Sunday, May 28, 2006

Jesus and His Father


Jesus, your relationship with your Father amazes and impresses me. You constantly refer people to Him. You won’t take any glory apart from Him. You receive all your power from Him, and all your instructions. All you want to do is please Him. He gives you tasks to do and you are completely obedient.

Was St. Joseph a good model father to you? He heard a message from God that changed his life. “Take Mary as your wife.” Joseph responded without hesitation to God’s word and surrendered His will. He was completely obedient and submissive. There isn’t much else we know about Joseph so that must be the lesson we’re to learn from him just like Jesus did. “Pray to God, your Father. Listen to His instructions for you and then obey them. Whatever God asks, you must obey. It is the least you can do. And you must follow God’s instructions above and beyond your own desires.” I can just hear Joseph saying that to his son as they wait for the dinner Mary prepared. “Do you hear me, son? This is important. Obey God above all else.” Jesus, you must have thought this was a very important message because Joseph didn’t usually speak this forcefully. And so it became a memory from your childhood that would never fade. It was a vivid memory with a very clear message. I’m sure you didn’t even understand the message at first. It must have become clearer to you as you watched your parents live their lives. They both spoke the same message of surrender and submission to God’s will by the way they chose to live.

It all began there with a very humble man and a very prayerful young woman. From them you learned whom God is and how to relate to Him. That’s where your desire to please Him began. That was the beginning of a relationship that can’t be duplicated. You read the Scriptures like all young Jewish boys. You learned about Adam and Eve and Moses and Noah. You saw how God worked through these people and events. You saw that God continuously chose to forgive us and love again. You saw the great plans God has for His people. And your relationship grew. You wanted to know more about Him. You wanted to speak to Him, listen to Him and understand Him. So you spent more time with Him. That’s when it became a Sacred Event. Your relationship with God the Father began and with it the growing knowledge that you were Chosen. You and God enjoyed a very intimate relationship. All you wanted to do was to please Him and so that was what you did. I feel like I’m interfering here – intruding. I have no right to the details. I am not worthy of that knowledge. I can only imagine how you felt when you realized your life’s mission fully. I can’t begin to grasp the love you know God has for us that made you submit to crucifixion. It was a love so deep and so pure that you never questioned the mission. In fact, that love became yours. You spent so much time with God your Father that you loved with His love. I don’t claim to understand the mystery of your being fully human and fully divine, but I don’t need to understand it when I can feel it. I don’t’ know how you can be Jesus, the Lord and Savior when you were born in a manger and lived with your mother and foster father. It’s beyond my scope. But I believe it and I love you for it. I believe it and I thank you for it. I believe it and I praise and worship you for it! And it all remains a mystery, a precious and Sacred mystery. Your relationship with your Father is that you and He are One.

But there’s another mystery, another very precious gift here. You taught us to pray by saying Our Father. I am silenced. I am awestruck and humbled. I run to you to say, “O no! I am not worthy. I am a sinner in need of repentance.” You answer, “You are a sinner in need of a Father.” “Well that may be true,” I answer, “ but YOUR Father?” You say, “No, OUR Father”. All my protestations fly in the wind. They are useless bantering like so many other words I’ve said. “The point remains”, You insist. “He is OUR Father.”

That means the relationship you have with God the Father is one I can strive for. It means that You are my Brother. It also means I am chosen and we are members of one family.

Dear friends, do you hear what Jesus is saying to us? If God is our Father, you and I have an intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Doesn’t that make you feel special? We also have a Protector, one who can truly save us from any adversary (including ourselves). God is our Father. Having the All Perfect Father means He knows our souls, our dreams, fears and hopes. He knows our talents and gifts. He knows our thought ant the number of hairs on our head. He can challenge us because that’s what a good father does. He can encourage us to be the persons we can be because He knows us so well. He cleans up after our mistakes and clears the path for us to go forward. God is in constant contact with us because we cannot leave His presence. That means He supports us, encourages us and forgives us all the time though we may no recognize or admit His presence.

