: what ideas do you have about how you can practice humility?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

For what do you depend on God?

For what do you depend on God?
1. Keeping me balanced so that I see the big picture and can keep all of life's events in perspective.
2. Strength to keep trying to be the person God made me to be and who He wants me to be.
3. Faithful, unconditional love.
4. Mercy.
5. Wisdom.
6. Sense of direction.
7. Eucharist
8. His Word.
9. Good example.
10. Peace like the world cannot give.
11. Surprises and challenges.
What would you add?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Jesus' Humility

Jesus, you learned humility
1.First from your parents, Mary and Joseph.
a) Your conception caused public speculation for them
b) Your birth place must have been hard for Joseph, the family's breadwinner, to handle. Surely he wanted to be a good provider.
c) Your parents were only able to offer pigeons at your Presentation...the offering of the poor.
d) Mary and Joseph must have been embarrassed at having lost you in the Temple at age 12.
2. During your own active ministry you didn't even have a home
3. Very few, including the Apostles, knew what you were preaching about
4. During your public life you were questioned and tested frequently by the "authorities"
5. An attempt was made to kill you by stoning
6. They ignored your values in turning the synagogue into a market place
7. the people in your hometown rejected your mission and others asked "can anything good come from Nazareth?"
8. You healed hundreds of people who never even said thank you.
9. You washed your apostles feet
10. You allowed yourself to be arrested by soldiers over whom you had real authority and power.
11. You allowed Judas to turn you in and Peter to deny he even knew you.
12. You were tortured, mocked and spit upon by the soldiers.
13. You were judged and condemned by Pilate , a frightened leader
14. You were stripped publicly.
15 You were given vinegar to drink while on the cross
16. You were nailed to a cross without complaining and left to die.
17. Like your birth, your burial place was not your own.

Readers: any other ideas?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Called to be Saints

