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