So if God does all that because He is our Father, what is our role as His child? We can take our cue from Jesus for that. As I said in the opening sentences, Jesus gave all the glory to His Father. He wouldn’t take any glory for His won. He recognized He had no power apart form the Father. Jesus only wanted to please His Father and follow His instructions. Jesus and Our Father spent so much time together that Jesus felt the love God has for His children. Jesus felt it so much that He was willing to die for it.

So that is the example our brother Jesus left us. Love God back. Follow His instructions. Spend time with your Sacred family and be a good child to the Father. Your Holy Mother will help you and so will your Brother, Jesus. Make your Father proud. If you enter into the relationship with God our Father more fully, He’ll be sure to teach you how. Remember, you’re constantly in His presence and He promised He’d never abandon us. He may ask us to do some hard things, just like He asked Jesus. But just like Jesus He’ll love us through it and give us all the strength we need. And I can guarantee you this, too: when its all over, Our Father will be waiting for us on the other side and He’ll com running to welcome us home.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will Be Done

Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will Be Done

Psalm 19: “ Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

During the 1980’s my great, great aunt Esther died. She had written the song, “Tea for two and two for tea; me for you and you for me” ♫. Anyway, when she died, I wasn’t mentioned in her will. My mother thought we were going to be rich! But we weren’t even mentioned!
A friend of mine died (of course, He rose again but we’ll put that aside for the moment). I was mentioned in His Will. I was given honorable mention. My inheritance is eternal. I became a part of His Kingdom. TrĂ©s cool. I didn’t even do anything to deserve it. It just goes to show what a great guy my friend Jesus is!
Do you want to be in God’s will?
It’s true that the rewards are unbeatable. But what do you need to do, you ask? How do you get honorable mention and an eternal reward? Here’s the secret: The only way to be In God’s will is to DO God’s will.
Obviously, the purest motivation for doing God’s will is love for Him. We do what He wants us to do simply because we love Him that much and we want to please Him. It’s not about agreeing with His philosophy of love and giving necessarily, although that would certainly help. It’s about blind faith, total self-giving and complete trust in His love for us. In its purest sense obeying God’s will is doing what He wants us to do because we believe in Him. We know He only has our best intentions in mind. So, in return, we love Him back completely. I get the image in my mind of a toddler that trusts in her parents, believes they will take care of her and knows that they love her. That child does what they want just because she loves them that much. She doesn’t need to understand their reasoning. It’s just pure, unadulterated, obedient love.
A second not so selfless reason for obeying God’s will is that we want to get to heaven. We want eternal life and happiness. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us can admit
that that is the reason for our obedience to God. We just fear living in hell forever. That’s not the purest motivation, but it certainly works.

What are some other reasons for following God’s will? If you heard a ping or a clanking sound in your car and I told you it was the alternator, would you believe me? I hope not. I’m no car expert! If you coughed and someone said that meant you had diabetes, would you begin taking insulin? Never! So why do we listen to ourselves or each other solely when it comes to something as important as life? We’re not the experts! If we want to live our life according to God’s plan, we’d better talk with Him about it. He is the Lord. He is the Teacher; we’re only the students.
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus got confused about this. They moaned and complained because they thought they had figured God’s plan out all by themselves. They figured they knew how it was all going to turn out. When it didn’t turn out that way, they got confused and frustrated. They complained all the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, which would have been an 8-hour walk. God had to appear right in front of them to get them to understand. They hadn’t asked God what the plan was. They hadn’t really listened to Him. How frustrated God must have been. He was the One who knew all the answers to their Jeopardy questions, but they didn’t ask Him.
Neither did the other apostles, the Jewish people or the Leaders of Jesus’ time. They all had their own expectations. They expected a rich King and an earthly kingdom. They didn’t ask enough questions and they didn’t listen to God’s answers so they messed up. They got it all wrong. What they figured would happen, didn’t and so they missed the mark. They really did get it all wrong. This must have frustrated Jesus. I’m sure we still do frustrate Him. In Jeremiah 29:11 He says, “ I have plans for you, plans not to hurt you but to give you hope and a good future.” The Emmaus guys, the Jewish people and leaders of the day never asked Him what those plans were. Have you?