Called to be Saints

Going to Mass on Sunday isn't enough. Trying to be a good person isn't enough. Never using bad language doesn't cut it. Being kind and patient to your kids and your neighbors is, at least, a step in the right direction. Scripture says in the Gospel of Luke, "When you have done all you have been commanded to do, say 'We are useless servants. We have done no more than our duty.'"
that's yucky, I know
You've all heard about Good Friday: The agony in the Garden, the scourging at the pillar. You heard how Jesus sweat drops of blood while he was hanging on the cross. And you remember His last words were "Father, forgive them."
I want to remind you of everything else your God has done for you, too. He woke you this morning to do his work. He gave you a job and the skills to do it well. He gave you a sense of sight, hearing and smell. He gave you people that love you and maybe even, people who don't. He waits for you everyday in every situation to turn your face toward him in prayer so he can share the experience with you. That's because, as Scripture says again, He delights in you. And lastly, though the list could go on and on, he gifts you with salvation - everlasting happiness awaits you in heaven. It's like knowing there's going to be a surprise party for you, the biggest one you've ever seen, but you just don't know when it is.
Jesus lived for you, died for you and still lives in and with you. God the Father designed you uniquely; sent his Son so you could enjoy heaven and delights in you at every moment of the day. The Holy Spirit is God's gift to you, too, so you'd never feel lonely after Jesus left this earth. We have our own, personal guardian angels to support and protect us and another precious gift: a nurturing, spiritual, very Blessed Mother.
If I kept listing God's gifts to us, I could honestly go on all night. I cite them here to give us motivation. As humans we require reasons to sacrifice for others. God has given us more reasons that we need and certainly more than we deserve.
Everyone feels like they are a good person and I'm absolutely sure you are. But I am looking at your potential. I see the creation your God made you to be and the work of art you can become. God, the Creator of the whole world, created you. He chose certain elements to be a part of your personality and purposely omitted others. From his closet shelf marked "talents" he selected a very special one for you. You may already know what it is or you may still need to discover it. Ask God about that. He can help you.
So you are a work of art, a unique and unrepeated design created by God Himself. What a blessing you are! What wonderful gifts He gave you to share with others. Are you sharing them? Have you even decided in which direction your life is headed? Do you have a goal?
What is your personal mission while you are on this earth? What is the one point you want to make with your life? If we just live day after day, responding spontaneously and haphazardly to situations around us, we become eclectic. That's fine in a living room, but its not a mission statement. You need an identified spiritual purpose: a message you think people need to hear. But it can't be your own message. It has to come from God, therefore, it requires prayer. In your private conversations with Jesus, ask him what message he wants you to bring his people. Some one theme will repeat in your head and your heart over time. It will feel really right. It will be a good "fit", so to speak. It will be a message you'll feel comfortable with. In your spiritual conversations here or with others, it will be your theme. It will be a reminder from Jesus through you to others.
Find out your purpose. Ask God what your mission is. Without a goal, we are simply walking along the road with no destination. Find your mission and use it as a measuring tool for your spiritual life's journey. That's what all the prophets and the saints did. They all had a goal for God, a race to run and a prize to capture. (That's from Scripture, too.)
When God made us with all the blessing and gifts and talents we have, he saw our potential. He saw what HE wanted us to become, and it is our purpose in this life. All the saints realized that, in order to attain God's mission for them on this earth, they had to put aside their own wants and needs many times. You know what that's like. You swallow a word of anger at someone who you think really deserves it. You allow that car to cut in front of you so as not to feed into road rage. You smile and are polite to people you don't really like.
The saints did that and much, much more. They did it to an elaborate degree because they knew God deserved it and that's what made them saints. They swallowed their self will and followed God's will for them. They figured God's will needed to be accomplished more that their own will and they didn't want to be in God's way.
Being in God's way means not having a spiritual goal or not living up to your potential. It means God has to work around you because you are not cooperating with him. It means you don't recognize the gifts God gave you and therefore don't use them. Or it could mean that you know you are gifted and use those gifts only to meet your own needs. You've forgotten that God made you, gave you those gifts and that He intended for you to use them to help Him help others. These are not easy words to hear, I know. We are not doing what we can. We forget. We are not doing what we should. We are mediocre and lukewarm.
The word I used is WE and I really mean that! I am a terrible sinner in this regard. It's my biggest weakness. I am NOT preaching or admonishing at all. I am a part of the problem.
I've gotten some support and motivation from reading the lives of some Saints, and I thought I'd share some of what I learned with you; I strongly recommend you read them for yourself.
St. Clare of Assisi was impressed by Jesus' poverty. He was born in a stable and died naked on a Cross. This caused her to leave her wealthy family and live in absolute poverty, owning nothing. The religious order she created still follows that rule. We may not live in that strict kind of poverty, but we can think about the possessions we tend to accumulate.
Sister Faustina, was completely overwhelmed by Jesus' mercy and forgiveness. She felt utterly unworthy of God's blessings because of her sinfulness. She said we would be too if we could see our souls as Jesus sees them. I dread to think of Jesus looking at my soul everyday; especially if Sister Faustina was ashamed of hers. St. Therese of Liseaux is one of my very favorites. She wanted everyone everywhere to love God as he deserved to be loved and she knew that would never happen in hell. So she offered her life and made sacrifices to make up for that. She was so caught up in reverencing God that she was sad that drops of blood fell from his cross and no one could catch them. That takes real sensitivity to Jesus as a person. Our prayer life can create a personal relationship with Jesus just like St. Therese had. All we have to do is look at him very, very closely and listen to him.
St.Catherine of Sienna changed the entire course of the Catholic Church all by herself by changing the Pope's location and status. Also, to personally sacrifice for Jesus she slept and ate as little as possible. She served the poor and helped the sick whom no one else wanted to be near.
Billy Simpson was born in Cincinnati and died at age 30 in 1970. He is described in a book of saints because of his sense of humor, and service to the poor. Both Billy and St.Catherine make us think about what we are really doing for the poor. When was the last time you visited a food pantry or made a meal for the homeless?
Padre Pio died in 1968 and had the bleeding stigmata for 50 years. He spent 12 hours a day hearing confessions, because that's what he believed his mission was. He also said, "It would be easier for the earth to carry on without the sun, than without Holy Mass." Reading his life can motivate us to name our life's mission and to set a spiritual goal. Mary Ann Long died in 1959 at the age of 12. She had cancer and felt her job was to go around the hospital and comfort everyone else who was sick. At age 12 she said she did not pray for a cure, she only wanted to be that way God wanted her to be. How many times do we complain when we've got a headache or the flu? Saints frequently want to offer personal gifts to God and realize they really have nothing to offer but themselves. That's our situation, too. They often tried to overcome small personal faults. One saint's name was Teresita. She died in 1950, but spent her life overcoming her impulsive tendency.
One Beatified person (that means almost-saint) that I am growing to really admire was born in Bayonne in 1901 and died at the age of 26. She was a Sister of Charity and taught at St. Aloysius's Academy in Jersey City. Sister Miriam Teresa was brilliant, but unaccepted by the sisters in her community. They completely misunderstood her. Her spiritual director knew all of this and also knew that Sister Miriam had visions and conversations with Jesus and even experienced the gift of wearing the Crown of Thorns. He did not share this with her community, but asked her to write instructions for him to give to the other novices in that community. She wrote 2 books which the priest used to educate not only the Sisters of Charity, but Congregations world wide. It was not until after Sister Miriam's death that this information was revealed. Listen to some comments she made in the book.
The reason why we have not yet become saints is because we have not understood what it means to love. We think we do; but we do not. To love means to annihilate ones' self for the beloved. The self sacrifice of a mother for her child is only a shadow of the love with which we should love the Beloved of our soul. We must conform our lives with his in the most intimate way possible.
In another section she says, "The saints only did one thing: the will of God. But they did it with all their might." Sister Miriam always says we need to give our liberty and free will over to God. "To bring that will into submission requires persistence and sacrifice - a constant and resolute effort in the monotony of daily tasks and frequent failures; a daily struggle to conquer self. Only one thing in the world is strong enough to overcome the love of self, and that is the love of God." It's so honestly difficult, even for Sister Miriam, that she says to her spiritual director: My physical strength decreases, until what with the heat and the weariness and the sleepiness and the mosquitoes and the incessant strain of doing things I naturally don't want to do, I wonder that I am able to take another step or even stand up straight.
We don't need to change the course of history in order to become saints. We only need to love God with all our might. We need to be so in love with him that we commit ourselves to doing something about it. One saint said that feelings are utterly worthless. How we feel about God is all well and good, but what we DO about it is much more important. God set the example. His love for us made him sacrifice his only Son. Jesus followed the example. His love for us committed him to crucifixion by sinners. What does our love say? How many petty annoyances do we suffer with silently? When your personal plans are upset or tossed aside by others, what is your reaction? I actually tried this and failed miserably. I prayed and asked God to let me be annoyed. He did. I didn't even come close to the challenge. I grunted and complained. When someone disagreed with me I felt the need to clarify myself and my view. When embarrassed and corrected in front of others I needed to defend myself. When I make plans and schedule something for my own convenience I am not exactly the picture of Sister Miriam's self annihilation if those plans get changed. I get stressed.
I am not talking here about self degradation. I do not feel as God's work of art that I should put my gifts aside and be the target of others scorn. Let's not go there. Let's not get this mixed up with poor self esteem or lack of self worth. I do not mean that. I mean honest self sacrifice. If your tendency is toward self degradation, pray about that so that you don't get carried away with this in an unhealthy way.
For the most part, we know deep in our hearts how self centered we are. To be a saint, to live up to our potential means to be Jesus centered and to make his message our mission.