I‘m going to tell you a Max Lucado story as an example.
Ever try to convince a mouse not to worry? Ever succeeded in pacifying the panic of a rodent? If so, you are wiser than I. My attempt was not successful. My comforting words fell on tiny, deaf ears.
Not that the little fellow deserved my kindness. Because of him, my wife Denalyn screamed. Because of that scream, the garage shook. I was yanked out of dreamland and off my LaZ Boy and called to defend my wife and country. I was proud to go. With shoulders high, I marched into the garage.
The mouse never had a chance. I know jujitsu, karate, tae Kwan do and several other…uh, phrases. I’ve even watched self-defense infomercials.
This mouse had met its match.
Besides, he was in an empty trashcan. How he got there, only he knows, and he aint’ telling. I know, I asked him. His only reply was a mad rush around the base of the can.
The poor guy was scared to the top of his whiskers. And who wouldn’t be? Imagine being caged in a plastic container and looking up to see the large (albeit handsome) face of a human. Would be enough to make you chuck up your cheese.
“What are you going to do with him?” Denalyn asked, clutching my arm for courage.
“Don’t worry, lil darlin’, " I replied with a swagger that made her swoon and would have made John Wayne jealous. “I’ll go easy on the little fellow.”
So, off we went – the mouse, the trashcan, and me, marching down the cul-de-sac toward an empty lot. “Stick with me, little guy, I’ll have you home in no time” He didn’t listen. You’d have thought we were walking to death row. Had I not placed a lid on the can, the furry fellow would have jumped out. “I’m not going to hurt you,” I explained. “I’m going to release you. You got yourself into a mess; I’m going to get you out.”He never calmed down. He never sat still. He never- well, he never trusted me. Even at the last moment, when I tilted the can on the ground and set him free,
did he turn around and say thank you? Did he invite me to his mouse house for a meal? No. He just ran.
Honestly. What would I have to do to win his trust? Learn to speak Mouse-agse? Grow beady eyes and a long tail? Get down in the trash with him? Thanks, but no thanks. I mean, the mouse was cute and all, but he wasn’t worth that much.

Apparently you and I are, because that’s what Jesus did. And when He hung on the cross with lips cracked and a throat so dry He could hardly speak he said,
“ You can trust me.”

Let me give you fair warning: when you ask God about His plans for you, you’re really inviting Him into your life. You’re saying, “Come into my home. Walk into my world. Be present in my heart, my office, my family, my fear, my doubts.” That’s a bold statement! It’s totally anti-Satan. It means handing our lives over to God. It means we don’t complain when we don’t sleep well, or when drop a pile of papers. It means we don’t get frustrated when our plans don’t turn out the way we expected them to. Satan would just hate it if that happened. He smiles when we get frustrated with life’s confusion and annoyances. Because when we complain about things not going our way, things are going Satan’s way.
When we invite God into our lives we agree to be in suspense. That’s not always such a comfortable place to be. We are the clay constantly being remolded by the potter. We are the diamonds in the fire that have to believe we won’t get burned; we’ll just get better.
The clay doesn’t know what new circumstances are going to be required of it. Only the potter knows. The coal doesn’t know it will soon turn into a diamond. Only the jewel maker knows. But while the clay is being molded, the potter’s eyes are focused entirely on his creation. And most times it can’t be done quickly. His hands are holding the clay securely, yet gently. He never lets go. He has a plan for the clay, it’s a plan much bigger and better than the clay could ever imagine. The potter is filled with a sense of anticipation. The clay remains in suspense. If we are the clay and God is the potter, we
have to be comfortable with living in anticipation. We have to be comfortable with having God’s hands on us. We have to be comfortable with getting remolded. We have to trust that we are very important to Him.
I personally have discovered God’s will by talking things out with other people, by reading the Scriptures, in prayer and in knowing what causes the fire and passion in my heart. A frequent point when we examine God’s will for us is when we think about our careers. On two occasions, I was laid off from my job. Both times it blinded me. Both times, I thought I had been doing God’s will and spreading His word. But God knew (and I found out in retrospect) that I really didn’t belong in either job. I was getting physically and emotionally sick. I dreaded every day and cried every night. I thought I was a pioneer for God at the time. I thought working at those two places was like being a missionary for Him. I should have realized that if I was doing God’s Will I would have had a joyful heart. I wouldn’t have gotten sick, or felt the intense negative pressure. According to Philippians 4:7, doing God’s will brings love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control. Being united to God brings peace, which surpasses all understanding. All I had in those two jobs was confusion, pressure, tension and brokenness. In 1Cor 10:13 God says He won’t ever let us be tested beyond our strength. I should have believed Him. I’m not the one who knows the number of hairs on my own head. He does.
Does anyone of us really want to be in control of your life? Or of anyone else’s life? Do you trust your own intelligence that much? Have you lived such a wonderful life that you deserve to be IN CHARGE? Maybe there’s another human being you’d like to be In Charge of us all. Is there someone that you trust that much? I certainly don’t. And I don’t even want that. I’ve learned that it’s much better to be incomplete and in suspense, to abandon my life to God and to learn how to love and trust Him more. I don’t have to be afraid of anything that comes from a hand that was pierced and nailed to a tree.
To be in God’s will means we’ll receive a great inheritance. It means we need to love someone more than we love ourselves. It means to trust someone more that we trust ourselves. It means we desire what He wants, more than what we want. God is wiser and knows the big picture. He loves much more perfectly and selflessly than we do.
We can’t forget that Jesus lived on this very earth we’re living on. While He was here, he suffered, he grew hungry, and he felt pain. And He did that so we could go to Him in our need. He suffered so that we’d know we could identify with Him. He wanted all of us who struggle to hear this invitation: Trust me.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

on God's will by Walter Ciszek

"It is in choosing to serve God, to do his will, that man achieves his highest and fullest freedom. It may seem paradoxical to say that our highest and fullest freedom comes when we follow to the least detail the will of another, but it is true nonetheless when that other is God. I could testify from my own experiences, especially from my darkest hours in Lubianke, that the greatest sense of freedom, along with peace of soul and an abiding sense of security, comes when a man totally abandons his own will in order to follow the will of God. Never again could I doubt that the greatest assurance I could have in my life came from knowingly and willingly following God's will as manifested to me. I knew only too well how shallow and unsafe it was for me to follow my own will, my own inclinations and desires, unless they were in conformity to his. I realized then, and I felt it more deeply each day, that true freedom meant nothing else than letting God operate within my soul without interference, giving preference to God's will as manifested in the promptings, inspirations, and other means he chose to communitcate rather than in acting on my own initiatives."
"God's will was not in the situation or circumstances, but actually WAS the situation itself, as it occurred moment by moment."
from In the Land I Have Shown You Jeanne Kun, Editor

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

St Teresa of Avila on the Stages of Spiritual Growth

St Teresa of Avila on the Stages of Spiritual Growth
Taken in part from
Praying with Teresa of Avila
by Rosemary Broughton

St. Teresa of Avila made this comparison to a silkworm and the stages of spiritual growth.
1) a tiny seed was non living until warm weather and leaves come to the mulberry tree
2) silkworms eat the leaf, settle on a twig and begin making thick silk cocoons around themselves
3) The fat ugly silkworm dies within and a small pretty white butterfly emerges.

It could be birth, life and rebirth.
Or it could be the same 3 stage process in any life event. It could be anytime we were unaware of an issue that would bring us spiritual growth such as our own selfishness. That would be followed by our awareness of it and the subsequent change we make from that behavior. One of the traits of humility is to recognize and live in the stage that is true to us and to do the work that is given us to do. The caterpillar cannot fly; it eats. The butterfly no longer creeps; it need not spin silk. Teresa helps us to recognize that there are differing possibilities in each stage.
One aspect of discernment is the ability to recognize who and what we really are and what we can and cannot do, and to live contentedly, knowing that God will call us to grow, to move into new stages, to be transformed – even by passing through a death. Those who believe in Christ live in hope of a final beauty and freedom that God will bring about in us.