As I said in the beginning, we really aren't just talking about going to Mass on Sunday and not using bad language. We are talking about much, much more. We are talking about giving back to Jesus the love he deserves. We need to learn how to love the one who loves us so completely. Go to him in prayer and ask him how you can do this in your own personal life. And then, let's pray for each other to become saints.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Novena to St. Therese of Lisieux

This novena is special in that it prays for the blessing of spiritual gifts rather than earthly favors.

Saint Therese, who in your short life attained to angelic purity, generous love, and wholehearted surrender to Almighty God, pray for us who trust in you. You have received the reward of your virtues; obtain for us the grace to be pure of heart and to avoid whatever may tarnish any virtue pleasing to God. May we know in every need the power of your prayer for us. Comfort us in the sorrows of this life and especially at its end, that we be worthy to share your happiness in Heaven. Amen.
Pray for us, blessed Therese, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.
O Lord Who has said: "Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven," grant us, we implore you, to walk in the footsteps of Saint Therese. Amen.

Intention for the FIRST DAY - Faith Almighty God and Creator of all things, to overcome lukewarmness and inflame souls with Your love, you have enriched the soul of Your Little Flower with such firm faith that she longed to give her life for You. I ask You, by the merits of her lively faith, to infuse in me a like faith. Grant that I may believe all the truths taught by the Catholic Church and practice until death all virtues. Amen.
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the SECOND DAY - Hope Almighty God, You Who are glorified in Your saints, grant me the gift of hope as was evident in the life of Saint Therese, that I may believe firmly in Your words:
Whatever you ask in My Name shall be given to you."
As Saint Therese turned away from the vanities of this world and consecrated herself to You with complete confidence, may I also turn from those vanities and seek You alone, my love and my all. Amen.
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the THIRD DAY - Love My Jesus, grant that I may love You as much as Saint Therese, Your Little Flower, and say with her: "My Jesus, I beg You only for Your love, without limits and without bounds. Grant, my Jesus that I may love you with the strength of a martyr. I wish to love You as You have never been loved."
And you, Saint Therese, help me to be ever grateful to Him Who loves me so much. Amen.

Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the FOURTH DAY - Submission My Lord and my God, You always will what is best for me. As Your Little Flower consecrated herself to You to endure all sufferings and pain, may I accept with perfect resignation and even cheerfulness all the hardships that come to me in life, that I may be able to say, as did Your beloved spouse:
"Jesus, I offer my hardships to You in the name of Your love."
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the FIFTH DAY - Patience My Lord, Innocence Itself, You endured all forms of shameful treatment for love of me. Give me the humility, self-denial, and patience to imitate Your spouse, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, and say with all my heart:
My despised Jesus, grant me, by the merits of Your humility and patience, to bear with a a calm spirit all the sufferings of this life, and then to enjoy Your company with Your spouse, the Little Flower. Amen.
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the SIXTH DAY - Simplicity My sweet Jesus, give me the charity and simplicity of Saint Therese. She said her mission in Heaven would be to make others love God as she loved Him, and to teach others to seek and find God in the little things in life. Grant that I may not rest until I love God with all my strength and with the childlike simplicity of the Little Flower.
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the SEVENTH DAY - Humility My Jesus, give me the grace to practice virtue in little things. It is sometimes difficult, but I trust in Your goodness, and Your love for humble persons. I am too weak to climb he ladder of perfection alone, but I know that I shall obtain from You the help I hope for. I join the Little Flower in asking You for this blessing. Amen. Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the EIGHTH DAY - Doing for Others My God and my Love, give me on earth the same mission You gave Your Little Flower in Heaven, of spending my life doing good to my neighbor. My Jesus, help me to console all men and encourage them to love You. May all love You as Your Immaculate Mother, Your foster father, Saint Joseph, Your holy angels, and Saint Therese love you. Allow me to pray with her: "Let Your divine glance rest upon a vast number of little souls, worthy of Your love."
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be
Intention for the NINTH DAY - Happy Death My dear Lord, grant me the same childlike love for Your foster father and Your holy and immaculate Mother as Saint Therese had. And you, Saint Therese, ask my great protector and father, Saint Joseph, and my holy Mother, Mary, to obtain for me the grace of dying the friendship of Jesus, and expressing in your own words: "My God, I love You." Amen.
Our Father Hail Mary Glory Be

Monday, June 05, 2006

Examination of Conscience

The following is a thorough examination of conscience. Hopefully it can be helpful in your prayerful, personal reflection.

Sinfulness at work:

Do I go to my place of work knowing that this is the place God sent me?
Do I arrive prepared and eager to meet God throughout my day?
Do I look for God in everyone I meet throughout the day?
Do I get distracted and upset if things don't go smoothly or if things don't go my way?
Do I give my coworkers good example?
Do my coworkers know I am a Christian? Does my interaction with them indicate this?
Do I worry about my job stability?
Do I worry about anything in the work place so that it distracts me from looking for the gifts God is sending me?
Do I live out Christ's qualities of patience, joy, kindness, and understanding in my work place?
Do I forgive others in the work place when I am misjudged or misunderstood?
Do I work to the best of my ability? Am I just and fair in my dealings with others?
Do I leave my job at the end of the day knowing that I did the best I could, and satisfied that I fulfilled God's role for me this day?

Sinfulness in my Family Life:

Do I see my family as my chosen vocation in life?
Do I look for the good in each person in my family?
Do I appreciate each I tell them that I love and appreciate them?
Do I pray for each member of my family by name?
Do I take my family for granted?
Do I impose my moodiness on my family members?
Am I selfless in my personal decision making with regards to my family? Do I prefer the good of others to my own personal convenience?
Do I pray for guidance in each decision that needs to be made in my family?
Do I reflect Christ's qualities of patience, kindness, joy and understanding to my family?
Is prayer an integral part of my family life?
Do I set a good example to my family by going to Mass, daily private prayer, prayer before Meals?

Personal Sinfulness:

Do I recognize that I am God's beautiful creation?
Do I know and accept the gifts God has given me?
Do I develop and foster the relationship I have with my God through daily prayer?
Do I ask God for forgiveness for the sins I may have committed this day?
Do I seek direction from God in the way that my life continues to unfold?
Do I read Scripture in order to learn more about my God?
Do I thank God daily for the many gifts he has given me?
Do I fear and worry... or do I trust in God's unconditional love for me?
Do I live in peace, knowing that God is my Father and I am his beloved son/daughter?
Do I joyfully live out the Christian life style or do I complain when things don't go the way I think they should be going?
Do I see trials and other difficulties God allows me to experience as gifts from him?
Do I believe I am living out God's will in my life?


I stand in the Jordan and experience the healing flow of the waters upon me. Acknowledging my part in perpetuating the patterns of sinfulness, I pray to be cleansed and refreshed by the waters of God's free gift of grace and love. I beg God for a deep felt understanding of my sin and the disordered tendencies in my life. With Christ at my side, I allow myself to reflect freely, without inhibition. I pray to release any hurt or sorrow with tears, if God desires to grace me in this way.

Reflection of my sinfulness.(examination of conscience)

I turn to God for healing and forgiveness. Laying my wounds, my unfreedoms, my compulsions at the feet of Jesus I humbly acknowledge my need for Him to be my Savior. I thank Jesus for his love and healing. I thank him, too, for the cool water which will symbolize his healing touch and refreshment.
As I move toward the point where I am ready to feel the healing touch of God I walk toward the altar. My movement indicated my willingness to take steps toward being the person I was created to be. My movement also shows my need to be touched by God and to encounter him tonight.