As you read this, what is it for you today? Do you want to remain a dead seed or a fat ugly worm? Ask God for insight into your answer.

In what way are you “making silk” for other people? How does that help you to die to self?

Monday, May 15, 2006

A study of the Gospel of John

Part 1
John 14:15 “If you love me…”
1. Humans sometimes say, “if you love me you would just do this one thing for me…or would understand me better…or … you would just know what I need.
What have you ever said to someone? Or, consider the reverse. What demand has been said to you? Jesus says: “If you love me you will obey.” Pure love doesn’t usually put conditions on the recipient. But this time Jesus does. Vs 21 says, “Whoever obeys my command is the one who loves me.

What do you think was the Father’s command to the Son? ( see John 14: 31) What is God’s command to you?

2. “If you love me and obey my Father, I will love you and we will make our home in you.”

“Obedience is an essential ingredient in intimacy with God and the key to having a receptive heart. Either we take Christ’s word to heart and we change or we listen but disregard them. To disregard the voice of God is worse than not listening at all, especially if we say we love him.”
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.

“Obligation asks us to pour a glass of milk but love tells us to add a little chocolate.”
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.

Have you disregarded the voice of God? Have you ignored any of his commands to you? Have you ever added a little chocolate to your obligation? Please give an example if you can.

Given the above definition, do you love God?
Part 2
John 17: 4 “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”

1. Jesus confidently makes the above statement to his Father. In order for you to be able to make that statement, you need to know about the work the Father is asking you to do.
If God handed you a TO DO list, what would be on it? Please be as specific as you can.

2. How will you know when you’ve completed God’s work? Will God add/subtract from your TO DO list?

3. What accomplished tasks have you checked off?
Part 3
Jesus prays for us to his Father in Chapter 17. Please read that prayer in verses 6 to 26.
Why would the one thing Jesus prayed for us be unity? Vs 21
In vs 11 Jesus says, “Holy Father, protect them.” How has the Father protected you?
Write this prayer from Jesus’ perspective for you today.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

To Mary~ by Pope John Paul II

I wish to repeat now before you all Totus Tuus~ all yours, O Mother! I ask you to offer me and all these others up to the "Father of Mercies", in homage and gratitude, hiding and covering our poverty with your merits and those of your Divine Son. And may we be accepted, blessed and strengthened in our good resolve which we wish to bind up like a bunch of flowers with a ribbon "woven and gilded" for you O Mother.
"Do whatever He tells you."
Give us your blessing Lady, our most beloved Mother!

During the month of May let us remember to be grateful for the Holy Mother of God!

Please visit too!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

On Mary our Role Model

When I was 14 years old I started in a High School for girls in Philadelphia. I was nervous, of course, but soon got very excited when I learned they had a music program. My biggest problem was trying to decide which instrument I wanted to learn. I finally decided on the clarinet.
When Mary was 14, an angel appeared to her and asked her if she would consent to being the mother of Jesus. At 14, she said YES. She didn't run to ask her mother or even to talk it over with her best friend or boyfriend like most teenagers would. Without hesitation, she said YES to the angel and to God, her Father. She said she would do whatever God wanted her to do. Her life from that moment on was radically changed. Mary didn't know what would be happen because she said yes. But she did know that was what she needed to do. So she did it.
OK, so once you say yes to God like Mary did you should be doing well, right? Not necessarily. God is kind of funny that way. It didn't get any easier for Mary at all. She had to tell her boyfriend that she was pregnant and that didn’t go over very well. He didn't jump up and say YES right away like she did. Mary had to quietly suffer through that. The Bible doesn't describe the conversation between 14-year-old Mary and her mother either. If you went home and told your mom that you were (or your girlfriend was) pregnant (that's shock #1!) and that her baby was going to be the Son of God (there's #2) how would you expect her to react? We can only imagine what went on in Mary's mother's heart and mind.

Young Mary didn't go back to God in prayer and say, "I'm not sure about this! Can we work this out another way?" Mary stayed committed to the YES and did what she knew she should do.
Did it get easier then? Not exactly. An angel appears to Joseph so he finally accepts the fact that Mary is pregnant with the Savior and then they travel to Bethlehem - on a donkey! Did God at least arrange for them to stay at a nice hotel? No. Not quite.
Today we complain because the HMO's only let a new mother stay in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours after giving birth. Has God asked any of you to give birth lying on hay surrounded by cows and sheep without even a mid-wife? Just picture yourself doing that!
When Mary said YES to the angel I doubt that she thought the plan would unfold quite this way. What do you think she was thinking in that stable with her baby in the manger? Remember, she was 14. Do you think she doubted herself? Was she unsure about God's will? Did Mary wonder about what her baby would look and act like? After all, she knew he was to be the Lord, the Chosen One, and the Long Awaited Messiah. Was she confused?
Wouldn't you be?
Aren't you, sometimes, confused by the way God's plan seems to unfold in your life? Do you have expectations for your family or your future that don't seem like they're being met? Let's look at Mary, our role model for saying YES to the unexpected.
If she was experiencing any doubt, fear, concern or even questioning her own adequacy, God took care of it in a very unusual way when Jesus was born. Within hours, shepherds, wise men bearing gifts and angels singing songs of praise surrounded their little stable. It's one of the few stories in the Bible where we can picture Mary smiling. They all came to see this blessed child. She hadn't even sent out birth announcements with a picture of Jesus and his weight and length on them. They all came and worshipped her child and the God who had allowed all this to happen. Mary must have smiled. And it wasn't just a smile on her face. It was a smile in her heart. If she needed confirmation, she had it then. It was after the long ride on the donkey, after not being able to find a place to live, after giving birth to the Son of God in a stable, but she had it. And she smiled straight through to her toes.
When we say YES to God, we sometimes have trouble accepting God's will as it unfolds. If we look at Mary as our role model, we may remember that we need to hang in there. She can help us to be patient, keep saying YES and wait for the big picture to come together. We may not figure things out until after it’s all over. Mary could never have dreamed that angels, shepherds and wise men would have surrounded her and Joseph and their tiny son in that stable. But God is the Author of the Book, the Singer of the Song and the Artist of the Big Picture we call life. She just waited. Patience and prayer are all that Mary had. It's what got her through it all. Like us,it was all she needed.
So then, like in the fairy tales it ended with "and they all lived happily ever after". Right? Wrong. That's not your life or my life and it surely wasn't Mary's life. St. Therese once said to God: "The way you treat your friends, its no wonder you have so few of them!" Mary really got special treatment.
Mary lost her son when he was about 12. Can anyone tell me how you say your daily prayers to God when you've lost His son? She really must have been panicking. He was missing for 3 days and when they found him did he show remorse or concern for what his mother was feeling? Do kids usually show immediate sorrow for what they’ve done? I don’t think so. So the teenager Jesus says, "Didn't you know I had to be about my Father's business?" What is Mary supposed to say to that? It must have pulled at her heartstrings. Try to feel what she was feeling. She had been taking care of this boy for 12 years. All these years he had been a relatively normal child and they lived a relatively normal life together. Then this happens. Mary remembers then, that this is God's child- not hers alone. She wasn't raising her own child.
Every mother can say that. Remember that, because you’ll probably all be parents someday. Your child is not yours alone, it's God's too. At some point, kids pull on their parent's heartstrings. Mothers learn to let go just like Mary had to that day. "She kept all these things deep in her heart," Scripture says. Mary, our role model, teaches us not to be possessive, to look for God's movements in our lives, to listen with our hearts and to be silent instead of arguing, becoming defensive or asking why.
She learned the same lesson years later. Like us, Mary had to learn some God-lessons twice. Jesus lived with his mom until he was 30. Imagine the relationship they had with each other after living together for 30 years. He never went away to college or got married. Even by today's standards when kids seem to be living at home longer and longer, by 30 they are usually living on their own. I wonder, don't you, why 30? Is that the age when real maturity sets in? Maybe it took that long for Mary to adjust to the idea. Or did God not give Jesus his mission until then? Whatever the reason, Mary had her first-born Son at home with her for most of His life. After Jesus left his home and while he was doing his public ministry, Mary went to visit her Son. He was talking to a group inside a house somewhere. The crowd tells him that his mother is outside looking for him. Does he drop everything and go to welcome her with a hug? No. Scripture doesn't say he went out there at all. Instead it is recorded that Jesus says, "Anyone who does the will of my Father is my mother and brother and sister."
Did Mary say, "You tell him to get out here and do it right now!" No, Mary knew God was working through her Son. She knew this because she was in tune with God. She knew his voice. She listened for it daily and she recognized it. She knew God was the Author of the Book and the Artist of the Big Picture. She knew her role was not to get in God's way, but to listen and say YES.
Did you learn that lesson? Do you recognize God's voice? You have to listen to hear God's voice. It's hard for me to not get upset during difficult times. It's hard to just listen to God and say YES. It's hard to step back and look and the big picture.

That's one of the lessons our role model, Mary, can teach us. She teaches us patience and prayer. She teaches us how to listen for our Father's voice because she knows that's where her strength will come from.
She teaches us a very hard lesson. The lesson she teaches us is:
How to say YES - and not to ask WHY.
This is especially evident during her Son's crucifixion. None of us will ever be asked to endure anything as painful as what Mary experienced that day. Visualize it with me, please. The first recorded scene is when she met Jesus on the road to Golgatha while he was carrying the cross. Imagine this mother looking at her son. No words are spoken between them. Put yourself in Mary's place - and if you dare, put your future child in Jesus' place just for a moment. How does his mother feel when she sees the scars the scourging left on her son's back? She can feel his blood on her hands when she hugs him and his thorny crown pierces the veil on her own head. She steps back to look at her child. They were silent, but they communicated to each other at that moment. What does your heart think they said in that one look? What are they feeling? EVERYTHING YOU WOULD FEEL.
No mother wants to see her son in pain, especially pain imposed on him by others - by the self-righteous, those who don't understand, those who don't listen or even care. Mary's heart must have broken. Tears filled her eyes. Her son's blood was on her hands and cloak.
But this is Mary and that was Jesus. There had to be another level of communication going on. It's called faith. What did Mary, the woman of faith, say to her Son? What message did she send him through her eyes and her touch? She said YES. It was the only answer she knew how to give when God was the one asking the question. She had practiced it many times over the years. YES. YES, I understand why you are doing this Jesus. Although he had to power to change it all in an instant, she knew he wouldn't. And she knew why. Mary didn't plead or beg. If she had, do you think Jesus could have refused his mother? She didn't. She didn't ask God to stop all that madness. She said YES. YES, my Son, you must do this. YES, my God, I accept your plan. Mary didn't talk or argue or beg or ask why, like you or I might have. She quietly accepted the role her Son had to play for the redemption of the world. She did that because she was a woman of faith. She was a woman who believed that God's will was more important than her own. You see, she was in tune with the voice of her Lord. She recognized it and accepted it no matter what it cost. And the cost was very high indeed. She stood at the foot of the Cross they hung him on and watched him die. He died a slow and painful death and she watched.
Eventually they took his body down from the cross and placed him in his mother's arms. She was a human being with the same feelings you and I have, so I am sure that she cried. I picture Mary drenched in rain, kneeling in the mud and caressing her dead son's body. She must have screamed in anguish. She had to have sobbed and wailed.
Mary's first YES at the age of 14 brought her to this final moment of pain.
And then it was all over. The pain, the suffering, the crucifixion and the burial. Mary had said YES to it all. She never wavered in her faith or in her love. But God being God, things never really end up the way you imagine they will. There is always a surprise. On Easter Sunday, Mary's Son Jesus rose from the dead. I can't imagine that anyone in the Gospel stories was happier that his mother. She was jubilant because her Son was alive. He was whole. He was clean. He was new. Jesus had risen from the grave. Death could not hold him. He had risen.
But she must have been happy about something else, too. She was happy that she had been faithful to God. She was happy that her YES never weakened into a "maybe" or a "Yes, but..." She had been faithful. She stood firm in her faith and believed in her God. She had prayed and listened for his voice. She had been patient and understanding. She did what God wanted her to do with her life.
And so God rewarded her with Easter Sunday. And later, God brought Mary into heaven herself to be with her Son and with him. Can you envision the scene? The quiet, peaceful, accepting woman of faith is welcomed into heaven. She is welcomed by Jesus who is at once her Son and her God.
Do you see what we have to look forward to if we are faithful? God loves each one of us and is looking forward to the day when He can welcome us into heaven with Him. There we will finally meet Jesus and Mary, the woman of faith, and we can enjoy eternity with them. That's the plan, you see. That is the big picture. That is God's will. He wants you to be with Him forever in heaven experiencing eternal joy. All we have to do is say YES and be faithful. Say YES when you wake up in the morning to whatever is in store for you that day. When hard times come -and you know they will- do what Mary did. In the midst of chaos listen for God's voice. It's always there. We may have to get really quiet to hear his gentle whisper, but it will always be there because God is faithful. Who do you think gave Mary the gift of faith to sustain her through each day? God will give you the faith you need to say YES, too. Why? Because He and Mary are looking forward to a wonderful reunion with you in heaven. They want you to say YES. They want to be with you forever. They want you to experience everlasting joy with them.

My prayer for you is that Mary will be the example you need to say YES to all that has been in your life and all that is yet to be.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


What if I had the opportunity to greet God as children greet their father who came home from work at the end of the day?

Father God, I missed you today. Will you stay home with me tonight? Don't leave me. Stay here and let me sit in you lap while you rest. I won't bother you, really!
My Father God's big strong hands grab me around my waist and lift me up. At that moment, nothing else matters. There's nowhere else I'd rather be. There's something very secure about being held by God my Father's big, strong hands.
"I'll protect you. You won't get hurt. You'll be safe. I have a good hold on you and I'm not letting go."
I feel carefree, safe and ready for anything. My Father God's big strong hands lift me high into the air. Just for a moment He holds me there and I feel I am taller than the earth. My world looks so different from up here. I am above it all. It can't reach me or bother me. I can look down and see my Father's eyes staring at my face. His smile is as big as my own. What can the world do to me?

After a few moments, my Father God slowly brings me down. I'm nearly level to the earth again but now it's different somehow. God and I had conquered it for a moment. We had risen above it - above the earth and all its problems and distractions. But God, my Father doesn't put me on the floor. He brings me to sit on His lap. God is my big, strong protective Father and He wants me to sit on His lap and rest for a while. He holds me tight and whispers in my ear, "I love you. You are my own very special child." As I rest there, I feel refreshed and warm and comforted. There are many things I want to share with God, my Father, and I begin to tell Him those things now in a private conversation with Him.

My words slowly come to an end and so does my special time with my Father God. I tell Him He is the best Father anyone could have and that I love Him. I thank Him for spending this quiet time with His child. I look forward to the rest of my day knowing my Father God's strong hands will protect me.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

a Discussion on How to Pray

The following is an excerpt from Praying with Teresa of Avila
by Rosemary Broughton.

  • Do I approach personal prayer as an attempt to speak to God, the One who loves me?
  • Do I allow myself to become discouraged when I feel inept in expressing myself to God?
  • Do I avoid prayer because it seems so unreal?

Reflect on the quality of the conversation in your daily life: your way of getting another person's attention, your tone of voice, your sincerity about being heard, the content of your message, your ability to hear another person, and the verbal or nonverbal gestures that you use to close the conversation. Continue this reflection by examining how others communicate with you. Write a summary of these considerations.

Next, reflect on the way you approach and speak with God and on the way God approaches and speaks with you.

  • Do you speak with God like you speak with other people?
  • Are your expectations the same or different?
  • Do you find yourself trying to hide aspects of your life from God?
  • Do you tiptoe around issues with God the way you might tiptoe with other people? Is this necessary?

End this reflection by talking with God about the relationship and communication that you share. Ask God to send you whatever you need in order to deepen and enliven your relationship.